In our Poland Newsletter guest contributor Dr. Milosz Hodun is giving us monthly updates about current news, events and all other things you need to know about Poland.
Topic of the month
LGBT Free Zone
This year’s edition of the Warsaw Pride, known as the Warsaw Equality March, was the biggest ever. For the first time there was no counter demonstrations and tens of thousands of people marched downtown Warsaw. Among them representatives of liberal and left-wing parties and a significant representation of private companies, that presented their logos in rainbow colors. The Warsaw Pride was for the first time opened by the mayor.
Actually, a few other Equality Marches got mayors’ patronage this year, including Poznań and Bydgoszcz, but also Płock, a town in a conservative region Mazovia. In total 24 rainbow parades are organized this year in Poland. And this could be a very positive post if Białystok hadn’t happened…
It was a first ever Equality March in this northeastern city of Poland, capital of the Podlasie region. And it went bad. Ringed by riot police, around 1.000 marchers walked defiantly through the streets of the city as thousands of nationalist, hooligans and extreme right supporters threw flash bombs, rocks and glass bottles. The anti-LGBT crowd yelled “God, honor and motherland” and “Białystok free of perverts”. It became violent. The hooligans stole banners, rainbow flags and attacked physically pride-goers and policemen. Some of the hooligans were using their own children as protection.
Around 100 people were arrested. Many were immediately punished. Some cases were sent to the court for a trial. The attacks were condemned by the interior minister Elżbieta Witek. But it’s too late. Białystok happened and it showed the ugliest face of Polish right wing extremism that has grown for years under silent protection of PiS government.
It must be noticed that on the Białystok March day, 32 conservative demonstrations were registered in the capital city of Podlasie, including a picnic for traditional families supported by PiS officials and the leader of the legislative assembly. The anti-LGBT mania had been pumped up by right-wing politicians and media for weeks. Also the Catholic Church initiated outdoor prayers and Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda called on congregants to “defend Christian values”, adding that the LGBTQ march was “an initiative foreign to” the region.
The Białystok events could be also analyzed in a broader context of the anti-LGBT propaganda of the government and PiS-dependent media. It all exploded during the EP campaign when PiS used LGBT+ minority as the new enemy that was presented as the biggest threat to the Polish state, Polish tradition and Polish children (read more in the May edition of the Newsletter). Jarosław Kaczyński, criticized LGBT+ rights, describing them as a “threat to Polish identity”. The party’s new focus on countering what its officials call Western “LGBT ideology” has largely replaced its prior rallying cries against migrants.
Regional PiS officials have since pushed to declare cities and even entire provinces in the country’s conservative southeast “LGBT-ideology free”. Activists have counted around 30 such declarations so far, including Świętokrzyskie, Lubelskie and Małopolskie regions. They wanted to send clear message to the people: There is no LGBT people in our community and if they are they deserve no rights.
Also Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal – packed with PiS nominees– ruled last month in favor of a printer who refused to produce posters for an LGBT+ foundation (read more in the June issue of the Newsletter).
The most visible example of this discriminatory rhetoric in recent weeks was advertisements of “LGBT Free Zone” stickers that were supposed to be added to a conservative weekly “Gazeta Polska”. Such stickers were designed to mark bars, cafes, shops that are proudly LGBT+ hostile. LGBT+ organization and citizens protested against such disgusting hate speech. Many liberal commentators drew parallels between the sticker and discrimination propaganda of the Third Reich. Paweł Rabiej, the deputy mayor of Warsaw (Nowoczesna), linked it to the Nazi-era. “As you can see this tradition finds worthy followers, this time in Poland,” he said, adding that it was happening “under the umbrella” of the governing party and bishops.
Only PiS couldn’t see that there was something wrong and didn’t stop the distribution. Gazeta Polska, in an editorial, had justified the sticker by saying LGBT rights “have all the features of a totalitarian ideology”.
Many of the press salons and news agents announced they would not be selling this particular issue of the magazine. Empik, BP and Shell stations were among them. Of course state-owned companies like Ruch or Orlen didn’t boycott the title.
US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher expressed her concern. “I am disappointed and concerned that some groups use stickers to promote hatred and intolerance. We respect freedom of speech, but we must stand together on the side of values such as diversity and tolerance,” Ms Mosbacher tweeted. It was not expected by the government and Mosbacher was criticized by some of the PiS top politicians. The editor of the controversial weekly magazine, Tomasz Sakiewicz, countered, “Freedom means that I respect your views and you respect mine. We oppose only the imposition of views by force. Being a gay movement activist does not make anyone more tolerant.”
Eventually, the District Court in Warsaw ordered to halt the distribution of stickers. The injunctive order was connected to the lawsuit filed in the court, regarding infringement of personal interests. A lawyer who brought the legal action on behalf of a Polish LGBT activist said the ruling meant the stickers should immediately disappear from all places of sale.
The political atmosphere in the country is getting increasingly divisive. Hooligans encouraged by the government’s inaction feel safe. A week after the Białystok March a university teacher was beaten up in Wrocław for expressing publicly his objection for a far right graffiti. A few days later a designer was attacked on a street of Warsaw and a women was punched by a bouncer for wearing a rainbow sweater.
Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Cracow was talking about “rainbow plague” during his homily at the Warsaw Uprising anniversary.
LGBT+ organizations, diverse NGOs and opposition parties have organized dozens of anti-hate demonstrations all over the country. “Hate Free Zone” stickers were distributed. #JestemLGBT (I am LGBT) grew in online trends when thousands of Poles came out in Facebook and Twitter to their family members, neighbors, co-workers, proving that LGBT+ people live everywhere and are citizens like everybody else.
PiS’s EP election result is a big success for the party. PiS with 26 MEPs became 4th largest national party in the EP, after CDU/CSU (29), Brexit (29) and Salvini’s Lega (28). But these impressive numbers will not translate to the influence in Brussels. PiS did not manage to build a bigger block on the right from the EPP and stayed in European Conservative and Reformists Group (ECR). ECR was joined by new parties like Vox (Spain) or Swedish Democrats (German contribution to the Group is Familienpartei Deutschlands) but it’s still only the fifth biggest group and is not playing any significant role in the new Parliament, dominated by a EPP-S&D-Renew Europe coalition. PiS MEPs consist almost half of the ECR and prof. Ryszard Legutko was elected a co-chair of the Group, together with Rafaele Fitto from Fratelli d’Italia.
ECR Group nominated new Polish MEP and former PM Beata Szydło to chair the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. “I believe that I have the necessary experience having delivered social reforms in Poland and I hope to be able to use this to help steer my committee and its members through the work that’s ahead of us,” Szydło said. But she failed to muster enough support.
Before the vote, some rumors suggested that Szydło would step down, leaving the chair of the committee to colleague Elżbieta Rafalska, who was Labour and Social Policy Minister for her country up until a month ago. Rafalska could have been accepted by her peers as less involved in anti-constitution reforms in Poland. On the other hand Szydło gave face to PiS’s fight against the rule of law and she is remembered for her aggressive anti-European speech in EP when he was still leading the government. ALDE and S&D MEPs said that they would never support candidates who were involved in anti-democratic actions in their own countries, namely top politicians from PiS and Fidesz.
The Szydlo debacle came ahead of a plenary EP vote on whether to endorse Ursula von der Leyen. PiS and ECR supported her. The reasons of PiS’s blind support for von der Leyen are not entirely clear. For many commentators it looks like they endorsed her only because… she was not Frans Timmermans. For PiS and V4 governments the only political goal was to stop the Dutch politician, who proved his full dedication for the protection of the EU values in Central Europe, from getting the top job in the Commission. They might have not even known the new Commission President’s political views, on the environment and climate, on the rule of law, on LGBT+ rights, that are far away from their own platform.
It can be added anecdotally that PiS happily supported Angela Merkel’s candidate when a few years back PiS opposed firmly and loudly Donald Tusk, calling him a “German candidate”.
Later, Rafaele Fitto surprised other MEPs proposing again Szydło to chair the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. She lost again with 34 votes against and 19 in support, ending with a decision to postpone the vote once again and to do it a third time. Szydlo claimed she had a better respect for values than many others represented in the committee. “I think I am one of the few people in this room for whom European values are an extreme and utter importance,” she stressed. To a round of applause from her own group, Szydło said her loss was a demonstration that European values were not being respected. Slovak MEP Lucia Duris Nicholsonova (Freedom and Solidarity/SaS; ECR) was elected- surprisingly even for her as she was informed about her candidacy only a few hours before the vote- head of the EP Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. 38 of the 55 members of the committee voted in her favor, with 14 against and three abstentions.
Polish media commented the decision about running Szydło again as a way of humiliating her by Jarosław Kaczyński who just wanted to prove that Europe is anti-Polish. And this is the way TVP presented it.
Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski (PiS) was not elected EP Vice President.
None of the representatives of Central and Eastern Europe got any of the top EP jobs.
Poland has nominated Krzysztof Szczerski, currently chief of Polish president’s cabinet, as its next EU commissioner. Mateusz Morawiecki described Szczerski as “a person who knows perfectly well the reality of the European Union, the functioning of the European Union [and] understands the specificity of the European institutions,” adding: “I’m sure he’ll be a very good commissioner.”
Szczerski served as President Andrzej Duda’s secretary of state for foreign policy before becoming his chief of cabinet in 2017. He has also worked in Poland’s foreign affairs ministry and in the Polish parliament. Earlier this year, Warsaw nominated him — unsuccessfully — for the position of NATO vice president.
On the Courts Again
Another legal and political battle on the judiciary reform hit Poland in July. The topic of lists of support for new members of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) electrified public opinion.
KRS is a public body responsible for nominating judges and reviewing ethical complaints against sitting jurists. According to the new legislation the KRS, made up of 15 judges, will serve a four-year term at the Sejm. The judges were chosen by the ruling PiS from a list of just 18 candidates. Before the reform it was the judges themselves who chose majority of the KRS members.
All new KRS candidates must have collected 25 signatures of judges. Most of the judges boycotted the new legislation and decided not to candidate to the new KRS and not to support those who candidate. But 18 judges decided to run and collected the signatures. The opposition suspects that all of them collected the signatures from each other and of a few judges employed directly by the ministry. The Chancellery of the Sejm refused to publish the list of names of the judges who supported the candidates. In July the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the Sejm to publish such lists.
However, the Office for Personal Data Protection (UODO) has suspended the disclosure of the personal data, citing EU personal data protection law (GDPR) with which Poland is obliged to comply. The office’s president, Jan Nowak, is a long-time member and founding member of PiS, and a vocal advocate of not disclosing data about KRS judges. Jan Nowak was appointed only a few months ago.
The Chancellery of the Sejm released a statement saying that it “will be waiting for the president of the Office for Personal Data Protection to issue a final decision on the admissibility of disclosing the personal data of the judges.”
This is another shocking move of the PiS administration. In Poland the final verdicts of supreme courts are irreversible and should be carried out immediately. In this case an informal exchange of emails between the data protection officer (former PiS city councilor) and head of the Chancellery of the Sejm (also a former PiS city councilor) is more important than the court decision. It confirms that rule of law in Poland was replaced with the rule of the party.
Amnesty International calls on Poland to stop targeting judges
Polish authorities must “immediately stop” cracking down on judges and prosecutors and reinstate judicial independence, Amnesty International said in a report released in July. The report, titled “Poland: Free Courts, Free People,” documents the impact of reforms implemented by PiS in 2015, which the human rights watchdog describes as “a near wholesale take-over of the judiciary at various levels.”
Poland should “immediately stop using disciplinary proceedings against judges and prosecutors merely for their exercise of the right to freedom of expression; for their rulings and other legitimate activities directly linked to their work,” according the report. The findings were based on research conducted between March 2017 and May 2019 and interviews with Polish judges and prosecutors.
So it’s all clear. Kind of. There will be three or four blocks that will try to beat PiS in the autumn general elections. It’s the end of the European Coalition that united the entire opposition before the EP elections.
First to leave the European Coalition was PSL (Polish People’s Party). PSL leaders felt that they lost too many voters due to the left/liberal image of the Coalition. The peasants’ party announced they would build a new centrist blocked baptized as the Polish Coalition. The fact is that what PSL is doing has not much to do with the political center, it’s a right-wing offer for PiS voters. A few ex-PO conservative MPs joined PSL Group, some other declared they would run from PSL lists. Władysław Kosiniak Kamysz, a popular PSL leader, announced that he is negotiating with Kukiz’15 and so called Bezpartyjni Samorządowcy (BS; Nonpartisan Local Government Activists) to run together in October/November. It would be a peculiar alliance since Paweł Kukiz himself many time criticized PSL comparing it to mafia.
Just before the tripartite agreement was supposed to be announced Kukiz said he can’t build a block with PSL, since such coalition will not be acceptable for his anti-establishment voter base (only 20% of Kukiz voters support such alliance). Kukiz’15 and BS will cooperate though. BS is strong in Western Poland, especially in Lower Silesia where they govern with PiS. There also are rumors that Kukiz’15 may create common lists with extreme right Konfederacja.
Later Grzegorz Schetyna, PO leader, announced that his party doesn’t want to form a coalition with left wing parties, SLD and Wiosna. It was a big surprise for both of them. SLD enjoyed the European Coalition that gave social democrats five MEPs. On the other side, Wiosna that lost its label of the “new hope party”, lost credibility of its chairman who had promised to lead the parliamentary race but decided to stay in Brussels instead, tried to join the Coalition to avoid a disaster during the campaign. But Schetyna’s decision pushed left parties to form an alliance. Very quickly it was announced that SLD, Wiosna and the radical left Razem party would build common lists. It can be a last chance for the Polish left to enter the parliament and survive. In 2015 due to some strategic mistakes some 2 million left votes were wasted and none of 3 left wing parties is represented in the Sejm. In EP elections Wiosna scored 6% and Razem less than 2%. It’s a good starting point before the general elections. But now the three leaders must decide if they want to run as one party (5% threshold) or as a collation (8% threshold). The decision may determine the situation of Polish social democrats for next years.
And finally the last block is the renewed Civic Coalition, a well known union of Civic Platform, Nowoczesna and small left wing party called Polish Initiative, joined by the Greens. It will be the biggest opposition block that will try to win against PiS. The Coalition presented its top candidates. Civic Platform leader Grzegorz Schetyna and Nowoczesna leader Katarzyna Lubnauer will be the top candidates in Warsaw. Former interior minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz will top the list in Kielce, former deputy foreign minister in Law and Justice cabinet, Paweł Kowal – in Kraków, leader of the Polish Initiative Barbara Nowacka in Gdynia, and former minister of justice Borys Budka – in Katowice. Haidar Rijad, previously associated with SLD, will be the number one on the list in Chełm, Tomasz Aniśko from the Greens in Zielona Góra, popular sport journalist Tomasz Zimoch in Łódź, Nowoczesna MP Witold Zembaczyński in Opole.
All polls show that PiS will win in the autumn. But actually in a scenario when the Civic Coalition reaches a good result and both left and PSL enter the parliament may prevent PiS from having the majority and forming government again. All three blocks have announced they will try to find common candidates to the Senate (first past the post elections) and get the majority in the upper chamber.
According to Radio Zet’s reports, speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński (PiS) was flying together with his family in the government’s plane. Radio Zet’s journalists came across documents confirming six flights during which Kuchciński was on board together with members of his family and State Protection Service officers. Kuchciński family didn’t pay for the trips.
What is crucial is that always when speaker of the parliament uses the governmental jet special security measures must be applied (two planes are prepared with two security squats, two landing airports are prepared in case of emergency) and each such flight costs dozens of thousands of zlotys. It was reported that Kuchciński could have made around 100 trips like that from Warsaw to Rzeszów and then with a limo to his home-town of Przemyśl. According to the opposition most of these trips were just weekend journeys back home, including a skiing excursion, according to the speaker they were all connected to the speaker’s official business.
The Sejm Information Centre (CIS) informed that each of Kuchciński’s trips in government plane had official character and the presence of additional passengers on board did not affect the overall cost of the flights.
But after a public debate and criticism the head of CIS informed that the speaker decided to cover the costs of the flight of his family members and that he would donate the money to charity, since there is no procedure to pay money back to the state budget. Kuchciński donated PLN 5.000 to the Alarm Clock Clinic (Klinika Budzik) and PLN 10.000 to Caritas Polska, for the 23 flights he took in government plane. It is less than PLN 600 per flight per family member.
Jarosław Kaczyński said in an interview that Kuchciński didn’t do anything wrong, legally or morally. And he announced law amendments that will regulate such situations in the future. Immediately after that national media started a campaign showing how former cabinet members from PO were using governmental jets and reminding prime minister Tusk’s trip to Peru.
There is also one additional aspect of the case. Maybe these family weekend trips were legal and speaker of the Sejm deserves such free air taxi but definitely they were not ecological and they did not show that this government is modest and close to the people. Kuchciński could have flown with regular air connection. There are 5 flights every day between Warsaw and Rzeszów. But he didn’t take those, he is better than that…
The Young Will Pay Less
On July 1st Poland scrapped its personal income tax for young employees earning less than EUR 19,000 a year, as part of a drive to reverse a brain drain and demographic decline that’s dimming the prospects of a country that is otherwise experiencing strong economic growth. The program will cost the budget some PLN 2 billion. It was a part of a larger package of social benefits called “Kaczyński’s Five” that was to supposed to earn higher support for PiS in the EP elections (and it did) but raised worries about strains on state finances.
The personal income tax will go down from 18% to zero for workers under the age of 26 below the income threshold. It is expected to boost the earnings of nearly 2 million Poles at home, and the government hopes it will also persuade young Poles living abroad to return home and work here.
Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recently said he hoped it would “prevent a further loss, a bleeding of the population that is especially painful for a nation, a society, when it concerns the young generation.” It is estimated that some 1,5 – 2 million Poles left the country after joining the EU in 2004. A recent survey by the National Bank of Poland (NBP) showed that some 15% of Polish migrants in Western and Northern Europe would be willing to return home, especially from Britain, where the prospect of a hard Brexit threatens economic pain.
Polish Start-Up with New EU Funding
Cogito Capital, a Warsaw-based venture capital firm, has announced the closing of the multi-million-euro Cogito Fund 1, in which the European Investment Fund (EIF) is the main investor. Along with European cash the fund has also attracted money from professional investors and funds managed by the Polish Development Fund (PFR). Cogito Capital was founded in 2018 by Sylwester Janik and Martin Jasinski, venture capital and corporate executives with 25 years of experience in the international tech and VC industry.
Cogito’s fund is focused on late and growth-stage B2B software, fintech and mobility companies. Cogito will predominantly invest in Polish and Central European companies that have the potential to expand or are already growing in other European markets and the USA.
As of June 2019, the Juncker Plan has mobilized nearly EUR 410 billion in investment funding, including EUR 18,1 billion in Poland. The plan is currently supporting 952.000 small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. “The Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments is playing an important role in assisting start-ups across Europe gain access to finance to innovate, grow and expand,” Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president, said in a statement.
The Polish Ministry of Culture is currently working on the draft law on financial support for cultural video games. The draft is expected to be completed in the last quarter of this year at which point it will be forwarded to the Sejm where the main stage of the legislative process will take place. The new law is supposed to come into force in 2020 and may be one of the major factors which may positively impact on the Polish gaming industry.
The rationale behind the new law is to introduce tax relief for the production of cultural video games in order to support the competitiveness of the gaming industry in Poland, to compete with other jurisdictions and thus also to counteract the capital outflow and emigration of qualified specialists. It is inspired by legislations in France, the UK, Finland. One of the goals of the draft law is to create conditions for foreign investment in producing cultural video games in Poland and also to allow for cooperation between foreign and Polish video game producers. Tax relief will be available to game developers from other countries, however in order to formally apply for the financial support they will have to establish a branch in Poland.
Poland is already an important actor on the video gaming sector. Nearly 1/3 of Polish population plays video games. Each spends EUR 60 per year on video games, 30% of that on their phones. The Polish gaming business nets 95% of its revenue from exports abroad – as PlayStation discs, Xbox games, PC downloads or mobile apps. The most successful of these is “The Witcher” from leading Polish developer CD Projekt. There is around 330 game development firms in the country.
Read more about Polish video game success: https://www.kotaku.co.uk/2018/10/26/from-piracy-to-billions-how-poland-became-a-video-games-nation
Trump in Poland
Donald Trump will pay a visit to Poland between August 31st and September 2nd. On September 1st, the American President will attend the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the World War Two. He is expected to deliver a speech during the ceremonies.
“I look forward to it. I like the people,” Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that he had a great relationship with the country and had been invited to visit. It will be Trump’s second visit to Poland, making Poland the first country visited twice by him. The first trip to Warsaw happened in July 2017 a few months after taking office in the White House. He came together with his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Washington has recently decided to add 1.000 troops to its contingent of 4.000 troops based in Poland as a security enhancement for the country, which is wary of neighboring Russia’s military activity. Poland is planning the purchase of state-of-the-art F-35 jet fighters.
It is expected that Trump may announce a Visa Waiver Programme for Poland during his visit. US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher has declared she intends to bring Poland into the programme before the end of her term of office, if not this year, definitely in 2020.
Rep. Dan Lipinski recently proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would advance the Visa Waiver Program, and although the amendment from the Illinois Democrat was declared not in order by the House Rules Committee, the sound policies that it calls for should be pursued by Congress. The amendment would give NATO allies an alternative method for entering the Visa Waiver Program.
If visas to USA were waived for Polish citizens before the autumn general elections it would be a huge gift for the ruling PiS party who would use it as its huge success.
Western Balkans Summit in Poznań
Poland and Germany called in Poznań for continued progress on European Union membership talks for Western Balkan states hoping to join the bloc, rejecting France’s position that it shouldn’t accept more members until it handles its own issues.
“I share President Macron’s view that the EU’s working mechanisms must be improved,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference concluding the Western Balkan summit in Poznań.
Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Economy and Interior from the Western Balkans, together with their counterparts from several EU Member States and high-level EU representatives, met on 4th and 5th of July in Poznań to strengthen regional cooperation between the Western Balkans partners, as well as between the region and the EU, and to further advance the European integration process of the Western Balkans. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “Our engagement with the Western Balkans is a priority. Today, all six partners in the Western Balkans are closer to the European Union compared to the beginning of our mandate almost 5 years ago. The European perspective remains the driver for change in the region. Regional cooperation, good neighborly relations and reconciliation are key and support the EU integration of the Western Balkans.”
The Poznań Summit is part of the Berlin process, an initiative of several EU Member States supporting efforts towards strengthening regional cooperation and the European perspective of the Western Balkans.
Award for Antarctic Station?
The design for a new Polish station on Antarctica has been shortlisted for this year’s World Architecture Festival award. Designed for harsh weather conditions, it is also meant to support its occupants’ wellbeing during long periods of isolation. The project of the new main building of ‘Henryk Arctowski’ antartic station is to be located on Admiralty Bay, on the southern part of the island of King George in the South Shetland Archipelago, about 120 km from the Antarctic coast. The station is elevated 3m over the landscape resembling an elegant floating vessel when viewed from a sea.
The new Henryk Arctowski Antarctic Station is one of over 500 projects from 70 countries shortlisted ahead of the festival, which will be held in Amsterdam on December. It was shortlisted in the “future projects – education” category, alongside projects from several countries including Chile and China.
According to the architects, it is “a Polish business card, as well as a temporary home for Polish scientists and technical workers in one of the world’s most inaccessible regions”. The building’s form was influenced by the weather conditions in the region, as well as logistical considerations. The result is a highly efficient tripartite ensemble which provides scientists with rational research space as well as a ‘home away from home’ atmosphere while the sinuous shape of the building’s exterior envelope seeks to capture the mystery of arctic life and articulate the thrill of exploration for its visitors.
Polish Antarctic station was established on 26 February 1977, the station is managed by the Polish Academy of Sciences; its main research areas include marine biology, oceanography, geology, geomorphology, glaciology, meteorology, climatology and seismology. It is one of the most-visited scientific stations in Antarctica. But scientists have long been raising the alarm over the poor state of the station. Upon being established, its location was barely a dozen meters from the sea. Now, during high tide, it is less than a meter away. Scientists warn that at any moment a storm could damage the building and take it out of use. In 2018 the Antarctic Station receive PLN 88 million (EUR 20,4 million) from the Ministry of Science for a new station.
Poland, as a signatory of the Antarctic Treaty, belongs to a group of 29 countries which can decide on human activity on the Antarctic territory. It is allowed to do so as it fulfills the condition of having a research station and sending scientific expeditions to Antarctica, for which an agreement of the other members of the Treaty is required.
Warsaw Central Railway Station Protected
Warsaw’s Central Railway Station has been included in the Polish Registry of Objects of Cultural Heritage, as one of almost 77 thousand structures in Poland.
Professor Jakub Lewicki, who leads the Masovian Office for Preservation of Objects of Cultural Heritage told: “I thought architecturally, it was the most interesting railway station in Poland and from the moment I took my office I was aiming to enter the station into the registry.” “We managed to convince the user, PKP (Polish State Railways) of the necessity of protecting the building,” Lewicki added.
Designed by architect Arseniusz Romanowicz, its construction began in 1972 and was completed in 1975. The station was a flagship project of the Polish People’s Republic during the 1970s western-loan fueled economic boom, and was meant to replace the inadequate Warszawa Główna. The station was one of the most prominent postwar modernism constructions in Warsaw of its time and thanks to its functional and aesthetic features it was considered as one of the most modern railway stations in Europe. The Communist Party leader Edward Gierek had the ambition of welcoming Leonid Brezhnev in a station that would impress the Soviet leader.
The entire construction went through a major facelift before the 2012 European Football Championships, making it brighter and easier to navigate –especially when it comes to the maze of underground passageways.
In January this year, the Central Station received a new patron. Stanisław Moniuszko, the father of Polish National Opera was chosen by PKP and the Society of Moniuszko Music Lovers. Deputy PM Piotr Gliński said during the naming ceremony on January 5th: “This way, Warsaw will be a unique capital in the world, where the two largest communication ports – Okęcie Chopin Airport and Moniuszko Central Railway Station – will be named after our great composers.”
The iconic building, loved by some and hated by others, services 15 million passengers per year.
Best on Planet
Patrycja Pacak is the new world champion of glider aerobatics. The Polish student from Częstochowa brought home the gold from Romania. A total of 31 contestants (men and women) from 13 countries took part in the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships. It was the first time that a woman has won, and the 10th edition of the competition.
Germany and Poland
Błaszczak against the Life March
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has spoken out against joint events with Germany in Gdansk to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII. “In Gdańsk, people will sing and rejoice over the fact that Germany attacked Poland,” he told the TVP, referring to the events scheduled to be held by the Reconciliation foundation on September 1st.
The issue at hand is a Polish-German initiative supported by the Gdańsk mayor, which provides for a visit of about 200 German representatives to the city to take part in the so-called joint Life March.
“This is not the best occasion for unity,” Błaszczak said. “Reconciliation should be based on calling a spade a spade rather than eroding the boundaries between victims and butchers. The Poles were the victims, while the Germans were those who killed them, and that should be remembered,” the minister stressed.
Polls & trends
Ibris for DGP, 26-27.07
Civic Coalition 25%
Nuclear Power Plant
Support for nuclear power plant in municipalities where it potentially can be built:
69% in favor (+2 compared to 2018)
Who deserves a new monument in Warsaw?
ISPOS for OKO.press (February 2019)
John Paul II 50%
Jerzy Owsiak (funder of the biggest charity organization) 31%
Jan Olszewski (former right wing PM) 17%
Lech Wałęsa 13%
Tadeusz Mazowiecki (first non-communist PM) 12%
Lech Kaczyński 10%
About the author ____________________________________________
Expert at the Nowoczesna party. PhD, formerly a part-time teacher at Reykjavik University School of Law. His main areas of interest are comparative constitutional law and federalism. Board member of Projekt: Polska Association. Until September 2015, he worked as an expert within “Presidential Experts’ Programme” at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. He is member of the Board of Directors of the European Liberal Forum.