Thursday, August 31, 2006

Polish Bishops Verify Collaborationists

Interview With Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz

ROME, AUG. 30, 2006 ( Poland's episcopal conference published a document to help discern the culpability of priests who collaborated with the Communists between the years 1944-1989.

Entitled "Memorandum on the Collaboration of Some Priests with the Security Organs of Poland during the Years 1944-1989," the document was released Friday.

In this interview with ZENIT, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, speaks with Wlodzimierz Redzioch about the current situation of collaborationist clergy in Poland.

Q: Last Friday, the Polish episcopate published the memorandum on the issue of collaboration by some members of the clergy with security organs in Poland during the years of the Communist regime. What does the document say?

Cardinal Dziwisz: It is a document prepared by the Memory and Concern Commission which I convoked, in concomitance with the verification of collaboration -- lustration -- of the clergy in Krakow and other cities of Poland.

After the opening of the archives of the Communist security services, it was verified that some priests and men and women religious had collaborated with them. In some cases, however, it was a question of false accusations, based on documentation falsified by the services themselves.

An instruction has been prepared of a theological-pastoral character, which explains the moral rating of the different forms of collaboration and how the Church must conduct herself in regard to members of the clergy who are guilty.

Q: What were their conclusions?

Cardinal Dziwisz: The document is quite long so that it is difficult to summarize it in two words. Above all it is clearly stated that all deliberate and free collaboration with Communist security organs is a sin. Moreover, it is a public sin.

Consequently, one who wishes to remove the guilt must confess it before his conscience, before God and before the men who have been harmed.

Then he must ask for forgiveness and repair the harm done. The memorandum reminds, however, that all this must lead to conversion and not to condemnation, to forgiveness and not to hatred and vengeance.

Q: When it is a question of the clergy, what does this mean in practice?

Cardinal Dziwisz: A priest should voluntarily confess having collaborated with the Communists to his bishop or, if he is a religious, to his superior, explaining the reasons, the type of contacts and the eventual harm he caused other people.

Together they will decide how to expiate and repair the public scandal.

In some cases, it will probably be necessary that those who hold an office in the Church -- especially an important office -- should present their resignation. In any case, all those who present themselves spontaneously can count on mercy and forgiveness. In fact, I do not think that collaborationist priests were numerous.

Monday, August 28, 2006

"Soviet spies" accusation against ex-foreign ministers

A storm continues after Deputy Defense Minister of Poland, Antoni Macierewicz, accused several Polish former foreign ministers of being Soviet spies, Radio Polonia reports.
Vice-Premier Andrzej Lepper, leader of the minor coalition party Self-Defense, wants Macierewicz either to produce evidence to back his charges or to resign. Lepper argued that such accusations may hamper his talks with the Russian side on opening Russian market for Polish food products. The parliamentary foreign affairs committee is to take a stand on Macierewicz’s opinion presented in the Catholic television station Trwam August 20. The special services committee suspended its work until it hears all that the Deputy Defense Minister may know about the foreign ministers in question. The committee’s head Marek Biernacki said that if the commission has no chance to examine this issue, it makes no sense to work on other issues. The opposition Civic Platform demanded a reaction from the Polish authorities, saying that what Macierewicz said was harmful to Poland’s image abroad and to the national interest. The Civic Platform backed a motion by the opposition Left to include the government’s information on Macierewicz’s statement into the agenda of the parliamentary meeting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Polish ex-foreign ministers were Soviet spies, claims minister

Some of Poland’s ex-foreign ministers have been branded Soviet spies by controversial deputy defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz.

Report by Michal Zajac


Such a statement made by a person being a controversial figure himself has caused a heated debate in Poland. Report by Michal Zajac.

The statement was made on a Catholic television channel in relation to a letter written by 8 foreign ministers of post-communist Poland last month. In the letter the ex-heads of diplomacy, among them respected intellectuals and anti-communist activists such as Bronislaw Geremek or Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, blamed the current authorities for Poland’s deteriorating relations with its EU partners.

Antoni Macierewicz, deputy defence minister in charge of military intelligence, stated in the TV interview that most of the ministers had been Soviet spies and may have acted on orders from abroad. These words have raised a heated discussion across Poland.

In the opinion of political analyst Oskar Chomicki such remarks should not be made publicly.

‘These are very serious accusations. Mr Macierewicz has been known for being totally irresponsible. The accusations should not have been made in public as they shed a bad light on the accused ministers.’

Lower House speaker Marek Jurek of the ruling Law and Justice agrees that evidence should be provided to justify Antoni Macierewicz’s accusations.

‘Minister Macierewicz should back such firm charges with some form of evidence, be it publicly or just to the knowledge of the prime minister.’

Cabinet head Jaroslaw Kaczynski as well as defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski have asked the author of the statement for explanation. Some of the ministers in question are considering suing Macierewicz, while members of the opposition have criticised what they call a lack of reaction to the words on the part of the authorities. Jerzy Szmajdzinski of the leftist Democratic Left Alliance and former defence minister.

‘We are witnessing an unusual scandal. It’s not how people responsible for the image of a 40-million country like Poland should act.’

Oskar Chomicki of the Poland in Europe Foundation agrees that such remarks by high-ranking officials may indeed undermine Poland’s credibility in the eyes of foreign partners.

‘Those accused of spying should sue Mr Maciereweicz. Otherwise our partners, be it Tony Blair or George W. Bush, will have doubts in the credibility of Polish diplomacy of the last 17 years.’

Antoni Macierewicz returned to top politics earlier this summer when he was charged with the reform of the Polish intelligence services.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

American stabs Pole in road rage incident

A Pole is in hospital with serious knife wounds after a 56 year old American stabbed him during a road rage incident in Warsaw today. According to police, the American driver claims that the Pole tried to push his vehicle off the road and ‘sounded his horn at him’. The two men got out of their cars and started to quarrel.

The American pulled out a knife and stabbed the Pole three times in the chest. A passing police car saw the incident and officers arrested the US citizen. The Pole, in serious condition, was taken to hospital to undergo surgery. The American is being detained and being interrogated by the police.
  • Note: The auther of this blog, with or without better information, believes the American's story. and though this sort of violence should never be condoned, I would bet the farm that the Pole did exactly what the driver said he did in order to provoke him. If anyone can get the name of the American, this page would love as much information as possible.
  • Friday, August 11, 2006

    Poland: European Rebuke Over Rare Animals

    Poland is shirking its European Union commitments to protect natural habitats, putting more than 100 endangered species in jeopardy, environmentalists and the European Commission said. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, left, stunned environmental groups and the bloc last week, saying the number of habitats protected under the union’s conservation network should be cut because they hampered projects like roads. Poland is home to rare bison, wolves, bears, snakes and eagles.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    The ghost of the grand Plot

    From: Warsaw Business Journal
    In Pity the Nation, Robert Fisk's personal account of 25 years of conflict in Lebanon, the veteran foreign correspondent comes across a frequent argument from differing sides of the conflict to explain their latest defeats - The Plot.

    Fisk defines it as "the mo'amera, the complot, undefinable and ubiquitous, a conspiracy of treachery in which a foreign hand ... was always involved." Rather than give a rational explanation for why their armies are being defeated in battle, differing factions fall back on the same conspiracy theory. When asked about children killed during Palestinian attacks, the then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat dismissed the accurate reports as rumor and innuendo, part of the Israeli Plot against his organization. Political opposition to the leadership of Hafez al-Hassad in Syria was not a sign of democracy in action, but part of an anti-Syrian Plot, which had its roots in the US. When Israeli officials were questioned about the army shelling civilian areas, they claimed the media was biased and had been paid off by the PLO - the Plot is effective rhetoric for all sides in a conflict.

    Poland's Law and Justice does a good line in the Plot, and is determined to root it out. The party's leaders claim that a secret network of former communists holds sway in the business, political and media worlds, and they hope to eradicate it from its covert position of power. To this end, the Kaczyński twins recently wheeled out the bulk of the apparatus designed to cleanse the state once and for all.

    The Central Anti-corruption Bureau is limbering up for action; the lustration process has reluctantly begun to handle the case of Zyta Gilowska, and the merry-go-round of accusation and resignations centered around the former Finance Minister does not bode well for the future effectiveness of the vetting court.

    The media, as with most international Plots, is the biggest corrupter of all. Jarosław Kaczyński believes there is no such thing as the free media in Poland, and last week he told journalists: "During the short period I have been Prime Minister I've learned that after getting acquainted with the media, one has to get acquainted with the truth." PiS has already taken steps to clear out the cozy cabal. All supervisory board members for local radios stations are now LPR, PiS and SO deputies - so much for diversity of opinion.

    Tangible evidence for the existence of this all-powerful cabal is almost non-existent, and to date the public has little other than the words of the Kaczyński twins to go on. Corruption is obviously a problem in Poland, but it is largely the product of individual greed; the creation of a far-reaching conspiracy taking in different strands of media, business and politics seems beyond the powers of even the most gifted entrepreneur, politician or journalist. The economy is doing well, though not as well as it could, giving PiS political capital to play with. But if it begins to falter, will it be the fault of the ruling coalition or more evidence of the Plot in action?

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Polish media falls back into bad habits of censorship.

    By Irena Maryniak

    Years after the fall of Communist rule Polish journalists are once more becoming adept at self-censorship. Not that they would call it that, writes Irena Maryniak, more a question not washing the domestic dirty linen in Euro-waters.

    Though always sensitive to what others might think, never have Poland’s press commentators suffered so acutely from brand anxiety. Not in terms of their image as tale-bearing media hacks, which might be the case elsewhere in Europe, but as intellectuals and literati delivering enlightening reports to Poles at home or abroad, and to anyone else who might be looking.

    The main worry for journalists seems to be that Poland’s reputation abroad is at its lowest for decades. Last November, Polish voters brought in a right-wing government that has since entered into a coalition with two extremist parties: the hard-line nationalist League of Polish Families and the populist Self-Defence, whose leader Andrzej Lepper has praised Hitler’s economic policies.

    Poles also elected a president, Lech Kaczyński, with an idiosyncratic idea of diplomatic protocol and a twin brother, Jaroslaw, who heads the majority Law and Justice party and, since 10 July, has been prime minister. Jaroslaw dislikes debate and the media, says that he wants to create a strong state based on traditional, ‘authentic’ Polish values, and is widely regarded as the presidential power-broker. And this in a country of 40 million people – the largest EU entrant in 2004 – with ambitions to assert its presence and influence Europe not just economically and culturally, but now ‘morally’ and politically.

    Well we all make mistakes, Polish liberals say, and others have their flaws too. Look at French anti-Semitism, Italian bureaucracy and years of Berlusconi, anti-immigration policies in Belgium and Holland, the rise of neo-fascism in the former GDR. Why blame us for a wider malaise?

    “The entry of Self-Defence and the League of Polish Families into the government has spoiled little,” the popular liberal-conservative weekly Wprost wrote in June, “the Western press has a priori categorised the new Polish authorities as ultra-Catholic, ultra-nationalist and populist, homophobic and anti-Semitic. Our own politicians and journalists are largely to be thanked for this: the West bases its views uncritically on theirs.”

    The insensitivity of foreigners to Polish dilemmas is a long-standing perception: outsiders don’t know or care enough about Poland’s historical tragedies, its economic struggles, its social problems, its long-standing loyalties or its enemies.

    Even in liberal publications, you are likely to read far less about Jewish issues than about outside allegations of anti-Semitism; less about sexual minorities than about problems of perceived homophobia; less about minorities than the kindness of Poles towards newcomers struggling with a bureaucratic migration system; less about questions of religious belief than about the moral significance of the Catholic Church and the role it should play in politics.

    Every Western allegation of anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism or religious prejudice adds fuel to the fire. It confirms in Polish eyes that nobody understands, and gives further excuse for the right – whether liberal or extreme – to claim that Poland is being unfairly targeted from abroad.

    Was there ever a time in the past 200 years when Poland was not threatened from the outside, people will ask, or ruled by puppet governments, or overrun by foreign incursion? And now, look, the EU is threatening sanctions for a bit of political incorrectness and exuberant straight talking.

    Liberal high-mindedness, like the ability to see things from a range of perspectives, demands a confidence most Polish readers and voters don’t have in terms of political trust, economic stature, social savoir-faire or education. Roughly 15 million Poles still live in the countryside where many houses are ramshackle, roads are tracks and horse-drawn carts are commonplace.


    They work in an unwieldy and inefficient farming sector with little prospect of cashing in on the post-communist economic boom that has brought prosperity, top hotels, western cars and the possibility of foreign travel to urban dwellers. In rural areas there is little to live for except the family, and television galls with images of high life and happiness.

    Yet the countryside has always given, and continues to give, the Polish cultural tradition its core identity. Rural culture remains conservative, loyal, suspicious of difference, impatient with innovation, brash, intolerant, stolidly Catholic and insensitive to the political style that makes Europe tick. Until the early 1990s it was geographically confined to the sticks and had virtually no direct voice in public life. Now it has its own significant media presence.

    In many ways the notorious Catholic radio station, Radio Maryja, is the voice of Poland’s grass roots, its excluded rural population, and a response to the post-communist economic drive that has left so many people struggling. To the embarrassment of europeanised urban intellectuals, since 1991 the people of the countryside have been able to have their say on lengthy phone-ins broadcast from Torun by a radio station run by the Redemptorist Order and, in particular, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, whose influence in Poland is thought by some to exceed the Catholic Primate’s.

    The phone-ins revealed attitudes that surprised no one: but their public airing and the encouragement given them by Rydzyk’s media, which now include the daily Nasz Dziennik and a television station Trwam, has caused controversy and serious concern. Amid the prayers, meditations, and domestic tips, conversation on Radio Maryja is coloured by fundamentalist religious perceptions, anti-Jewish attitudes, xenophobia, homophobia, extreme nationalism and staggering moral complacency. The channel is variously estimated as having between one and four million listeners.

    Radio Maryja supporters say that it airs vital social issues and attitudes that would otherwise remain suppressed, and that it is an outcry against the immorality of fast-track capitalism. Critics argue that it exploits low levels of education and encourages the growth of dangerous or divisive social and political attitudes.

    Terrorism, for example, generated a remark that “from one point of view, Israel, which destroys all its enemies using the hand of America, is the principal beneficiary”; the South Asian tsunami prompted the comment: “is it not revealing that this event should have taken place on the Day of the Holy Family?”; gay rights have been said to reflect the “rising terror imposed by the homosexual minority”.

    Such remarks, along with the public image of Radio Maryja’s supporters as stuffy older women in mohair berets, might relegate things to the absurd if the channel had not proved so influential in bringing the Kaczyński brothers to power last October. Law and Justice won the election unexpectedly on the back of the rural vote and widespread resentment against the corruption of successive post-communist administrations.

    Prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczyński was a vocal critic of Radio Maryja in the 1990s but appears to have undergone a remarkable change of heart since then. Rydzyk’s media now have exclusive rights to official government announcements. When Law and Justice held the signing of a stabilization pact with its coalition partners in February, only journalists from Father Rydzyk’s empire were permitted to witness the event.

    Since then things have moved on apace. The nationalist League of Polish Families may have gleaned just eight per cent of the election vote, but its leader Roman Giertych is now Deputy Prime Minister and holds special responsibility for education. Giertych was formerly the leader of All Polish Youth, a vocal far-right youth organization believed to have recruited members from skinhead groups.

    His appointment caused a furore in liberal circles and spontaneous protests from students. In response, Giertych’s colleague from the League of Polish families, Wojciech Wierzejski, suggested that criticisms had been provoked by the hidden agendas of gay groups linked to pedophile rings.

    Rafal Pankowski from the anti-fascist organization Nigdy Wiecej (Never Again) says Giertych’s appointment was a cynical step. ‘I think even people in Law and Justice are somewhat scared by his ideas now, even if they share some of his patriotic instincts.’

    Since his appointment, Giertych has proposed the electronic monitoring of all schools, suggested the introduction of patriotic education in classrooms, announced the introduction of Catholicism as a Polish Baccalaureat subject, dismissed the innovative, pro-European director of the Centre for the Improvement of Teaching and promoted the tougher screening or lustration of people suspected of cooperating with the communist secret services before 1989.

    The prospect of a spate of McCarthy-style witch-hunts may be looming. The number of people exposed as former security service informers grows weekly. The magazine Polityka has called them “a new social category: ‘the exposed’,” and expressed concern over “the scale of what may await us”.

    The presumption of innocence does not appear to feature in the allegations. Jerzy Nowacki, a TV presenter from Poznan recently ‘exposed’ and suspended from his job, has said that he feels helpless and has no legal redress because he has no right to see the documents on the basis of which the revelations have been made.

    One of the latest allegations has been that a liberal priest, Michal Czajkowski, collaborated for 24 years and informed on his colleague, Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, who was murdered by the security services in 1984. Although Czajkowski denies the allegations, to many people the documentary evidence published in newspapers looks conclusive, and he has been lambasted by the right-wing press for his reforming stance, his position as co-Chair of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, and his appeals to the Church to be open about the anti-Semitism in its ranks.


    “If a disagreement arose between Poles or Christians and Jews, he always defended the Jewish position” Nasza Polska wrote, “whether the row concerned a cross in the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, libelous remarks in (the liberal daily) Gazeta Wyborcza alleging that fighters in the Warsaw Uprising murdered Jews, tsarist pogroms pinned on the Poles, or accusations that Radio Maryja is anti-Semitic.”

    The Rydzyk media and publications like Nasza Polska or Mysl Polska now reflect the government line, and bizarre associations linking notions of betrayal, anti-Catholicism, Jewishness, disloyalty to the Polish idea, accumulated capital, communism and liberalism are no longer on the fringe. They have been permitted to flow freely into the mainstream.

    Listening to the chatter of quirky and hospitable people with a good sense of fun and fast-flowing conversation, it can be tempting to feel that, in the Polish environment, ideas are so fluid that resentments must soon be forgotten. But sensibilities linked to patriotism and religion have a particular tenacity, linked to a sense of fractured history.

    Twenty years ago, it was still being said that Poland was less a state than a state of mind. Today, the government is making it clear that Poland is, let there be no doubt, a player in its own right, an independent state intent on coordinating the needs of day to day politics with the same moral vision that saw it through three partitions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a century of imperial occupation, two world wars, and an imposed communist order.

    In terms of home grown political ideas, all that has been historically tested is patriotism. And the bonds this has wrought have been proven - in the sense that, against all the odds, the Polish state still exists. Now the Kaczyński brothers want to make it work.

    The coalition is promising a ‘civilisational leap’ for Poland in a language reminiscent of the 1970s when, under communist leader Edward Gierek, phrases like ‘the political and moral unity of the nation’ were bandied about to ward off questions about human rights. Jaroslaw Kaczyński is proposing the introduction of a form of ‘moral censorship’ to reflect the traditional Polish Catholic ethos.

    In an interview with the weekly Przekroj the philosopher Jacek Holowka has commented on the need ‘to ensure that the authorities do not intend to impose a form of unofficial martial law by releasing agents of intimidation into the community. They could be pseudo-journalists, trainees, students collecting information for a thesis, the envoys of Radio Maryja or some other right wing organisation. We must be vigilant and denounce them when they appear.’

    The fact that such anxieties should be seriously expressed in an EU country seems astonishing. But Wprost argues that the coalition is neither radical nor extremist: “Kaczyński, Giertych and Lepper are genuinely ‘nice boys’ in comparison to other world leaders. Only those with little idea of how Putin, Chirac, Berlusconi or Schroder lead or have led could possibly call them ‘cranky’ or ‘despotic’. But when Western citizens hear from their correspondents in Poland – usually inspired by Poles – what despots Kaczysnski or Giertych are, they imagine a Polish version of Castro or Pol Pot, which is absurd.”

    Perhaps: but even in this liberally conservative view there is the implicit hint of an unidentified ‘presence’, a subliminal conspiracy out to persuade the West that Poland has a problem with right-wing radicalism. Meanwhile, Jaroslaw Kaczyski reportedly likes to talk about uklad – the ‘system’ – that old communist/collaborator network that has sucked the country dry for 15 years and sullied its institutions. The government’s job, as Law and Justice sees it, is to ‘clean up’.

    The difficulty is that there can be a fine line between a clean up and a purge and, if cleansing is what we are about to witness, who will tell us what is really happening? For the present, laws against deriding the nation and the political system are still in force.

    With the notable exception of the satirical weekly NIE, the media are cautious about talking down the mother country. People are prepared to joke and be critical of anything except the idea of independent Poland, its tradition and its leaders. In their approach to written texts, many people still expect to be edified. Poles have been educated to respect authority and on the whole to take things literally, even naively.

    Newsweek Polska, introduced into Poland in 2001 by the German publishing group Axel Springer, recently published an article by its editor-in-chief Tomasz Wroblewski arguing that if communist Poland was plagued by the ‘Captive Mind’ in Czeslaw Milosz’s phrase, today intellectuals suffer from the ‘Naïve Mind’.

    Media commentators feel obliged, in public, to justify the behaviour of politicians. “Convinced that the intentions of the Kaczyński brothers are noble, they perform all but absurd verbal acrobatics to neutralise the effect of the Kaczyńskis’ far from noble resolutions,’ Wroblewski writes.

    “The Kaczyńskis’ aversion to independent media is explained away by servile journalists in tendentious articles about the twins and their past … A distinguished commentator who supports Law and Justice has called a criminal attack on an unarmed anarchist the straightforward settling of old scores between young extremists – apparently for fear that the stabbing might be linked to the coalition’s xenophobic attack on opposition youth groups.”

    In the Polish media, conformism is scarcely new. Not so long ago, an interviewer was caught on television enquiring of former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski what questions he should be asking. Now the newly appointed authorities of public TV have introduced the concept of something called ‘journalism in partnership’.

    The idea is that a journalist does not attack a politician or ask difficult questions, but encourages a cosy chat and, in effect, lets the politician direct the interview. Under this "façade of free speech and integrity’, Wroblewski comments in Newsweek, ‘both free speech and integrity are trampled".

    Best Selling

    Newsweek Polska vies with two other quality weeklies – Polityka and Wprost – for the position of best selling news magazine in the country. Its circulation is in the region of 174,000 but it is thought to reach about 2.5 million people. Its presence has refreshed a market in which less than 30% of the population read any kind of newspaper (even though many of the 300 or so papers available are well-designed, lively, stimulating and varied). Springer, a presence in Polish journalism since 1993, also owns the new national quality daily Dziennik, launched in April for educated young readers interested in European and international issues.

    Its arrival forced Gazeta Wyborcza, until recently Poland’s best-selling newspaper, to cut its price by nearly half. The company also publishes three women’s magazines, a number of specialist titles including business, car and computer journals, and Fakt, Poland’s biggest and snappiest tabloid which pulled in more readers than Gazeta Wyborcza within two months of its launch in October 2003. Fakt is an aggressive, hard-hitting and conservative presence. It alleged directly on the front page, for example, that the ‘exposed’ priest Father Czajkowski had been instrumental in the murder of his colleague Father Jerzy Popieluszko – a bold claim made before any kind of investigation has taken place.

    But then the Polish style is often bold and bumptious, and directness is viewed as an indication of resistance to hypocrisy, circumspection or political correctness. The Kaczyński brothers and their team arrived on the scene brandishing an honesty ticket made credible to voters by their Catholic credentials and their unglamorous flats, cars and wives. But moral righteousness, stroppiness, and selective courtesy apart - how dangerous is Poland’s new coalition, the yes-tradition towards accepted authority, the suspicion of external agendas, the homophobia, the anti-Semitism?

    In April, Marek Edelman, at 87 the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, wrote an open letter published in Gazeta Wyborcza, protesting against a broadcast on Radio Maryja alleging that Jewish groups were profiteering from the Holocaust. The letter attracted considerable attention in Poland and abroad, and Edelman’s warning that persecution begins with words that can lead seamlessly to deeds has been widely quoted. The Vatican also sent a reproof indicating that Radio Maryja was failing to respect the Church’s political neutrality.

    The day before Pope Benedict VI arrived in Poland for his first visit, the Jewish Rabbi, Michael Schudrich was attacked with a can of spray in central Warsaw. A spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs subsequently speculated in the daily Rzeczpospolita that the attack may have been intended mischievously to provoke the impression that Poland is an anti-Semitic country. Members of the Union of Jewish Students have also received threatening phone calls.

    A detailed investigative report in Polityka has shown that, supported by the political climate, Neo-Nazism is growing (its membership in Poland is though to be around 25,000) and European neo-Nazi groups are training their ranks here. How far this might take Poles, and for that matter other Europeans, down the road of neo-fascism is anybody’s guess.

    There have been disturbing reports that the deputy chief of state television, Piotr Farfal, has published a neo-Nazi magazine calling for the expulsion of Jews from Poland. Remarks such as those made by MP Wojciech Wierzejski that any ‘deviants’ wanting to take part in Warsaw’s 2006 gay parade "should be given a good hiding" are also troubling. But though banned in 2005, this year the parade took place on 10 June without disruption. It was widely reported, with predictable expressions of criticism or approval, and about 3,500 people marched.

    For Poland to take the authoritarian Belarusian route – a possibility of which Wojciech Olejniczak, leader of the Democratic-Left Alliance, has warned - the clampdown on the media, satellite TV and the Internet would have to be unprecedentedly severe and brutal.

    What bodes most immediately and visibly, though, is an intellectually straight-jacketed, isolated European province, abandoned by its brightest and best. With 18% unemployment among people of working age (40% among the young) the most enterprising are voting with their feet. According to Gazeta Wyborcza up to two million have left to work abroad since Poland joined the EU in May 2004. The vast majority are under 35, and the signs are that - for the present - they are no longer inclined to think of rushing home.

    • Irena Maryniak is a freelance journalist and a long-time contributor to Index on Censorship. This article appears in issue 3/2006 of Index on Censorship, In Their Own Write.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Animex meat producer eyes China

    Warsaw (Puls Biznesu) – Animex, Poland’s biggest meat producer, which had losses last year due to scandal discovered in one of its plants, wants to get out of the red this year, strengthen in position and conquer new markets.

    Grupa Animex, the company owned by U.S. Smithfield Foods, is slowly recovering from the troubles it had last year when it turned out that in one of its plants – Constar – expired food was refreshed and sold again. The new CEO of the Polish unit Dariusz Nowakowski has just presented the new strategy.

    “It is very simple. We will continue the dynamic growth of our brands, including Krakus, Morliny and Yano in the country plus we will develop exports”, the new CEO said.

    He assured that the company would be profitable this year (it had a loss last year) but he refused to give details.

    He believes that there is big potential in China. That’s why Animex jointly with Polskie Mieso Association is going to lobby for fast access to this market. Animex is already exporting to Korea and Japan. Moreover, the company will further invest in Poland.

    “We have invested USD 250m in the last eight years. If an opportunity appears to buy something or to add something to our business, we will take it into consideration”, Richard Poulson, the deputy CEO of Smithfield Foods and the chairman of Animex said.