Poland says Gazprom suspends cooperation

A dispute over a major pipeline carrying Russian gas to Europe resurfaced Tuesday, when Poland's state-owned gas monopoly accused Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom of partially suspending cooperation.

The Polish company, Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo, or PGNiG, said OAO Gazprom was scaling back cooperation after PGNiG rebuffed a Gazprom request for lower transit fees.

PGNiG did not specify what, if any, the practical effect might be of the dispute involving the Yamal pipeline.

A Gazprom official acknowledged disagreements over tariffs, but denied the Russian firm was partially suspending cooperation with PGNiG or seeking greater influence over the pipeline operator.

The official, who asked that he not be identified further in line with company policy, said Gazprom was pursuing ways to resolve the dispute, including arbitration.

In a statement summarizing the outcome of a supervisory board meeting of pipeline operator EuRoPol Gaz in Moscow, PGNiG said Gazprom had demanded an increase in its shareholder rights going beyond a 1993 agreement that set up the company as a Polish-Russian joint venture.

PGNiG holds a 48 percent stake in EuRoPol, plus another 4 percent via its controlling share in another company, Gas-Trading SA. Gazprom owns the remaining 48 percent.

"The Russian side also questioned the level of tariffs for transit of gas through Polish territory," PGNiG said. "This position met with opposition by Polish representatives and was found to be totally unfounded."

The Polish company added that Gazprom representative Alexander Medvedev said the Russian side will restrict its participation in the supervisory board to "ad hoc discussion of technical issues."

"The Russian side declared it would be ready to resume normal work on the board when the remaining shareholders grant Gazprom greater influence over company management," PGNiG said. "In practice, this position will lead to an impasse in relations between the major shareholders and paralysis of the (EuRoPol Gaz) supervisory board."

Gazprom and PGNiG have been sparring for more than a year about control of EuRoPol, as the Russian giant looks to cut transit fees for its gas via the almost 435-mile segment of the Yamal pipeline through Poland to consumers in Germany and Western Europe.

The dispute re-emerged Tuesday, amid wider tension between Russian energy suppliers and the former Soviet bloc states of Easter Europe.

Last week, crude oil deliveries were cut off for three days to Poland and Germany after a dispute over prices and export duties flared between Russia and Belarus.

The European Union criticized the cut-off, suggesting it cast doubt on Russia's reliability as an energy supplier.

Moscow and Warsaw are also embroiled in a trade dispute that has blocked the start of negotiations on a new trade and energy agreement between Russia and the European Union, which Poland joined in 2004.

The EU has called a Russian embargo on Polish meat exports unjustified, while Warsaw says it won't lift its veto on the EU-Russian talks until the meat embargo is lifted.

Source:By RYAN LUCAS, businessweek.com

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Poland Shoots Self In Foot On Russian Meat Ban

Warsaw, Poland 16 January, 2007 - The Polish Government irritated the European Union by vetoing negotions between the EU and Russia over a self inflicted meat ban by Russia that is not hurting Poland. And now when Poland needs the EU for something important like control of the Jamal Pipeline, it is not likely to get it.

The Polish Government has been wasting time picking fights over little things and losing on the big ones. And the Polish meat ban by Russia is a prime example.

The meat ban on Poland is self inflicted. It has nothing to do with Polish meat. It is all about Poland being a transhipping point for other meat. The European Union know this and says that Poland's transgression should not be a reason for banning Polish meat.

In an interesting move, Poland vetoed the start of planned negotiations on a new partnership agreement between the EU and Russia. That irritated a lot of people in the EU and was consider by some as poking the bear to the east in the stomach with a stick.

The Polish Ministry of Economy says that the meat ban has not hurt Poland. Livestock exports from Poland to Russia have increased. And trade in other products has increased.

As the Polish Government focused on the meat ban, the Polish Gas And Oil Company was slow in preparing for negotiations and got itself cornered. That resulted in a 10% increase in gas prices that will cost Poland billions of Euros over the next 20 years.

And now Russia is demanding control over the Jamal pipeline.

Poland needs EU support on this. But Poland spent its EU capital on the veto over the meat ban.


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Polish Foundation Aims To Lure Academics Back To Poland

For the first time a Polish foundation has awarded a prize to young academics returning to Poland in a "brain-drain" reversal, the Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported Tuesday.

The "Return" prize is intended for young scholars and researchers who started their career abroad and then returned home.

The Foundation for Polish Science wants to lure young, aspiring scholars back to Poland.

"We don't deny that the young people want to emigrate. But we want them to enrich Polish scholarship with their foreign experience," said the foundation's director, Jakub Wojnarowski.

As an incentive, academics receive an annual subsidy of about 50,000 zlotys (12,890 euros) for two years.

Many young Poles leave their home country after graduation, hoping for higher wages and better living conditions abroad.

The exact number of young academics leaving Poland each year is not known.

It is estimated, however, that about 2 million Poles have left their home country since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

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Poland: Carrefour reports on 2006 sales

Carrefour has reported that in 2006 in Poland its sales (including VAT) were worth €1,359m, in contrast to the €1,173m reported for 2005. At a constant exchange rate this represented a 12.3% improvement.

In addition, the retailer announced that the performance of the Polish branch accelerated in Q4 2006 in particular, when the unit saw a 13.9% year-on-year improvement in sales (at a constant exchange rate).

The Polish branch, which incorporates Carrefour hypermarkets, Champion/Globi and Carrefour Express supermarkets, accounted for some 1.6% of the total turnover of the French group in 2006 (€87.4bn). The group as a whole managed to boost sales by 6.6% year-on-year (6.3% at constant rates).

Source: freshplaza.com

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Poland: Carrefour reports on 2006 sales

Carrefour has reported that in 2006 in Poland its sales (including VAT) were worth €1,359m, in contrast to the €1,173m reported for 2005. At a constant exchange rate this represented a 12.3% improvement.

In addition, the retailer announced that the performance of the Polish branch accelerated in Q4 2006 in particular, when the unit saw a 13.9% year-on-year improvement in sales (at a constant exchange rate).

The Polish branch, which incorporates Carrefour hypermarkets, Champion/Globi and Carrefour Express supermarkets, accounted for some 1.6% of the total turnover of the French group in 2006 (€87.4bn). The group as a whole managed to boost sales by 6.6% year-on-year (6.3% at constant rates).


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Poland’s Buys 17 Malvern Mastersizer 2000 Systems

Malvern, UK -- The National Network of Agrochemical Stations in Poland has purchased seventeen Malvern Mastersizer 2000 laser diffraction particle size analyzers for use in the rapid assessment of different soil types. The systems will be used throughout the country and will replace existing measurement methods, resulting in the simplification and acceleration of the analytical process.

The Mastersizer 2000 was selected primarily on the basis of: its speed of measurement and rapid delivery of results; the flexibility that allows the easy analysis of both wet and dry samples; instrument-to-instrument reproducibility; and the comprehensive local support provided by AP Instruments, Malvern’s representative in Poland.

This local support is also backed by comprehensive web-based education and training, and telephone helpdesk facilities. The worldwide use of the Mastersizer 2000 for a very large number of different applications also meant that many reference sites could be consulted during the decision-making process.

In Poland soil is classified in line with EU rules for agrochemical use. Nitrate retention levels, and therefore appropriate fertilizer usage rates, are related to soil characteristics. Using the Mastersizer 2000, soils can be classified into four distinct groups - gravel, sand, silt and clay - using just a simple 30-second measurement.

Both wet and dry samples can be analyzed easily by the simple and straightforward switching of sample dispersion units. The Mastersizer 2000 is fully automated and driven by standard operating procedures (SOPs) that allow the easy and reliable transfer of analytical procedures between instruments at different sites.

The Mastersizer 2000 is a laser diffraction-based particle size analyzer designed for routine use. Malvern Instruments has extensive expertise in the field of laser diffraction, developed over a period of more than 30 years. This expertise is used to offer exceptional technical support to customers, through a well-developed, highly effective worldwide network of suppliers. The Mastersizer 2000 offers flexibility, a broad measuring range (0.2 – 2000 µm) and excellent accuracy and reproducibility.

About Malvern Instruments

Malvern Instruments is a global company that develops, manufactures and markets advanced analytical systems used in characterizing a wide variety of materials, from bulk powders to the latest nanomaterials and delicate macromolecules. Innovative technologies and powerful software produce systems that deliver industrially relevant data enabling customers to make the connection between micro (eg particle size) and macro (bulk) material properties (rheology) and chemical composition (chemical imaging).

Source: powderandbulk.com,

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Poland: CBRail and GE Transportation join up to provide modernised M62/ST 44 locomotives for Poland

CBRail and GE Transportation announced that the two companies has signed a purchase contract with GE Transportation for the modernisation of 20 M62/ST44 diesel electric locomotives in Poland, with an option for a further 10.
The M62/ST44 has been a solid workhorse of the Polish fleet over the years, but requires a modernisation programme to improve reliability and reduce operating costs.

Each locomotive will be fitted with a new GE Power module containing a FDL 12 engine, alternator and auxiliary equipment, and will meet UIC 2 emission requirements. Traction motors will also be upgraded by GE. GE Transportation has already successfully modernised several hundred locomotives of similar design in other countries, most notably Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

The units will be delivered for the Polish market between May 2007 and January 2008. In addition, CBRail and GE Transportation will be gaining German homologation for the locomotives in the course of 2007.

The rail market in Poland is seeing good progress with liberalisation. The modernised M62/ST44 locomotive offers private operators good value, reliable locomotives that will enable them to compete successfully in the market.

Mr Tadeusz Maguda of GE Transpoartion added that the company also takes part in the tender for modernisation of 18 (6 in 2007 and 12 in 2008) M62/ST 44 locomotives.

PKP LHS managed to revive its transport volumes after the company's main client, Mittal Steel, relaunched with full capacity production in its steel plant in Katowice.

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Poland Broadcasts 'Truth' to Belarussians

BIALYSTOK, Poland -- From simple back offices in a provincial Polish town, a radio station is broadcasting around the clock to Belarus, giving the country one of its few sources of independent news.

Run by opponents of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Radio Racja, or Radio Truth, is helping wage an information war against a regime branded by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as "Europe's last dictatorship."

Supported by the Polish Foreign Ministry and the Budapest-based Open Society Institute, founded by U.S. billionaire investor George Soros, Radio Racja is one of only two independent stations broadcasting freely into Belarus.

The station uses web technology to mix popular music and social commentary with uncensored news in both Belarussian and Russian, aiming to provide a platform for both opposition parties and Belarussian bands, some of which are banned at home.

"I dream of a free and independent Belarus," said editor Wiktor Stachwiuk, 58, an exile. "I want to give Belarussians a taste of a free society. Official media do not let them hear what is really going on."

Stachwiuk set up Radio Racja in 1999 and it broadcast from Warsaw until 2002. His Warsaw station eventually ran into financial problems, and it took Stachwiuk and his associates three more years to raise money to open the station in Bialystok, closer to Belarus and able to broadcast deeper into the country.

t now has a budget of $1 million per year, half of which is spent on transmitters: two in Poland and two in Lithuania.

Almost one year after its relaunch, Stachwiuk estimates that Radio Racja, with a staff of just 32 people, has an audience of up to 400,000, mostly in western Belarus, plus tens of thousands of exiles, and said it was building up rapidly on short and medium wave and on a newly launched FM band. "The station can be heard well on medium wave all the way to Minsk and can even be picked up in Finland," he said.

The station has a small network of reporters, mostly working under pseudonyms, across Belarus who record programs using MP3 technology and send them via the Internet to Bialystok or to one of two covert editing stations in Belarus.

Radio Racja editors say their correspondents face harassment from the Belarussian authorities -- mostly petty intimidation, but sometimes arrest and jail.

"Several of our people have been put in prison for a few days, one for 10 days, but nothing more serious so far," said Michal Andrysiuk, head of FM broadcasting. "One of our correspondents broadcast live from a police car after being arrested on a charge of cursing in the street. Hooliganism is the most frequent official excuse to arrest people who are obviously known to the police."

Belarussian opposition politicians and journalists welcome Radio Racja's efforts to break the state media monopoly but say its impact so far has been limited, partly because most Belarussians rely on television for news.

Zhanna Litvina, head of the Belarussian Association of Journalists, said it was a "comforting thought that such radio stations exist and that Belarussians are working for them."

"Unfortunately, you cannot say that such projects are very effective in current Belarussian conditions. To make them effective you would need transmitters in Belarus."

But the radio station's backers in Poland are convinced there is a growing pool of listeners. "I was in Belarus some time ago and met people listening to the radio and glad of it," said Michal Dworczyk, a key adviser on East European issues to Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.


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Poland maintains veto on Russia-EU talks - Russian official

BRUSSELS, January 15 (RIA Novosti) - Warsaw is refusing to lift its veto on Russia-EU talks on a new partnership deal, demanding that Moscow first end its embargo on Polish meat imports, Russia's envoy to the European Union said Monday.

Moscow banned meat imports from Poland in November 2005 over the EU nation's alleged violations of veterinary regulations and health concerns. Warsaw blocked the start of talks on a new Russia-EU cooperation deal in late 2006 in protest against the move.

"The Poles are still linking their veto on talks with the meat imports issue," Vladimir Chizhov said. "The subject will be addressed this week."

He said experts from the European Commission, Russia, and Poland will meet on January 17 in Warsaw to check measures taken by Poland to correct the violations of veterinary regulations.

"If they [the experts] are satisfied [with measures taken by Poland], we will take all necessary steps to resume imports of meat and meat products from Poland," Chizhov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in November last year that Moscow had no claims against Polish meat, but objected to products of third countries imported via Poland.

However, Poland sees the embargo as retaliation for its support of the "orange revolution" in Ukraine in late 2004, when Western-leaning political forces came to power in the former Soviet state.

Poland's conditions for the launch of talks on replacing the current Russia-EU partnership and cooperation agreement, set to expire in late 2007, also include 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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Troubles in Poland

Names like Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, Stanislaw Wielgus, Andrzej Zybertowicz, Stefan Wyszynski, Andrzej Paczkowski, Konrad Stanislaw Hejmo, Michal Czajkowski, Stanislaw Dziwisz, and Janusz Bielanski are likely to become household, or at least church-hold, words in the days ahead. Add to them up to thirty-nine more priestly names to be revealed in a forthcoming book by Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski. Virtually all of the names have titles before them: "Reverend," "Father," "Bishop," "Archbishop," and "Cardinal." Because no sexual and probably no financial scandal is associated with them, they may escape being pursued by paparazzi or featured in the tabloid press. In their homeland of Poland, however, the "crisis" – the Polish church's name for it – that they have occasioned is more profound and more troubling than sexual and fiscal matters could be. The public resents churchly non-disclosure most.

Martin E. Marty

If their stories of Communist collaboration, more and more of them corroborated by others or confessed by themselves, prove true, what they have done touches the very heart of the soul, or the soul of the heart, of Polish Catholicism, and thus of Poland. Throw in "and of European Catholicism" or "Pope Benedict" or "Catholicism." This is the case because Polish church resistance, or at least creative foot-dragging in the face of Communist repression, suppression, and oppression, was seen to be so massive, consistent, heroic, and effective that it made for one of the great stories celebrating the triumph of the human spirit in the century past.

These collaborations may not have always produced direct damage. Many say they hurt no one personally by their cooperation with secret police. Indirectly, however, they hurt every Catholic and no doubt every Pole who loved freedom and hated the oppressor. They are not alone. (We) Lutherans are not proud of East German clerics who cooperated even minimally with the hated Stasi, their secret police. It is likely that in almost all cases of totalitarian inflictions some who are weak, or who find it convenient, play along. So they did in Hitler's Germany, on a scale that still is haunting. Recovery, if any, is slow.

Decades ago, when describing the way Christianity is "moving south" globally, I would orally present a map. "Starting west of Poland, crossing Western Europe and the British Isles (except for Ireland), Canada, and the northern United States into Japan is the 'spiritual ice-belt' where many people live who are so remote from church life that they cannot even imagine why Africa, Latin America, and Asia are so religious and 'churchy.'" Later I had to cross off Ireland, as its Catholics increasingly deserted church participation as they reacted to scandal and found salvation in materialist goals. Now church participation in Poland declines precipitously, and this collaborationist scandal will hurt.

In the United States a few books by atheists sell well but probably drive few from the pews and, maybe even against the wills of their authors, lure some people to faith. Pope Benedict XVI has it more or less right when he talks about secularization in the form of desertion of the European churches. That's a less dramatic but more undercutting mode of reducing the sphere of active Christians than atheism ever could be.


Martin E. Marty's biography, current projects, upcoming events, publications, and contact information can be found at www.illuminos.com. Original Source: Sightings – A biweekly, electronic editorial published by the Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Source:By By Martin E. Marty, christianpost.com

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Poland's Supermarkets will remain open - bill killed

A bill that would have required supermarkets in Poland to close on Sunday was killed in committee. The vote was against the bill because committee members belonging the majority Polish Government coalition partner, Law And Justice, abstained from voting which allowed Government opposition parties to kill the bill.

Members of the current Polish Government have for years wanting to close supermarkets in Poland on Sundays. They finally had a chance to do it when the League of Polish Families submitted a bill that would have closed shops above a certain size while allowing small shops to stay open.

It was easy for the Law And Justice Party to support the idea when it was in the opposition. But now that it controls the Government, things look different.

They found, among other things, that were the bill to pass, there would be a loss of at least 70,000 jobs.

Additionally they found that there would be a significant loss of income to the budget.

Atop these the prevailing opinion was that the bill was unconstitutional.

So they let the opposition prevail in the vote.

Shoppers who were interviewed at the supermarkets on Sunday were definite in their views that the markets should stay open. For most of them Sunday was the most convenient day for them to shop.

But the Solidarity Union representative said that they wanted to close the big shops on Sunday to give Sunday back to the people. He declined to comment on why he was not demanding that Sunday be given back to the people who work in the small shops.

Roman Giertych, leader of the League Of Polish Families, promised to start a social movement to have the supermarkets closed.

The Law And Justice Party says that it will submit a bill of it own that requires all shops to shut down on major holidays. Because it treats all shops equally, it should not have problems with constitutionality.

But then there are still questions about what to do with shops in service stations on the highways. Will they be treated equally?


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Poland's president meets Finnish parliament speaker

Poland's president Lech Kaczynski on Monday met visiting Finnish Parliament Speaker Paavo Tapio Lipponen for talks on bilateral ties, Polish News Agency (PAP) reported.

The two leaders also discussed the future of the European Union (EU) and the constitutional treaty.

President Kaczynski drew attention to the need for solidarity amongst European nations and emphasized the importance of Europe's energy security.

Also on Monday, Lipponen met separately with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who said he appreciated Finland's efforts in working out the EU's joint position towards Russia.

Their talks also touched on the cooperation of the two countries with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.


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Poland has dealt with meat safety concerns, top EU health official says

Poland has done enough to address concerns over the safety of its meat exports in the face of a Russian ban, the European Union's top food safety official said Monday.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou described as unjustified the embargo on Polish meat imports that Russia, citing safety concerns, imposed in late 2005.

Moscow's ban prompted Warsaw to block the start of EU-Russia negotiations on a new trade and energy agreement.

Kyprianou said Poland has fixed past shortcomings in the transit and safety of meats.

Speaking after holding talks with Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper, Kyprianou said an EU fact-finding mission, which completed its work in Poland on Sunday, determined "the correct measures have been taken to make sure that the systems were cooperating and the causes for concern were removed."

Asked if the Russian embargo was justified, Kyprianou said there had been "weaknesses" in Poland "especially in terms of trade, but these weaknesses, these deficiencies do not justify this ban."

Monday's talks were two days before a planned meeting in Berlin between experts from Poland, Russia and the European Commission aimed at resolving the issue. Kyprianou said the Commission would urge Moscow to drop the ban.

The embargo has prompted alarm in the European Union at a time when suspicions are already growing about Russia's reliability as an oil and natural gas supplier.


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Poland to check all bishops

THE leadership of Poland's Catholic church has called for all the country's bishops to be investigated for past ties to the communist-era secret police.

"We will ask a special commission to check the past of all our bishops," the head of the Council of Bishops, Jozef Michalski, said in Warsaw after the episcopate's 45 bishops held an emergency meeting to deal with the worst crisis in years to hit the church in Poland.

The crisis culminated eight days ago when Warsaw's archbishop of just two days, Stanislaw Wielgus, resigned after admitting he had collaborated with the reviled communist-era security service the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa.

Newspapers digging into the service's archives have followed with reports that other senior clergy were once collaborators.

Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, who has researched the subject, is about to come out with a book naming 39 priests, including three bishops, who collaborated with the secret police between 1944 and 1989. In an interview published on Saturday, the former Polish president Lech Walesa told an Italian newspaper that Bishop Wielgus's admission was provoked by former agents adept at "destabilisation".

Mr Walesa, the Solidarity trade union leader who stood up to communism, faced such accusations himself for refusing, when he was president, to open up archives from that era. Mr Walesa was cleared last year by a special vetting agency. But the Nobel peace laureate told Corriere della Sera it was "no coincidence the [Wielgus] scandal exploded at the last moment".

"The men of the secret service acted in a calculated way, perfectly aware of the fuss this case would create in Poland, abroad and in the Vatican," Mr Walesa said. "They are specialists in destabilisation."

The scandal, which has already tarnished the Catholic church's longtime image as an unimpeachable moral authority during Poland's communist years, has caused chaos in the church. Jozef Kloch, the spokesman of the bishops' council, told a news conference the bishops were discussing a systematic way of dealing with the files from the secret police.

The revelations have embarrassed the Vatican, which has complained that Bishop Wielgus misled Pope Benedict about the depth of his ties to the secret police until the Polish media published his file.

Source:By Craig Smith, smh.com.au

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Mittal Steel Poland fires

In line with the Polish government's agreement with the EU, Mittal Steel Poland must cut the number of its employees by as many as 2,600.

"It is planned to place the workers with other companies of the group. We will also make use of provisions in the social package," said company spokesperson Andrzej Krzyształowski.

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Eastpointe gift shop is base for aid to Poland

nside a drab basement in a plain brown Eastpointe office building, a gift shop offers a kaleidoscope of colorful pieces of Polish folk art, Polish products and other items from the former communist country.

Polish crystal and Boleslawiec pottery. Wooden boxes and jewelry. Nesting dolls and Easter eggs. Traditional, hand-beaded vests and aprons. Antique dolls and coloring books.

he gift shop is but one small part of the American Polish Assistance Association's very local grassroots effort of international goodwill.

It starts in this office space on Gratiot near 9 Mile Road, and ends up in orphanages, schools for blind children and community centers in Poland.

Proceeds from the gift shop -- though they aren't much -- help pay for shipping costs, packing supplies and such for this shoestring-budgeted operation of volunteers. They quietly sell items from the shop and, more importantly, collect clothes, toys, toothbrushes, blankets, bikes, crutches, school supplies, linens, wheelchairs and more.

Sorting and packing of the items takes place in a large closet just off the gift shop and in another office across the hall, where boxes are stacked floor-to-ceiling in preparation for the transatlantic voyage to Poland.

The all-volunteer American Polish Assistance Association, or APAA, gathers the goods as it has since the 1960s, when it operated in a different way in a different place with different people, but for the same reason.

"We're here to help those in need," said APAA President Michael Ostrowski.

People familiar with the group bring their donations into the gift shop or leave them at collection sites so that volunteers can bring them into the gift shop, which also is part of the APAA main office.

When enough boxes, usually 700 to 800, are accumulated at the APAA's offices and in the garages and the closet of APAA volunteers, they are packed into 40-foot shipping containers and sent to Lublin, Poland, to a humanitarian organization's distribution center. Between 20 and 25 organizations, primarily ones that help children, receive the goods from this place called Michigan.

The donations arrive with precise instructions as to where they should go, as the APAA hears throughout the year from the orphanages and other organizations about what is needed.

It takes the group and its donors about six months to fill up the 40-foot containers. The most recent shipment arrived in Poland in October. The one before that left in June.

The work goes on all year. Even as the Polish donations were being gathered, the volunteers diverted their attention to victims of Hurricane Katrina by providing furniture, clothes, food and other necessities to Louisiana residents relocating to Michigan. They also sponsored a family that moved to Eastpointe, and shipped many dozens of boxes of donations down south and to the Ramada Inn in Southfield, where people displaced by Katrina were living.

"It takes people to do office work, people to sort donations, people to pick up donations, people buying things in this gift shop, people bringing in clothes and toys, people volunteering to work on our Web site; a lot of people are making an effort in different ways," Ostrowski said.

Founder Michael Krolewski died in late 2005 after building up the association to what it is today and helping it through ups, downs and many changes.

"After he was gone, everyone had to chip in a little bit more. He did so much. He was a translator, a dance instructor; he knew the history," Ostrowski said.

APAA is the latest incarnation of the group that started in the 1960s.

It was founded by direct descendants of Polish citizens who were still living under the country's totalitarian regime.

Detroit- and Hamtramck-area residents who were members of a dance ensemble called Galicja and participants in the Polish American Folk Theater tried to help their family and friends by sending small parcels of medical supplies, vitamins and clothing to village centers, churches and the Laski Hospital for Blind Children outside Warsaw.

By the 1980s, an even larger group moved the operation to the Polonia Imports store in New Baltimore and created the Polish Emergency Relief Committee.

According to APAA's Web site, Poland's Solidarity movement for freedom "began to become common knowledge in the United States and young Polish Americans felt it was their duty to help all of the people who were putting their lives on the line for freedom in the country from which so many Americans emigrated."

PERC, as it became known, sponsored cultural activities, language lessons, history classes, dance instruction and other projects to raise funds to start large-scale shipments to the country as its people strived to survive the transition to a new economy.

By the mid-1990s, with freedom established and prosperity spreading, PERC changed its name to APAA and turned its concentration to orphanages and the poor and the elderly people of village communities.

About five years ago, the group moved to Eastpointe.

"Today, we primarily help children," Ostrowski said. "It's really based on need."

The assistance has continued even as Poland has shifted from communism.

"The economy is doing better, but there still is a need," he said. "The unemployment rate in Michigan is 7%. In Poland it's something like 16% -- that's a good year."

Eleven years ago, Ostrowski, who lives in Oxford, visited a distant relative in Poland. After he returned, he sent her about $70 to help out.

She sent a note that made it clear how grateful, excited and moved she was by the gesture.

"She said she used it to buy a cartload of coal," he said. "That put it into perspective for me."

Once he became president of APAA, after volunteering with the group for about five years, he saw how much hard work went into sending the group's grand-scale gesture, and he wanted to visit Poland to make sure the work was really needed and appreciated.

In September he visited many of the places that use the donated goods.

"I asked each one specifically, 'Is it really worthwhile?' It was a definitive 'Yes.' I asked, 'Are we sending too many things, things you don't need, clothes they don't want?' They all said, 'Please keep sending.' "

Alex Krinos of Eastpointe volunteers at the gift shop and collection center four days a week. He was friends with the founder and around when it all started.

"It was on a much smaller scale ... We are trying to do more," Krinos said.

Krinos said how much he appreciates the expression of thanks from the beneficiaries, including a recent letter and photo of a teenage girl smiling from her donated electric wheelchair.

Along with Krinos, Phyllis Day of St. Clair Shores and Leonard Motyka of Warren are regular Saturday workers at the gift shop. Saturday also is a busy donation day.

Jerry Sielagoski, a St. Clair Shores resident and APAA vice president, arrived last Saturday with donations collected from fellow members at St. Hyacinth church in Detroit. Day -- who had just been gushing about the sweetness and cuteness of baby clothes waiting to go into a donation box -- sounded as if the just-arrived donations were her first such experience.

"Oh, this is wonderful. Leonard, this is going to be fun," she said as she prepared to start emptying the bags and boxes that will likely leave in early summer.

Source:By KIM NORTH SHINE, freep.com,

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Warsaw Stock Exchange weekly

Top 5 winners - Bottom 5 losers

Top 5 winners

GANT owns a chain of foreign-exchange counters in the major cities of southwestern Poland. It gets its supplies from national private accounts (90 percent), foreign private accounts (nine percent) and banks (one percent). Gant controlled five percent of the national market in 1998, seven percent in 1999 and nine percent in 2000. The enterprise started operations as a developer in 1999. Its main shareholder is private investor Grzegorz Antkowiak. The company is based in Legnica. The president of the company is Dariusz Małaszkiewicz.

SKYEUROPE is the first low-cost airline in Central Europe. It is the leading and largest Central European low-cost airline. It currently has five bases, in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, making it the first multi-based airline in the region of Central Europe. The company flies to 37 destinations in 19 countries, on 73 different routes. The airline began operations on February 13, 2002. On September 27, 2006 Skyeurope became the first and only publicly listed airline in Central and Eastern Europe, quoted on the Stock Exchanges in Vienna and Warsaw.

KABLE Śląska Fabryka Kabli is a Silesian-based producer and seller of electrical cables and devices. The company is a member of the NKT Cables group, which has an approximate annual turnover of EUR 700 (zł.2,660) million, over 2,000 employees and a head office in Cologne. NKT has offices in Europe and Asia. In H1 2006, Śląska Fabryka Kabli registered a net profit of zł.13.4 million, compared to zł.5.4 million in H1 in 2005. The company's total capital stands at zł.206,700,000.

PEKAES SA is the biggest holding firm in Poland, and one of the largest in Europe as a whole. The company provides services in the sectors of transport, spedition, logistics, motoring services and handling. Pekaes SA is comprised of six Polish companies, and has representative companies in Great Britain, Austria, Sweden, Russia, Italy, Germany and France. The president of the company is Krzysztof Zdziarski.

POLNA SA is a plant based in Przemysł, which manufactures a variety of products, such as industrial automatic items (for heating) and water-distillation devices. These products are widely used in the manufacturing industry. Polna produces supplies for more than 2,000 customers and is the sole manufacturer of this type of equipment on the domestic market.

Bottom 5 losers

SKOTAN Skotan, or Zakłady Garbarskie Skotan, is a tannery plant based in Sczoców. The firm is one of the largest tanneries in Poland. It specializes in leather production for shoes, clothing, linings and other goods. Half of their production is exported to the US and various countries in the EU. The firm sells 90-95 percent of its products to shoe makers and is Poland's largest leather exporter.

PONARFEH Hydraulic-components maker Fabryka Elementów Hydrauliki Ponar-Wadowice is Poland's leading producer of hydraulic-lifting devices. Their products include fittings for control systems, hydraulic drives, and complete hydraulic control systems. Ponarfeh's main customers are the mining industry, producers of machine tools, the agricultural sectors, machinery constructors and the transport sector. It was listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 1998. The company is based in Wadowice and its president is Arkadiusz Śnieżko.

ENERGO PLD Energomontaż-Południe is based in Katowice, and operates in the construction sector. The company provides services for the assembly, modernization and repair of power devices. Its primary customers come from the power industry. The company operates mainly on the domestic market in southern Poland. Its exports generally focus on markets in Germany and Denmark. The president of the company is Marek Koryciński.

INWEST CON Inwest Consulting specializes in economic and financial advice and consulting. It provides services for private companies, as well as governmental financial departments. Jacek Mrowicki is the president of Inwest Consulting, which is based in Poznań.

ELKOP The firm provides electrical and assembly services, including construction, assembly, electrical and production services. Its main customers are companies operating in the heavy industry sector, mostly the mining industry. The firm focuses on the domestic market, mostly in Upper Silesia. The main shareholder is the State Treasury with a 25.06-percent stake and votes. Czesław Koczorek is the president of the company, which is based in Chorzów.


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Poland imports over 816,000 used cars in 2006

Poland imported a total of 816,800 second-hand cars in 2006, down 6.2 percent from 2005, the PAP news agency reported on Friday.

Over 78 percent of imported used cars were manufactured in the 1990s, the news agency said, citing statistics provided by the Samar institute which monitors the car market.

According to the PAP, the average estimated cost of an imported used car was 1,555 zlotys (about 520 U.S. dollars) and the most popular makes were Volkswagen, Opel, Ford, Audi, Renault and BMW.


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Seven Mi-8s intended for Iraq military are sold to Poland instead

Poland's company Bumar has signed with Poland's Ministry of Defense a delivery contract for 7 helicopters Mi-8 which had undergone upgrading at St-Petersburg-based aircraft maintenance plant. Terms and conditions of the contract are kept secret.Rzeczpospolita reported, the helicopter delivered to Bumar earlier were planned to be re-sold by Bumar to Iraq. However, the Iraqi party declined to receive the helicopters and instead purchased 10 upgraded Mi-17s.The Mi-8 helicopter is fitted with a new, more powerful engine. Besides, Poland's Ministry of Defense plans to equip the helicopters with a new communications system and reinforced armor with the aim of subsequent use of the helicopters I Afganistan.
Source: www.avia.ru

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The Euro Is Coming to Poland -- But When?

By joining the European Union, Poland and the other new member states have agreed to also join the euro zone. The only question remaining is when.

Poland and other new EU members are on their way to the euro zone.

As a part of joining the European Union, all new member states have agreed to the goal of introducing the euro as their own currency.

But in order to enter the euro zone, Poland and the other members must fulfill two general conditions. First, they must meet the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty, and second, they must take part in the European exchange rate mechanism. That means their exchange rates must not fluctuate more than 15 percent against the euro over a period of two years.

So the question is not whether Poland and other new EU members will introduce the currency but when.

Poland and the euro

Anti EU protest in 2003Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Many Polish people remain skeptical about the euro

As it stands now, Malta and Cyprus will join the euro zone next year, with Slovakia following in 2009. But for the other new member states, the timing is still unknown.

Poland has already met three of the four economic conditions for entering the euro zone. Its inflation and interests rates are below the maximum level allowed, and the country's debt does not cross the limit. But the country's budget deficit is still too high for EU standards.

"Poland must follow through on some financial reforms," Marek Zuber, an economy advisor to Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has said. "The most important and highest priority for us is the social welfare contributions, which are too high."

An anti-euro government?

Since joining the European Union in 2004, public and governmental support for the euro has been mixed. Support is high in the cities and lower in the countryside.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, left, and his twin brother and Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw KaczynskiBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski (right) with brother Lech are skeptical of the euro

"I am skeptical," Kaczynski told a news conference in November. "I think haste in this matter could seriously hurt us."

The Law and Justice Party, led by the prime minister and his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, has repeatedly stated its uncertainty about any rush to join the euro zone since taking over the government in 2005.

In November, the Polish government announced plans for a referendum concerning the adoption of the euro, stating the need to educate the public and to allow more time for the Polish economy to develop. The projected date for the referendum is 2010.

"We have to join the euro, but there's no fixed deadline, so we can do it when the levels of economic development in Poland and the euro zone are closer than they are now," Kaczynski said.

No "opting out" of euro

New EU states would be joining 13 counties now using the euro, including Germany, France and the currency's newest member, Slovenia, which officially adopted the currency on Jan. 1.

New member states may not opt out of the euro, as long-time members Britain and Denmark have. Those two countries negotiated for opt-out clauses in the Maastricht Treaty. Denmark rejected joining the euro zone by referendum in 2000.

In announcing a referendum, Poland has cited the example of Sweden, which rejected the adoption of the euro by referendum in 2003 and has since showed no interest in revisiting the issue.

Old versus new Europe

Euro billsBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The euro has been rising strongly against the dollar

"I think that the old European countries fear the political balance of the European Central Bank will begin to waver with the accession of the new countries," said former Polish Finance Minister Dariusz Rossati, who is now a member of the European Parliament.

Rossati believes fears that more euro zone members will weaken the currency are unfounded.

"On the contrary, these countries can strengthen it (the euro) because the new countries have much less debt than the old," he said.

Discussion over the euro comes at a time when the European currency has been gaining strongly, rising 35 percent against the dollar over the past three years.


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Poland to help build nuclear power plant in Lithuania

Poland will join an international project to build a nuclear power plant in Lithuania. Agreement to build this facility, which will replace the ageing Ignalina power plant in eastern Lithuania, will be signed this year – President of the PSE Polish energy company Jacek Socha has said.
This is a signal to Russia and Europe, experts say. Representatives of the electricity companies of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland met in Warsaw to discuss the project right at a time when Russia cut off the flow of oil to the EU over a transit fee dispute with Belarus. Lithuanian radio journalist Audrius Braukyla says the nuclear power plant project is a response to energy blackmail by Moscow.

'It’s the beginning of a new era in the energy field in this part of the world. It is not only about energy but it’s also about policy, especially now that the Polish oil company Orlen bought Lithuania’s biggest oil refinery Mazieikiu. Poland is now the biggest foreign investor in Lithuania. This is all a good sign of cooperation towards acquiring independent energy sources.'

Tomasz Chmal, an analyst at the Warsaw-based Sobieski Institute think tank, too, says the power plant project shows that the countries of this region are intent on pursuing a new policy that would guarantee security to them.

'We have to distinguish different issues – one is electricity in which Poland is independent thanks to its coal resources. Cooperation in electric energy is mainly for the benefit of Lithuania, helping it to diversify supplies. But in the area of natural gas and oil. Poland is highly dependent on Russian oil, which supplies over 95 percent of its needs.'

And if only for this reason Poland will not become independent of Russian oil and natural gas supplies in a foreseeable future. The recent cut of oil supplies over a dispute with Belarus, and when Russia closed the tap on its gas supplies through Ukraine to Europe, alarmed the European energy markets and made them question the reliability of Russia as a supplier. Ferran Tarradellas, a spokesman for the European Commission.

'The EC has underlined that it is unacceptable that energy suppliers or transit countries do not inform their counterparts of any decisions that may affect the supplies.'

Tomasz Chmal stresses the need for EU solidarity in the energy security field.

'I hope that Poland and the EU will find a common approach toward Russia. This is crucial to find a common ground for discussion and try to win individual interests, with one country playing against the other. There is a huge need for solidarity.'

The nuclear power plant to be built in Lithuania, with the participation of Poland, Latvia and Estonia, is expected to become operational by 2015. According to recent surveys some 60 percent of Poles are in favor of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Source:By Krysia Kołosowska, polskieradio.pl

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