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NEWS  / POLAND IN THE NEWS, APRIL, 2015
29.04.2015


Josh Seale is pursuing an MA in interdisciplinary German and European Studies at Georgetown University with a specialization in German-Polish relations. He holds a BA in Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago and has interned abroad in Germany and studied abroad previously in Poland. He is currently serving as an SRAS Home and Abroad Scholar in Warsaw, Poland.

 This resource was featured in the free SRAS monthly newsletter. Want the newsletter?


 Poland in the News
March, 2015
By Josh Seale

 
 Study Abroad
in Poland!

SSI-banner

Poland has been a focal point of European and US foreign policy since the fall of the USSR. Billions in foreign aid and investment has poured into the country, creating a dynamic economy, rising middle class, and a young European democracy. Poland has historically been a borderland for conflicts between European powers and Russia, giving it a complex relationship with all its neighbors and unique perspectives on state security.

Poland, however, despite its historic and strategic importance is often overlooked in most media reports and treated as background in many histories and current analysis of the European situation. This resource from SRAS serves to introduce a wider audience to Poland's modern economic state, culture, politics, and society.

 

I. Economy

Polish Scientists Develop Liquid Body Armor

Polish scientists at the Institute of Security Technologies Moratex in Łódź, the Military Institute of Armament Technology in Warsaw, and the Warsaw University of Technology have developed a Non-Newtonian liquid to implement in body armor as well as other applications for the commercial market.

The Shear-Thickening Fluid (STF) belongs to a group of Non-Newtonian liquids, which means that unlike water, it changes its viscosity when the forces on it change. STF changes its consistency and hardens upon impact at any temperature, providing protection from penetration by bullets and dispersing the energy of the blow. The STF provides purportedly better protection from bullets than Kevlar and as a liquid is more flexible in where it can be used.

STF is now in the last phase of commercialization and companies all over the world have expressed interest in the invention.

Emigration from Poland on Rise with Fewer Poles Willing to Return

A new study by HR Consultants Work Service indicates a 20% increase this year in the number of Poles wanting to emigrate from Poland. In 2014 only 1.025 million showed interest in emigrating – this year that number has risen to 1.275 million Poles.

Nonetheless the main reason for emigration remains the same as years past – namely, higher wages outside Poland (78%), higher standard of living (44%), and lack of suitable work in Poland (37%).

The survey also took into consideration the influence of the geopolitical situation and asked participants whether the conflict in Ukraine effects (or may effect in the future) their decision to emigrate. Only 3.5% of participants indicated that the conflict played a role in their decision to emigrate, although 32% indicated that it may play a role in the future.

Meanwhile, research by the National Bank of Poland also demonstrates that that many Poles who immigrated to other European countries in recent years have no intention of returning to Poland.

This is likely to cause significant demographic problems for Poland as more and more working-age Poles immigrate and the state is left with a reduced tax base and labor force to support an aging population.

Poland Set to Surpass NATO Military Expenditure Target

In 2015, Poland will not only reach but even surpass the NATO target for member states’ military expenditure of 2% of GDP. Between 2005 and 2014, Poland increased its military expenditure by 38% in real terms. This included a 13 percent increase in 2014 – not to mention an additional boost of 19% in real terms planned in 2015.

Poland’s shopping list for military investment is impressive and includes 32 battle and 70 transport helicopters, 97 drones, 20 air defense units, a few hundred tanks, as well as ships, cruise missiles and US Patriot missiles. In the next 10 years, Poland will invest 32 million Euros in the modernization of its military.

Poland’s First Nuclear Power Plant Faces Delays

The state-controlled utilities company PGE has cancelled a consultancy contract and opted to pursue its own research in developing Poland’s first nuclear power plant. The power plant was initially planned to be operational by 2020 but has now been officially delayed to 2025.

The project, expected to cost between $10 and $15 billion, was first publicized in 2009 as part of an effort to find alternatives to coal-based power. Since then it has been delayed in light of falling power prices weakened its economic case and after Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident lowered public support.

Some observers such as Poland’s Supreme Audit Office have recently announced that it looks increasingly unlikely that the plant will be built at all.

 

II.     Politics/State Security

Visegrad Defense Minister Broaden Scope of Cooperation

On April 23rd 2015 the defense ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, whose four countries constitute the military alliance called "The Visegrad Group," met in Bratislava to expand their countries' cooperation in military matters within the structures of NATO and the European Union.

The ministers signed a number of agreements to increase future military cooperation, such as the creation of a Visegrad Task Force of 3,000 troops. This unit is proposed to be a part of either the NATO “Spearhead” (or “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force”) stationed along NATO’s Eastern border or/and NATO’s multinational corps northeast stationed in Szczecin, Poland.

Slovak Defense Minister Martin Glváč also proposed the creation of a ‘single sky’ between the V4 countries.

Poland and Czech Republic Sign Gas Deal

On 20 April 2015 Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz signed a contract with her Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka for the construction of a Polish-Czech gas connection. The project dovetails with the fourth pillar of the EU’s Energy Security Strategy (i.e. building better energy connections between various European states) and, in fact, Poland and the Czech Republic intend to have the project funded by the EU.

In the words of the Polish Prime Minister, “We will build a gas connection between the Czechs and Polish, we will, and we want to build them mainly from the European funds. We will solicit to make the entire documentation and appropriate application found on the desk of a representative of the Commission (EU) by the year 2016.”

Poland Builds Observation Towers at Russian Border

Poland’s 200 km land border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is to be strengthened by the construction of six observation towers, ranging in height between 35 and 50 meters tall. The towers will be staffed and in operation 24 hours a day and seven days a week and will stream images to local border control posts.

The towers are currently under construction and will be fully operational by June of this year. The total cost of the project is over PLN 14 million, with 75 percent of the cash coming from the EU’s External Borders Fund.

 

 
 Study Abroad
in Poland!

JSP-banner

III.            International Relations

Polish President Calls for "Painstaking Work" to Overcome Negative WWII Stereotypes of Poles

The Polish President Bronisław Komorowski has pointed to the need for painstaking work to overcome negative stereotypes and historical inaccuracies of WWII Poland, in light of recent scandals that refer to “Nazi Poland” and associate Poles with Nazis.

The American toy company “Mattel” printed a card in its “Apples to Apples” game that described the film Schindler’s List as “Powerful, real-life story of a Catholic businessman who eventually saved over a 1000 Jews in Nazi Poland.”

The Polish Embassy in the US was made aware of the issue by the US-based Polish language daily newspaper Nowy Dziennik. The Embassy contacted the President of the Mattel and asked that the misrepresentation of Poland be corrected.

Mattel CEO Chritopher Sinclair then officially apologized and offered to exchange the old version of the game for the new one, where there is no trace of the term that, according to the Polish Embassy, “goes against historical truth and assaults the good name of our country.”

In another incident, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) referred to Poland as an accomplice of Nazi Germany during WWII in a column piece in the Washington Post. “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us…”

The column was adapted from a speech which was given on Wednesday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner, in which Comey described his practice of sending every new FBI agent to get acquainted with the museum.

Reminiscent of President Obama’s faux-pau in which he described concentration camps in Poland during WWII as “Polish Death Camps,” the FBI Director’s comments caused quite a stir in the Polish media and led to condemnation not only from the President of Poland but also Warsaw’s Chief Rabbi. The Polish Embassy in Washington responded to the comments with a letter to the director of the FBI that it clearly explained the historical reality and offered Comey a study tour in Poland. American Ambassador to Poland Stephan Mull was also summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw in light of the affair.

Eventually FBI director Comey apologized and sent a response to the Polish Embassy expressing how he values the US-Polish friendship.

“Night Wolves” Banned from Entering Poland

A nationalist Russian biker gang known as the “Night Wolves” were denied entry into Poland at the border checkpoint between Belarus and Poland. The bikers had planned a symbolic ride through Europe along the route of the Red Army to commemorate the Soviet advance against the Nazis 70 years ago. They were scheduled to stop at Soviet war memorials along the way and arrive in Berlin on Victory Day, May 9.

The Night Wolves' leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, is one of the founders of Anti-Maidan, a Russian group that has promised to crush liberal protesters it believes are determined to create a Ukrainian-style revolution in Russia. Zaldostanov is known to be friendly with Putin and the Russian president has previously ridden with the gang in a photo op.

Polish Prime Minister Eva Kopacz called the Night Wolves’ planned ride through Poland a provocation and called for its entry to be denied.

A statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry website states that “We are angered by the refusal of the Polish authorities in our request for assistance in obtaining the necessary permits in connection with activities planned on 27-29 April in Poland as part of the…‘Roads of Victory’ [rally] dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.” The statement also accuses the Polish authorities of using the “false pretext of late and insufficient information" and calling this “a blatant lie.”

Poland’s Foreign Ministry has not commented on Moscow’s harsh condemnation, stressing only that the decision was made on “formal grounds” and was not political in nature.

A group of Polish bikers has promised to complete the Polish leg of the trip for the Night Wolves, protesting the move of the Polish government as political.

European Presidents Confirm Attendance to Poland’s VE Day Celebrations

Eleven presidents of Central and Eastern Europe will join Polish head of state Bronisław Komorowski in Gdańsk on 7-8 May to commemorate 70 years since Victory in Europe Day. These plans have angered Russia, whose own celebrations in Moscow this year are being boycotted by Western leaders in light of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

Poland's commemorations will be held on the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk, where Nazi Germany launched its attack on Poland in September 1939, thus opening World War II.

 

IV.            Culture and Religion

The Fifth Anniversary of the Smolensk Catastrophe Commemorated in Poland

April 10, 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of the downing of the presidential plane carrying the Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other high-ranking Poles. Five years after the tragedy, over 50 percent of Poles still consider the causes of the crash to be unclear, according to a recent survey.

To mark the anniversary, a number of events have been taking place across Poland as well at the crash site in Russia. A minute of silence was held at 8.25am on Friday morning at a memorial to the victims of the Smolensk crash at Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, with an honorary salvo fired and a wreath laid at 8.41 to mark the exact time the plane crashed.

A special mass was also held at the Temple of Divine Providence for the members of the Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, after which MPs laid flowers at a memorial plaque which commemorates the Polish parliamentarians who died in the crash.

Meanwhile, a Polish delegation also commemorated the victims at both the crash site in Smolensk as well as at the Polish War Cemetery in Katyn.

The 75th Anniversary of the Katyn Massacre Remembered

Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and other government officials participated in a number of events commemorating the Katyn massacre, in which around 20,000 Polish officers were killed on Stalin’s orders. Commemoration events took place by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Piłsudski Square in the centre of Warsaw.

A new museum to the Katyn massacre is also set to be opened this year and will be housed in the Warsaw Citadel, according to Polish Defense Minister Siemoniak.

Warsaw Finally Decides on Monument to Smolensk Plane Crash Victims

Although as many as 61 percent of Poles want a memorial to the victims of the Smolensk crash to be unveiled in Warsaw according to a new poll, there is as of yet no monument to the victims of the tragedy in either Warsaw or Smolensk.

Nonetheless, this month Warsaw city councilors have finally agreed on the site where the monument to the victims of the Smolensk catastrophe will be built. The memorial will be located on the edge of Piłsudski Square (on the corner of Trębacka and Focha streets) and also near the Presidential Palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście in downtown Warsaw.

The site was previously proposed by Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who called the extraordinary councilor’s session to decide on where the monument should be placed. The form of the monument has yet to be decided, the last proposal being shot down by Gronkiewicz-Waltz for looking like “Nazi-era Nuremberg architecture.”

 

 


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Contact the editor.

Polish Scientists Develop Liquid Body Armor

Polish scientists at the Institute of Security Technologies Moratex in Łódź, the Military Institute of Armament Technology in Warsaw, and the Warsaw University of Technology have developed a Non-Newtonian liquid to implement in body armor as well as other applications for the commercial market.

The Shear-Thickening Fluid (STF) belongs to a group of Non-Newtonian liquids, which means that unlike water, it changes its viscosity when the forces on it change. STF changes its consistency and hardens upon impact at any temperature, providing protection from penetration by bullets and dispersing the energy of the blow. The STF provides purportedly better protection from bullets than Kevlar and as a liquid is more flexible in where it can be used.

STF is now in the last phase of commercialization and companies all over the world have expressed interest in the invention.

Emigration from Poland on Rise with Fewer Poles Willing to Return

A new study by HR Consultants Work Service indicates a 20% increase this year in the number of Poles wanting to emigrate from Poland. In 2014 only 1.025 million showed interest in emigrating – this year that number has risen to 1.275 million Poles.

Nonetheless the main reason for emigration remains the same as years past – namely, higher wages outside Poland (78%), higher standard of living (44%), and lack of suitable work in Poland (37%).

The survey also took into consideration the influence of the geopolitical situation and asked participants whether the conflict in Ukraine effects (or may effect in the future) their decision to emigrate. Only 3.5% of participants indicated that the conflict played a role in their decision to emigrate, although 32% indicated that it may play a role in the future.

Meanwhile, research by the National Bank of Poland also demonstrates that that many Poles who immigrated to other European countries in recent years have no intention of returning to Poland.

This is likely to cause significant demographic problems for Poland as more and more working-age Poles immigrate and the state is left with a reduced tax base and labor force to support an aging population.

Poland Set to Surpass NATO Military Expenditure Target

In 2015, Poland will not only reach but even surpass the NATO target for member states’ military expenditure of 2% of GDP. Between 2005 and 2014, Poland increased its military expenditure by 38% in real terms. This included a 13 percent increase in 2014 – not to mention an additional boost of 19% in real terms planned in 2015.

Poland’s shopping list for military investment is impressive and includes 32 battle and 70 transport helicopters, 97 drones, 20 air defense units, a few hundred tanks, as well as ships, cruise missiles and US Patriot missiles. In the next 10 years, Poland will invest 32 million Euros in the modernization of its military.

Poland’s First Nuclear Power Plant Faces Delays

The state-controlled utilities company PGE has cancelled a consultancy contract and opted to pursue its own research in developing Poland’s first nuclear power plant. The power plant was initially planned to be operational by 2020 but has now been officially delayed to 2025.

The project, expected to cost between $10 and $15 billion, was first publicized in 2009 as part of an effort to find alternatives to coal-based power. Since then it has been delayed in light of falling power prices weakened its economic case and after Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident lowered public support.

Some observers such as Poland’s Supreme Audit Office have recently announced that it looks increasingly unlikely that the plant will be built at all.

       I.            Politics/State Security

Visegrad Defense Minister Broaden Scope of Cooperation

 

On April 23rd 2015 the defense ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, whose four countries constitute the military alliance called "The Visegrad Group," met in Bratislava to expand their countries' cooperation in military matters within the structures of NATO and the European Union.

 

The ministers signed a number of agreements to increase future military cooperation, such as the creation of a Visegrad Task Force of 3,000 troops. This unit is proposed to be a part of either the NATO “Spearhead” (or “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force”) stationed along NATO’s Eastern border or/and NATO’s multinational corps northeast stationed in Szczecin, Poland.

 

Slovak Defense Minister Martin Glváč also proposed the creation of a ‘single sky’ between the V4 countries.

 

Poland and Czech Republic Sign Gas Deal

 

On 20 April 2015 Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz signed a contract with her Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka for the construction of a Polish-Czech gas connection. The project dovetails with the fourth pillar of the EU’s Energy Security Strategy (i.e. building better energy connections between various European states) and, in fact, Poland and the Czech Republic intend to have the project funded by the EU.

 

In the words of the Polish Prime Minister, “We will build a gas connection between the Czechs and Polish, we will, and we want to build them mainly from the European funds. We will solicit to make the entire documentation and appropriate application found on the desk of a representative of the Commission (EU) by the year 2016.”

 

Poland Builds Observation Towers at Russian Border

 

Poland’s 200 km land border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is to be strengthened by the construction of six observation towers, ranging in height between 35 and 50 meters tall. The towers will be staffed and in operation 24 hours a day and seven days a week and will stream images to local border control posts.

The towers are currently under construction and will be fully operational by June of this year. The total cost of the project is over PLN 14 million, with 75 percent of the cash coming from the EU’s External Borders Fund.

 

    II.            International relations

Polish President Calls for "Painstaking Work" to Overcome Negative WWII Stereotypes of Poles

The Polish President Bronisław Komorowski has pointed to the need for painstaking work to overcome negative stereotypes and historical inaccuracies of WWII Poland, in light of recent scandals that refer to “Nazi Poland” and associate Poles with Nazis.

The American toy company “Mattel” printed a card in its “Apples to Apples” game that described the film Schindler’s List as “Powerful, real-life story of a Catholic businessman who eventually saved over a 1000 Jews in Nazi Poland.”

The Polish Embassy in the US was made aware of the issue by the US-based Polish language daily newspaper Nowy Dziennik. The Embassy contacted the President of the Mattel and asked that the misrepresentation of Poland be corrected.

Mattel CEO Chritopher Sinclair then officially apologized and offered to exchange the old version of the game for the new one, where there is no trace of the term that, according to the Polish Embassy, “goes against historical truth and assaults the good name of our country.”

In another incident, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) referred to Poland as an accomplice of Nazi Germany during WWII in a column piece in the Washington Post. “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us…”

The column was adapted from a speech which was given on Wednesday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner, in which Comey described his practice of sending every new FBI agent to get acquainted with the museum.

Reminiscent of President Obama’s faux-pau in which he described concentration camps in Poland during WWII as “Polish Death Camps,” the FBI Director’s comments caused quite a stir in the Polish media and led to condemnation not only from the President of Poland but also Warsaw’s Chief Rabbi. The Polish Embassy in Washington responded to the comments with a letter to the director of the FBI that it clearly explained the historical reality and offered Comey a study tour in Poland. American Ambassador to Poland Stephan Mull was also summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw in light of the affair.

Eventually FBI director Comey apologized and sent a response to the Polish Embassy expressing how he values the US-Polish friendship.

“Night Wolves” Banned from Entering Poland

A nationalist Russian biker gang known as the “Night Wolves” were denied entry into Poland at the border checkpoint between Belarus and Poland. The bikers had planned a symbolic ride through Europe along the route of the Red Army to commemorate the Soviet advance against the Nazis 70 years ago. They were scheduled to stop at Soviet war memorials along the way and arrive in Berlin on Victory Day, May 9.

The Night Wolves' leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, is one of the founders of Anti-Maidan, a Russian group that has promised to crush liberal protesters it believes are determined to create a Ukrainian-style revolution in Russia. Zaldostanov is known to be friendly with Putin and the Russian president has previously ridden with the gang in a photo op.

Polish Prime Minister Eva Kopacz called the Night Wolves’ planned ride through Poland a provocation and called for its entry to be denied.

A statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry website states that “We are angered by the refusal of the Polish authorities in our request for assistance in obtaining the necessary permits in connection with activities planned on 27-29 April in Poland as part of the…‘Roads of Victory’ [rally] dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.” The statement also accuses the Polish authorities of using the “false pretext of late and insufficient information" and calling this “a blatant lie.”

Poland’s Foreign Ministry has not commented on Moscow’s harsh condemnation, stressing only that the decision was made on “formal grounds” and was not political in nature.

A group of Polish bikers has promised to complete the Polish leg of the trip for the Night Wolves, protesting the move of the Polish government as political.

European Presidents Confirm Attendance to Poland’s VE Day Celebrations

Eleven presidents of Central and Eastern Europe will join Polish head of state Bronisław Komorowski in Gdańsk on 7-8 May to commemorate 70 years since Victory in Europe Day. These plans have angered Russia, whose own celebrations in Moscow this year are being boycotted by Western leaders in light of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

Poland's commemorations will be held on the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk, where Nazi Germany launched its attack on Poland in September 1939, thus opening World War II.

 III.            Culture and Religion

The Fifth Anniversary of the Smolensk Catastrophe Commemorated in Poland

April 10, 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of the downing of the presidential plane carrying the Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other high-ranking Poles. Five years after the tragedy, over 50 percent of Poles still consider the causes of the crash to be unclear, according to a recent survey.

To mark the anniversary, a number of events have been taking place across Poland as well at the crash site in Russia. A minute of silence was held at 8.25am on Friday morning at a memorial to the victims of the Smolensk crash at Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, with an honorary salvo fired and a wreath laid at 8.41 to mark the exact time the plane crashed.

A special mass was also held at the Temple of Divine Providence for the members of the Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, after which MPs laid flowers at a memorial plaque which commemorates the Polish parliamentarians who died in the crash.

Meanwhile, a Polish delegation also commemorated the victims at both the crash site in Smolensk as well as at the Polish War Cemetery in Katyn.

The 75th Anniversary of the Katyn Massacre Remembered

Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and other government officials participated in a number of events commemorating the Katyn massacre, in which around 20,000 Polish officers were killed on Stalin’s orders. Commemoration events took place by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Piłsudski Square in the centre of Warsaw.

 

A new museum to the Katyn massacre is also set to be opened this year and will be housed in the Warsaw Citadel, according to Polish Defense Minister Siemoniak.

 

Warsaw Finally Decides on Monument to Smolensk Plane Crash Victims

 

Although as many as 61 percent of Poles want a memorial to the victims of the Smolensk crash to be unveiled in Warsaw according to a new poll, there is as of yet no monument to the victims of the tragedy in either Warsaw or Smolensk.

 

Nonetheless, this month Warsaw city councilors have finally agreed on the site where the monument to the victims of the Smolensk catastrophe will be built. The memorial will be located on the edge of Piłsudski Square (on the corner of Trębacka and Focha streets) and also near the Presidential Palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście in downtown Warsaw.

 

The site was previously proposed by Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who called the extraordinary councilor’s session to decide on where the monument should be placed. The form of the monument has yet to be decided, the last proposal being shot down by Gronkiewicz-Waltz for looking like “Nazi-era Nuremberg architecture.”

 

Polish Scientists Develop Liquid Body Armor

Polish scientists at the Institute of Security Technologies Moratex in Łódź, the Military Institute of Armament Technology in Warsaw, and the Warsaw University of Technology have developed a Non-Newtonian liquid to implement in body armor as well as other applications for the commercial market.

The Shear-Thickening Fluid (STF) belongs to a group of Non-Newtonian liquids, which means that unlike water, it changes its viscosity when the forces on it change. STF changes its consistency and hardens upon impact at any temperature, providing protection from penetration by bullets and dispersing the energy of the blow. The STF provides purportedly better protection from bullets than Kevlar and as a liquid is more flexible in where it can be used.

STF is now in the last phase of commercialization and companies all over the world have expressed interest in the invention.

Emigration from Poland on Rise with Fewer Poles Willing to Return

A new study by HR Consultants Work Service indicates a 20% increase this year in the number of Poles wanting to emigrate from Poland. In 2014 only 1.025 million showed interest in emigrating – this year that number has risen to 1.275 million Poles.

Nonetheless the main reason for emigration remains the same as years past – namely, higher wages outside Poland (78%), higher standard of living (44%), and lack of suitable work in Poland (37%).

The survey also took into consideration the influence of the geopolitical situation and asked participants whether the conflict in Ukraine effects (or may effect in the future) their decision to emigrate. Only 3.5% of participants indicated that the conflict played a role in their decision to emigrate, although 32% indicated that it may play a role in the future.

Meanwhile, research by the National Bank of Poland also demonstrates that that many Poles who immigrated to other European countries in recent years have no intention of returning to Poland.

This is likely to cause significant demographic problems for Poland as more and more working-age Poles immigrate and the state is left with a reduced tax base and labor force to support an aging population.

Poland Set to Surpass NATO Military Expenditure Target

In 2015, Poland will not only reach but even surpass the NATO target for member states’ military expenditure of 2% of GDP. Between 2005 and 2014, Poland increased its military expenditure by 38% in real terms. This included a 13 percent increase in 2014 – not to mention an additional boost of 19% in real terms planned in 2015.

Poland’s shopping list for military investment is impressive and includes 32 battle and 70 transport helicopters, 97 drones, 20 air defense units, a few hundred tanks, as well as ships, cruise missiles and US Patriot missiles. In the next 10 years, Poland will invest 32 million Euros in the modernization of its military.

Poland’s First Nuclear Power Plant Faces Delays

The state-controlled utilities company PGE has cancelled a consultancy contract and opted to pursue its own research in developing Poland’s first nuclear power plant. The power plant was initially planned to be operational by 2020 but has now been officially delayed to 2025.

The project, expected to cost between $10 and $15 billion, was first publicized in 2009 as part of an effort to find alternatives to coal-based power. Since then it has been delayed in light of falling power prices weakened its economic case and after Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident lowered public support.

Some observers such as Poland’s Supreme Audit Office have recently announced that it looks increasingly unlikely that the plant will be built at all.

  1.        I.            Politics/State Security

Visegrad Defense Minister Broaden Scope of Cooperation

On April 23rd 2015 the defense ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, whose four countries constitute the military alliance called "The Visegrad Group," met in Bratislava to expand their countries' cooperation in military matters within the structures of NATO and the European Union.

The ministers signed a number of agreements to increase future military cooperation, such as the creation of a Visegrad Task Force of 3,000 troops. This unit is proposed to be a part of either the NATO “Spearhead” (or “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force”) stationed along NATO’s Eastern border or/and NATO’s multinational corps northeast stationed in Szczecin, Poland.

Slovak Defense Minister Martin Glváč also proposed the creation of a ‘single sky’ between the V4 countries.

Poland and Czech Republic Sign Gas Deal

On 20 April 2015 Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz signed a contract with her Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka for the construction of a Polish-Czech gas connection. The project dovetails with the fourth pillar of the EU’s Energy Security Strategy (i.e. building better energy connections between various European states) and, in fact, Poland and the Czech Republic intend to have the project funded by the EU.

In the words of the Polish Prime Minister, “We will build a gas connection between the Czechs and Polish, we will, and we want to build them mainly from the European funds. We will solicit to make the entire documentation and appropriate application found on the desk of a representative of the Commission (EU) by the year 2016.”

Poland Builds Observation Towers at Russian Border

Poland’s 200 km land border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is to be strengthened by the construction of six observation towers, ranging in height between 35 and 50 meters tall. The towers will be staffed and in operation 24 hours a day and seven days a week and will stream images to local border control posts.

The towers are currently under construction and will be fully operational by June of this year. The total cost of the project is over PLN 14 million, with 75 percent of the cash coming from the EU’s External Borders Fund.

Polish President Calls for "Painstaking Work" to Overcome Negative WWII Stereotypes of Poles

The Polish President Bronisław Komorowski has pointed to the need for painstaking work to overcome negative stereotypes and historical inaccuracies of WWII Poland, in light of recent scandals that refer to “Nazi Poland” and associate Poles with Nazis.

The American toy company “Mattel” printed a card in its “Apples to Apples” game that described the film Schindler’s List as “Powerful, real-life story of a Catholic businessman who eventually saved over a 1000 Jews in Nazi Poland.”

The Polish Embassy in the US was made aware of the issue by the US-based Polish language daily newspaper Nowy Dziennik. The Embassy contacted the President of the Mattel and asked that the misrepresentation of Poland be corrected.

Mattel CEO Chritopher Sinclair then officially apologized and offered to exchange the old version of the game for the new one, where there is no trace of the term that, according to the Polish Embassy, “goes against historical truth and assaults the good name of our country.”

In another incident, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) referred to Poland as an accomplice of Nazi Germany during WWII in a column piece in the Washington Post. “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us…”

The column was adapted from a speech which was given on Wednesday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner, in which Comey described his practice of sending every new FBI agent to get acquainted with the museum.

Reminiscent of President Obama’s faux-pau in which he described concentration camps in Poland during WWII as “Polish Death Camps,” the FBI Director’s comments caused quite a stir in the Polish media and led to condemnation not only from the President of Poland but also Warsaw’s Chief Rabbi. The Polish Embassy in Washington responded to the comments with a letter to the director of the FBI that it clearly explained the historical reality and offered Comey a study tour in Poland. American Ambassador to Poland Stephan Mull was also summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw in light of the affair.

Eventually FBI director Comey apologized and sent a response to the Polish Embassy expressing how he values the US-Polish friendship.

“Night Wolves” Banned from Entering Poland

A nationalist Russian biker gang known as the “Night Wolves” were denied entry into Poland at the border checkpoint between Belarus and Poland. The bikers had planned a symbolic ride through Europe along the route of the Red Army to commemorate the Soviet advance against the Nazis 70 years ago. They were scheduled to stop at Soviet war memorials along the way and arrive in Berlin on Victory Day, May 9.

The Night Wolves' leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, is one of the founders of Anti-Maidan, a Russian group that has promised to crush liberal protesters it believes are determined to create a Ukrainian-style revolution in Russia. Zaldostanov is known to be friendly with Putin and the Russian president has previously ridden with the gang in a photo op.

Polish Prime Minister Eva Kopacz called the Night Wolves’ planned ride through Poland a provocation and called for its entry to be denied.

A statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry website states that “We are angered by the refusal of the Polish authorities in our request for assistance in obtaining the necessary permits in connection with activities planned on 27-29 April in Poland as part of the…‘Roads of Victory’ [rally] dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.” The statement also accuses the Polish authorities of using the “false pretext of late and insufficient information" and calling this “a blatant lie.”

Poland’s Foreign Ministry has not commented on Moscow’s harsh condemnation, stressing only that the decision was made on “formal grounds” and was not political in nature.

A group of Polish bikers has promised to complete the Polish leg of the trip for the Night Wolves, protesting the move of the Polish government as political.

European Presidents Confirm Attendance to Poland’s VE Day Celebrations

Eleven presidents of Central and Eastern Europe will join Polish head of state Bronisław Komorowski in Gdańsk on 7-8 May to commemorate 70 years since Victory in Europe Day. These plans have angered Russia, whose own celebrations in Moscow this year are being boycotted by Western leaders in light of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

Poland's commemorations will be held on the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk, where Nazi Germany launched its attack on Poland in September 1939, thus opening World War II.

  1.  III.            Culture and Religion

The Fifth Anniversary of the Smolensk Catastrophe Commemorated in Poland

April 10, 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of the downing of the presidential plane carrying the Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other high-ranking Poles. Five years after the tragedy, over 50 percent of Poles still consider the causes of the crash to be unclear, according to a recent survey.

To mark the anniversary, a number of events have been taking place across Poland as well at the crash site in Russia. A minute of silence was held at 8.25am on Friday morning at a memorial to the victims of the Smolensk crash at Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, with an honorary salvo fired and a wreath laid at 8.41 to mark the exact time the plane crashed.

A special mass was also held at the Temple of Divine Providence for the members of the Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, after which MPs laid flowers at a memorial plaque which commemorates the Polish parliamentarians who died in the crash.

Meanwhile, a Polish delegation also commemorated the victims at both the crash site in Smolensk as well as at the Polish War Cemetery in Katyn.

The 75th Anniversary of the Katyn Massacre Remembered

Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and other government officials participated in a number of events commemorating the Katyn massacre, in which around 20,000 Polish officers were killed on Stalin’s orders. Commemoration events took place by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Piłsudski Square in the centre of Warsaw.

A new museum to the Katyn massacre is also set to be opened this year and will be housed in the Warsaw Citadel, according to Polish Defense Minister Siemoniak.

Warsaw Finally Decides on Monument to Smolensk Plane Crash Victims

Although as many as 61 percent of Poles want a memorial to the victims of the Smolensk crash to be unveiled in Warsaw according to a new poll, there is as of yet no monument to the victims of the tragedy in either Warsaw or Smolensk.

Nonetheless, this month Warsaw city councilors have finally agreed on the site where the monument to the victims of the Smolensk catastrophe will be built. The memorial will be located on the edge of Piłsudski Square (on the corner of Trębacka and Focha streets) and also near the Presidential Palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście in downtown Warsaw.

The site was previously proposed by Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who called the extraordinary councilor’s session to decide on where the monument should be placed. The form of the monument has yet to be decided, the last proposal being shot down by Gronkiewicz-Waltz for looking like “Nazi-era Nuremberg architecture.”



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