Russia Steering Poland?

April 7, 2014
Calling the Shots

Calling the Shots

According to Max Kolonko, a Polish news correspondent in the US, “Russia is steering Poland and the Polish Prime Minister is as weak as [Poland's last monarch] King Stanisław August Poniatowski.” In a recent interview with Onet, Max Kolonko criticised the Polish media and described how the Smolensk air crash was presented in the American media. According to Kolonka, Americans hardly know anything apart from the fact that the crash took place. All US agencies obtained their information from Russian ITAR-TASS and not Polish press agencies because the investigation was carried out by the Russians. As a result the majority of Americans do not know that the black boxes and the wreckage of the plane have not been returned to Poland yet. “The Smolensk air crash has become helpful for Russia in destabilising the situation in Poland. This also explains why gruesome photographs of the mangled bodies of crash victims appeared on a Siberian website,” he added. Kolonko also stated that a conflicted Poland is in the interests of Russia. “A weak Polish Prime Minister is part of a script written in Moscow a long time ago. The PM needs help and Moscow is willing to give it (the plane wreckage and black boxes) but only at a time that is right for Moscow providing an additional ‘ace’ that might strengthen or even save the Polish Prime Minister,” explained Kolonko. Such a grateful Prime Minister would mirror the King Poniatowski situation and his servile attitude to Russia’s Catherine II,” he noted.
gazetaprawna.pl

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Changes in Police

March 8, 2014
Shape of Things to Come

Shape of Things to Come

The Polish government has passed a draft amendment to the Police Act and some other acts which were proposed by the Minister of Interior. The draft amendment hopes to create a new, separate central unit within the police force, the Central Police Bureau of Investigation (CBŚP). The head of the CBŚP will be directly supervised by the Chief Constable. “We will broaden the autonomy and increase the efficiency of the current Central Bureau of Investigation (CBŚ). We have solved many of the dilemmas with which we have been dealing for years,” said Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a recent press conference. It seems that the head of the CBŚP would have both operational and reconnaissance powers. These are similar to that of the Chief Constable and provincial police commanders. One of the vital changes in this act is the visible clarification that one of the main tasks of the police is fighting terrorism. This will be implemented through the use of special police cells and units which deal with anti-terrorism in Poland. The police have the most wide-ranging and specialised skills to fight terrorism, deal with explosives, make high-risk arrests, and support VIP security.
prawo.gazetaprawna.pl

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Kaczyński’s Political Fiction

February 26, 2014
Writing Fiction?

Writing Fiction?

“The new policies of Law and Justice (PiS) are over-optimistic and unreal. In their view money can be distributed willy-nilly even if one does not have it,” said Grzegorz Schetyna of Civic Platform (PO) in an interview with Polskie Radio. “The new policies of PiS are a great example of political fiction,” he added. “It is not enough to present policies in such general terms, we need details, for example, how much will things cost and where is the government supposed to get the money from. When somebody is so sure of victory, like PiS, they ought to know the answers to these questions,” said Schetyna, deputy chairman of PO. When asked about the possible debate between PiS head Jarosław Kaczyński and PM Donald Tusk, he said, “This debate will not take place. I understand because Prime Minister Tusk wants to talk about facts, not fiction.” According to Schetyna, PiS will promise things that are impossible to realise and to verify. He said, “The debate between the Prime Minister and PiS chairman should be organised next year during the political campaign.” In addition, he stressed that the recent PiS party convention has shown that the election campaign had already begun. During the interview, Schetyna was also asked about his standing in the mayoral election in Wrocław. “I have never considered running for local elections, but this topic is now under discussion in Wrocław. Personally, I am very curious about its outcome. For the time being, I have not excluded this option. This topic, however, is now lively commented on by the media in Wrocław. But for the moment, I have a lot of work to do connected with the Foreign Affairs Committee and the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament,” said Schetyna.
gazeta.pl

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Tusk Fighting for Ukraine

February 2, 2014
Helping Ukraine

Helping Ukraine

Prime Minister Donald Tusk is currently racing around the capitals of Europe in an effort to drum up additional support for Ukraine’s battle for democracy. Tomorrow Tusk heads for Tallinn, Stockholm and Helsinki. On Friday, Tusk met with Angela Merkel in Berlin to talk over a strategy for helping Ukraine. The same day he met with David Cameron in Oxfordshire, and the day before PM Tusk was in Brussels to discuss Ukrainian issues with the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and the head of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. If that was not enough, Donald Tusk met with French President François Hollande on Thursday evening. This was preceded by a Wednesday meeting with the heads of the Visegrad Group. PM Tusk highlighted the fact that, “Ukraine is our common European problem and common European responsibility. My main aim is to strive for a unified EU stance on Ukraine which can help halt any escalation of violence.” He also added that, “Ukraine must know that a partnership agreement with the EU is still on the table”.
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Alcohol Excise on the Increase

September 18, 2013
Going Up

Going Up

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has announced that the price of alcohol will rise. The excise duty on it will increase by 15%. Donald Tusk spoke of it as “making the prices of vodka more realistic, in line with inflation as compared with the last increase.” Excise has not gone up since 2009. It is calculated per hundred litres of 100% alcohol, which amounts to PLN 4,960, and will go up by 15% next year. This means that the cheapest vodkas will become more expensive by about PLN 2. The more expensive the high-proof alcohol, the greater the price rise. Donald Tusk made no effort to conceal the fact that this manoeuvre is all about the budget. He explained that this “additional income is not very socially harmful, but it could be annoying. I realise that for many consumers it is a serious issue. However, high-proof alcohol have become cheap over the years because of no changes in excise tax. Now it’s time to keep prices in line with inflation.”
Wyborcza.biz

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Constitution Run

May 5, 2013
Running for Office?

Running for Office?

In order to celebrate the 3rd May Constitution, authorities organised a run which took place in Warsaw and was even attended by the Prime Minister Donald Tusk. This year’s five-kilometre route was a perfect distance for beginners, so the event had a wide appeal among Warsaw residents. Both amateurs as well as professionals took part in the run and everyone who completed the run was awarded a commemorative medal. An additional attraction was provided for children who could participate in 700-metre run. “Today’s patriotism is all about being able to bring up our children as well as we can. A real patriot should never harm a child. A liberated Poland should primarily be a good home for our children and about that I am truly convinced,” said Donald Tusk. The Prime Minister said that he is not enthusiastic about a number of provisions in the current Constitution, but he believes that it is a Constitution of an independent state and so we should appreciate it and celebrate this fact. Tusk also commented, “Nothing is perfect, neither is our Constitution, however it includes all the most important things. And after all, the 3rd of May is a day to celebrate freedom and independence”. After the race finished, the head of the Polish government also said that he was able to run 5 km in less than 25 minutes, which he considered a very good result. He joked, “I am still alive, so it’s a success”. The run began on Rozbrat street and finished in Agrykola Park. The route covered a distance of 5 kilometres along the streets of Warsaw. According to the organisers, about five thousand people took part.
Rp.pl

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Poland to Change Time?

April 10, 2013
Poland's Palace of Culture

Poland’s Palace of Culture

Polish PM Donald Tusk is considering whether to resign from the change to summer time. “During the Council of Ministers we discuss twice a year if there are reasons to cancel the change to summer time. There are arguments for and against it,” said Tusk, “For half a year there will be no change,” he declared. The most serious argument for the continuation of time changes twice a year is of course money. Donald Tusk fears that when we stop adjusting the clock, as it happens in other European countries, our economy will suffer. “It is important that our time is correlated with the time of the largest Western European countries, including our most important partners Germany and France. If, for example, we do not change, it could result in financial fluctuations for individuals, companies and institutions,” said the Prime Minister. He also pointed out that keeping summer time in winter would mean that it would still be dark at 8:30 am. Referring to the possibility of extending the day, Tusk said that “life is just more fun” in countries such as France, Spain or Portugal where for nearly half a year it is bright until 10 or even 11 pm. However, as he stressed, if in Poland you could benefit from sunlight until 9-10 pm in April or in October it does not automatically mean that “the cafés will be full”. In Poland the time is changed twice a year. This is governed by a regulation of the Prime Minister from the 5th January 2012 concerning the introduction and removal of CEST in the years 2012-2016. The time change, which takes place twice a year, contributes to the efficient use of natural light and energy saving, although opinion about these benefits is divided. Throughout the European Union, including Poland, summer time begins on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October. It is regulated in the EU by a directive from January 2001: “Starting from 2002, the summer-time period shall end in any Member State by 1 am of the Universal Time (GMT) on the last Sunday of October”. According to data available on the WorldTimeZone.com website the time change is valid in almost all European countries. The exceptions are Iceland, Belarus and Russia.
tvn24.pl

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E-books for Pupils

September 5, 2012
Time for the Classroom?

Time for the Classroom?

“Every September 1, when the school year begins, Polish parents become understandably irritated because of having to spend considerable amounts of money on textbooks. This is why I am convinced that by 2015, basic e-textbooks will be available for free, and will be available for all pupils on laptops and iPads. We predict that in 2015, all children will be able to use this technology at school,” said Prime Minister Donald Tusk. He reminded parents that the government is currently implementing its digitalization in education programme. “I will not suggest radical changes. For centuries, here in Kashubia [the region where Tusk was born] we have been aware of how important industriousness, self-restraint, moderation, and common sense are. However, we also see that in this school [the Prime Minister was visiting a school in Sulęczyn, Kashubia], modernity presents us with the need to sometimes make a breakthrough and the computerization of the education process will surely allow us to do this.” Donald Tusk discussed the government’s Digital School programme and also work on preparing at least eighteen e-textbooks devoted to fourteen subjects and over 12,500 educational multimedia documents which have been made available thanks to so-called ‘open licenses’. Krystyna Szumilas, the Minister of Education, says that “the content of e-textbooks will not be monopolised, as it will be possible to freely copy, change, and pass them on. She stated that everybody, including publishers, will be able to take advantage of these new, broad possibilities in e-publishing.
Gazeta Wyborcza

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Victory of Polish Patriotism

June 22, 2012
Smuda to Blame?

Smuda to Blame?

Poland’s football players did not live up to the nation’s expectations. However, journalist Dominik Zdort regards Euro 2012 “a splendid time for patriotic emotions.” The Rzeczpospolita journalist said on TOK FM radio that, “I have watched masses of Poles in white-and-red T-shirts with pleasure. It’s a positive awakening.” He added, “Such excitement is necessary for the country to feel a certain togetherness.” It is interesting that Dominik Zdort does not belong to the group of journalists heavily criticising Polish manager Franciszek Smuda. He stated, “I like this young team. I would not dismiss coach Smuda either, even though he made mistakes in  tactics.” Being a political journalist, Zdort could not resist adding a political twist: “This national team is politically pluralistic. There were hints that Robert Lewandowski is a Civic Platform (PO) supporter and Kuba Błaszczykowski is pro Law and Justice (PiS), but they managed to play together very well.” According to the Rzeczpospolita journalist, Franciszek Smuda and PM Donald Tusk are alike with regard to their… reluctance to make changes. Also, Marek Zając from TVP (Polish TV) shares the opinion that Euro 2012 is a chance for Poles to demonstrate their patriotism. However, he has does not agree with Zdort with regards to the team. “We lost mentally. I blame the manager, Franciszek Smuda, who was supposed to motivate his team to fight from the beginning right until the end.” He added, “Remember how Smuda announced before the Greece match that if the game was looking like finishing a draw he would not throw players on to attack. Before the Russia game Smuda said that he would be satisfied with a draw. It now looks like this drawing attitude, and not playing for a win, backfired on Smuda.”

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The 3rd Anniversary

November 18, 2010

Is Tusk Happy?

Is Tusk Happy?

Today is the third anniversary of the Civic Platform – Polish People’s Party (PO-PSL) coalition. All government ministers have sent their reports to the prime minister in which they have presented their achievements. What can the  government be proud of? Probably with EU grant expenditure and investments for Euro 2012. What is interesting, the government has always willingly summarised its ‘anniversaries’. However, this time, the closer we get to the end of the government’s tenure, the less the government is willing to report on its achievements. Over the last three years, the government has not implemented many of its promises, often making decisions inconsistent with its pledges.

For example, it promised to reduce taxes but Poles are now having to face an VAT increase (from 22% to 23%) from January next year. The government blames this on the crisis, however, Civic Platform has also not succeeded in introducing a one-mandate electoral system for parliamentary elections, limiting the power of the diplomatic immunity of parliamentarians and reforming KRUS (the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund). A pension reform has only just been started. PM Tusk succeeded in withdrawing the Polish army from Iraq, introducing a ‘regular’ army, separating the functions of the minister of justice and the attorney general, implementing regulations regarding the extension of maternity leave and enabling 6-year-old children to go to school. The process of building stadia for Euro 2012 and so-called Orliks (school playing fields) also looks promising.
Rzeczpospolita


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