Railway in Poland: Trains from Germany to Russia avoid Poland

In December 2006 the firs rail ferry will start running between German and Russian baltic ports. Both countries decided to limit rail communication through Poland, because of customs procedures impeding transport. Polish Ministry of Transport and Polish National Railways PK say that this decision is of political nature.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Russian Railways (RZD) signed a n agreement on launching with a regular rail ferry connection between Sassnitz port on Rugia island and Baltijsk in Kaliningrad region.

The Russians already invested RUR 1.5 billion in the port with an intention of spending another 5 billion.

- We are expecting further rapid growth in trade between Germany and Russia said Deutsche Bahn's spokesman Egbert Meyer-Lovis.

At first the route will be serviced by one ferry, but in the future it is planned to indroduce up to seven. The time of travele between Sassnitz and Baltijsk will be 36 hours.

Sassnitz port has similar rail infrastructure to Russia in terms of track gauge. Today it takes six days to transport wagons from Berlin to Moscow through Poland.

Russian Railways expect that the conteiner exchange on ferries between Germany and Russia may reach 74 TEU. Each ferry can carry up to 130 wagons. Russia expects the investment to return in 11 years.

Annonymous DB manager told "Die Welt" that his company is unsatisfied with the capacity performane of Polish network. Polish customs officers and railwaymen make the transit difficult.

"Die Welt" suggests that the agreement is also of political nature. Poland's and Lithuania's relations with Germany and Russia worsened recently. And the ferry reflects good atmosphere between Germany and Russia.

Russia-Germany trade tripled in last seven years reaching EUR 50 billion in 2006.

Spokesman for PKP Cargo, Mr Jacek Wnukowski said that PKP's relations with DB were always good and the agreement is clearly of political nature. In November 2005 a pilot train on Berlin - Moscow route was launched. Wnukowski says that in his opinion Russias goal was to avoid Lithuania. But PKP is not going to surrender.

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Nokia speeds 3G in France and Poland

Orange France has launched the High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) services in Toulouse and Bordeaux and Polish mobile operator Polkomtel is launching its commercial HSDPA network in the Warsaw area.

Nokia is supplying the HSDPA upgrade for both operators.

“We believe that HSDPA will be yet another improvement to the experience of Orange mobile users, not only in terms of higher bit rates, but also because of a better latency, enhanced usability of current applications and enabling new types of real-time applications, in particular in the enterprise sector. This means, for example, that a typical music song can be downloaded in 20 seconds with HSDPA, while it would last a bit less than two minutes with WCDMA,” says Damien Sant�, Account Director, Networks, Nokia.

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Gazprom says Poland veto, EU policy crimps energy investment

OAO Gazprom, Russia's state-run natural gas export monopoly, urged the European Union to set aside concerns raised by member states such as Poland to forge a unified energy policy that would encourage producers to invest, ensuring the stability of future gas supplies.

„The growing politicization of commercial relations is causing concern,” Stanislav Tsygankov, OAO Gazprom's chief of foreign relations, said on Thursday in Helsinki. „A big part of the problems that concern us is linked to changes to the European gas market during its liberalization.” Gazprom is concerned that plans to open up Europe's gas market may make it harder to earn back investments to increase output and supply capacity, Tsygankov said at a conference in Helsinki.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Helsinki yesterday for a one-day EU-Russia Summit today. Europe may rely on the Russian company for a third of its gas within a decade, up from 25% now. EU leaders have expressed concern about Gazprom's reliability after the company's dispute with Ukraine at the start of this year cut gas supplies to countries including Poland, Italy and Hungary.

Russia and the EU are seeking to overcome Poland's veto on the official start of talks on a new accord on cooperation in areas such as energy which would replace a 10-year agreement that expires in 2007. All 25 EU members must give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate a new accord. Poland has refused because of Russia's ban on imports of its meat products and the unwillingness of Putin's government to sign a separate agreement regulating energy trade. „The Polish demands as a condition for the start of talks are unfounded,” Tsygankov said.
There is also a „lack of clarity” on the policies on protecting investments and transit accords, he said. Gazprom is also concerned about proposals for the gas market in Europe, such as obligatory re-sale of imported gas and the introduction of limits on the length of contracts between wholesale suppliers and distribution companies, he said. „Those actions in our view considerably influence the system of long-term contracts which exists and is the basis of energy security of Europe,” he said.

Gazprom can't commit billions of dollars in investments in new fields and pipelines unless Europe „chooses its position' and acts as a unified front. The diversity of voices within the EU is making it difficult for Gazprom to decide on long-term investment strategy, he said. „All questions linked to large scale infrastructure projects should be decided by us in a dialogue with the European Commission which is expressing the agreed opinion of all of its members,” Tsygankov said.
Gazprom, the world's largest natural-gas producer, last month said it plans to raise investments to €53.1 billion ($69 billion) through 2009 to develop new fields amid concerns the company may not meet soaring demand in Russia and Europe. An even greater concern for Gazprom is proposals to ban a company owning different parts of the gas business, which could kill off investment incentives, he said.
„They will certainly lead to a lack of sufficient guarantees for investors and that means that the main players in the market will stop investing in the development of infrastructure,” he said. The Russian company favors long-term contracts, which existed going back to the Cold War. (Bloomberg)

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Technip to construct hydrodesulphurization unit in Poland

French engineering and construction services company Technip has been awarded a contract worth approximately €67 million by PKN Orlen S.A. for the construction of a new diesel oil hydrodesulphurization unit in its refinery in Plock, in the center of Poland.

Hydrodesulphurization is a catalytic refining technology consisting in extracting sulphur contained in a petroleum product either to protect downstream unit catalysts or to maintain sulphur content at the level prescribed by the European norm intended to reduce transportation-related air pollution.

Technip's operations and engineering center in Rome, Italy, will execute the project. The construction of the unit is scheduled to be completed in June 2009.

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Poland chides Finland, other EU members, over Russia deadlock

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Friday hit out at Finland and fellow members of the European Union, blaming them for sparking Poland's veto of crucial talks with Russia.

"We accepted the Finnish proposal for a declaration allowing each party to break off the negotiations between the EU and Russia at any time," Kaczynski told reporters. "But when we asked to have it in writing, we were refused. So it was just an unconfirmed verbal proposal."

Finland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation EU, had been trying to break the deadlock preventing the launch at a summit in Helsinki on Friday of talks on a new EU-Russia economic and energy accord.

But frantic diplomatic efforts, including direct talks last weekend between Kaczynski and his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen, failed to convince Warsaw to budge.

Poland's veto was prompted by a Russian ban on Polish meat and plant imports on food safety grounds and Moscow's refusal to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty, an international agreement on energy investment and transport.

Poland alleges the embargo is groundless and a purely political attempt to undermine the country's 14-month-old conservative government, which has proved wary of Moscow on a number of issues.
Kaczynski chided Poland's fellow EU members for what he said was their failure to support Warsaw since Moscow imposed the ban a year ago.

EU members were "told from the beginning" about Poland's problems with the Russian embargo, Kaczynski said.

"We discussed it with the Finns, with our other European partners such as Germany. But the EU only decided very late to step in."

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Poland goes from strength to strength

Whilst the debate about the effects of Polish labour flooding into the UK continues, people in Britain are being offered a chance to invest in the emerging economy in Poland.

The Polish economy is undergoing a major transition, bringing with it major opportunities for financial growth.

PropertyBourse, Europe’s only FSA authorised platform for opportunity driven specialist property funds, believes it has an option that not only allows access to what is becoming a dynamic economy, but help mitigate many of the risks.

Following EU membership, the Polish Government will have up to 82 Billion Euros to invest in infrastructure projects between 2007 and 2008 and one leading investment bank is forecasting GDP growth of up to 7% per annum if the grants are utilised properly.
Chris Cauvain Head of Sales at PropertyBourse says “We are very excited about the prospects for Poland, and are pleased to offer investors a chance to participate at the heart of the Polish property market.

“We launched City Living Poland back in March 2006 and the response from IFAs has been very good. The latest price shows an 8% growth in NAV since March, this equates to 2% per month increase in the Net Asset Value since its first close.”

The fund aims to benefit from the growth in house prices in the major cities of Poland. The plan is to have in excess of 1,000 apartments spread amongst the major cities, where the economy is growing at its strongest.

“Clients not only benefit from the geographical diversification that this gives, but also the expertise and experience that the professional fund manager brings to the table,” said Chris.

Alek Jankowski of Skarbiec currently manages €100m of residential property in Poland. Skarbeic is part of the Commerzbank group.

Chris adds “Alex has been busy buying off-plan apartment blocks in Warsaw and Krakow to let to the corporate market place. This scheme benefits from economies of scale on both sides - its ability to negotiate good and genuine discounts from developers and the scale to target the corporate lettings market.

“Realistically the average investor would not be able to achieve the diversity or the depth of local expertise that City Living Poland can achieve.”

The next closing date is the end of December and can be accessed directly or via SIPP/SSAS and some Offshore Bonds. Further details are available at PropertyBourse.com

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PM urges Russia to recognize Poland as fully-fledged EU member

WARSAW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Polish prime minister said Friday that Russia must recognize his country as a legitimate member of the European Union.

Poland and Russia have become caught up in a trade dispute over Russia's ban on Polish meat imports. In protest against Russia's ban, Warsaw vetoed the start of Russia-EU negotiations, set to begin Friday, on a new cooperation deal.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski told a news conference in Warsaw dedicated to Poland's veto, "Russia must not regard Poland as if it were not a member of the EU."

Kaczynski said the issue of talks on a new Russia-EU agreement had been discussed by the European Commission prior to Friday's Russia-EU summit in Helsinki, and that Poland had not initially planned to veto the talks.

"On the one hand, we asked the European Union to intervene in our dispute [over meat exports] with Russia," the Polish premier said. "On the other hand, we said that the failure to intervene and the absence of a resolution of the problem could lead to this [veto] decision."

Kaczynski said accusations that the issue was not ready for discussion and that other EU partners were not familiar with Poland's arguments were false.

Poland's conditions for the launch of talks on replacing the current partnership and cooperation agreement, set to expire in 2007, also included Moscow's ratification of the Energy Charter, and a transit protocol to the Charter, which would force Russia to liberalize its oil and gas sector.

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The EU should reconsider the way European transport policy is being implemented. Liberalisation and deregulation of passenger and freight markets may end up in legal overregulation. Polish act on rail transport grew 10 times and is now 45 pages lon - said prof. Juliusz Engelhardt during the I International conference InterRailTech, held in Warsaw, 22-23 November.
"Poland - between East and West" was the slogan of the conference. Meanwhile the favourable geopolitical location of Poland is becoming troublesome as far as we are unable to take advantage of it - said Andrzej Zurkowski, CEO of Railway Scientific and Technical Centre CNTK, opening the session.

The delegates shared their experience and knowledge on rail freight and passenger transport, railway infrastructure, rail financing, ERTMS implementation.

The conference was divided in two sessions subtitles “Transport Policy” and “Technical & Commercial Progress”.

InterRailTech was organised by Europoint together with PKP and CNTK with assistance of CER, UIC, OSJD, PKP Cargo.

The speakers include Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy Director General of DG Energy and Transport of the European Commission, Mr. Johannes Ludewig, Executive Director of CER, Ad Toet, Advisor for CEE countries CER, Jan Komarek, General Director Czech Infrastructure managing company SŽDC, Gerald Dalton, Director of UIC; Tadeusz Szozda, Chairman of OSJD, Andrzej Harassek, General Manager of ERA, Andrzej Zurkowski, CEO of CNTK, Mirosław Antonowicz, vicepresident of Polish Rail Transport Office, Jan Tereszczuk, CEO of PKP Regional Railways, prof. Juliusz Engelhardt of Szczecin University, prof. Wojciech Paprocki of Warsaw School of Economics, representatives of RZD, RFI, EBI, ISIS, Polish transport minisrty.

Rynek Kolejowy and Railway Market – Central and Eastern European Review magazines were the official media partners of the event.

Pararelly VI International Rail Fairs InterRailTech were held.

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Germany's Axel Springer in talks to buy stake in Poland's largest broadcaster

Axel Springer AG, publisher of Germany's top-selling Bild newspaper, said Thursday it is in talks to buy a 25.1 percent stake in Polish television broadcaster Polsat for about €250 million (US$323 million).

Buying the stake in Polsat, or Telewizja POLSAT Spolka Akcyjna, would add to the Berlin-based publisher's print business in Poland, where Polsat is the No. 2 newspaper publisher by circulation, with dailies including Fakt and Dziennik.

The move to acquire Polsat comes days after Springer announced it would buy a 25 percent stake in Dogan TV, Turkey's largest television and broadcasting company, for €375 million (US$485 million), as part of its expansion into emerging markets.

Earlier this year, Germany's antitrust regulators blocked Axel Springer's planned takeover of German TV broadcaster ProSiebenSat.

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Poland vetoes EU-Russia negotiations

Poland vetoed talks between the European Union and Russia on a new partnership agreement today (23/11/2006)over a meat dispute, casting a shadow over a summit tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Polish move, dramatising latent hostility between Warsaw and its former Soviet master, is a political embarrassment for the EU, which will be unable to speak with a single voice at tomorrow's meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

Warsaw blocked consensus on a negotiating mandate, spurning a compromise offered by the EU's Finnish presidency on a statement demanding an urgent lifting of Moscow's ban on imports of Polish meat and some other food products.

"Unfortunately the EU was not able to agree on the mandate," said Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, the summit host.

Putin defended the ban, denied it was politically motivated, and called for negotiations to find a solution.

"(Poland must) not protect the interests of swindlers and crooks involved in smuggling which hits local producers," he told a news conference after talks with Finland's president.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, accompanying Putin in Helsinki, said it was the EU's problem, not Russia's, and there were lots of other things to discuss as the summit.

Asked if Moscow was disappointed, he said: "We are not. We think Brussels should be disappointed to some extent as this was a perfect opportunity to initiate these negotiations. Most likely we will lose this opportunity."

Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga, on a visit to Oslo, said Poland was willing to risk its reputation in the EU over what she called "a matter of sovereignty."

"What kind of damage can be (deemed acceptable) when you fight for your sovereignty? You wage everything for this. Everything, even reputation," she said in English.

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Ukraine, Estonia, Poland Pledge Support

The Estonian and Ukrainian leaders, along with Poland’s Speaker of Parliament, have pledged their countries’ support for Georgia and its drive towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

The three officials, who are in Georgia to attend ceremonies marking the third anniversary of the Rose Revolution, offered their countries' support while addressing the Georgian Parliament.

“Ukraine will support Georgia’s development and its Euro-Atlantic integration process… Kiev offers to Russia and Georgia its mediation to help ease tensions,” Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said that Estonia fully understands Georgia’s concerns regarding pressure exerted by a neighboring country, as Estonia itself experienced similar problems in the 90s.

The Estonian President said that he will urge U.S. President Bush to support Georgia’s NATO aspiration during talks in Tallinn on November 28.

“It is in Poland’s interest to help Georgia integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures… Russia should accept Georgia’s democratic aspirations and should resume dialogue with Georgia. Confrontation will only harm the entire region,” Poland's parliament speaker Marek Jurek said.

Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said that presence of these high-profile guests at the Rose Revolution anniversary “means that we have reliable friends and our unity here means that we have met the expectations of our people after the Rose Revolution.”

“But lots of things remain to be done, including our major task – the restoration of territorial integrity,” she added.

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Twenty three dead in mine disaster

The death toll in the mine disaster in Silesia has risen to twenty three. The last of the miners missing after Tuesday’s gas explosion in the Halemba mine in Ruda Slaska were found in the early morning hours. According to a spokesman for the the state coal company, everything suggests that they died at the moment of the explosion. It occurred 1,000 meters below ground.

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Reputation in Poland built on aid projects

Poland is due to receive SFr489 million ($383 million) from Switzerland as part of an effort towards reducing social disparities within the enlarged European Union.

In the 1990s the country was the main beneficiary of Swiss aid following the collapse of the Communist system in eastern and central Europe.

Swiss voters have the final say on the new financial contribution in a nationwide ballot on November 26. This is part of a SFr1 billion package that Switzerland is planning for the ten countries which joined the EU in 2004.

Switzerland spent about SFr154 million on a series of projects in Poland in a bid to support economic and social reforms, combat poverty and establish democratic institutions during the transition to a market economy.

None of the more than 20 countries between the Baltic Sea and central Asia received nearly as much financial or technical support during the same period.

"Poland was a focus country of our cooperation programmes for its sheer size and importance and because of striking economic inequalities in the country," says Axel Heiri of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Detailed records of the aid programmes to the eight countries, including Poland, don't appear to be easily accessible but Heiri remembers keeping an archive of cardboard boxes... in a bathtub.

"Our office for aid to eastern Europe was in an apartment in Bern. This reflects somehow the pioneer spirit of those days," he says.
Wholesale market

Eight years on as the government decided to shift the focus of its aid programme from eastern Europe to the Balkans and the former Soviet republics, the Swiss authorities published a booklet summing up their experience.

"We look back with satisfaction on the achievements : even if not all the programmes were as successful as we hoped," the editorialist wrote in 1998.

One of the internationally acclaimed Swiss success stories in Poland was the creation of a wholesale market for vegetable and flowers in Poznan, a city in the west of the country.

It is one of the few projects which is making a profit 15 years later, and which has expanded and survived in a competitive environment, according to Heiri. The aim was to replace the poorly organised street markets at the time and set up transparent structures for trade in agricultural products.

"We found a perfect Swiss solution for the construction. Despite the complex legal structure the handling of the market is simple and functional," says Heiri.

Other successful projects included a health project to reduce infant mortality in the Katowice region. The area in Upper Silesia was the centre of Poland's heavy industry and suffered from extreme pollution levels in the air and the water.

Switzerland provided incubators and other badly needed medical equipment for newborn babies and mothers in 144 outpatient clinics and hospitals of the region. It also organised specific basic and high:level training for medical and technical staff.

Heiri who visited Katowice a year ago is pleased to see that Swiss aid has had an impact and still does, but also that it has served as a model to other eastern European countries. "Local people still remember the Swiss initiative."

Swiss aid in Poland also included regional programmes to combat poverty in remote rural areas by providing credits for small enterprises. It also went towards culture, research and education, notably a media training project organised by Swiss Radio International.

Heiri says the success of a certain aid programme was often a combination of several factors, including close cooperation with local staff, a careful assessment of the projects and strong personal involvement by project leaders.

He believes there is some logic in the bulk of the SFr1 billon fund for the new EU members going the Poland. "Switzerland has an excellent reputation in the region and it could become tarnished if voters came out against the cohesion payment," he adds.

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Gryzlov says Poland’s stand on Russia-EU talks “unacceptable”

State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said Poland’s decision to veto the commencement of talks on a new partnership agreement between Russia and the European Union was “unacceptable”.

“We understand that it is easier to issue ultimatums than to conduct a constructive dialogue and talks,” Gryzlov said sarcastically on Wednesday.

He said Polish agricultural produce did not meet Russian standards and therefore could not be let into the Russian market.’

The speaker said this was the reason for the ban on Polish meat imports.

Gryzlov said he would meet with the parliament speaker of Finland, which is the current EU president, on Friday, November 24. “I think we will discuss this issue, too,” he said.

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Merkel to hold talks with France's Chirac and Poland's Kaczynski

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with French President Jacques Chirac and his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski in the southwestern German town of Mettlach on December 5, the government announced in Berlin on Wednesday.

Dubbed as 'The Weimar Triangle', the summit will focus on international and European issues.

The meeting was initially scheduled to take place in the east German city of Weimar last July but was called off by Kaczynski.

Officially the Polish president cited health problems for his sudden cancellation but unofficially it was reported that he was upset over the publication of a caricature in a leftist Berlin-based newspaper which mocked him.

German-Polish relations have experienced deep strains over a series of political issues in recent months.

Poland objects to German plans to build a 1,200 kilometer gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea.

The gas link is set to bypass Poland and Ukraine, prompting concern from both countries that they will be cut off from Russian gas supplies.

Another major point of contention between Warsaw and Berlin remained the questions of property related to the post-1945 expulsion of ethnic Germans from Poland.

While Merkel reaffirmed that she opposed plans by a private German expellee group to file lawsuits against Poland in an effort to get compensation for lost property, she firmly dismissed Polish calls for a formal treaty which would ban individuals from launching lawsuits.

Poland which harbors historic grievances against Germany, remains deeply suspicious of Berlin's policy towards the eastern European country.

Meanwhile German political leaders have repeatedly expressed concern over attempts by right-wing Polish politicians to
instrumentalise anti-German feelings for their own political gain.

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Severe Labor Shortage Wracks Poland

New Polish-language newspapers are flourishing in Britain and Belgium, France and Sweden, Ireland and Germany, catering to Polish craftsmen, engineers, teachers, nurses, plumbers, architects, maids and drivers. These newspapers are the lifeblood for newcomers seeking to find cheap housing, ferret out Polish food shops and meet teachers to learn their new language.

This is the “second” Poland, a diaspora of 800,000 Poles estimated by officials here to have left the country since it joined the European Union in May 2004. The exodus is believed to be one of the largest migrations by Europeans since the 1950s, when a wave of Irish crossed the Atlantic to escape poverty.

But in Poland, this huge movement of people has created a labor shortage so severe that the government may not be able to spend the money that is due to begin arriving in January from the European Union for projects like improving roads and the water supply.

And it appears that one of the main culprits for the lack of labor in Poland is, "the mismatch between jobs and workers. Krystyna Iglicka, a migration expert and sociologist at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw, says that Poland’s education system failed in the 1990s to train enough skilled workers, including engineers and craftsmen."

From a comparative labor law standpoint, there are certainly some important lessons here for our own American labor situation.

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Poland Sets Conditions for Euro-Russian Cooperation Pact

Poland says it will drop its opposition to a proposed European Union partnership agreement with Russia, if the union meets its demands.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski told reporters Tuesday in Warsaw his government sent a letter to the EU presidency - currently held by Finland - listing several conditions that must be met before his country will support the pact. He did not provide details, but said he was waiting for an answer from Finland.

EU-Russian talks are to open Friday in Helsinki. But Poland has blocked adoption of a common EU position, making final agreement impossible.

Last week, Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said Warsaw wants a clear signal from Moscow that it will lift a food import ban on Polish meat and other food products.

Russia banned such imports last year, saying they were unsafe.

The Kremlin responded to the Polish stance with with veiled warnings referring to Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas exports.

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SABMiller Poland gets $100m upgrade

SABMiller plc, one of the world's leading brewers, announced on Tuesday that its Polish subsidiary Kompania Piwowarska will invest up to $100-million in an upgrade of its three breweries.

The majority of the investment is in the Tyskie brewery near Krakow in Silesia, where production capacity will be increased to serve growing demand for the Tyskie brand, which is Poland's best selling beer and biggest export brand. This forms part of a three year investment programme, with the majority of the investment already underway and to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2007.

Following the investment, the Tyskie brewery will be SABMiller's largest European facility, capable of producing over eight million hectolitres or 1.4 billion pints annually, equating to 16 percent of SABMiller's total European brewing capacity. SABMiller's total brewing capacity in Poland will rise from 12.5 million hectolitres to 15 million hectolitres.

The Tyskie investment includes a new, technologically advanced brewhouse and an additional packaging line, which will improve the packaging capacity across the country. Further construction is planned to extend the fermenting and maturation areas of the brewery, with the addition of 12 new fermenting tanks and eight new maturation vessels, the first stage of which will be completed in January 2007.

Commenting on the investment, Mark Bowman, managing director of Kompania Piwowarska, said: "Our investment decision to extend the production capacity in all the brewery plants has been driven by good growth in both the domestic beer market and the strong international demand for our brands. It not only enables us to maintain and improve the already high quality of our beer production, but also will help to meet the demand arising out of current sales growth."

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Poland's position will not to hinder Russia-EU summit - ambassador

There is no necessity to cancel the Russia-EU summit scheduled for November 24, even if Poland continues to block the start of talks on a new Russian-EU agreement, Finnish Ambassador to Russia Harry Helenius said.

"Despite the absence of a mandate, there is no reason to cancel the summit. All EU-Russia summits are useful, constructive, and forward thinking, even if held without a united Union mandate" the ambassador said at a press conference at Interfax on Tuesday.

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Poles apart: How is Poland tackling mass migration?

Priests have long been adept at coaxing new recruits into the fold, but their talents are being used more literally in Poland, where the exodus of workers is beginning to hamper the nation's own economic growth.

The radical plan may itself prove flawed, as not even the clergy are safe from this Westward migration, with Scotland now poaching Polish Catholic priests.

Since 2004, Britain's workforce has been fed by a steady army of new recruits from Eastern Europe, with almost 600,000 migrants from the new accession states successfully taking up employment here.

More than a million Poles are estimated to have left their country, tempted to Britain by the promise of higher wages and an economy desperately short of numbers and skills.

UK employers, including Tesco and First Group transport, are attracted to EU migrants, particularly Poles, as they possess a strong work ethic and good language skills at a time when recruitment difficulties are at their most severe.

However, the phenomenon has now reached such proportions that employers in Poland are starting to struggle to retain their staff, and are looking at a range of new strategies to help fill the gaps.

Even the nation's president, Lech Kaczynski, admitted that employers in Poland were now struggling to find skilled professionals, and urged some of his countrymen to return home.

Martin Oxley, chief executive officer of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce, says the demand for staff in the UK is as strong as ever. He concedes that the numbers leaving Poland have become so large that Polish employers are developing tactics to woo back some of the exiles.

“In certain sectors, Polish employers are struggling to recruit staff, but it's more a question of retraining and redeploying people,” he says. “They're coping with this exodus in a number of ways - mainly through large training and re-orientation programmes.”

He argues that unemployment in the country is still running at around 14.8%, which rises to as much as 40% in some rural areas, so there are plenty of candidates to fill the gaps.

James Strickland, a director at recruitment firm Omega Resourcing, runs an agency in Poland that finds staff for British companies.

Although he dismisses the scale of the problem facing Polish businesses, he has started working for some local clients and acts on behalf of some employers trying to entice workers back to the country.

“Poland still has huge levels of unemployment, and they are still producing around 250,000 university graduates every year,” he says. “Most will return eventually and will have improved levels of skills and experience.”

However, the Polish Labour Ministry is so concerned that it has opened up the domestic jobs market to workers from all EU countries, as well as some other non-EU states, such as Ukraine and Belarus.

The Institute for Public Affairs has also mounted a major campaign to encourage workers to return, entitled Wyjazdy i Powroty, or Go and Come Back. The campaign uses a website to try and encourage workers to maintain closer links with their home country.

Earlier this year, officials from one city in the south of Poland came to Britain in a bid to lure back some of their compatriots with a poster and leaflet campaign around London.

It was designed to appeal to patriotism by urging people to forgo higher wages to help build the country's future.

Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, warns that the statistics can be misleading, as they only measure the people who are coming into Britain, and not those who are leaving.

“Even though unemployment has risen again here [in the UK], there's still a strong demand, but I do think it will stabilise eventually. There's no legal or moral argument to prevent UK employers from continuing to recruit Poles,” he says.

Whatever the political situation, freedom of movement is one of the basic tenants of EU membership. So the merry-go-round of staff which sees Polish doctors in London and Ukrainian builders in Warsaw will continue for as long as the UK's job market remains so tight.

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Poland to sell arms to Indonesia

Poland prepares to modernise Indonesian Army. Indonesia announced its plans of the modernisation of its army at cost of over 3.5 billion US dollars. According to the Indonesian defence minister Juwono Sudarsono orders for arms worth as much as 2.5 billion could go to Polish arms manufacturers. Poland has been selling arms to Indonesia for several years. PZL Mielec delivered the Skytruck planes to the Indonesian police which proved useful during the rescue operation after the tsunami disaster. PZL Swidnik sold for 15 million dollars 11 helicopters. In January 2007 the Indonesian coast guard will receive 5 patrol boats manufactured in the Polish Navy Shipyard while the Indonesian Army has ordered anti-aircraft weapons from Polish Bumar. The 2.5 billion dollars will be spent in the US or Poland but, according to Indonesian defence minister, Poland's chances are growing.

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Vilnius backs Poland’s veto on Russia-EU talks on new treaty

Lithuania backs Poland’s stand on blocking the start of EU-Russia talks on concluding a new basic partnership treaty, Lithuanian premier Gediminas Kirkilas said on Tuesday in an interview with national radio.

“Poland is Lithuania’s strategic partner, and it would be strange if Vilnius rejected Warsaw in supporting its veto. The more so, since Lithuania is also interested in this,” the premier noted.

According to Kirkilas, “Russia discontinued oil deliveries along the Druzhba pipeline to Mazejkiaj. Therefore, we should act jointly with Poland so as to convince Moscow to make a compromise.” “This item should find a place in a new EU-Russia treaty,” the premier continued.

The prime minister emphasized that Lithuania “is interested in signing a new basic partnership treaty between the EU and Russia and is ready to act as a mediator in the Moscow-Warsaw dispute”. However, Lithuania and Poland “cannot sacrifice their interests. Therefore, Russia should also adjust its position,” he noted.

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Poland: Workers' Initiative activists fired for speaking out

Poland -- The Impel-Tom Company in Zielona Gora has fired the next three activists of Workers' Initiative because they spoke loudly and openly in court about the illegal activity of their employer towards their labour union.

At the beginning of 2006 the workers of the Impel-Tom Company in Kostrzyn (which employs about 700 workers in Lubuskie voyevodship) began their fight for better wages. But when in spite of earlier promises, they still didn't receive higher payment in February, they decided to found their own labour union - the first one in Impel-Tom. Twelve persons from forty workers in Kostrzyn joined the union and the collecting of next declarations was going on. On March 7 the members of the labour union wanted to have the founders' meeting of Workers' Initiative in Impel-Tom factory. The management of the company decided to prevent it. Some people weren't let in the company and two initiators of the union, including Jacek Rosolowski, were made redundant. Rosolowski accused Impel-Tom of discrimination because of union membership and of illegal activity against Workers' Initiative. After a few months' trial, on October 31 the court in Zielona Gora brought in a verdict admitting Jacek Rosolowski was right and ordered the company to pay damages to him.

After this sentence, on November 2 three members of Workers' Initiative were fired: Czeslaw Toczek, Piotr Duplaga and Robert Szkwarek., who testified in Labour Court and spoke openly about the illegal activity of the employer towards their labour union. The Impel-Tom Company has also determined work contracts with the rest of the workers of Impel-Tom in Kostrzyn (except the guard) offering them new work conditions in the Acromar Company (which belongs to Impel-Tom). New work hasn't been offered to the above-mentioned members of Workers' Initiative. In this way the management of the Impel-Tom Company, which also manages Acromar, got rid of active members of the union effectively, using that form of lock-out as a punishment for an attempt of founding a labour union.

The Impel-Tom Company is a part of the Impel S.A. holding, which is the biggest group of outsourcing companies in Poland in security, cleaning and catering sectors. In 2005 it employed more than 17.000 workers including the disabled, which let the company get subsidies from the state. In 2005 its turnover was about 627 million zloty and the company made 21 million zloty profit. Impel S.A. is listed on the Warsaw stock exchange. In 2002 Impel was famous for its brutal pacification of the protest organized by workers of the Cable Factory in Ozarow, made to order of Boguslaw Ciupiala, owner of Tele-Fonika company.

Workers' Initiative is announcing the beginning of Polish campaign against Impel-Tom.

We are asking everyone for help. We bear large expenses for legal defense, material help and organizing demonstrations because of many dismissals of activists of Workers' Initiative. Therefore, we are asking you for financial support.

OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza
Poznan, Gorecka 154

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SEB does not plan further acquisitions in Poland

Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB), one of the biggest banking groups in Scandinavia with strong market position in Ukraine and Russia, wants to develop alone in Poland after it was forced several months ago to withdraw from Bank Ochrony Srodowiska (BOS). The company will operate as a unit and not a bank registered in Poland.

“We withdrew from BOS with a small loss but very big experience and market knowledge. That’s why we want to develop by ourselves in Poland. We do not plan acquisitions although they are not excluded in the future”, Annika Falkengren, SEB CEO said.

SEB is going to serve Scandinavian and German corporate clients in Poland. It also plans to win individual clients. On January 22nd, it will launch its offer, which at first will be directed to the managers of the companies it already services.

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Poland might continue vetoing Russia-EU pact - PM

Poland's prime minister said Monday Warsaw might not lift its veto of talks on a new cooperation accord between Russia and Europe if Moscow does not lift its embargo on Polish meat and vegetable exports.

EU and Russian diplomats failed last week to coordinate the start of talks to replace the current Friendship and Cooperation Agreement, which expires in 2007, over Warsaw's ultimatum that Moscow first sign the Energy Charter with Europe and lift an embargo on Polish agricultural exports to Russia.

Talks on the agreement were to be launched at a Russia-European Union summit in Helsinki this Friday.

"If we agreed [to give way to Russia], it would mean that Russia, which is a major partner of the EU, could regard Poland as if it were not a European Union member," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said.

"Poland must protect its national interests," Kaczynski said.

Russia banned agricultural imports from Poland last year, citing health risks. But Warsaw said the embargo was in retaliation for Poland's support of the "orange revolution" in Ukraine in late 2004, when Western-leaning political forces came to power in the former Soviet state.

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, confirmed Monday that the former Communist-bloc state, which joined the EU in 2004, is unlikely to lift its veto by November 24.

He met with Polish Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper earlier in the day, who said Poland will not backtrack on its decision until Russia "gives a clear signal" that it will lift the embargo.
Source:RIA Novosti, en.rian.ru

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Poland wants expand trade ties to new areas

Poland wants to strengthen its business ties with India in traditional industries like mining, but is also keen on expanding to new areas.

In Chennai on Saturday for a reception to celebrate Poland's Independence Day, Polish Ambassador to India Krzysztof Majka said old economy investments such as Lakshmi Mittal's steel interests and Videocon's manufacturing plant were still welcome in areas like mining, rail and port infrastructure, auto manufacturing and food processing. But Poland also wanted to look beyond these sectors to new areas like information technology, "where we can learn so much from India", education and tourism.

"For India, investing in Poland is a chance to enter the bigger European Union market," he said. Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and is presenting itself as an attractive investment destination based on its economic growth and reforms, divestment programme and position as a supply base to the east Europe.

Mr. Majka presented the Cavalier's Cross of Merit to John Prabakar, president, Indo-Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industries Tamil Nadu, in recognition of his efforts at strengthening Indo-Polish ties, both cultural and commercial, in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The reception included a short performance by a string quartet, which gave a gala concert on the "Musical Landscape of Poland" on Sunday. This is one of the 51 events that make up the ongoing "Days of Poland" cultural festival.
Source:The Hindu, hindu.com

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Kuwait, Poland enjoy excellent political relations -- Al-Kharafi

By Eman Al-Awadhi KUWAIT, Nov 20 (KUNA) -- Kuwait and Poland enjoy excellent ties at the political level and "we hope that the Polish Days in Kuwait will strengthen trade and economic relations," National Assembly Speaker Jassem Al-Kharafi said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of the Polish Days in Kuwait, late on Sunday, Al-Kharafi said, "I am very happy to be here tonight with the Polish Senate Speaker and the delegations that have come to participate in this event." The Polish Days in Kuwait, coinciding with Poland's Independence Day, grouped over 130 people as part of political, parliamentary, commercial, cultural, and press delegations.

"We hope such an event will serve to strengthen relations and cooperation between the two countries and raise trade exchange between them," he said.

Trade exchange between Kuwait and Poland stood at USD 20 million in 2005.

At the parliamentary level, Al-Kharafi hoped for greater coordination through parliamentary committees and for Poland to have a greater presence in the Middle East.

For his part, Polish Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz said, "The level of political relations between Kuwait and Poland are excellent, but we cannot say the same for economic relations ... We hope that Kuwait will become a gateway for Poland to the Middle East." He said he had extended an invitation to His Highness the Amir of Kuwait on behalf of the Polish President to visit Poland and that the invitation was accepted but no date had yet been set.

"We hope to hold Kuwaiti Days in Poland in late March," he said.

The Polish Speaker said his country had decided to diversify its sources of energy and to become less dependent on oil and natural gas supplies from Russia and Central Asia, and was thus "looking with interest" to the Arabian Gulf.

Asked to comment on the political life in Kuwait, he said, "Kuwait is one of the most democratic Arab states and its political life brings together traditions and modernity." He said his country felt "close" to Kuwait because of the suffering that both countries had endured under occupation and war.

The Polish Days will continue to November 24 and aims to introduce the Kuwaiti public to Poland from the political, economic, and cultural perspectives.

Some 130 people have come from Poland to take part in the event, which includes investment and tourism forums, a cultural and science program, as well as additional events such as an arts exhibition, a movie screening, and a music recital.

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Poland to purchase gas from RosUkrEnergo

he Polish gas monopoly company Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG) signed a three-year contract with the Russian - Ukrainian company RosUkrEnergo on purchase of 2.3 bn. cu. m. of gas per year. According to PGNiG sources, the company agreed to increase payment for gas, which it buys from Gazprom, by 10 percent, Cabinet press office reported.

According to the earlier contract, RosUkrEnergo annually supplied 2.5 bn. cu. m. of gas to Poland via Ukraine, which made some 20 percent of the Polish internal consumption.

Gas is supplied to Poland via two routes, via the recently built gas pipeline Ustyluh (Lutsk region) - Hrubieszow (Poland), as well as via the gas transmission station in the village of Drozdovichi (Lviv region).

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Poland Stands by Veto Threat

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said he had made no progress in talks with his Polish counterpart, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on Warsaw dropping its veto on talks for a new cooperation agreement between the European Union and Russia.

"We had a very long discussion but were unable to reach a solution," Vanhanen said after Friday's brief, late-night discussion in the Polish capital.

Vanhanen, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, met Kaczynski in an effort to persuade Poland to drop its veto by proposing ways of resolving a dispute over meat exports and energy issues with Moscow.

Poland said it would reply soon to Vanhanen's proposals.

"The Polish side was ready to accept the Finish proposal with some corrections that would make it more realistic," said the Polish prime minister's spokesman Jan Dziedziczak.

EU leaders and President Vladimir Putin are to meet in Helsinki next Friday to discuss relations between the 25-member bloc and Moscow, including agreeing to starting talks for a new accord to replace a 1997 agreement.

In Moscow, Interfax quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday as saying Moscow would resolve the problems with Poland that are affecting its ties with the EU.

"We will settle this issue on a bilateral basis. Our experts have informed their Polish counterparts about this," Lavrov said.

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Polish Gas Monopoly Signs New Gas Deal

Poland's oil and natural gas monopoly has signed a three-year gas deal with a Russian-Ukrainian gas supplier, even as Warsaw looks to diversify its energy supplies.

Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA, or PGNiG, agreed to buy 2.3 billion cubic meters of gas annually from RosUkrEnergo, PGNiG said in a statement late Saturday.

RosUkrEnergo is jointly owned by Russia's state-run gas monopoly OAO Gazprom and two Ukrainian businessmen. The new contract runs from Jan. 1, 2006 and replaces an expiring agreement.

PGNiG also said it has agreed to pay some 10 percent more for gas it receives from Gazprom under a long-term contract from 1996.

The Polish company imports almost 70 percent of its gas, mainly from Gazprom, and distributes it to Polish customers.

Polish leaders have warned that the former communist country is too dependent on oil and gas supplies from Russia. Poland was affected when Russia briefly cut gas deliveries to Ukraine in January.

Warsaw is exploring the possibility of importing Norwegian gas and building a liquid gas port on the Baltic coast. The Polish government has also floated the idea of pursuing nuclear energy.

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Poland/Russia row threatens EU energy deal

Finland's Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has said that an effort to solve an export row between Poland and Russia has so far come to nothing. This means that Warsaw could still oppose talks on a new Partnership Agreement between the EU and Moscow.

With Finland currently holding the EU Presidency, the job had fallen to Vanhanen to settle the rift.

The row centres on Moscow's import bans on Polish meat and vegetables. Poland says the embargo is purely political and will cost its economy 400 million euros per year

Russia started the ban after finding some veterinary certificates were forged. EU inspectors have been deployed to ensure that Poland has tightened controls, but Russia wants its own inspection team to verify the results.

Poland wants a re-opening of Russian markets or it could scupper an agreement on talks for an EU-Russia pact, due to be signed in Helsinki next Friday. The agreement must be signed by all EU member states.

European analysts see the agreement as vital to secure energy supplies from Russia.

Warsaw wants Moscow to ratify a charter on energy dealings. Other EU countries decided last month to push for just some of the charter's main points.

The Poles had been saying the import ban was aimed at splitting the EU.

Russia had accused Poland of blackmail, but the Poles had declarations of support from Lithuania and France.

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Lithuania offers to help settle row over Polish food exports to Russia

Lithuania offered on Saturday to check the sanitary standards of Polish food to help break a diplomatic stalemate caused by a Russian embargo on imports of Polish meat. The row has prompted Warsaw to obstruct talks on a new treaty between Russia and the European Union.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas "proposed that Poland make use of the services of Lithuanian experts to assess the quality of its food," the Lithuanian government press service told Interfax after a meeting in Warsaw between Kirkilas and his Polish counterpart, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

"The Lithuanian prime minister said during the conversation that he understood Poland's position on this issue," the press service said.

Kirkilas and Kaczynski "came to an agreement to look for a solution to this problem," it said.

Poland refuses to lift its veto on talks on a new EU-Russia partnership and cooperation agreement before the EU takes a harder line regarding Russia's trade and energy policy.

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GM considers auto exports from China, production venture in Poland

General Motors Corp. may use China as an export base in a few years, selling Chinese-built cars in other countries -- and it has already exported a small number of vehicles produced at its Chinese joint ventures.

"We exported some products to Chile this year, and 1,000 or 1,200 cars to Russia," Nick Reilly, president of GM's Asia Pacific region, told reporters Saturday at the Beijing auto show. "We've proven that we can do it."

Most global automakers with Chinese manufacturing operations are not currently exporting vehicles and are struggling just to keep pace with surging domestic demand.

But DaimlerChrysler revealed a year ago that it was considering adding a Chinese-built car to the Chrysler Group's U.S. lineup. Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda confirmed Saturday that the company was in talks with two carmakers, including China's Chery Automobile, and hoped to conclude a deal by the end of the year.

Up to now, GM wasn't tempted to export vehicles built in China because production costs here aren't as low as people believe. Wages are low but overall operations are "not yet at world levels of competitiveness," Reilly said.

Last year, after Honda Motor Co. of Japan first began exporting small Fit cars built in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, Honda executives said the same car cost less to produce in Japan.

Part of the trouble is that, while Chinese suppliers are improving quality and productivity fast, they're still not as efficient as global suppliers. "We think there's a fair way to go in terms of the competitiveness of the supply industry," Reilly said.

"However, that will change," he said. "In five years, I can see us growing exports from China."

Both GM and Ford Motor Co. are increasing their purchases of Chinese-built components to lower their costs, and GM has equipped its Equinox sport-utility vehicle with a Chinese-built engine.

At this stage, Ford is not considering exporting vehicles from China, said John Parker, Ford group vice president in charge of the Asia Pacific and Africa operations.

The Dearborn automaker came later to China than GM and its share of China's car market is less than a third of GM's.

"We're focused on the domestic market," Parker said. "We're adding products to the portfolio. We're building our brand, and we're building our dealer network. That has got us [occupied] flat-out."

Buoyed by China's growing economy and rising incomes, auto sales are up 30 percent so far this year. Analysts predict the market will grow from 7 million vehicle sales currently to 10 million by the end of the decade.

By then, most industry experts expect Chinese automakers will be exporting cars in substantial numbers. "They have come a long way, and we'd be foolish not to consider them serious competitors in the future," Reilly said.

In a separate effort to establish low-cost operations, GM is in talks with UkrAuto, a Ukrainian manufacturer, about the possibility of producing GM Daewoo products in Poland, he said. "They would potentially build a vehicle for GM Daewoo."

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MGM, ITI to Launch HD Premium Movie Channel in Poland

MGM Networks, a division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and ITI Neovision, a subsidiary of the Polish media and entertainment company ITI Group, will launch The MGM Channel for Poland next month and make it available in high-definition.

The channel will be available on “n”, the ITI Group’s new direct-to-home digital satellite platform. It will be broadcast in Polish and will be available both in standard definition and in high definition for those customers with the necessary equipment for receiving high-def signals. It will also be offered to Polish cable operators.

"As MGM Networks has expanded its footprint across the world, we have worked diligently to partner with top local media and entertainment companies to secure the most compelling opportunities and ensure the highest levels of quality,” said Bruce Tuchman, the executive VP of MGM Networks. “In the ITI Group we have found an example par excellence. This will also be our first MGM branded channel available in HD format."

“It’s great privilege for us to introduce to Polish viewers the first HD movie channel in the country and a great honor for us to launch with the magnificent MGM brand,” said Maciej Sojka, the president of ITI Neovision. “Interest in HD technology and content in Poland has grown dynamically, along with ever-increasing sales of HD and HD-ready television sets.”

The MGM Channel in Poland will present selections from MGM’s film library, one of the world’s largest. The “n” platform provides Poland’s only HD channel offerings, along with channels specially packaged for the platform by Poland’s leading commercial television network, TVN, and other third-party providers.

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Everyone scored in Poland's local elections

"Everybody Has Won" announces POLITYKA in its cover story referring to last weekend’s local elections in Poland. The Civic Platform (PO) scored big in major cities. The vote in provincial parliaments proved largely inconclusive as Law and Justice gained support thanks to the new election ordinance allowing for political parties to team up in ballot groups. This created a rather varied representation at county level and in rural constituencies. The center-left block turned out to be the third strongest force. Even the marginal Peasant Party has a noteworthy overall result. Thus, practically all have proclaimed some kind of election victory. But who shall REALLY rule throughout the country, wonders the weekly? The true alignment of power is yet to be seen and there could be many surprising alliances. The coupling of election lists is an important tool only at the stage of dividing seats. The issue of who shall vote for whom is left to the tactical philosophy of every individual party. The bargaining position of Law and Justice (PiS) shall remain strong. After all, it must be remembered that PiS holds the reigns of power at central level and shall be the decision maker on allocating EU funds for specific regions and nominating governors who suit it best in these key regional administration posts.
Another conclusion stemming from the local election results is that early parliamentary elections are a topic of the past. No political grouping gained sufficient advantage to display active interest in pressing for shortening the present term.

WPROST displays a hypothetic approach to Polish employment seekers who have emigrated to the UK, Ireland and other EU countries after May 1st, 2004 when Poland became a Union member. The magazine speculates that should the estimated 2 million workforce decide on returning, with each person taking on an average paid job in Poland, the country would gain an additional 3.8 billion zloties (roughly 1 billion euros) annually in Personal Income Tax, while state subsidies for the Social Insurance Office could be cut by 7 billion zloties (1.9 billion euros). This would be equivalent to reducing the current annual budget deficit by one third! But the most important profit from the ultimate return of the job seekers to their homeland would be ‘regaining’ a whole army of wealthier and more entrepreneurial people, who have acquired better work ethics and experienced the benefits of a well developed market economy. Under the condition, of course, that they will have the stimulus to return to Poland. Meanwhile, 80% of them regularly travel home to visit their family. 20% declare their intention of coming back for good after a longer or shorter period of emigration. 14% have made up their mind to stay permanently abroad.

NEWSWEEK POLSKA has a report on abortion practices in Poland, thirteen years after the introduction of the law on protecting unborn life. It is one of the most restrictive laws in this category in Europe. How are Polish women ‘coping with this problem’, asks Newsweek. Defining the true number of performed abortions ( the official figures are just a fraction of those quoted by various organizations and institutions) is a principle argument in the discussion between pro-choice and pro-life advocates. The Federation For Women and Family Planning claims the statistics reach 200 thousand annually, while the Association For The Protection of Human Life quotes abortion figures in the range of 7 to 13 thousand. Both estimates are alarming, given the official 400 thousand births and the stringency of the anti-abortion law in Poland. Data released by the Health Ministry speak of 225 legal abortions performed at hospitals and clinics. What are the conclusions? Both sides of the argument persist in their claims, as they have for long years. Meanwhile, abortion tourism to neighboring Belarus, for instance, continues to flourish with corrupt gynecologists competing for lower prices of their services.

The English language WARSAW BUSINESS JOURNAL writes about a media revelation of a potentially fatal drug mix up involving the Jelfa pharmaceutical plant in south-western Poland. Cases have been discovered of patients falling critically ill after taking Corhydron, a medicine used by asthma patients to quell allergic reactions. An investigation into the mislabeling of more than 5 thousand vials of an anesthetic with the Corhydron name, has revealed a yawning gap in the Polish legal system. Because of a series of ignored procedures, the National Pharmaceutical Inspector had not banned the drug from sales nor removed it from pharmacies, though the first signals of the problem had dated to February, while the alarm was raised by some hospitals at the end of October. The Health Minister admitted he had received the information from media reports. This lack of information flow has been the result of a gap in legal regulations on monitoring pharmaceutical production which had expired in mid-December 2005.

TYGODNIK POWSZECHNY, the catholic oriented weekly, headlines ‘Under US Wings’ its report on the arrival to Poland of the first four F-16 American fighter jets. It writes that a time has come for re-evaluation in Polish, US and European relations. The past week has brought two crucial events which might prove a breakthrough in the foreign policy of the current Law and Justice government. First, media attention was captured by the Prime Minister’s alleged concept of establishing European armed forces under NATO command. Then, before anyone managed to decipher the exact meaning of the proposition, public opinion became preoccupied with the US deputy ambassador in Warsaw. He drew a line for the Polish deputy premier’s freedom of speech past which, according to the American diplomat, there is no room for criticism of Polish military involvement in Iraq. Those incidents shall go down in memory as a point of departure for deeper reflection on Poland’s activity on the international arena, or the end of Polish chances for becoming an important and respected European nation, states Tygodnik Powszechny.

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Poland: Europe’s best kept property secret

Research conducted by Property Secrets highlights not only why Poland is a prime hot-spot for property investors, but also why carefully selected developments, and detailed market analysis, will yield returns well over and above the market average.

With Poland’s economy recording a 5.5% rise in GDP for Q2, plus a record breaking 14.4% increase in foreign direct investment, a significant bi-product has been its flourishing property market.

Property Secrets Analysts note that Poland’s average property market growth stood at 21% in 2005, with Krakow and Wroclaw posting particularly impressive growths of 29% and 24% respectively.

Head of Research and Analysis Simon Tweddle commented: “Aside from the impressive market performance, Poland is attracting a lot of foreign interest due to its favourable finance options. Foreigners can get mortgages with LTV’s of 85%, terms of up to 30 years and interest rates as low as 3.4%.

“Allied to this is Poland’s archaic planning laws which continue to restrict the supply of quality housing to a growing professional and middle class market. The result of which is that demand is far outweighing supply”.

But with any oversees investment it is a detailed understanding of the individual markets plus expert contacts on the ground that will help those investments yield spectacular returns.

In Krakow and Wroclaw alone, members of Property Secrets who invested in deals witnessed an average annualised growth of 88.9% and 61.6% respectively. Also delivering results over and above the market average were developments in Warsaw (39.8%) and Poznan (38.2%).

Tweddle continued: “Using research and analysis to find the right country and latterly city is only half the battle. You cannot afford to neglect relationships with developers, and a good knowledge of individual developments which will help you yield the greatest returns and guarantee your peace of mind.

“It is under these circumstances that you can expect to gain returns well above the market average as proved in recent deals where Property Secrets deal investors received impressive capital growth”.

For more information go to propertysecrets.net.

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Former PM Poland's most trusted politician

Former prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz is Poland’s most trusted politician. Such an opinion was expressed by 63 percent of respondents in a poll by the CBOS Institute. Marcinkiewicz is facing former central bank governor Gronkiewicz-Waltz in the second round of elections for the presidency of Warsaw on November 26.
Health minister Religa and justice minister Ziobro are close behind Marcinkiewicz in the ranking. Opposition leader Donald Tusk enjoys the support of 49 percent of respondents. The Kaczyński brothers, the president and prime minister, are doing much worse in the poll, with 37 and 33 percent respectively.
Source:Radio Polonia, polskieradio.p

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