Poland rejects EU criticism of new watchdog

Poland has rejected European Union criticism that its new financial regulator might fall victim to political meddling, a Finance Ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The EU's top financial regulator, Charles McCreevy, wrote to the ministry this week saying he was concerned the newly created watchdog could fall prey to political pressure, since most of its board members can be recalled at any time. The government has argued the Financial Supervision Commission (KNF) will generate savings and improve supervision.

"The message of our answer to the EU will be that the regulator is independent and not under government influence," Finance Ministry spokeswoman Dominika Tuzinek-Szynkowska said.

She said the ministry would reply with a letter to the EU this week.

Created in August, the KNF assumed the responsibilities of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a pension and insurance regulator, and its chairman heads the banking supervisory body.

McCreevy said the KNF may weaken oversight and jeopardise market stability.

"In particular, I am concerned about the new appointment and dismissal procedure for the members of the Financial Supervisory Commission, which risks undue political control over supervisory operations," the letter read.

He asked for assurances from Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska that the watchdog remain free from interference.

Prime Minister Jarowslaw Kaczynski said on Tuesday he was astonished by the letter, which he said Gilowska would answer.

Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech, Poland's president, have clashed with the European Union and Poland's central bank a number of times over banking regulation since their conservative party took power last year.

The central bank has said the Kaczynskis are waging a vendetta against its head, Leszek Balcerowicz. It says the new watchdog reduces its traditional role in Polish banking regulation and could destabilise the sector.

McCreevy, who has sweeping powers to safeguard the free movement of capital in the EU's 25 member states, said in September he would take action against Poland if he finds evidence the new regulator is subject to political interference.


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Dual citizen fights extradition to Poland

A man accused in Poland of hiring a hit man to kill a prominent law enforcement officer appears to be planning a fierce fight to avoid extradition from Chicago to that nation.

While Edward Mazur is a Polish citizen, he will argue at an upcoming extradition hearing that he is also a U.S. citizen and that citizenship means he shouldn't be taken out of the country.

In asking for more time to make a case for keeping his client in the country, Mazur's lawyer also worked to paint Poland's case as weak.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys scheduled a Nov. 15 extradition hearing for Mazur, whose arrest last week grabbed national headlines in Poland.

Mazur was arrested on a warrant out of Poland that accuses him of paying a hit man $40,000 to kill the chief superintendent of the Polish police, Gen. Marek Papala.

Mazur appeared in federal court on Wednesday in an orange jumpsuit, his legs shackled and hair disheveled.

'Uphill battle . . . persuade me'
Mazur's lawyer, Christopher Gair, said there was no compelling evidence against his client. He said Mazur had been questioned by Polish authorities in the past, and was released without charges. Little or no new evidence has emerged since then, and the current allegations are based on testimony from a known "perjurer," Gair told Keys.

"Political considerations may be at work," Gair said.

Keys declined to release Mazur on bond as he awaits his next hearing date. Gair argued that Mazur is an established businessman and family man in Glenview.

If he wanted to flee he would have by now, Gair said. Poland's interest in Mazur was no secret as a warrant was issued a year and a half ago for Mazur's arrest, he argued. Gair called him a "poster child" for someone who wouldn't flee.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Mars said that the Polish government "strongly and unequivocally" opposed bond, and said case law supports the government's position to extradite.

Gair countered that Mazur's dual citizenship makes him a special case.

"You have an uphill battle, but you can try to persuade me," Keys told Gair.

Source:By Natasha KoreckiFederal Courts Reporter, suntimes.com

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Who will walk through Poland’s open door policy?

Poland's Labor Ministry has decided that all EU citizens, including new entrants, Romanians and Bulgarians, will have free access to the Polish labor market once they join the European Union in January 2007. Meanwhile, Britain and Ireland have restricted the new entrants' working rights. Bulgarians and Romanians respond that their citizens will head primarily to Italy, Spain and Greece.

The Polish Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has declared that it will grant new EU entrants an automatic right of access to the Polish job market. This came just a few days after Britain and Ireland announced they will put a curb on skilled and unskilled labor coming from Romania and Bulgaria. Justifying its decision, the Polish Labor ministry said that the free flow of people is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by European Union laws.

Both Romanian and Bulgarian authorities offer assurance that Poland has no need to fear an overwhelming influx of cheap labor force. They predict their citizens will not be leaving in great numbers. And those who do emigrate won't be heading to Poland.

Mircea Cosea, a Romanian politician and observer to the EU explains:

'I think the Romanian people will not emigrate in such a great number because Romania now is in a very complicated situation, we need manpower now because our growth is too high now it's about 7%, maybe 8% yearly and in some branches we already have difficulties finding manpower. So my estimation is that probably in the next 3 years something like 200 000 people will emigrate to find jobs in other countries.'

Cosea does not think that Poland will be Romanians' primary destination.
'I think Romanian people will emigrate to Latin countries, first of all Spain and Italy. Small number of people will emigrate to look for some jobs probably to countries like Greece but the majority of people will emigrate to Spain and Italy.'

There are a number of reasons why Romanian emigrants are predicted to favor Latin cultures. Mircea Cosea, Romanian observer to the EU again:

'First of all, it's a similar culture and also, we have big communities already in Spain and Italy. In Spain we have about half a million people working there and in Italy probably the same number of people, so they are going there to work in Romanian communities, with their own schools and churches.'

But not every country is willing to open its borders to new EU entrants. Britain and Ireland currently seek to prevent a new wave of arrivals. This marks a big change in policy, since two years ago, when Poland joined the EU, both government and business in Britain and Ireland were in favor of granting free access to workers from new EU states.

For the host countries it was a way to combat job shortages and at the same time prevent wage inflation. The actual number of arrivals exceeded the government predictions. Now host countries like Britain and Ireland are making moves to cut down on immigration.

Tomasz Teluk is an economic analyst for the Adam Smith Center. He addresses fears that cheap labor coming into Poland may generate competition for Poles already struggling to be employed:

'This kind of argument was first used by Adolf Hitler and it is not true. Competition is good also for the labor market. People will not loose their jobs.'

Teluk also supports the general idea of opening borders and combining labor markets.

'I think it's good. The idea of integration of the EU is connected also with the idea of integration of labor market. European economy will benefit from free flow of jobs. It's very profitable for workers as well as for entrepreneurs. And businesses can choose between different labor forces. European citizens can choose the best wages and best possibilities for their jobs. So I think Poland will also profit of it.'

Besides welcoming workers from new EU states, the Polish government is also planning to ease legal restrictions for Ukrainians.

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Poland Pledges 1,000 Extra Troops To Assist NATO Forces in Afghanistan

Poland is rushing forward the deployment of more than 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to assist hard-pressed British and allied troops.

The Polish defense minister, Radosław Sikorski, pledged yesterday that the troops, including a battalion of the country's best soldiers, would arrive in February, six months earlier than planned.

The deployment means that coalition forces serving in the perilous south of Afghanistan will soon be able to call on a rescue force of 500 Polish paratroopers, trained to fly in by helicopter to support units that are surrounded. Mr. Sikorski told the Daily Telegraph that the men would be offered as an airborne rapid reaction reserve force to the commanders of the International Security Assistance Force. The paratroopers will be joined by special-forces troops as well as officers for ISAF's new headquarters in Kabul

They will be offered without any of the "caveats" that hobble troops from nations like Germany, Belgium, or Sweden. Some European troops covered by caveats are not allowed to leave their bases, are banned from taking part in combat missions, or are confined to relatively safe areas.

Poland, the largest nation of what has been called "New Europe," hopes to set a "good example" to the richer NATO members from "Old Europe" by offering its forces without restrictions. The rescue battalion will be based around the elite 18th Bielski Air Assault Battalion.


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Poland's Telekomunikacja Polska's 9-mths results better than expected

Poland's Telekomunikacja Polska (TP) unveiled better than expected results, reporting nine-month net income of 1.7 bln pln, which was slightly ahead of analysts' consensus forecast of 1.6 bln pln, the Puls Biznesu news service reported.

Sales rose 2.1 pct to 13.9 bln pln, against the 13.8 bln pln predicted by analysts.

The company also raised its sales estimates for the full year to 1 pct growth from a previous projection of a 1-1.5 pct decline.

The market was caught off guard and the stock jumped 4.5 pct in morning trade.

TP expects to have 12 mln customers at the end of the year while rival Centertel, which operates the Orange mobile network in Poland, is targeting 11.7 mln, Puls Biznesu said.

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Poland looking to diversify its energy sources

The conservative government in Poland plans to invest well over €1 billion in the energy sector in an attempt to modernize its infrastructure, and perhaps more crucially, reduce its dependence on Russia, its main supplier of oil and gas.
The plans reflect growing fears in Poland that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will use his country's energy clout as a political hammer, something he was judged to have done in January when Gazprom, the giant state-owned energy monopoly, cut its gas deliveries to Ukraine in a dispute over gas prices. Ukraine agreed last week to a 36 percent increase in the cost of natural gas supplied by Russia next year.
Warsaw is also concerned that a Russian-German pipeline project in development will result in a loss of gas supplies to Poland.
"We want to diversify because we fear that Russia will use the export of its gas as a political tool," Piotr Naimski, secretary of state in charge of energy security in Poland's Economy Ministry, said in an interview Thursday.
Poland is not alone in Europe in its uneasiness over energy independence and Moscow's ascendant role in the industry, before the Continent's energy market is fully opened to greater competition next year.
Lithuania, for instance, plans to build a nuclear power plant to reduce its dependence on Russia. France is attempting to merge utilities, Suez and Gaz de France, in a bid to maintain a healthy and locally owned energy sector.
Over 70 percent of Polish energy needs consist of imports, of which 95 percent comes from Russia and other countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States. The rest is provided by domestic production, particularly coal.
Naimski said the investments, when complete, would mean that Poland would not have to increase its imports of gas from Russia even as domestic energy consumption increases. "The level of Russian imports would remain stable," Naimski said. His goal is to eventually meet a third of Poland's energy needs outside Russia and the Commonwealth.
One investment is the construction of a large liquefied natural gas terminal to be located in either the ports of Gdansk or Szczecin, both on the Baltic Sea.
"We are in the final preparations for sending out the bids," Naimski said, putting a price of "several hundred million euros" on the project. "The preparations and feasibility studies should be ready by the end of November or early December."
In addition, the Polish Gas and Oil Company is negotiating with Gassco, the state-owned Norwegian gas transport operator, to take a stake in a new off-shore pipeline which could be extended to the Polish coast if Poland commits to buying a certain minimum amount of gas.
Gassco kicked off the process of developing that 7.3 billion Norwegian kroner, or $1.1 billion, pipeline this month, saying it would open negotiations with Norwegian and Swedish companies.
It would run from a point near Stavanger to Norway's Grenland region and then to western Sweden.
Inside Poland, Naimski said the government intended to invest €1 billion, or $1.26 billion, in modernizing the country's transmission and distribution gas networks. The financing, spread over five years, would be made available through the EU's structural funds.
The government plans to complete the LNG terminal by 2010, when the Russian-German Nord Stream pipeline is expected to be finished. The pipeline will run under the Baltic Sea and allow Gazprom for the first time to send gas directly from Russia to northern Germany, where it would become a hub for distributing this gas to other parts of Western Europe.
Gazprom advanced those plans last week, announcing it had bought a disbanded mine in northern Germany which would be converted into a large underground gas storage facility.
Poland is concerned that once the Nord Stream pipeline starts sending gas to Europe, Gazprom may close for repairs part of another pipeline, the Yamal, that runs across Belarus into Poland.
Naimski said that Western Europe would not be affected by such repairs because any shortfall would be met by the Nord Stream's available capacity, but Poland would suffer because the Nord Stream does not reach Poland.
"That is why the need to diversify is so important," he said. "That is why the Nord Stream pipeline is against our interests."
Source: By Judy Dempsey International Herald Tribune

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Railway in Poland: EUR 24.5m for the Berlin - Kiev corridor

Polish national network manager signed a deal with Bombardier Transportation (ZWUS) Polska on supplying railway traffic control equipment for a section of E-30 corridor.
The deal forsees the design, supply and implementation of railway traffic control equipment on Wroclaw - Legnica section. the deal is worth EUR 24.5m. The whole investment should be finished in 36 months from now.

An EIB loan provided PKP PLK with loan to cover the cost of this investment.

The equipment will enable to run trains at 160 km/h. Tilting trains willl be able to reach even 200 km/h.

The E-30 line is a part of the III paneuropean corridor linking Berlin, Dresden, Wrocław, Kraków, Lvov and Kiev.

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Poland's defense minister proposes one-year Afghanistan mission

Poland's Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Wednesday that he would recommend to the president and the Council of Ministers that the mission of Polish troops in Afghanistan last only 12 months, the PAP news agency reported.

At the start of 2007, Poland plans to increase its involvement in Afghanistan to 150 soldiers for Enduring Freedom Operation and to some 1, 000 for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Poland has already sent 190 soldiers and civilian military employees to Afghanistan.

"Our commitment is for one year. There are other countries in NATO and we hope they will take our place," the minister told a press conference.

"This is not our national operation but an operation of our allies," he said, adding that the decision on the matter will be made by the president.

Sikorski's remarks came after NATO commanders in Afghanistan called on member states to pledge more troops contribution to shore up ISAF's presence in southern Afghanistan, due to resurging Taliban-linked violence there this year.

The violence has plunged Afghanistan into the worst spate of bloodshed since the Taliban regime was toppled down nearly five years ago.

The pledge of forces has aroused controversy in Poland, and the issue was put on the agenda of the Sejm, or the lower house of parliament, which started its sitting on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua

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Poland debates ban on rape victims ending pregnancies

Polish lawmakers began debating a constitutional amendment yesterday that would further tighten the country's abortion laws to eliminate rape or incest as grounds for terminating a pregnancy.

The motion was brought by the ultra-conservative League of Polish Families, a junior coalition partner in the government of the prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Its chances of passing were seen as slim given that it takes a two-thirds majority - or 307 votes in the 460-seat lower house of parliament - to change the constitution. Opposition leftwing and socially liberal lawmakers together have the strength to block the change.

However, the fact that the motion is up for debate underlines the sharp conservative turn that the country has taken since a leftwing government and president were swept from power last autumn by Law and Justice, the socially conservative party of the prime minister and his identical twin brother, president Lech Kaczynski.

Law and Justice leads a three-party coalition that includes the farm-based Self-Defence party. Currently, abortion is allowed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape or incest; when the foetus is severely damaged; or when the mother's life or health is at risk.

The motion's "first reading" began in parliament yesterday. However, a final vote to amend the constitution would not come until January at the earliest, parliament speaker Marek Jurek said.


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Taste of Poland is proving popular

EAGLE-eyed readers may have noticed a rather strange advert in last week's "Gazette".

Under the recognizable banner of Maclean's Highland Bakery, it wasn't an advert for Land of Macbeth biscuits, morning rolls or even butteries, but the words 'Chleb Wiejski'.

Who could be at fault? Had Maclean's been too busy at work on their scones and pies to send a comprehensible advert? Or had the "Gazette's" work experience boy forgotten to use his spell check before we went to print?

Preparing to take another batch of crusty Polish bread out of the oven at Maclean's Highland Bakery are Polish worker Renata Bobrus, who provided the recipe, and fellow bakery worker Charles Shewan. Pic: Neil Ellison 01309 674421

Closer inspection revealed at least two words we could understand: "Polish Bread". Picking up the clue, we decided that rather than tackle the advert with a Polish-English dictionary, we would speak to director Carol Shewan at the bakery to try and unravel the mystery.

"We employ five Polish workers at the bakery, and one of them suggested that we try making traditional Polish bread," said Mrs Shewan.

"We decided to bake it using the recipe she had learned from her father, and, as she is also a language teacher, she said we could do a translation of the advert so that Polish people in the local area could understand it.

"The bread is quite different to traditional Scottish loaves, both in shape and texture, but this hasn't stopped the bread from Eastern Europe being a hit with customers. We've only been making it for a week, but it's already proving popular and it's been selling really well."

The bakery's proprietor, Lewis Maclean, explained a bit more about the new venture.

"We've got five Polish workers working for Maclean's, and we see many Poles journeying through the town en-route to other places. I wondered how we could get them to come into the shop, and we hit on the idea of making Polish bread. I spoke to a friend of mine who also produces it and he told me it was one of his best sellers."

In fact, Mr Maclean is one of only two Scottish bakers who sell the bread.

"It's made with rye flour, which gives it a chewy texture," said Mr Maclean.

"It's a bit like a German loaf but not as heavy. I think it's brilliant bread for toasting, and a lot of the local people who come into the shop are trying it and liking it."

The "Gazette" spoke to the young Polish woman who was at the centre of this baking mystery.

Renata Bobrus, a confectioner at Maclean's main bakery at the Greshop Industrial Estate, is originally from Lublun in Poland. She told us the recipe used by Maclean's was based on that used by her father.

"My father runs a grocer's back in Poland and he sells the bread in his shop. The recipe has been in our family for a very long time."

Miss Bobrus thought that there may be around 100 Polish immigrants living in the local area, and Maclean's hope to embrace them by offering them some produce they recognise.

Bakery manager Martin Farish was full of praise for Miss Bobrus and the Polish employees at Maclean's.

"Renata is a very good worker and we're very happy with her and all our Polish workers," he said.

"We had to change her recipe slightly but it's still basically the same. It's been selling very well in the short time we've had it."

And for those readers still confounded by the last week's advert, Miss Bobrus was on hand to give the non-Polish amongst us an English translation:

"Chleb Wiejski means Country Bread in English," she said.

Miss Bobrus also revealed that the advert was a challenge to local bakery goers to find out what they've been missing.

"The advert translates as 'Taste our Polish Country Bread. It's baked every morning – Scottish people don't appreciate good bread!'"

Could this be the end for cheese scones at Forres's most popular bakery? Only time will tell.


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US court postpones extradition hearing of Poland murder suspect

A US federal court in Chicago on Wednesday postponed until November 15 the extradition hearing of a Polish- American businessman wanted in Poland on allegations of contracting the 1998 assassination of the country's former national police commander. Edward Mazur, 60, is to remain under arrest without bond pending the mid-November court hearing, Poland's TVN24 news channel reported Wednesday.

He was taken into custody by FBI agents on Friday in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Illinois, on a Polish warrant.

Poland is seeking Mazur's extradition on charges he contracted the killing of Poland's former national police commander General Marek Papala, who was gunned down in a parking lot next to his Warsaw home on June 25, 1998. No one has been convicted of the crime.

Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said he is counting on the US to hand Mazur over for prosecution in Poland, but commentators have warned that the suspect's life could be at risk should he be extradited.

Polish investigators had "hard evidence that Edward Mazur was involved in the murder of the former national police commander of Poland," Ziobro told reporters on Friday in Warsaw.

Police also investigated rumours Papala's assassination was linked to Polish narcotics smuggling gangs, shady dealings and kickbacks for politicians but no findings were made public. There has been speculation that Papala knew about the murky deals and was therefore silenced.

Minister Ziobro has said solving the case and bringing to justice those responsible for the high-profile assassination was "matter of honour" for Poland's justice authorities.

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Poland's central bank holds interest rates steady

Poland's central bank kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, a decision that was widely expected, despite strong economic growth.
The National Bank of Poland said it was keeping its benchmark seven-day intervention rate at 4 percent, an all-time low.
Analysts said they expected the bank to keep rates on hold until early 2007, due to the absence of any short-term threats to price stability.
The bank gave no immediate reason for its decision.
Source: polskieradio.pl/p

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Poland opens job market to EU workers

Poland opens its job market to workers from all EU states as well as from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

The Polish Labour Ministry said that the plan involves opening the market without any transition period to all the EU states including those which apply labour restrictions on workers from Poland. The Polish job market will also be open to Bulgarians and Romanians after the two states become EU members on January 1st next year.

The Polish labour minister Kazimierz Kuberski said that the Polish stand may be an incentive for all those countries which are still hesitating. The Polish initiative is joined by EU states like Sweden, Britain, Ireland as well as newcomers Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia. The rest of the EU states is still debating on the issue , though the German stand on the matter does not give rise to hope for a speedy free flow of the labour force.

Poland is also considering the opening of the job market to states outside the EU like neighbouring Ukraine and Belarus. The decision will undoubtedly help fill in the huge gap on the employment market, with hundreds of thousands of Polish workers having left Poland in search for work , mostly to Great Britain ,Ireland and Sweden.

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Poland: NBP on hold, but slightly more hawkish

The Polish central bank’s (NBP) Monetary Policy Council (RPP) today decided in favour of unchanged interest rates, keeping the key policy rate at 4.00% - a decision completely in line with our and the market’s expectations. It should be noted that the RPP took somewhat longer than normal to announce its rate decision today. This could be a sign of more serious differences of opinion within the RPP. But, on the other hand, these differences are already well known and in our view one should be careful about reading too much into the delay in today’s announcement.

At the press conference after the decision the RPP struck a slightly hawkish tone, but there was no major change in the rhetoric - even though the central bank revised its inflation forecast for the rest of 2006 and 2007 moderately up. In the new forecast is for inflation at 1.8-2.2% by year-end and at 2.9-3.8% by the end of 2007 (both with a 50% probability). This was more or less in line with what could be expected. It should be noted that the inflation forecast is the NBP research department’s forecast and not the forecast of the RPP. However, that being said the inflation forecast is a reminder that inflation should move further into the inflation target range of 2½% +/- 1 percentage point within the coming months - and even above the target range during 2007. This obviously supports the market’s - and our - view that interest rates will be hiked during 2007. But, this is no big surprise and hence should not have any significant impact on the Polish markets.

We expect the NBP to step up the hawkish rhetoric further in the coming months. The central bank is likely to continue to stress the risk of higher inflation from increased wage pressures. Furthermore, we would expect the NBP to increase the warnings that the Polish real estate market might be overheating - something that the NBP has until now not commented much on. For further clues on the timing of the rate hike we would especially keep an eye on the two key swing votes on the RPP - Wojtyna and Sławinski. Especially Sławinski turning more hawkish would, in our opinion, signal that the NBP was getting ready to hike. Note, however, that Sławinski has not been particularly hawkish of late. The NBP will also publish new inflation projections today: inflation at 2% by year-end and moving above 2½% during Q1 2007 looks like a good bet.

At the moment, the Polish markets are more likely to move on global events - especially expectations on US monetary policy and general global risk appetite - but we would continue to stress our worries about the domestic political situation and indeed the political situation in the rest of CEE.

Danske Bank A/S


Source:By Lars Christensen, fxstreet.com

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POLAND: September Retail Sales Up 14.5%

Polish retail sales for September rose 14.5% year-on-year, up from an 11.5% rise in August, according to the Central Statistical Office. Sales were up 1.0% compared to August, down from a 1.6% month-on-month rise in August.

The fastest growing retail sector was auto sales, up 30.2% year-on-year, followed by furniture, audio and TV equipment and household appliances, up 25.2% year-on-year.

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Poland: ITM To Open 40 Intermarche, Bricomarch Outlets In 2007

Muszkieterowie ITM Polska, the local subsidiary of the French association of independent retailers Les Mousquetaires, has said it plans to open 20 Intermarche food supermarkets and 20 Bricomarche DIY outlets in Poland next year. The company will targets cities with a population of 20,000 to 70,000, based mainly in western Poland.

The company currently operates 114 Intermarche and 39 Bricomarche stores in Poland, operated by independent retailers. Intermarche is the market leader among Polish food store chains, with sales of E438.4m in 2005, and it reported a 7% rise in sales in the first half of 2006. Les Mousquetaires is controlled by French supermarket network operator ITM Entreprises.


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TUC inspired by trip to Poland

Flagging trade union membership in the UK could be revived with the TUC targeting new recruits among Eastern European workers.

The union group took part in one of Europe's largest job fairs in Warsaw, Poland, last week, visited by an estimated 10,000 Polish jobseekers.

Wanda Wyporska, a TUC representative, said: "Hundreds of people were asking how to become union members and expressing an interest in signing up before coming to the UK."

The interest generated will come as a relief to unions after a dramatic decline in membership over the past 30 years. Less than one-third of UK workers are union members today, compared with two-thirds of the workforce in the 1970s, according to government figures.

An estimated 600,000 workers from Eastern Europe have come to the UK since eight former eastern bloc states joined the EU in 2004. Thousands more are expected when Bulgaria and Romania join the EU in January 2007.

About 30 major UK employers attended the Polish event, including Tesco, transport company First Group and Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.


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POLAND: CCC H1 profit, sales up

Shoe maker and distributor CCC said its first-half profit totalled PLN28.28m (US$9.1m) compared to PLN18.41m last year on a sales increase to PLN187.11m.

Long-term debt was PLN1.15m compared to PLN1.91m, Polish News Digest reported.

CCC has a 2.5% share in its home footwear production market plus a 5.5% hold of the shoe retail market.


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Ideal City

In the south-east of Poland, five hours from Warsaw, lies Zamosc, a delightful town founded in the 16th century, designed by a Paduan architect as an ideal city and with its original grid layout still intact. Zamosc provided the setting for ‘Ideal City – Invisible Cities’, an exhibition featuring 40 artists of different generations. Monika Sosnowska’s concrete fountain (A Dirty Fountain, 2006), which combined the ideal proportions of a square with the black water spouting from it, was one of several works created for outdoor spaces. The exhibition also appropriated old fortifications, a synagogue, a former academy and two museums, thus almost completely merging with the city’s existing architecture.

The best integrated works were in the synagogue, where Pedro Cabrita Reis’ steel pipe sculpture Compound # 7 (2006) was erected in the centre of the building, where the bimah once stood. The piece resembled building materials rather than part of a temple destroyed during World War II. Katarzyna Jozefowicz installed her work Games (2002) in the part of the synagogue traditionally reserved for women. The piece consisted of 21,000 cubes made from leaflets found in supermarkets, referring to womanly activities. The spheres of consumption and everyday routine contrasted with the sanctity of a place that, in the Jewish tradition, is reserved solely for men. The work could be taken to refer ultimately to the place of spirituality in a modern city: can a temple that was once devastated – or one that has melted into an urban commercial centre – still serve its sacred function?

Placed near the former town gate, Miroslaw Balka’s Willkommen (Welcome, 2006) was a subtle reference to the relationship between architecture and totalitarianism. During World War II Zamosc functioned as a staging post for Jews being transported to a death camp in the nearby town of Belzec. A fragment of wooden-plank wall referred to the kitchen wall in Auschwitz in front of which the camp band played. Photocells triggered a fragment of Johann Strauss’ Radetzky March, which was performed to greet the newly arriving prisoners. Similarly political was Rula Halawani’s photographic series ‘The Wall’ (2004), which depicted the building of Jerusalem’s new border – an architecture that brutally separates the disputed territory.

In such a military–political context the video Guards (2004–5), by Francis Alÿs and Rafael Ortega, can be read as somewhere between a critical and enthusiastic commentary on ideal geometry. Screened on a wall of the old city defences, the film showed 64 of London's Coldstream Guards converging into a square formation and then moving along deserted streets. Initially, each member of the troop walks at his own pace. Gradually, they settle into a synchronized rhythm, and their movements become almost uniform. They eventually reach Southwark bridge where, on the word of command, they end their monotonous march and scatter. The illusion of perfect geometry vanishes.

Projects for ideal cities have rarely been carried out; the vast majority were left unrealized or exist only as literary descriptions. Hence part of the exhibition was devoted to cities occupying the spheres of memory or the imagination. The Mirror Suitcase Man (2004), an intriguing video by Rui Calçada Bastos, is a Surrealist vision in which we see only scraps of reality: a fragment of a silhouette wandering through a city and images reflected in his mirrored suitcase. Yet the actual city is absent – we see empty spaces, parks or views ‘enclosed’ in the suitcase, which is eventually intercepted by somebody else. Melanie Smith’s aerial photographs of Mexico City (Spiral City, 2002) depict a city lacking movement and passers-by – there is nothing but the ominous geometrical grid of endless streets.

According to the curators, the ideal city and its invisible counterpart relate not only to proportions but also, above all, to ideal social systems. The exhibition suggested that the theme of an ideal city has become a pretext for artists and curators to sink into a rather sceptical and gloomy perception of architecture as oppressive rather than as a setting for amusement or spirituality. They seem to forget that the ideal urban plans of the Renaissance were also intended to correspond to the divine order. The exhibition combines geometry with politics, and the artists, after critical analyses of Modernist Utopias, find it hard to summon carefree optimism. But a walk through a somewhat forgotten and dusty Zamosc does not exactly evoke a sense of optimism either. A futuristic video by David Maljkovic, For a New Heritage (2004), is set in Croatia in the year 2045: in search of their heritage three men visit an aluminium Modernist monument. None of them seems to understand its meaning. We should cling to the hope that in 2045 artists will no longer need to burden their memories with the failures of the past.

Source: By Goska Charylo, frieze.com

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Construction growth in Poland versus other European Union countries

The new member states (EU-10) have been recording high rates of growth in construction. In 2005 the highest growth was noted by Estonia (19.5 per cent). Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Malta and Lithuania recorded increases in the construction volume ranging from 11 per cent to 17 per cent. Poland, with a construction growth of 7.4 per cent, ranked eighth in 2005 in the EU-25. The old member states (EU-15) recorded lower growth rates in construction: from 1.5 per cent in Italy to 4.3 per cent in Denmark. One exception was Ireland with growth of 7.7 per cent. In several countries (Germany, Portugal, Belgium and the United Kingdom), construction volumes declined in 2005. [...]

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McCreevy warns Poland over bank powers

Charlie McCreevy, the European Union internal market commissioner, has warned the Polish government that recent moves to curb the powers of the central bank may “put at risk the stability of the financial system”.

In a toughly-worded letter sent to the Polish finance minister earlier this month and seen by the FT on Tuesday, Mr McCreevy criticises a new law that takes away the bank’s powers as a banking industry supervisor and hands it to a new commission.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact that this new law might have on the independence and effectiveness of financial supervision in Poland,” the letter warns.

“In particular, I am concerned about the new appointment and dismissal procedure for the members of the Financial Supervisory Commission, which risks placing undue political control over supervisory operations.

“I also fear that these reforms might put at risk the stability of the financial system and hinder Poland’s ability to deliver on the commitments it has made.”

Mr McCreevy points in particular to an important piece of EU financial legislation known as the capital requirements directive, which forces European banks to adopt the new Basel II capital adequacy ratios.

The commissioner also asks Zyta Gilowska, the Polish finance minister, to provide an assurance that financial supervision “remains free of political interference” and “lives up to the letter and spirit of internationally accepted standards of governance”.

Poland’s finance ministry said it had received the letter and planned to send a response to Mr McCreevy on Wednesday. Lukasz Dajnowicz, a spokesman for the new commission, said that it was too early to be critical of the body. “These institutions have to be judged by their actions,” he said.

The decision by the ruling Law and Justice party to rush through the creation of a unified regulator for the pensions, securities and banking sectors was criticised by the International Monetary Fund, the National Bank of Poland and many local economists, who worried about political interference.

Of the commission’s seven members, six are chosen by the prime minister or the president, currently the twin brothers Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski, with only the central bank president remaining beyond direct political control.

Work on creating the commission accelerated this spring, when the central bank, headed by Leszek Balcerowicz, refused to back the government’s opposition to allowing a merger of two Polish banks – BPH and Pekao SA – owned by UniCredit, the Italian financial group.


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Poland: apple production and export recovery

Apple production may reach 2.4 million tons this year because of favorable weather conditions as compared to the previous year. The production of CAJ is estimated to be high as well.

There were big changes in the trade of apples and CAJ in MY 2005/2006. Exports of apples were down 20 percent, and CAJ was down 5 percent. There was a considerable increase of apple imports from 1.000 ton up to 27.000 tons, due to the locally low supply of apples for processing. The imports of CAJ almost doubled compared with MY2004/2005.

Since the MY2006/2007 apple harvest and CAJ production are estimated to be high, the volume of exports in MY2006/2007 will recover from the low levels of MY2004/2005. The value of exported apples and CAJ may decrease as a result of the increase in supply.

Poland’s per capita consumption of fruit and fruit products is less than half of the EU’s consumption, but apple consumption is on par with EU consumption levels, and even higher than in France and Spain. The consumption of fruit juice is similar to the EU average.


Unfavorable weather conditions (ground frost, as well as cool and wet spring) resulted in lower yields in CY2005. The production of apples was down 18 percent compared with CY2004 (2,075 million tons versus 2.5 million tons in 2004).

The winter 2005/2006, although sometimes very severe (temperatures went down to minus 30 Celsius – below 0 degrees F), did not damage orchards. Wet weather in late May spread fungi illnesses, like the apple scab in small orchards. However, in big, well-protected plantations there was no damage. Specialists foresee a large harvest of apples which may reach 2.4 million tons. Because of the large harvest, prices for apples for processing could drop by 30 percent, while prices for consumption apples could drop by 15 percent.

The limited CY2005 harvest resulted in lower production of concentrated apple juice (CAJ) (20 percent down from 230,000 tons in MY2004/2005 to 185,000 tons in MY2005/2006).

Poland’s EU accession did not influence the price and production volume of CAJ, as it is exported and dependent on EU and world prices. According to the Institute of Rural economics forecast, the production of CAJ in MY 2006/2007 will increase up to 235,000 tons.


The prices on fruit and fruit products increased in CY2005 by 2.7 percent compared with CY2004. The price of apples increased by 1.7 percent. During first four months of CY2006, average prices of fruit and fruit products increased by 5.7 percent as compared to CY2005.

Apple prices were 20.4 percent higher. However, in CY2005, retail prices of fruit and its products were lower in Poland than in most of EU-15. For example, apple prices in Poland were 62 percent lower than in Germany.

The average consumption of apples in CY2005 was 1.67 kilogram per capita (4 percent down from 1.74 kilogram in CY2004, and 16.5 percent down from almost 2 kilograms in CY2003). The consumption of apples in the second half of CY2006 is estimated to increase due to lower prices.

Source:By Dennis van der Westen, freshplaza.com,

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How underemployed is Poland?

Official unemployment fell by zero point two percent in September. But that stiil leaves 15.2 percent of the workforce officially twiddling their thumbs.

Paradoxically, Polish and foreign investors report problems finding certain types of workers – particularly university-educated and highly skilled workers, as well as labourers in the construction sector. Many of those have left the country and are now working in either the UK, Ireland, Spain, etc…. Consequently, the government has eased restriction on seasonal workers coming from the East, especially Belarus, Ukraine and Russia to fill the gaps.

Is the skills gap because so many young Poles have gone abroad to look for work, or because of structural factors within the Polish economy itself?

In the bad old days of communism everyone had a job, didn’t they? Well, not really. There was unrecorded unemployment, and there were many more people in jobs that weren’t really jobs at all.

And then the changes came to Poland at the end of the 1980’s which brought a massive shock to the economy and to the many who lost out.

Unemployment grew rapidly after 1989. In 1990 around 6 percent were recorded out of work. By 1994 that figure had risen to 16 percent. The rate dipped down again to under 10 percent in 1998, only to rise steadily again thereafter. In 2003 this reached over 1 in 5 not working – or 20.3 percent – the highest figure recorded since the end of communism.

This year and last has seen a gradual – a very gradual – decrease, but still, the figures look alarming.

Youth unemployment, for instance, is not that much under forty percent.

Poland has a relatively high growth economy – currently just under five percent. And jobs are being created, although some of the slack is being taken up by higher productivity per worker.

But it also could be that many of the unemployed either do not want jobs that are offered to them or that employers can’t find the right type of staff with the appropriate skills.

Officially, about 660,000 Poles have left for Western countries in the past two years looking for better-paying jobs than they can get at home. With a population of 38 million, Poland has 2.3 million unemployed people. The Polish Ministry for Labor estimates about 1.5 million people are illegally employed, with their employers evading paying state taxes.

But what of the employers who can’t find the right person to fill the job?

For instance, in the city of Slupsk, northern Poland, the unemployment rate is approximately 30%. A car repair shop needs to employ eight workers. It offers a monthly pay of 2000 zloty – or five hundred Euros; small by western European standards but not bad in Slupsk. The mechanics workshop there has been unable to fulfill the positions for some time. It is reported that they believe that people have registered as unemployed [in the town] but are working illegally and are not interested in taking on another job.

Some employers are wary of employing younger workers as most only stay in the position for half a year and then leave for larger cities or go abroad to London or Dublin and get work there.

And Poles are notoriously geographically immobile. Or, either they stay pretty much where they are in the country, or they go abroad.

So although unemployment figures are high, there are the jobs available. It’s just that the right sort of workers are not in the right places to fill them.

The government made a pledge during last year’s election that solving the unemployment problem would be a priority. This means that they have to maintain high growth and increase the amount of skills in the workforce to meet the changing nature of the economy.

But they also have to grasp the nettle and change the labor code, which, at the moment, discourages employers taking on new staff. It is very hard to sack someone. They also need to make it cheaper for employers to take on new workers.

The tricky part for the government is that much of their electoral base is made up of the unemployed, or those on low fixed incomes such as pensions. So finding the political will to open up the labour market and make it more flexible – which would result in more unemployment in some areas and less in others – is a tricky one for the administration.

Unemployment is one of Poland’s biggest problems. If they don’t solve it soon then more and more young people will just pack their bags and head for the UK, Ireland, Spain...even Finland. And when they do that they will add to Poland’s other great problem – a yawning skills gap resulting in many job vacancies remaining on the market.
Source: By Peter Gentle,

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Poland's unemployed refuse low-paid jobs

A shortage of people willing to take low-paying jobs, despite an unemployment rate of 15 percent, has Poland's authorities concerned.

Officially, about 660,000 Poles have left for Western countries in the past two years looking for better-paying jobs than they can get at home, the Serbian news agency Beta said Monday.

With a population of 38 million, Poland has 2.3 million unemployed people. The Polish Ministry for Labor estimates about 1.5 million people are illegally employed, with their employers evading paying state taxes.

Polish and foreign investors report problems finding university-educated and highly skilled workers as well as construction workers, Beta said.

With Poland's gross domestic product rising at a 5 percent annual rate, the government may have to open borders to foreign workers from Eastern European countries, economists said.

Pscemislaw Gacek, an economist specializing in work force, told Warsaw's Gazeta Wyborcza daily it would take 15 to 20 years until salaries in Poland catch up to those elsewhere in the European Union.
Source: United Press International, upi.com

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Jobs agency opens office in Poland

THE regional demand for Polish workers has resulted in a Coventry recruitment agency opening an office in Gdansk.

It is the first overseas branch Extra Personnel has opened, and will place workers in industrial positions in the UK - especially in sectors such as warehousing and transport.

The Polish population in the West Midlands has soared to 50,000 and the move underlines the growing relationship developing between the eastern European country and Coventry and Warwickshire.

Extra is based at Cross Cheaping, in Coventry city centre, and has opened its new division in Gdansk, north Poland.

James Aust, manager of Extra's Gdansk office, said: "Polish workers are sought after by employers because they have a very good work ethic.

"We are seeing a lot of students who want to come to the UK to earn some money and improve their English and they make particularly good workers, having excellent communication skills.

"In addition to finding these people employment, we are also pleased to be able to find them accommodation, which many recruitment agencies don't do.

"We want to be sure that our workers live in decent properties with modern facilities."

Extra aims to bring in about 30 Polish workers per week to meet increasing demand for them by UK employers.

Jeremy McGrail, Extra's managing director, said: "We have seen many companies choose Polish workers to fill their industrial posts.

"We were already dealing with large numbers of Polish people who were keen to work in this country before we opened an office in Gdansk and it seemed a natural progression to bring supply and demand together by sourcing Polish workers direct from Poland."

All those seeking work in the UK will need to speak fluent English before they are accepted by Extra and all interviewing in Poland is carried out in English.

They will also have to sign the worker registration scheme if they are to work for more than a month in the UK.

The close ties between Coventry and Poland were highlighted earlier this month after budget airline Wizz Air announced a thrice-weekly charter flight from Coventry Airport to Poland.

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Railway in Poland: New strategy for CTL Logistics

By the end of November CTL Logistics, Polish leading private freight operator, will announce its financial strategy. The company analysing what's best - stock market, financial investor or bonds?
Krzysztof Sędzikowski, who works on the strategy for CTL, says - we can continue to develop on our own resources but our clients and partners signalize that it might be worth to speed things up and invite additional shareholders. There are three possibilities stock market, bons or financial investor.

Mr Sędzikowski admits that the stock market seems to be the most tempting solution. It could happen no sooner than a year from now. CTL would become the first transport-logistics company to debut on the Warsaw Stock Market.

CTL plans to focus on rail transport, especially international. This is why it is currently changing its orgarnisation structure. The aim is to make it more transparent and clear to future new shareholders.

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Wizz Air continues its expansion in Poland

Jósef Váradi and former
president Lech Walesa in
Gdansk (wizzair.com)
Wizz Air announced at a press conference in Gdansk the next steps of its overall expansion in Poland.

Following last week's announcement of a significant growth and fleet expansion from Katowice, the airline now declared that in summer 2007 it will increase capacity of its Gdansk operations by close to 50% compared to the same period last year by also adding Malmö/Copenhagen and Doncaster/Sheffield from Gdansk to its network.

This will bring the total number of destinations from Gdansk Airport to 10.

Additionally Wizz Air will base a second Airbus A320 aircraft in Gdansk in July 2007 and will hire more local staff.

The new flights are already on sale from 23.99 GBP(one-way, taxes and charges included) on the airline's website, wizzair.com or through the Wizz Air call centre on +48 22 351 94 99.

Gdansk - Doncaster/Sheffield

4 flights / week
from 15 July 2007

Gdansk - Malmö/Copenhagen

3 flights / week
from 14 July 2007

- We continue to lead the low fare development in Poland by growing ahead of the market. Last week we revealed a major growth plan for Katowice, today we are announcing a similar expansion in Gdansk. Wizz Air has become the largest airline of all at Gdansk Airport and remains committed to the region and will continue to offer more new destinations and more low fares, carrying over 0,6 million passengers next year." - said József Váradi, CEO of Wizz Air.


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U.S. medicines may be produced in Poland

The new owner of Pliva promises further investment in the Krakow plant. Some production from the USA may be shifted there as well.

Croatian Pliva, the owner of the former Polfa Kraków plant, has changed its shareholder. The U.S. holding Barr Pharmaceuticals has bought 92 percent of Pliva. This means changes for the Polish plant in Krakow which so far has produced generic medicines for the Polish market mainly. Barr’s management stressed that prior to any decisions, a special team comprised of the representatives of both companies, will review all the assets of the new group.

“Pliva has a strong position in Central and Eastern Europe while Barr is present mainly in the USA. We nearly do not cover the production range, which gives us new opportunities. We would like to shift some of the production from the USA to European plants. We will review our portfolio and make certain decisions. We particularly care to further develop dry forms in Krakow and Zagrzeb”, Bruce L. Downey, Barr CEO said.

He is going to continue the production shift from Western Europe to the plant in Kraków.

The transaction created the world’s third largest pharmaceutical group listed in New York. The joint sales of Barr and Pliva will amount to USD 2.4 billion. The group will have over 25 innovative medicines sold in the USA and generating over USD 400m annually. It will also be the owner of over 120 generic medicines in the USA with USD 1 billion of annual sales. Its portfolio of generic medicines in Poland, Croatia, Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy and Russia generates USD 600m annually. Over 50 generic medicines of the group is waiting for registration in the USA.

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Marek Ambroziak, Neumann Leadership Poland

Marek Ambroziak recently joined Neumann Leadership Poland.

Ambroziak has almost 10 years of professional experience in the executive search industry. Prior to his current position, Ambroziak was with another leading human-resources consultancy for almost five years and was previously with Russell Reynolds Associates for four years. Ambroziak focuses on senior management appointments within the FMCG, industrial, telecommunication and media sectors. He also conducts CFO/finance director searches. Ambroziak studied at Warsaw University, graduated with honors in social psychology and is fluent in Polish and English.


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Endesa Europe chief says Italy, France, Poland priorities for expansion

Endesa SA's European general manager Jesus Olmos said in a interview in Saturday's La Repubblica that Italy, France and Poland are the Spanish group's priorities for expansion.

Olmos declined to comment on a report on Friday that Enel SpA would take a 15 pct stake in Endesa, which Enel denied, as part of a wider cooperation between Italy and Spanish energy sectors.

'As regards Italy, I can say that we look with a lot of attention at everything that moves in your country. We are ready to grow when the occasion presents itself,' he said in the interview.

Endesa sees opportunities to grow via the planned merger of AEM SpA and ASM Brescia SpA, not as a shareholder but via commercial deals, he said.

Endesa already has a generating joint venture with ASM.

The newspaper also asked if the presence of Electricite de France as a shareholder in Edison SpA, alongside AEM, raised worries.

Endesa has objected to this shareholder structure of Edison because it means that publicly-owned companies own more than 30 pct stakes in former Enel generating companies, breaching an Italian law.

This 30 pct rule was set for the auctions of several Enel generating companies in early part of this decade, in which Edison and Endesa won separate auctions for generating firms.

Endesa's Olmos said he would certainly be ready to buy any stake that AEM or EDF were required to sell in the generating company acquired by Edison, and as a result of regulatory intervention.

In comments on the LNG market, Olmos said he expects Endesa's regasification plant at Livorno in eastern Italy, to be operational in 2008.

'Endesa will be the first to inaugurate its regasification plan in 2008. The works will start by the end of the year, while Edison's works are still sequestered by magistrates,' he said.

Most reports have said Edison's plant in Rovigo, near Venice, on which works have already started, will be first to launch, though the company has said it faces environmental opposition.

In a separate interview in Saturday's Milano Finanza, Olmos said Endesa would also be interested in acquiring Eni SpA's power generating unit Enipower.

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Eastern Europe in political disarray amid fatigue over economic sacrifice

Anti-government rallies rock the Hungarian capital. Political intrigue in Poland holds up new roads and housing. Populists take power in Slovakia, vowing to undo economic reforms. And the Czech Republic goes without a functioning government for months.

Political life has fallen into disarray in Eastern Europe, and many are asking what has gone wrong in the 2 1/2 years since these former communist countries joined the European Union, expecting to reap the fruits of democracy and open markets.

Many experts say people are simply exhausted after years of economic sacrifices made to join the EU and NATO. They now lack the clear goals that drove them toward the West after the fall of communism in 1989.

And their discontent is mounting as the instant riches many believed would come from EU membership have failed to materialize.

"The common phenomenon in all these countries is transition fatigue," said Gergely Hudecz, a political analyst with the DZ Bank in Budapest. "The electorate has had enough of reforms."

Gone is the strong external pressure that pushed governments in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava to shutter unproductive factories and sell off state companies, in the face of opposition from newly unemployed workers hurt by rising costs.

All four countries have replaced the leaders who took them into the bloc, and some have opted for parties pledging to restore the welfare benefits that were slashed to qualify for membership.

The greatest disruption has been in Hungary, where Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany outraged the country by saying in a recording leaked last month that the government had "lied morning, evening and night" about the economy. That sparked weeks of daily anti-government protests, including two nights of riots.

To the north in Poland, twin brothers with prickly nationalist views - President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski - lead a country bogged down in frequent cabinet reshuffles and convoluted political maneuverings.

The bickering has slowed down construction to ease a housing shortage, and modernization of the dilapidated road system.

In the latest twist, the prime minister brought back into his Cabinet Andrzej Lepper, a fiery populist known for organizing anti-EU protests, less than a month after booting him out for demanding more spending.

In Prague, politics have been stalemated since a June election delivered a lower house of parliament divided evenly between left and right.

And in neighbouring Slovakia, Prime Minister Robert Fico took power this summer on pledges to undo many of the economic reforms that have made his country the darling of foreign investors.

His left-wing party generated anxiety when it built a coalition with an ultranationalist party.

After admission to the EU, "what we see now is a rise of populists and nationalism. Frustrations, sentiments and emotions which were suppressed during the process of admission are now coming to the surface," said Jiri Pehe, a political analyst and director of New York University in Prague.

But Pehe also stressed that the "democratic framework is very strong and it's supported by the outside" thanks to the region's integration with the West.

Mikulas Dzurinda, the former prime minister of Slovakia, oversaw major pro-market reforms including a flat tax that created strong economic growth. He acknowledges that voters are disillusioned to find themselves still lagging so far behind the West.

"People thought there was something like a Marshall Plan for the eastern part of Europe that would automatically allow us to reach the richest countries in the union," Dzurinda told The Associated Press. "Now I notice something like frustration."

Still, 15 years ago, "we produced tanks and military goods for all armies of the former Soviet bloc and we produced no car, no automobile," he said. "Now Slovakia produces no tanks but one million cars per year."

Source:ByVanessa Gera, Canadian Press, canada.com

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Key suspect in top Polish cop's killing held in U.S.

A Chicago court will decide on Wednesday whether to arrest or free on bail Edward Mazur suspected by Polish public prosecutors of instigating to murder Polish former national police chief Marek Papala back in 1998, the PAP news agency reported on Sunday.

Mazur was detained by FBI on Friday in Chicago where he lives. Polish authorities believe that this offers "a serious opportunity" of bringing him to Poland to stand trial.

Mazur, a businessman who was born in Poland and holds Polish and U.S. citizenship, reportedly admitted he knew the top Polish cop well and he was also one of the last persons to have met Papala shortly before his death.

Poland issued an international warrant of arrest on Mazur in February, 2005 on charges he solicited the murder of Papala, according to an extradition complaint unsealed after his arrest.

According to the complaint, Mazur was accused of offering Artur Zirajewski 40,000 dollars in April 1998 to kill Papala and had also solicited Andrzej Zielinski to commit the murder. Both men were arrested before Papala's murder.

Zirajewski, in a summary of a statement contained in the complaint, said he had met with organized crime and narcotics trafficking figures at a hotel in Gdansk of Poland and later with a man named Mazur, who called Papala an obstacle to business.


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EU builds common stand in talks with Russia

Polish deputy foreign minister Pawel Kowal has said that the European Union is increasingly presenting a common, united stand in talks with Russia. Kowal was referring to Friday’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and EU leaders in Lahti, Finland, where the EU pressed Russia to improve access for western energy companies.
Minister Kowal told Polish Radio that Poland thinks it is crucial to forge a common EU stand on Russian energy supplies and that the EU is showing an increasingly strong solidarity in this respect. He noted, however, that the energy security of the Union and of Poland is far from what it should be. Both depend heavily on Russian supplies while an ideal situation would be to buy natural gas and oil from various sources. Problems in relations between the EU and Russia are many. It is important that Poland has a growing say on shaping the Union’s policy towards Moscow. Minister Kowal did not say when the presidents of Poland and Russia, Lech Kaczynski and Vladimir Putin, will meet. But there is good will on both sides and in his view a Polish-Russian summit should be held in the hear future.
Source: polskieradio.pl

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Who let Edward Mazur leave Poland in 2002?

Katowice prosecutors, in south-western Poland, are convinced that there was sufficient evidence back in 2002 to make Edward Mazur remain in Poland. They are conducting a probe to determine whether the decision to release the businessman, suspected of contracting the killing of Poland’s police chief, was a mistake or a conscious action. If Mazur is extradited to Poland he will also have to face the Katowice prosecutors, who have already put questions to several dozen persons. No charges were pressed yet against anyone.

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FP7 information day, Poznan, Poland

An information day on the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will take place on 23 November in Poznan, Poland.

Representatives of Polish National Contact Point will be present to provide details of FP7 and future call rules, especially in the area of the transport sector.

The event will target researchers and representatives from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs from new EU Member States and candidate countries who are working in the transport and environment sector, and who wish to familiarise themselves with the European Commission's actions in this field.

Through the one-day event they will have opportunities to establish new cooperation contacts with foreign research institutions and firms with a view to successfully applying for the European funds for research and technological development.

The event is being organised by TranSMEs, supported by European Commission under Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

For more information, please visit:


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FBI detains suspect in murder of Poland's ex-police chief

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has detained a Polish-American businessman suspected of contracting the killing of Poland's ex-national police commander General Marek Papala in 1998, Poland's justice minister said Friday.

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro confirmed Poland's request to the US to extradite Mazur for trial. The procedure was under way Friday, but it remained unclear when the US would actually hand-over the suspect.

'We understand this is a long procedure...but we believe this is the beginning of the road to putting Mr. Edward Mazur before a court and bringing him to justice,' Ziobro said.

Polish justice officials said Mazur would be arraigned before a US court in Chicago later Friday.

Polish investigators had 'hard evidence that Edward Mazur was involved in the murder of the former national police commander of Poland,' Ziobro told reporters in Warsaw Friday evening.

Papala was gunned down in the parking lot next to his Warsaw home on June 25, 1998. No one has been convicted in connection with the crime.

Police also investigated rumours he assassination was linked to shady business dealings and kick-backs for political parties, but no findings were made public.

It was believed Papala had known 'too much' about these murky issues.

Ziobro said solving the case and bringing to justice those responsible for the high-profile assassination was 'matter of honour' for Poland's justice.

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Poland warns EU against Russian energy blackmail

An informal summit of EU leaders has started in Lahti. Poland is represented by President Lech Kaczynski. The politicians of the 25 Union member countries will also be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a guest at the Finnish gathering.

It is no secret that the meeting in Lahti will be mostly devoted to energy policy and the dominating theme during the evening dinner with the Russian President are to be gas and oil deliveries from the East. Poland is vitally interested in these matters, being a major importer of energy fuels from Russia.

For long years it has been striving to reduce its dependency on these imports, which are an economic mark left from Communist times. Speaking in Warsaw with the visiting Danish Prime Minister on the eve of the EU summit, head of the Polish government Jaroslaw Kaczynski warned the Union members against the possibility of Russian blackmail in energy related matters.

' We have discussed ways to avert situations in which Europe would be compelled to act in defense against 'energy weapons' which could be used by someone. This is becoming an ever more frequently used term. This is a worrying trend, but it could be stopped by countering it with a united policy.'

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said his country shares such opinion.

' I fully agree that one of the most important goals in our energy policies is to reduce our dependency on imported energy. If nothing is done, European dependency on imported energy will increase in the coming years.'

The Danish Prime Minister also stressed the imperative need for EU unity on the issue of long term energy security.

' We should also strengthen the external dimension of our energy policies. In our opinion, it is of utmost importance that the European Union speaks with one voice and formulates and pursues a common line in energy policies.'

However, a unified stand on energy policy could prove exteremely difficult to attain, given the varried interests of individual EU states. One of the problems to be discussed with President Putin in Lahti is opening the Russian energy related market to European companies. Reciprocally, Brussels is luring Moscow with possible consent for Russian investments on the Old Continent.

A prospective development which might substantially change the positions of sides concerned could be a Union agreement with Kazachstan. This is a solution Poland would greatly welcome as an alternative to the Baltic pipeline, which it considers a high risk undertaking from the point of view of its economic and, above all, energy security interests.

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Ukrainians prefer illegal work in Poland

Despite the facilitation visa procedure for a legal job placement, Ukrainians, Belarusian and Russians do not intend to legalise their position in Poland.

Since September, 2006, Poland has introduced a simplified visa issuing procedure for the citizens of the neighbouring countries applying for agricultural work in Poland. Agricultural Poland suffers drained native man power. Poles leave the country for better incomes the West Europe proposes. In order to get visa, an employer must send a letter containing the list of invited workers and his farmer’s certificate to the Polish Consulate.

Nevertheless, it turned out that only several dozens of visas have been issued for the eastern neighbours of Poland. According to experts, the foreigners prefer to go on working illegally. Besides, the employers have no intention to bear costs of legal employment and to get involved in the official bumf of its procedure.

Last year, about 500 Russians, 600 Belarusians and 2,500 Ukrainians were given the official permission to work in Poland. Illegal numbers are greater by dozens of times.

As a reminder, in the end of August, 2006 Poland’s Council of Ministers set 27 categories of Ukrainian workers which may be engaged in the seasonal nature work in Poland.


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Poland is Israel's New Best Friend, as Evidenced by Recent Nobel Proposal

Polish-Israeli Nobel Peace Prize candidate? Sounds crazy, no?

The idea was advanced by Polish President Lech Kaczynski during his visit to Israel last month and received the enthusiastic support of Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

The proposed Nobel candidate, Irena Sendlerowa, 96, is a Polish Catholic who oversaw the children's section of Zegota, the Polish underground body that saved 15,000 Jews during World War II. Through her efforts, 2,500 Jewish children escaped death at the hands of the Nazis.

The Nobel proposal is the latest example of the close ties between Israel and Poland, which is said to be one of the European countries most favorably inclined toward the Jewish state.

Kaczynski was the first European head of state to pay an official visit to Jerusalem in the wake of this summer's war with Hezbollah; Poland is a tough critic of Iran, which has threatened to destroy Israel and is believed to be building nuclear weapons; and Poland has soldiers on the ground fighting alongside U.S. troops in Iraq and "doing a fine job," as former Knesset Speaker Shevach Weiss told the Polish press.

If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then Israel looks to have a friend in Poland.

Poland also is willing to increase its contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Kaczynski said during his Jerusalem stay. And he went even further, suggesting that, if asked, Poland might agree to help mediate the stalled Middle East peace process.

Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders appeared to be receptive to this notion, as Kaczynski learned when he paid a visit to Ramallah on the last day of his Middle East sojourn.

This burst of cooperation does not come out of the blue. When Communism was toppled in 1989, Poland had offered to let Soviet Jews transit through its territory, terrorist threats notwithstanding, even before it became the second ex-Soviet bloc country to re-establish relations with the Jewish state.

When Poland joined the European Union, Weiss, a former Israeli ambassador to Poland, remembers that the Polish foreign minister phoned to assure him that the Polish voice would be "decent," Weiss says, "and it really is."

Since then, political cooperation has been close, while business ties have boomed. Israeli businessmen, who have made investments in Poland globally amounting to some $2 billion, say the climate they encounter in the country is very encouraging. Poland also is buying weapons from Israel and maintains close military and security ties with Jerusalem.

"We don't talk in public about those things. We just do them," says a former Polish ambassador to Israel, Maciej Kozlowski.

These policies, supported by all of Poland's governments, left or right, also have the support of the country's media, which are markedly more objective about Israel than their Western European counterparts.

The main Polish daily newspapers, for example, played up the recent Amnesty International report accusing Hezbollah of war crimes in the recent fighting in Lebanon, while Western European papers were less interested. Seminars about Israel at Polish universities attract students genuinely interested in learning about the country, not the PLO sympathizers you'd expect in Paris or Rome.

So, how does the "decency" Weiss spoke of align with the dark pages of Poland's recent past? Troublesome current realities include an assault on Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich; documentation of anti-Semitism both by visitors and Polish human rights NGOs; and inclusion of the notorious League of Polish Families, heir to Poland's pre-war anti-Semitic Endecja party, in Kaczynski's governing coalition.

The best answer is that these things align uneasily. Poland has faced up to the debate about the wartime massacre of Jews by Poles in the town of Jedwabne; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has called the Polish debate the frankest of all held in countries that had been under Nazi occupation.

Schudrich's attacker was caught and sentenced, and Kaczynski's coalition generally has been viewed as a parliamentary marriage of convenience. When the Israeli ambassador to Poland refused to interact with Education Minister Roman Giertych, leader of the anti-Semitic league, issues concerning the March of the Living were promptly transferred from Giertych's ministry to the Office of the President.

While Kaczynski's soft-pedaling of anti-Semitism in Poland is potentially troubling, the country's Jewish community, reborn after Communist oppression, continues to flourish. It has not experienced an increase of anti-Semitism under the current government, and on other issues Jewish concerns are being fairly addressed: Communal property restitution is proceeding apace regardless of claimants' religious affiliation, and -- though Poland's postwar change of borders has made this a difficult issue -- the new law should be passed by Parliament later this year.

It's true that the present government could be ousted: It's under heavy political attack for reasons quite apart from its stance on Israel or other Jewish concerns. Still, it seems reasonable to anticipate that any new Polish government would continue the course set by its predecessors since 1989, that is, a pro-Israel administration that is sensitive to Jewish concerns. The expectation is that Poland will remain, as Kaczynski has said, "a friend of Israel."

How many countries outside the United States are willing to assert such a claim? Supporters of Israel the world over surely should be grateful for the friendly overtures between Poland and Israel.

Tad Taube is chairman of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, which is hosting a Polish Jewish cultural festival in the San Francisco Bay Area from Oct. 18-27.


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New route to Poland from Robin Hood Airport

Wizz Air is to begin a service between Doncaster Sheffield’s Robin Hood Airport and Gdansk, in the north of Poland.

The airline will offer four flights a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from July 15, 2007 with one-way tickets starting from £23.99, inclusive of charges.

At the same time Wizz Air said it would begin flights from Gdansk to Malmo Sturup Airport, in Sweden, and is looking at further expansion from the Polish city.

Jozsef Varadi, chief executive officer of Wizz Air, said: “Wizz Air has become the largest airline of all at Gdansk Airport and remains committed to the region and will continue to offer more new destinations and more low fares, carrying over 600,000 passengers next year."

Wizz Air currently flies from Doncaster Sheffield to Katowice and provides a number of routes between the UK and Poland, including flights from Liverpool, Coventry and Glasgow.

Flight times:
Gdansk to Doncaster Sheffield
Departs 10.05am, arrives 11.25am

Doncaster Sheffield to Gdansk
Departs 11.50am, arrives 2.50pm


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Poland keen to expand Economic Ties with Pakistan

Poland is keen to expand ties with Pakistan in trade and economy. This was stated the Consul General of Poland in Karachi, Ireneusz Makles.

He was speaking at a roundtable on Poland and Pakistan economic relations with reference to the province of Balochistan- Gwadar Port City.

The moot to this effect was held at a local hotel on Thursday.

The Consul General further stated that his country is also keen to cooperate in the fields of oil and gas, energy, infrastructure, maritime, engineering and food processing as well as development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He said that there is a need for establishing joint ventures between Pakistan and Poland and that the businessmen of the two countries can launch joint ventures in many fields to boost economic cooperation.

Ireneuusz pointed out that vast opportunities exist in the field of textile, leather, furniture, clothing, construction, food processing, hotels, beverages pro ecology projects and marble, building material.

He said that Poland is deeply interested in further development of relations with Pakistan in all the fields.

The Polish Consul General also felt that there are great economic opportunities in Balochistan and Gwadar Port will soon become the business hub of Asia.

Gateway to Asia

He said that Gwadar is the gateway to Asia. Its very modern harbour and soon would be the biggest port in the region.

This, Ireneusz added, will make Pakistan the maritime hub for the region linking Europe and the West with the Central Asian states.

He also said that Gwadar will serve as an energy corridor for Central Asia, Middle East, South Asia and western part of Asia.

The Polish envoy also reminded the business community of the encouraging statement last month by Roland White, head of a World Bank Mission to Pakistan, that his Bank will take all possible measures for the development of fisheries and other sectors in Balochistan and continue to fund various projects launched in this rich in minerals province.

He said that he was also encouraging Polish companies to take part in mega projects in differentareas of Balochistan including Kachhi Canal, Gwadar Port, Coastal highway, railway line from Gwadar to the Central asian states.

Ireneusz was of the view that there are enormous possibilities to establish joint ventures and develop economic cooperation in fish and seafood processing industry, oil and gas exploration and exploitation of many minerals.

He said that Pakistani businessmen can export Polish products to Afghanistan, Central asian states of Tajikistan, Kirgistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and also eastern region of Iran.

The Polish envoy was confident that the development process initiated by the present government in Pakistan will change the face of Balochistan for the benefit and welfare of commonman.

He was also sure that economically stronger Balochistan will also strengthen Pakistan.

President of the Balochistan Economic Forum, Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, and a former nazim of Gwadar, Babu Gulab, also expressed their views on the occasion.

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German RWE considers building a new plant in Poland

RWE is preliminary interested in building a new power plant next to Konin mine. The investor will soon deliver its offer.

Konin, the lignite mine, plans to build a new energy block next to one of its new opencasts.

“We are considering it quite seriously. Piaski opencast we are planning to launch is not lying close to Patnow I power plant. We would have to transport lignite by cars, which would increase the costs. It is much better to build a new block with capacity of 300-400 MW next to the opencast”, Maciej Musial, Konin mine CEO said.

The mine is looking for an investor because it even lacks PLN 200m (EUR 51.4m) to prepare the cast for exploring.

There should be no problems with investors. On Wednesday, the representatives of RWE, the owner of Warsaw Stoen company, visited the mine.

“RWE said it is preliminary interested in the project. It is going to prepare a written offer. No deadline has been set”, Maciej Musial said.

RWE has said before that it was interested in the acquisition of PAK (Patnow-Adamow-Konin) power plants. The other companies interested in PAK include Czech CEZ, Swedish Vattenfall and Italian Enel.

“Poland is an interesting market for RWE. We are interested in new projects, we are closely watching the development of the energy sector. It is too early, however, to comment on potential specific projects”, RWE Power said.

(PLN 1 = EUR 0.257)


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