Poland Open To US Missile Shield Talks, But Outcome Still Open

Poland will not turn down any US request for negotiations regarding the stationing of National Missile Defence (NMD) or anti-missile shield bases in Poland, but the outcome of any such talks is still an open matter, Poland's Minister of Defence Radoslaw Sikorski said Thursday in Warsaw.

"When a serious ally requests talks, naturally we do not refuse, but this in no way determines their result," Sikorski said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Poland expects the United States to open exploratory talks on the possible stationing of US National Missile Defence (NMD) bases in Poland within two weeks "at the latest," a senior foreign ministry official had said Monday.

The US has confirmed its intentions to begin talks on stationing NMD bases with the Czech Republic, according to Monday's reports.

Unconfirmed reports last year alleged Pentagon officials had already been scouting the Tatra Mountains skirting the Polish-Czech border for possible missile base sites.

Although open to talks on the matter, last year Poland's President Lech Kaczynski expressed doubt over giving the US full sovereignty and diplomatic and legal jurisdiction over any eventual base locations in Poland.

Defence Minister Sikorski previously insisted the US would have to give Poland security guarantees before stationing any NMD bases on its soil.

Last March Polish media reported that Pentagon experts favoured Poland as a potential location for the overseas portion of the NMD missile shield project, dubbed "Son of Star Wars" by critics.

The US-based NMD plan is designed to protect it and fellow NATO defence alliance members plus Japan from a potential nuclear missile attack by rogue states.

The idea first emerged in the US under Republican President Ronald Reagan during the Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union. His Strategic Defence Initiative, was popularly dubbed "Star Wars."

Since shedding communism in 1989, Poland has been among the closest US allies in Europe. A NATO member since 1999, it was an ardent supporter of the US-led 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

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Healthcare and Medical Devices Market in Poland Gains Momentum

LONDON, January 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Treatment patterns, the provision of healthcare and availability of funding have been influenced by the accession of Poland into the EU. Poland represents a growing market for medical devices and other healthcare industries and is now most preferred choice for manufacturers looking to expand operations into the newly emerging healthcare markets of Europe.

Based on published sources, Frost & Sullivan (http://www.medicaldevices.frost.com) estimates that the size of the Medical Device Market in Poland was $1,290.0 million in 2005.

Accession into the EU has proven to be highly beneficial in financial terms, with fund transfers from the EU poised to generate additional capital flows into Poland. In 2004, foreign direct investments into the country stood at nearly $7.9 billion, marking an increase of almost 23 per cent from 2003. This also represented the highest increase of FDI into Poland over the last four years.

"The inflow of funds from the EU as well as the Polish government has increased financial resources in certain targeted areas of the healthcare sector," notes Frost & Sullivan Team Leader Kavitha Ravikumar. "Such positive trends are being reinforced by government initiatives to modernise and rationalise healthcare provision, thereby further driving market expansion."

However, pricing competition poses a key challenge. Competition on the price platform will allow low-cost medical and healthcare device manufacturers from Poland and Asia to gain an edge over outside competition.

A slew of positive developments bode well for the future. The healthcare system and the government are responding to the current need for greater regulation even as control over bodies granting the CE mark within Poland is anticipated shortly. Imports are set to increase and the private healthcare sector will continue to expand rapidly.

If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview of the latest analysis of an Introduction to Healthcare and Medical Devices in Poland (M088 - 54) then send an e-mail to Radhika Menon Theodore- Corporate Communications at rmtheodore@frost.com with the following information: your full name, company name, title, telephone number, e-mail address, city, state, and country. We will send you the information via email upon receipt of the above information.

Introduction to Healthcare and Medical Devices in Poland is part of the Medical Devices Subscription, which also includes research in the following markets: European Markets for Wound Closure, European Markets for Wound Debridement, European Markets for Advanced Wound Management and European Orthopaedic Implants Market. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews are available to the press.

Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, has been partnering with clients to support the development of innovative strategies for more than 40 years. The company's industry expertise integrates growth consulting, growth partnership services, and corporate management training to identify and develop opportunities. Frost & Sullivan serves an extensive clientele that includes Global 1000 companies, emerging companies, and the investment community by providing comprehensive industry coverage that reflects a unique global perspective and combines ongoing analysis of markets, technologies, econometrics, and demographics. For more information, visit www.frost.com.

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Gazprom Left Alone in Poland

Poland’s national oil and gas corporation has scrapped plans to build a gas pipeline from Denmark, thus making Gazprom the only gas supplier in the country for the time being. The news may help the Russian monopolist to settle a long-standing row with Poland over gas transit rates in the Polish section of Gazprom-run Yamal-Europe pipeline.
Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG) announced Thursday it would not build a gas pipeline from Denmark to Poland via Baltic Sea, pulling out of a deal with Denmark’s DONG due to high gas prices that the Danes offer. Denmark and Norway were willing to sell gas to Poland at $350-400 per 1,000 cu. meters the lowest whereas Gazprom send its gas to the country at $280/1,000 cu. meters.

Poland consumes 12 billion cu. meters of gas annually, 7 billion of which comes from Russia.

Gazprom’s spokesperson Sergey Kupriyanov confirmed to Kommersant Thursday that the Russian monopoly was ready “to provide Poland, just like any European country, with gas in the amount they need”. There is no talk about building second branch of the Yamal-Europe pipeline, though, since Poland is obliged to buy 11 billion cu. meters of gas from the first branch, which it does not do.

Gazprom, which dominates the Polish gas market, does not have full control over gas transit in the Yamal-Europe pipeline through the country, with a 48-percent stake in the pipeline’s operating company, EuroPolGaz. With a larger holding in the operator, Gazprom would be able reduce transit rates for pumping Russian gas via Poland, which it has been striving to do for the past few years. Gazprom accused its Polish colleagues of setting the rates too high, which ultimately increases Gazprom’s costs and pushes up gas prices for consumers.

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New Car Sales In Poland Rose In 2006

The number of new cars sold in Poland in 2006 increased by 1.5% compared with the previous year, ending a decade-long slump, data showed Jan. 23. Sales hit 238,993 last year, said statistics compilation agency Samar, which bases its figures on data collected from showrooms.
The Volkswagen group's Skoda line of automobiles was the most popular make of car in Poland, with 28,783 vehicles sold -- an increase of 4.1% compared with 2005. The eponymous Volkswagen brand did even better, with a 21.8% increase in sales to 15,135.

Overall second on the list was the Japanese carmaker Toyota, with an 8.5% increase in sales to 27,884. It was followed by Opel, the German arm of U.S. auto giant General Motors, which increased its sales by 10.1% to 24,942.

However, Samar said, several other leading carmakers faced a decline. Fourth-placed Fiat of Italy sold 24,284 vehicles, or 0.9% than in 2005, while Ford's sales dropped by 5% to 17,712. Renault faced a fall of 4.6%, selling 15,484 cars, while its national counterpart Peugeot saw sales drop 1.4%t to 14,934.

Sales of new cars in Poland have gone through a rocky period over previous years, with the downturn blamed on various factors including rising excise taxes, high interest rates and increasing fuel prices. The decline eased somewhat in 2002, but sales hit a 14-year low in 2005, when they fell 26% compared with 2004. That downturn was blamed in part on a huge rise in the number of used cars imported from western Europe following Poland's accession to the EU in May 2004.

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Increasing Foreign Direct Investments In Poland Fuel Healthcare And Medical Device Market Growth

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c49151) has announced the addition of “An Introduction to Healthcare and Medical Device Markets in Poland” to their offering.

This Frost & Sullivan research service titled An Introduction to Healthcare and Medical Device Markets in Poland provides an overview of healthcare expenditures and revenues by sources of funding. It also includes a complete analysis of key market drivers, restraints and trends in the market. In this research, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following markets: healthcare services and medical devices.

Market Sectors

Expert Frost & Sullivan analysts thoroughly examine the following market sectors in this research:

* Healthcare services
* Medical devices

Market Overview

Increasing Foreign Direct Investments in Poland Fuel Market Growth

Membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), organization for economic co-operation and development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) has made Poland lucrative for foreign investors. In the healthcare sector, there is growing interest in foreign investments and collaboration in the Polish pharmaceuticals and biotechnology market. The growth of foreign direct investment (FDI) has been favourable, with inflows rising from $4.10 billion in 2002, as well as 2003, to $6.20 billion in 2004. In the future as well, Poland is likely to witness steady economic growth, which will influence investments in the healthcare and medical device markets.

"The transfer of funds from the EU is expected to generate additional capital flow into the country," notes the analyst of this research service. "Accordingly, the Polish Government is likely to increase funds in certain targeted areas of the healthcare sector." Government initiatives to modernise and rationalise health care provision will further boost growth in the healthcare and medical device markets.

Expansion of the Private Healthcare Sector to Offer Significant Growth

Disease treatment patterns, the provision of healthcare and the availability of funds have been influenced by the accession of Poland to the EU in 2004. Consequently, Poland has become the country of choice for device manufacturers seeking to expand their operations in the newly emerging healthcare markets of Europe. The estimated size of the total medical device market in Poland in 2005 is pegged at $1,290.0 million and is expected to demonstrate continuous growth. In the future, increasing customer expectations are anticipated to drive healthcare institutions to invest in medical technology. In addition, the growth rate of the private healthcare sector is likely to stimulate demand for better quality products that are more expensive.

While the above trends augur well for growth, the markets are highly price-sensitive. The structural reform of the healthcare provision, which has reduced the spending power of healthcare authorities, combined with the strong Polish currency and increasing competition is resulting in price erosion. "Competition on the price platform allows low-cost product manufacturers, either local or from other east European and Asian countries to increase their presence in the markets," explains the analyst. "Hence, greater emphasis on after-sales service will become essential and distributors should offer services to satisfy end users. " Apart from this, internal government problems and red tapism often restrain the progress of the private healthcare market. Moreover, issues related to low reimbursement, which discourage investment in high-end medical equipment, will need to be overcome.

Topics Covered:

* An Introduction to Healthcare and the Medical Devices Market in Poland
* Research Scope and Methodology
* Introduction and Background
* Poland: Foreign Direct Investment
* Healthcare in Poland
* Medical Devices Market in Poland
* Use of Healthcare Services
* Poland: Future Trends
* Poland: Healthcare Organisations

For more information, visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c49151

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Poland's Ryszard Kapuscinski dies at 74

Warsaw.– Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish writer and journalist who gained international acclaim for his books chronicling wars, coups and revolutions in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world, died following heart surgery, his publisher said. He was 74.

Kapuscinski died Tuesday at Warsaw's Banacha hospital, said Marek Zakowski, president of the Czytelnik publishing house, which published several of Kapuscinski's books and is editing a new one, “Lappidarium 6.” Zakowski declined to give any more details about the surgery or the precise cause of death.

He described Kapuscinski as “a rare kind of great personality. He was always curious to learn more about the world, he was curious to meet people.”

Kapuscinski launched a career in the late 1950s and early 1960s that would see him become a master of reportage.

In those years, he served as the sole Africa correspondent for the Polish Press Agency, or PAP, reporting on the upheaval across the continent as African nations shook off colonial rule and declared independence.

"The Emperor” is probably his most popular book, a chronicle of the decline of Haile Selassie's regime in Ethiopia. But the book, published in 1978, was more a reflection on dictatorships in general, and widely interpreted by Polish readers as a criticism of Poland's communist regime.

Kapuscinski once said the book was more about the “mechanism of dictatorial rule.”

Three years later, he published “Shah of Shahs,” a book about the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled Iran's Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. “Besides reporting current events, I studied books about Islam,” Kapuscinski said, according to his official Web site.

“I wanted to describe the people, their mentality, their way of seeing the world. And experience taught me that from each spot in the world one sees the planet differently. A person who lives in Europe sees the world differently than a person who lives in Africa. Without trying to enter into these other ways of looking and perceiving and describing, we won't understand anything of this world,” Kapuscinski once said.

Kapuscinski is also the author of “Another Day of Life,” about the Angolan civil war, “Imperium,” about the waning days of the Soviet Union, “The Soccer War,” and “The Shadow of the Sun.”

In past years, he was often mentioned as a likely contender for the Nobel Prize for literature by oddsmakers and followers of the prize – though the Swedish Academy itself is secretive about who it considers.

Kapuscinski was born in March 4, 1932, in Pinsk, a city then in eastern Poland, and now located in Belarus.
Source: By Martin Wesoly,dominicantoday.com

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Warsaw Poland's President Contests Loss Of Mandate

Warsaw, Poland 23 January 2007 The President of Warsaw, Poland, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walcz, is contesting the application of election laws that may cause her to lose her postilion and have to face elections again because of conflicting and confusing Polish election laws.

There are two election laws that apply to the local elections that were held this past fall. One is the Local Government Law and the other is the Local Government Election Law. They are inconsistent.

One law requires, among other things, that a winning candidate file financial statements within 30 days of having won the election. The other law requires that the winning candidate file financial statements within 30 days of taking office. Because one does not take office until a period after the election, the filing periods are different.

In the case of Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walcz, she filed her statements within the allotted period for both laws. But she filed her husband's financial statements within 30 days of having taken office and that was two days late if one uses the benchmark of 30 days of having won the election.

Additionally, one of the laws says that if a winner violates a provision requiring a filing, he is subjected to an unspecified penalty. The other law says that the winner is subject to losing his mandate.

While contesting the lack of clarity, Gronkiewicz-Walcz further argues that in any case the election law does not apply to her husband and his financial statement because her husband did not have a business registered in Warsaw.

Once again the law is unclear because even though he neither has a business registered nor an office in Warsaw, if he had any business dealings in Warsaw at all, some people claim that he was doing business in Warsaw and as such was required to file a financial statement.

There are some 33 Presidents and senior officials in cities around Poland who have also violated the election law as to filing financial statements. There are also a large number of lesser officials who have the same problem.

The decision as to whether Gronkiewicz-Walcz has to face election or not will be made by a regional government board that is dominated by people from her political party, Civic Platform, and the leftist Party, SLD. If they vote in her favor, she will not have to go back to the polls.

Immediately after her election victory she thanked the SLD for their support and made places for some of their people on the Warsaw City Board. It is expected that the SLD will recognize her good will and will support her.

Commentators and politicians, with exception of politicians from Law and Justice, whose candidate she defeated, say the law is bad and that it should be changed. Others say that it should be sent before the Constitutional Tribunal for a ruling.

Although Gronkiewicz-Walcz may succeed in getting support and not have to face election again, the status of the other officials around the country remains open and will not be settled until the law is changed or a ruling is made by the Constitutional Tribunal.

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Poland: connections between orange and apple markets

Prices of apples used for processing in Poland, strongly depend on the worldwide citrus market situation. Less oranges means higher prices for Polish apple growers, as apple juice concentrate is used more frequently in case of an orange juice shortage. Such a situation can be seen in the current season. Despite of an 11% bigger apple crop than in the 2005/2006 season, processing apples in Poland (0,10-0,13 €/kg) are over 20% more expensive than a year ago.

The main reason is smaller citrus crop, mainly oranges in the USA – worldwide the main supplier of this product. According to Foreign Agricultural Markets Monitoring Unit in Poland, the orange harvest in the USA in the 2006/2007 season will reach 7,89 million MT, which is about 11% less than last year, including the Florida crop which probably will be 7% smaller (6,08 million MT). It is worth noticing that last year's citrus production in the USA was smaller than average ((9,3 million MT in 2004/05 and 12,9 million MT in 2003/04), because of storm damages. The US grapefruit crop is estimated at 1,232 million MT (1 million MT year ago and 2,165 million MT – two years ago).

According to experts, the total US citrus export in 2006 can be similar to one from 2003. Additionally, in October 2006 the price of frozen concentrated oranges juice (contracts for November) at New York Board of Trade were the highest in last 16 years - 4234 $/MT (2465 $/MT in October 2005).

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Poland faces Euro 2008 exclusion

Polish soccer officials fear the national side will be axed from Euro 2008 after FIFA and UEFA warned on Monday they would take action over a row with the government.

The trouble started on Friday when Polish Sports Minister Tomasz Lipiec suspended the board of the national football association and appointed Andrzej Rusko as a commissioner in its place following new arrests in a match-fixing investigation.

FIFA, who resent government involvement in soccer matters, issued a strongly-worded statement on Monday saying action would be taken for what it called Warsaw's "interference".

"As the national team, we are very concerned that FIFA may suspend us from competing. We are playing very well, we have every chance of qualifying for Euro 2008," said national team spokesman Kazimierz Oleszek.

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Poland Coal Miners Avert Strike

oland's coal miners and the government have reached an agreement on restructuring plans that will avert a strike, union officials said Tuesday.

Miner trade union leaders said they suspended plans for a 24-hour strike Wednesday, and those for a general strike in February, after the government backed out of some of its plans for a restructuring of the industry during late-night talks Monday.

"You can never agree 100 percent, but I must admit that I am quite pleased with this agreement," Dominik Kolorz, the head of miners' Solidarity trade union said, adding that other details of the restructuring of the industry, which employs 120,000, still need to be finalized.

Specifics on the agreement were not immediately available.

Last week, the miners voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to support strike plans in protest of the restructuring which, they said, would endanger jobs and cut earnings.

Deputy Economy Minister Pawel Poncyliusz said last week the restructuring is aimed at keeping the struggling industry afloat, and that the unions' strike plans were illegal.

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Talks on US anti-missile shield in Poland to be resumed

At the same time they had no comment on a report until a final deal had been agreed upon. Poland has long been considered as a potential location for a set of rocket batteries. The radar would be placed in the Czech Republic.

Defence Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told Polish television late on Sunday that safeguarding Poland's security would be the most important factor in the government's decision on whether to allow the rockets to be placed on Polish soil.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried confirmed in an interview with Rzeczpospolita daily that Washington had made a specific offer to Warsaw and Prague last week to start detailed negotiations, which could last for months.

The United States is investing $10 billion a year in developing the "anti-missile shield" system, which would combine a long-range radar and ballistic rockets to detect and shoot down hostile missiles in space.

Meanwhile, a top Russian general criticised today a U.S. decision to place an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic as a threat to Moscow, news agencies reported. "Our analysis shows that the placing of a radio locating station in the Czech Republic and anti-missile equipment in Poland is a real threat to us," Lieutenant-General Vladimir Popovkin said.


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Poland and Turkey find common understanding

President Lech Kaczynski has started an official visit to Turkey. Today, he has scheduled meetings in Ankara, while on Wednesday the Polish head of state is in Istanbul.
It's a busy schedule for President Kaczynski with meetings with the Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, the Chairman of the National Assembly as well as a lecture at the prestigious Euro-Asian Strategic Research Center and an appearance on TRT television.

The major discussions are to focus on further EU enlargement and energy security. No doubt, the hosts are expecting words of support for their EU membership aspirations. Poland has always been an advocate of an open doors policy, but recent problems with implementing tarrifs policies by Turkey have earned it growing skepticism among many Union countries.

This only adds to the delicate, often unspoken, issue of religiously rooted internal problems. At the same time, it is exactly the geographical location and varied social composition that makes Turkey an ally of strategic importance.

On the eve of the visit, the Polish President's foreign advisor Andrzej Krawczyk reminded that though many EU countries are presently not well disposed towards Turkey, Poland upholds its opinion for Turkish entry. However, minister Krawczyk made it clear this stand does not imply any special treatment status.

'Poland is continuously for Turkish membership, but this cannot negatively influence admittance standards. It's a challenge for Turkey to work towards further modernization and upgrading of these standards.'

Polish Radio's External Service envoy for the presidential visit, Aleksander Kropiwnicki reports the first hours have already shown great understanding between both partners.

'After the meeting with the President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Mr. Kaczynski said that from the very moment of its accession to the European Union Poland has supported the idea of further enlargement. The EU cannot be closed for the next states. That concerns also Turkey. Our position on this matter is based on our friendly attitude to the Turkish nation, but also on our opinion Turkey would be a valuable member of the EU, regarding its economy, territory and military potential.

Both Presidents pointed out that Poland and Turkey are partners in NATO. President Sezer called Poland a trusted ally and friend.

The Presidents also noted that trade exchange between the two countries is quickly growing. Lech Kaczynski expressed the opinion that one can expect a lot of new Polish investment in Turkey in the future.'

At the end of his visit, the Polish President will receive the title of Outstanding European Man of The Year 2006 from 'True', one of the major Turkish news magazines. The prize will be granted to him personally by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

Source:By Slawek Szefs, polskieradio.pl

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CIA abductions known to EU leaders

Belgium (AP) - Britain, Poland, Germany, Italy and other EU countries were aware of secret CIA flights over Europe and the abduction of terror suspects by U.S. agents, according to a report approved by a special committee of the European parliament on Tuesday, despite opposition from centre-right legislators. The report, the conclusion of a yearlong investigation into CIA activities in Europe, also accused EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other high-ranking officials of not co-operating with the probe and not revealing all they know about the U.S. secret detention program. It called for unspecified sanctions against member states found to have violated EU human rights principles. The report said evidence gathered did not prove that CIA secret prisons were based in Poland, an allegation that prompted the investigation in November 2005. The report, drafted by Italian Socialist Giovanni Fava, was backed by the Socialist and Liberals, but slammed by centre-right deputies, who rejected it as too ideological, biased and inaccurate.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said the report indulged in political point-scoring. "While the full European parliament will have an opportunity to examine the report again in mid-February, it is a matter for disappointment that this committee has not come up with a more accurate, forward-looking document," he said. Peter Struck, the parliamentary leader of Germany's Social Democrats, one half of the country's governing coalition, said the report "can't be taken so seriously" because it was produced largely on the basis of reports that are available to the public, such as press reports.

While thin on proof to back up its allegations, the committee said information came from secret documents and confidential sources, including records of meetings between EU, NATO and senior U.S. State Department officials and dozens of hours of testimony by individuals who said they were kidnapped by U.S. agents in Europe soil and transferred to secret prisons.

It also obtained information from Eurocontrol, the EU's air safety agency, according to which more than 1,200 undeclared CIA flights entered European airspace since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

"We have uncovered serious breaches of human rights. We recognize the need to combat terrorism but this can only be done using legal methods," said Wolfgang Kreissl-Doerfler, a Socialist member of the committee.

But members of the European People's Party, the largest political grouping in the European parliament, disputed the credibility of the report, arguing much of it was based on hearsay. "The report is full of phrases like 'we believe' or 'we think' - that's unacceptable. It did not come up with anything we would not have known, but it did manage to split the assembly according to who's pro-American and who's anti-American," said Italian conservative Jas Gawronski.EU countries found to have violated the continent's human rights treaties could face sanctions from fellow member states or even lose their voting rights, but it was unlikely EU leaders would sanction a country based on the parliamentary report. No EU governments have admitted that the alleged anti-terror operations were being carried out on their soil. Allegations that CIA agents shipped prisoners through European airports to secret detention centres were first reported in 2005. Human Rights Watch identified Poland and Romania as possible locations of secret prisons, but both countries have denied involvement. In September, U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged that terrorism suspects have been held in CIA-run prisons overseas, but did not specify where.
Source: By Jan Sliva, cnews.canoe.ca

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Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Artur Rasizade received the delegation led by the first deputy foreign minister of Poland Pavel Koval, 22 January.

Noting presence of the historical relations between Azerbaijan and Poland, the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan said the mutual visits of the heads of state and established appropriate legislative base have given strong impulse to development of bilateral links between the two countries. �The efficiency of economic relations should, however, rise, as there is great potential for this�, Mr. Rasizade emphasized. �The inter-governmental commission could promote bilateral cooperation in the global energy and transport projects being implemented in region�, he stressed.

Touching upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Artur Rasizade informed on the heavy sequences of aggressive separatism and Armenian�s occupant policy.

The Polish diplomat updated the Premier on the meetings and talks he held in Baku to strengthen cooperation between the two countries. Azerbaijan has become a leading country in region, he stressed. �Poland is going to cooperate with Azerbaijan not only in oil-gas field, but also in economic, political, cultural spheres. We want to activate our business links with Azerbaijan�, he underlined.

Pavel Koval said his country stands ready to render any assistance in Azerbaijan�s integration to Europe.

In meeting, the parties had comprehensive exchange of views on a number of other questions.

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Poland's witch hunt

Poland trembled this month when the newly appointed Catholic archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, announced his resignation after revelations that he had collaborated with the Communist secret police. The Wielgus scandal seemed to portend a new era in the church's lustration, or the purging of former secret police collaborators. So far, that has been a slow process, because Pope John Paul II guided the Polish church with principles of reconciliation and mercy rather than revenge. Only after his death did the files on the clergy begin to leak out.

Today in Poland, lustration has become a tool not only of revenge, but of politics. What may look like an effort to reconcile with the Communist past is something else entirely. It is an assault on reconciliation and a generational bid for power.

It has been difficult to deal with the Communist past in Poland in part because the transition was so smooth. Had Communism collapsed abruptly, swift retribution would have been more likely. But the new government promised to establish rule of law, and punishing people retroactively would have violated that basic principle. So a procedure was designed that called for all appointees or candidates for public office (as well as lawyers, but not the clergy) to submit affidavits stating whether or not they had been secret agents. Those who lied were to be disqualified from public service. A special lustration court was established.

But defining what made someone an agent proved a crucial problem. Under Communism, the secret service was omnipresent. It harassed large numbers of people, forcing many to sign loyalty declarations or to collaborate. Most people told them lies, signed the declarations and went home. In 2000, the Supreme Court declared that those who had merely appeared to cooperate, but who avoided providing the security services with any vital information, could not be considered collaborators, even if they signed agreements and met with agents.

Under such criteria, Wielgus was not a secret agent, even though he did sign two agreements in the 1970s to act as an informant and agent for Polish intelligence. The documents do not prove that he ever produced any reports.

Certainly, there were people in cells of the Solidarity underground who got paid to spy on their best friends, and these people did real damage. Unfortunately, the secret police files do not distinguish at first sight between them and others who didn't do much harm. To make a valid accusation, it was necessary to analyze the files and other evidence in detail. But this process was too slow for the advocates of de-Communization, many of whom have always wanted to use the secret police files as a tool in fighting their opponents.

When historians and some journalists received access to the files, leaks soon began to attract media attention. In January 2005, the entire list of more than 120,000 names was leaked from the Institute of National Memory, where the files are held. The list did not discriminate between agents and those who were merely under surveillance. But its release pushed lustration forward. After the 2005 elections, lustration became a mechanism for enormous generational change in Polish politics and society.

In the early 1990s, the current president Lech Kaczynski; his twin brother Jaroslaw, who is now the prime minister; and their supporters were alienated from their higher-stature colleagues in Solidarity. President Lech Walesa even purged the Kaczynski brothers from his Chancery. So when the twins decided to create the Law and Justice party, they turned to young people on the far right. Now, driven by resentment against an entire generation of older politicians, the Kaczynskis are happy to see them purged from offices and replaced by their own loyalists.

A new lustration law adopted last August seems to fit these purposes well, making it possible to publish the contents of the file of anyone who is active in the public sphere. In other words, now virtually every sitting or aspiring official who lived under Communism is at risk of being slandered.

In Poland, the past has become prey for today's hunters, proving again that whenever history falls into the hands of politicians, distorted truth becomes an instrument for their own goals.

Wiktor Osiatynski, an adviser to Poland's Constitutional Committee from 1990 to 1996, is a law professor at Central European University.

Source: By Wiktor Osiatyński, iht.com

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Pa. company gets exclusive deal in Poland

Central European Distribution Corp. said Monday that it has signed an agreement to be the exclusive importer, marketer and distributor of the Gruppo Campari portfolio in Poland.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Campari portfolio includes well-known brands Campari, Cinzano, Skyy Vodka, Old Smuggler, Gran Cinzano, Cinzano Asti and Glen Grant.

CEDC, the largest vodka-producer in Poland, makes Absolwent, Zubrowka, Bols and Soplica, among others. CEDC exports Zubrowka worldwide and also imports liquor to Poland.


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Poland: 'opportunities to go abroad are few and far between'

Since European enlargement kicked into swing in May 2004, there has been a 6% boost in the number of exchanges between universities in Europe.
Lydia Skrobowska, Erasmus angel guardien (Photo: ESN)
Lidia Skrobowska is like a guardian angel to those Erasmus students exiled to the East. She divides her time between the university and her activities at the heart of the local Erasmus Student Network (ESN) of Kraków, now in its fifth year, bringing together thirty or so working members.

What is the mission of Kraków ESN's volunteers?

It’s varied. Promoting Polish cultural heritage by organising excursions and themed celebrations to show that Poland isn’t just about solidarity, cheap vodka and Karol Wojtyła (aka Pope John Paul II). Or discovering Kraków's nightlife. But we are often left to play translators, mediators, psychologists, even guardian angels! This is particularly the case for students who offer themselves as 'mentors': each Erasmus student wants to be 'attributed' to a polish student who will help them master their mother tongue, even English, in order to help in all the administrative processes.

In 2005-2006, the University of Jagielloński, in Kraków, saw 646 students heading off on the Erasmus programme. The figure continues to escalate since Erasmus was launched. Of the 32, 500 students who have left, numbers have risen from 1426 in 1988, to 8, 390 in 2004. Who are these Poles?

Polish students are conscious that heading abroad increases their opportunities, as learning a foreign language is a major asset for the future. But unfortunately this chance isn’t available to all. The Erasmus grant attributed to each student participating in the programme ranges from 250 to 350 Euros a month (£160 – 230), according to their host country. Western European countries remain the most popular destinations, but then this amount usually only covers a small part of the high living costs. This generally restricts the Poles to one semester abroad.

A majority of Germans and French have arrived at Jagiellonski, which has also recently signed an exchange agreement with Turkey. What are the motivations of these foreigners who choose Poland as Erasmus destination?

We encounter three types of Erasmus/ Socrates students in Poland. Often these are students which have either close or distant Polish origins. For others, Polish is their mother tongue, instilled in them by their emigrated parents, or on the contrary who have come to deepen their linguistic knowledge and retrace their roots. Their motivation is either an identity quest or simply out of curiosity.

Some students take an interest in history or the Polish language, often during the duration of their studies. For example, last year, I helped a French science-politics student write his thesis on the "Solidarność" movement by translating some historic texts on this major event in our national history. There was another female student who was doing some research on Radio Maryja (a popular Catholic radio station influences Polish political debate).

New arrivals generally have no idea about central European cultures. But the difference in the quality of living is generally getting better in the search for apartments. Foreign students usually demand a furnished room in the town centre, commanding a rent of around 800 zlotys (about 225 Euros or £150). (I share my bedroom with a female student for 270 zlotys/ 85 Euros/ £50, outside of the town centre.) Their Erasmus grants largely cover the costs of eating and going out.

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Poland expects talks with US on missile defence within "two weeks"

Warsaw - Poland expects the United States to open exploratory talks on the possible stationing of US National Missile Defence (NMD) bases in Poland within two weeks 'at the latest,' Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said Monday in Warsaw.

'The Americans are prepared to present a proposal to begin talks leading to a concrete agreement on building bases in Poland and the Czech Republic,' Waszczykowski told the Polish PAP news agency.

'We are waiting for this concrete proposal,' he said, but declined to make any other official Polish response to the development.

The US has confirmed its intentions to begin exploratory talks on NMD bases with the Czech Republic, according to Monday reports.

Unconfirmed reports last year alleged Pentagon officials had already been scouting the Tatra mountains in southern Poland for possible missile base sites.

Although he appears open to talks on the matter, last year Poland's President Lech Kaczynski expressed doubt over giving the US full sovereignty and diplomatic and legal jurisdiction over any eventual base locations in Poland.

Meanwhile, Polish Defence Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has insisted the US would have to give Poland security guarantees before stationing any NMD bases on its soil.

When asked whether he thought allowing NMD bases to be located in NATO-member Poland could strain relations with Russia, Sikorski has stressed such concerns should be made the focus of debate both with Moscow and other NATO members.

A Russian general quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency Monday said the location of US NMD bases in Poland or the Czech Republic would be an 'obvious threat' to Russia.

Last March Polish media reported that Pentagon experts favoured Poland as a potential location for the overseas portion of the NMD project, dubbed 'Son of Star Wars' by critics.

The US-based NMD plan is designed to protect it and fellow NATO defence alliance members plus Japan from a potential nuclear missile attack by rogue states.

The idea of a national missile defence system first emerged in the US during the Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union. In the 1980s US President Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defence Initiative, popularly dubbed 'Star Wars.'

Since shedding communism in 1989, Poland has been among the closest European supporters of US defence policy. A NATO member since 1999, it was an enthusiastic backer of the US-led 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.


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Winter Will Finally Come To Poland

Warsaw, Poland 21 January 2007. Poland's spring like weather will break at the end of the week and the country will experience a short period of Polish winter.

Temperatures throughout the country will generally remain just above freezing until about Wednesday. After that it is expected that temperatures will drop into the low to mid 20's Fahrenheit. There will be snow in some parts of the country.

Currently there is a mixture of clouds, sun and rain around the country with temperatures in the 30's Fahrenheit.

The winds from the storm last week have subsided and the country continues the post storm cleanup.

The cold weather expected at the end of the week is expected to last only a few days after which temperatures are expected to return to the abnormally warm levels in the 30's and 40's Fahrenheit.


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Poland silent on US anti-missile shield

Poland says it is still in talks with the United States about the possibility of allowing it to base an anti-missile system on its soil.

It's refused to comment on a report a final deal had been agreed upon.

Washington is investing $US10 billion ($A12.68 billion) a year in developing the system, which would use rockets to shoot down hostile missiles.

Diplomats say Poland is considered one of the best potential locations for rocket batteries.

The Czech government said the United States had asked permission to build a radar base on its territory that would form part of the defence system.

A US State Department spokesman said basing missile defence assets in Europe would help protect allies and the United States from the evolving threat of ballistic missiles from the Middle East.

"Toward this defensive goal, the United States, Poland and the Czech Republic have agreed to conduct detailed discussions regarding the possible basing of missile defences in their countries," said the spokesman, Edgar Vasquez.

Plans to deploy the anti-missile shield on Polish soil have met with strong criticism from Russia, which sees the move as an attempt by the United States to destabilise the balance of power in central Europe.

Moscow has warned it will take unspecified measures against Poland, a member of the Russian-dominated "Warsaw Pact" military alliance until the fall of communism in the early 1990s, if it accepts the defence system.

The Polish news agency PAP reported that Washington had informed both Warsaw and Prague a definite decision on the placing of the missile system on Polish and Czech soil had been made.

The PAP report quoted the Slovak Foreign Ministry as saying Washington's decision had been communicated to Poland and the Czech Republic.

A spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry declined to confirm that.

"Consultations concerning that issue have been going on for months," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrzej Sados said.

"The Polish government doesn't have an official position on that issue.

"We need more consultations, which we are conducting with our American friends through diplomatic channels," he added.


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Pentagon will place anti rocket installations in Czech and Poland

Washington will place anti rocket installations in Czech and Poland - this information is spread by closed sources to Pentagon. Also suggested information by American Authority was proved by Prime Minister of Czech - Mirek Topolanek, which is not against plan, but he thinks that the question must be looked out by Czech Parliament's commission.

Russia is worried about stirring up American military. 'Removing American Security systems in East European region probably will give a rise to military disbalance which will be the reason of countries' rapid armament.' - Is announced in Kremlin.

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Russian, EU inspectors to visit Poland's meat plants, Polish minister says

Poland's agriculture minister said Saturday that Russian and EU inspectors are to visit Poland's meat packing plants within two weeks to check conditions, the latest development in a dispute over Moscow's ban on Polish meat products, the PAP news agency reported.

Andrzej Lepper said the inspections were agreed upon in EU-brokered talks with Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev in Berlin on Friday, PAP said.

The ban was imposed in 2005 after Moscow complained of substandard quality.

Poland, a member of the European Union since 2004, turned to the trade bloc for help after bilateral talks brought no result.

Germany, holding the EU's rotating presidency, is now talking to Russia in an effort to have the ban lifted.


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Arcelor Mittal to sell steel unit in Poland

Arcelor Mittal has decided to sell off a steel unit in Poland. The sale of Huta Bankowa to Alchemia Capital group is the third such sale of a production unit by the company in Europe, and it is aimed at satisfying the directive of the European Commission at the time of the merger between Arcelor and Mittal Steel last year.

The sale of three units has been completed at a total consideration of $ 1-billion. Huta Bankowa, a 100% subsidiary of Arcelor Mittal, is located in southern Poland. The business comprises three main divisions: a rolling mill with a production capacity of 150,000 tonnes, a forged rings department with production capacity of 26,000 tonnes, and a service centre, a company statement said.

The company is a specialised producer of merchant bars and sections. For selected products, Huta Bankowa is only producer in Poland and has some 750 employees. Commenting on the deal, Aditya Mittal, CFO, Arcelor Mittal, said: “With this transaction we will have fulfilled all our competition commitments to the European Commission.”

Following Mittal Steel’s bid for Arcelor last year, the European Commission identified competition concerns in relation to sections. In response, the company had committed to dispose of three European medium/heavy section mills, two of which have already been agreed the first being the sale of Stahlwerk Thuringen on December 6, 2006, to Grupo Alfonso Gallardo and the second, on December 13, the sale of Travi e Profilati di Pallanzeno to Duferco.

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Poland's sports minister suspends soccer authorities

Poland's sports minister suspended 35 national soccer association officials including president Michal Listkiewicz for failing to tackle corruption.

Tomasz Lipiec told a news conference he was suspending the soccer authorities effective immediately and appointing 56-year-old Andrzej Rusko to temporarily head the Polish Football Association.

He announced the decision shortly after Listkiewicz - who has been president since 1998 - and other members of the governing body refused his call to resign over the police arrest of a board member on suspicion of corruption and match-fixing.

Lipiec had called on the officials to step down on Thursday after police arrested Wit Zelazko. Police charged him on Friday.

Lipiec said the authorities were suspended because they had not taken steps toward fighting corruption.

"They have shown a lack of honour and ambition," Lipiec said. "Today's decision is taken in the best interest of Poland's soccer."

The officials, who met Friday, had refused to resign, saying they had done nothing wrong and should not be held responsible for just one board member.

"The times of collective responsibility are over," deputy president Grzegorz Lato said.

Poland team spokesman Kazimierz Oleszek was concerned how FIFA will react to the suspension.

"It may suspend the Polish federation as a member and then the national team will not be able to play in various cup matches, and no foreign transfers will be possible," Oleszek said.

Poland's joint bid with Ukraine to host the 2012 European Championship might also be affected. The decision is expected in April.

Prosecutors in the southwestern city of Wroclaw have been investigating corruption and match-fixing in Poland's domestic soccer leagues for the past two years. Police have arrested more than 60 people in the investigation so far, according to Wroclaw police spokeswoman Beata Tobiasz.

In July, Poland's sports ministry criticized the federation for failing to stop corruption and announced an audit.

By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA ,slam.canoe.ca

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Online trading in Poland means QXL Ricardo

Selling your Pope John Paul II trading cards on the internet in Poland? The first stop is likely not eBay, but market leader QXL Ricardo.

Shares in the online auction company which focuses on eastern Europe jumped about 15% after broker reports and strong third quarter results swung into profitability.

The company with a stock market value of £343.56 million operates in Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Hungary. Its chief businesses are in Switzerland and Poland where its market shares are more than 80% and 90%, respectively.

Pre-tax profit for the last three months of 2006 rose to £3.9 million compared with a loss of £140,000 for the same period a year ago on revenue up 52% to £12.4 million against £8.1 million.

QXL Ricardo, which formed in the UK in 1997, added Poland, Hungary and Ukraine to the group last August. Allegro.pl remains the most popular website in Poland with more than three billion page views per month.

‘The addition of the Polish business transforms the group’s absolute level of profitability, its growth prospects and enables it to ride the effect of slowing growth in Western Europe,’ Edison Investment Research wrote in a note.

The company says revenue should expand by another 50% this quarter and chief executive Robert Dighero is eyeing eastward expansion.

‘We’d like to launch in a couple more eastern Europe countries. That’s where our focus is for expansion,’ Dighero told Citywire.

He declined to name his targets but said Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and Slovenia were all on his radar.

Eastern Europe has more potential for growth, says Dighero. Besides the lack of competition from eBay in most markets, there’s more room for broadband penetration than in the saturated West.

‘There’s still great growth in terms of commerce. People will spend more time on line to do their shopping,’ Dighero said.

The Polish business benefited from garnering market share before the arrival of eBay. Now the site has moved beyond auctions to fixed price sales. Dighero says the transformation shows a new maturity in the market and that QXL is the preferred online retail site.

‘The company is using the higher level of Polish margin to reinvest in the business as a whole,’ noted Edison. That includes a 20% increase in sales and marketing in western Europe with expectations of a payback in sales within a year.

Shares in QXL added 102.5p at 817.5 although liquidity is low at 60,000 shares available to the public. They trade on about 19 times 2008-9 earnings, Edison said.

QXL, which is searching for a new chairman, subdivided each of its shares into five new shares in December when they hit a low of 575p.

House broker Evolution increased its full year pre-tax profit to £14.4 million from £12.3 million, raised its earnings per share estimate to 29.5p from 27p and lifts its price target to £10 from 700p.

Investors include Belgian holding company Beleggingsmaatschappij with 27.7%, Brack Capital’s Ron Izaki with 6.9%, Callicroft Holdings at 4.7% and the Apax Partners UK VI Fund with 3.5%.

Source:By Colin McClelland, citywire.co.uk

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Poland's former president's top aide arrested for corruption

Mieczysław Wachowski, top aide and head of the chancellery of Poland's former president Lech Wałęsa, has been arrested for two months on charges of corruption.
Wachowski is said to have promised to arrange for the release from jail of an Iraqi businessman, Hassan Al-Zubaidi, arrested on charges of economic crime, in exchange for a two million złoty (over half a million Euro) bribe.

According to Al-Zubaidi, Wachowski claimed that he could arrange for the case to be settled in cooperation with the then Prime Minister of Poland, Leszek Miller, who was to accept part of the bribe. However, Poland's Attorney General, Janusz Kaczmarek, has said that there is currently no evidence to support allegations against Leszek Miller, other than the testimony of Al-Zubaidi about what Wachowski told him.

It is not the first time, that Wachowski is subject to investigation in connections with his alleged involvement in organized crime, says investigative journalist Leszek Szymowski:

'Journalists wrote many articles about Wachowski. For example, in 1995 he was responsible for the amnesty of a boss of one of Poland's biggest organized crime groups. In 2004, a criminal arrested by DEA in New York said that Mieczysław Wachowski helped his international criminal group with their affairs in Poland. If that indeed was the case, we will probably know this year.'

According to Attorney General Janusz Kaczmarek this time the evidence against Mieczysław Wachowski is very strong. Searching his residence, the Internal Security Agency found secret documents, which should not be in the possession of the former head of the presidential chancellery of Lech Wałęsa. It has not been revealed what exactly these documents were, but it's possible Wachowski had them for the purpose of blackmail, fears Tomasz Sakiewicz, editor in chief of the Gazeta Polska weekly, who has studied the case. According to Sakiewicz, Mieczysław Wachowski's social connections might be the key to his alleged criminal activity.

'I'm afraid that part of Wachowski's activity was criminal. During his official activity, when he was a minister in the president's office, he was an unofficial chief of Polish secret service and Polish army. He had a lot of friends and cooperators among officers, intelligence and secret service and these connections are still continued today. They are now used to make business and unofficial politics. The vice-minister of Justice told me that Wachowski was in possession of secret documents which could be used for blackmail.'

Allegations have also been voiced by journalists of his involvement with communist era secret military services. Investigative journalist Leszek Szymowski again:

'Since 1971, Mieczysław Wachowski was an agent of the communist military secret service. He played the role that the officers of the communist military planned for him. The fact that Mieczysław Wachowski collaborated with the secret services was proven by Inga Rosińska and Paweł Rabiej in their book "Who are you, Mr. Wachowski?"'

The friendship between Mieczysław Wachowski and Poland's former president Lech Wałęsa dates back to the communist times, continues Leszek Szymowski:

'At the end of the 1970s, Wachowski was one of the most important friends of Lech Wałęsa, the leader of "Solidarity". He stayed with Lech Walesa up to the 1990s, when Lech Walesa was the president of Poland. But what is intere, sting is that on the first day of martial law in Poland, Mieczysław Wachowski was arrested, but on the next day, he was free. Up to now, we don't know why it happened.'

Lech Walesa defends his top aide. In an interview for the "Dziennik" daily Wałęsa suggested that Wachowski's arrest is a case of political revenge by the Kaczyński brothers who lost a case in court against Wachowski. He added however, that if Wachowski is indeed guilty of breaking the law, then he cannot count on Wałęsa's support.

Attorney general Janusz Kaczmarek dismisses the accusations of political motives behind the prosecutor's interest in Wachowski.

'The wronged parties reported the case to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor's office did not specifically look for them. These persons came and gave evidence and that's how the charges originated.'

Also, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has said that Wachowski has long held an undeserved immunity in Polish political circles. Now, that this time is over, his only defense is to claim that he is persecuted for political reasons. Politicians should not be allowed to evade justice, Minister Ziobro added.

If proven guilty, Wachowski may face the sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Source:By Joanna Najfeld, polskieradio.pl

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Poland: Thank you Fitch

Danske Bank A/S

Thu, 18 Jan 2007 16:43:28 GMT
by Lars Christensen, Lars Rasmussen

Fitch Ratings on Thursday upgraded Poland's debt ratings to "A-" from "BBB+". The upgrade should be seen in the light of Poland’s strong fiscal and external balances. On FX markets, the PLN gained roughly 0.5% against the EUR, going from EUR/PLN 3.882 to 3.864, while 10Y government bond yields where unaffected by the news.

We welcome today’s upgrade, which is good news for Polish fixed income markets, where investors will now demand lower risk premiums, but we would stress that, in spite of today’s upgrade, we still consider the political situation worrying, and we would not recommend going long in the Polish currency on this news. We believe that the coming months will prove hard times for the PLN, and we stick to our three-month forecast of EUR/PLN 4.05.


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Vivendi Telecommunications in Poland: The Polish Supreme Court Quashes Decision for Partial Recognition of the Vienna Ruling

ARIS, January 18 /CNW/ - Today, Thursday January 18, 2007 the Polish
Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Warsaw Court of Appeal of March
29, 2006 which had confirmed the partial recognition in Poland of the Second
Vienna Award of 26 November 2004. The case is to be reheard by the court of
first instance. As a result the Vienna Award has no effect in Poland and
according to Polish law Telco is the owner of 48% of PTC.

The decision of Poland's highest court follows the decision on December
18, 2006 of the Austrian Supreme Court which definitively confirmed the Vienna
Award to Telco did not apply to Telco. In accordance with recognized norms of
international law Deutsche Telekom and Elektrim should now recognize Telco's
rights to the PTC Shares.

Vivendi intends to continue all proceedings it has previously commenced
in Poland and various other countries (such as France, Switzerland, the UK and
the USA), and in particular the complaint made in the U.S. Federal Court of
the State of Washington under the RICO Act ("Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organization Act"), in order to fully assert its rights to the PTC shares and
recover damages for the harm it has suffered.

Important disclaimer: This press release contains forward-looking
statements with respect to the financial condition, results of operations,
business, strategy and plans of Vivendi. Although Vivendi believes that such
forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such
statements are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ
materially from the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of
risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside our control, including, but
not limited to, the risks described in the documents Vivendi filed with the
Autorite des Marches Financiers (French securities regulator) and which are
also available in English on our web site (www.vivendi.com). Investors and
security holders may obtain a free copy of documents filed by Vivendi with the
Autorite des Marches Financiers at www.amf-france.org, or directly from
Vivendi. The present forward-looking statements are made as of the date of the
present press release and Vivendi disclaims any intention or obligation to
provide, update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result
of new information, future events or otherwise.

For further information: Vivendi Media: Paris Antoine Lefort, +33 (0) 1
71 71 11 80 Agnes Vetillart, +33 (0) 1 71 71 30 82 Alain Delrieu, +33 (0) 1 71
71 10 86 or New York Flavie Lemarchand-Wood, +(1) 212-572-1118 or Investor
Relations: Paris Daniel Scolan, +33 (0) 1 71 71 32 91 Laurence Daniel, +33 (0)
1 71 71 12 33 Agnes de Leersnyder, +33 (0) 1 71 71 30 45 or New York Eileen
McLaughlin, +(1) 212.572.8961

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UPDATE 1-Fitch upgrades Poland ratings as economy strengthens

Fitch Ratings on Thursday upgraded Poland's debt ratings to "A-" from "BBB+," saying the country's strong macroeconomic performance has offset political uncertainties.

The ratings agency said Poland "is experiencing a broad-based economic upturn, supported by strong investment rates, impressive trade performance and subdued inflationary environment."

"The upgrade reflects a strong overall macroeconomic performance ... despite ongoing political uncertainty," Fitch's analyst David Heslam added in the statement.

The decision took some investors off guard, causing Poland's currency, the zloty, to rise 0.4 percent against the euro and the dollar.

"It has surprised markets given the budgetary and policy setback and, obviously, given the political backdrop," said Simon Quijano-Evens, economist at CA-IB Unicredit in Vienna.

He added, however, that Fitch is catching up with Moody's Investors Service, which already grants Poland a higher grade.

Standard and Poor's still rates Poland at "BBB+" while Moody's rates it at "A2," one notch above the new grade just given by Fitch.

The country's Finance Minister, Zyta Gilowska, said she expects other agencies to follow with upgrades.

Fitch also raised Poland's country ceiling to "AA-" from "A+" and affirmed its local-currency debt rating at "A". All ratings have a stable outlook.


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Poland soccer official faces corruption charges

Poland police Thursday arrested Z. Wit, a senior official of the Polish Football Federation (PZPN), on charges of corruption and match-fixing, the Polish news agency (PAP) reported.

The soccer official was detained in his workplace in Lodz, Central Poland, and would soon be brought to Wroclaw for question, said Beata Tobiasz from the police headquarter of the southwest Poland city.

Meanwhile, dozens of persons including referees, sport officials, club presidents and players have been detained in a broad scale soccer corruption inquiry launched by the Wrocław Prosecution.


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Why Can't Poland Cure The Russian Meat Ban?

Warsaw, Poland 17 January 2007 - Russia banned the import of meat from Poland because of falsified veterinary certificates and not because of the quality of meat. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last November that Moscow had no claims against Polish meat, but objected to products of third countries imported via Poland. Why can't the Polish Government get control of the issuance of veterinary certificates?

Russia has seized meat crossing its borders with falsified meat certificates.

A shipping firm was likely involved. Someone paid for the shipment. There should be documents.

The exporter should be able to be traced.

And through the exporter, the person or entity that issued the veterinary certificate should be able to be traced.

The Kaczysnki Governmet established, with a great deal of fanfair, an anti corruption office. It seems that this office should be looking into the corruption might be found at the borders and in the various government agencies that have jursidictlion over the issuancel of the verterinary certificates and their control at the borders.

The problem lies in Poland and with the Polish Government's lack of control.

But Poland is blaming Russia and forcing the EU into helping it get the Russian ban lifted.

There is no indication that if Russia lifts the ban that the illegal trade will stop. And there is no indication that Poland is even trying to do anything about it.

There is probably corruption somewhere and that is not the EU's problem to solve. The EU should be asking Poland why it can't control the issuance of verterinary certificates. After all, meat with false certificates may be going into the EU as well.

The ill will that Poland has generated is now kicking back and hurting Poland.
Source: masterpage.com.pl

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n Poland Freedom From Government, Corruption and Labor Freedom Weak - Report

n addition to inflexible regulations that hinder productivity growth in Poland, other factors that create an unfriendly business environment have caused the Heritage Foundation to rate Poland only as the world's 87 th freest economy.

Of significant interest, the rapor (http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/country.cfm?id=Poland) singles out the problems of small business that complain of the labor code as a "barrier to the creation of new jobs."

This is a problem for Poland. Small business is the economic engine of any economy. A healthy small business sector is essential for growth. Small business is not healthy in Poland.

In Poland, running a small business is more a matter of survival than making a profit. The small business owner is constantly looking over its shoulder and waiting for a government hammer to drop. Owners spend many unproductive hours trying to fulfill vague legal requirements.

A particular problem for Poland and small companies is that the small companies avoid hiring new employees. Those that they do hire are often hired in creative ways to avoid taxes and government regulations.

This reluctance to hire stifles the growth of small companies.

And the problems related to hiring also discourages many from starting a business in the first place. They find it easier to emigrate to the West rather than to try to run a business in Poland.

The effect on the country is significant. Unemployment and tax revenues in Poland are affected by the difficulties small business faces.

Creative employment contracts reduce tax income. And reduced employment also reduces revenues.

Additionally, unemployment figures are distorted and are said to include people who are illegally employed. This increases government expenditures.

Both workers and employers are accomplice in the distortion. Employers work schemes to keep employees off the official payrolls and some register as unemployed while working illegally. Workers also start their own businesses and register as unemployed.

This is a form of corruption on the part of business. But bureaucrat corruption is also prevalent, even though the Kaczynski Government has pitched itself as an anti-corruption government

The Heritage Foundation seems to think that the Kaczynski Anti-Corruption Government has a long way to go to fit the definition.

Corruption only adds to the problems of small business. And the more control is centralized in the Government, as it is now being done by the Kaczynski Government, the more people will have to make special favors to get things done.

The Heritage Foundation has pointed out what the problems are.

The Government must find the solutions.

Whether it has the mind set to consider small business important is a major question that has to be answered by deeds and not words.


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Since becoming a full European Union member in May 2004, Poland had made headway in mainstreaming gender equality into national policies and enacting legislation to strengthen protection of women against domestic violence, workplace discrimination and human trafficking rings, Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, Under-Secretary of State of the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, told the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women as it considered Poland's sixth periodic report.

he 2005 Law on Counteracting Violence in the Family gave police the green light to swiftly remove perpetrators from their homes and ban all future contact with their victims and witnesses, said Ms. Kluzik-Rostkowska, who also headed the delegation. Polish law enforcement and community groups were partnering to reduce violence and support victims, while a Government appointed team was hammering out standards of conduct for police officers, judiciary and others aiding victims of domestic violence and rape.

Poland was cooperating with neighbouring countries through regional agreements to end another serious violation of women�s rights: abduction, particularly for sexual exploitation, she said. In 2005, Poland had signed the Council of Europe�s Convention to combat human trafficking and made it legal for trafficking victims to reside legally in Poland. The IRIS -� Partnership for Development, funded in part by the European Social Fund, helped female victims of trafficking re-enter the job market and raised public awareness of groups vulnerable to trafficking, forced labour and slavery.

However, the greatest focus was reserved for erasing discriminatory labour practices �- a widespread problem particularly for older Polish women. Unemployment in Poland was among the highest in the European Union. Ms. Kluzik-Rostkowska said the Department for Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy was promoting anti-discriminatory labour regulations, especially for women over aged 45, better opportunities for rural women and back-to-work programmes for new mothers. It also spearheaded campaigns to combat gender stereotypes and promote women entrepreneurship.

While Committee experts applauded those efforts, several questioned the Polish Government�s justification for replacing the now defunct Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men with the new Department run by the Labour and Social Policy Ministry. They expressed concern over the emphasis on labour and employment, stressing that Poland�s main Government structure for women�s advancement should comprehensively address all aspects of the Convention.

Experts noted that the country report lacked sufficient data on article 7 of the Convention concerning the role of women in political and public life, and they pressed the 20-member Polish delegation on the cause of the recent drop in the number of women Parliamentarians.

The debate also centred on the growing rate of divorce in Poland, and women�s rights in terms of alimony and asset allocation, as well as on family planning options for women, particularly for rural women.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 January to consider Viet Nam�s fifth and sixth periodic reports.


The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women held parallel meetings today to take up the reports of Kazakhstan and Poland. For background, see Press Release WOM/1589.

Chamber B -- Presentation of Poland�s Report

Poland�s delegation was headed by Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and included: Marek Ludwik Grabowski, Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health; Nina Dobrzy�ska, Director of the Department of Planning and Analysis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Beata Laszczak, Plenipotentiary of the Minister of Defence; Anna Petroff, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage; Monika Carmen Przygucka, Counsellor to the Minister of the Ministry of Health; Agata Furgala, Senior Specialist of the Department of Public Security of the Ministry of the Interior Affairs and Administration; and Lucyna Przybyla-Charnas, Senior Specialist in the European Integration Department of the Ministry of Finance. The country�s delegation also included: Maria Wasilewska, Senior Specialist in the Department of Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; Iwona Banaczkowska-Luszcz, Specialist in the Department of Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; Magdalena Korol, Expert of the Department of Social Insurance in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; Dorota Idzi, Expert in the Ministry of Sport, President of the Polish Women Sports Association and Vice President of the Polish Olympic Committee; Katarzyna Wencel, Legal Expert in the Ministry of Justice; Paulina Mucha, Expert in the Department of European Social Fund Management of the Ministry of Regional Development; Katarzyna Sloma, Referendary in the Department of Social Assistance and Integration of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; Dagmara Wr�bel, Interpreter; Aleksandra Niemirycz, Interpreter; Andrzej Towpik, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the United Nations; and Beata P�ksa-Krawiec, Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the United Nations.

Ms. KLUZIK-ROSTKOWSKA introduced Poland�s sixth periodic report ( document CEDAW/C/POL/6 ), which outlined that country�s efforts to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women from 1 June 1998 to 31 May 2002. She said, since obtaining full European Union membership in May 2004, Poland had begun to mainstream gender equality into all political strategies with the help of European Union funding. Like its European Union neighbours, Poland was building harmonious male-female relations in all areas of public life.

She said that, in November 2005, the Department for Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy Department had replaced the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men. The new Department focused on the lack of labour market access of Polish women, a serious concern in the country. Older Polish women, in particular, faced discriminatory practices. The Department�s women�s re-integration approach focused on promoting anti-discriminatory labour market regulations, better opportunities for rural women and back-to-work programmes for new mothers. It also launched campaigns to combat gender stereotypes at home and work, particularly in rural communities, promote women entrepreneurship and protect women workers over age 45. Department specialists participated in the work of several European Commission Committees and working groups, and were represented in the membership of the Council of Europe�s Working Group for the Equality of Women and Men. The Department was also charged with promoting in Poland the European Union�s 2007 Equal Opportunity Year for All campaign.

She said that the 2005 Law on Counteracting Violence in the Family had set up regulations to evict perpetrators of violence and ban their subsequent contact with victims and witnesses. Poland�s various public institutions were teaming up to reduce violence and support victims of violence through the National Programme to Counteract Domestic Violence and a programme to limit crime and anti-social behaviour through stronger partnerships between the police and citizens. The Ministry of Justice had appointed a team to create standards of conduct in aiding crime victims, particularly victims of domestic violence and rape.

The 2007-2013 Daphne III programme, a European Union initiative, focused on ending and preventing violence �- including sexual abuse -- against children, juveniles and women, she continued. Prevention of such violence and police prosecution of perpetrators was a top priority of the Polish police. Statistics showed that the number of police visits to domestic violence victims was on the rise, as was the number of perpetrators detained or arrested. That success was the result of mass media campaigns and police intervention.

Turning to the issue of trafficking in women, she said Poland had formed several bilateral cooperation agreements. In May 2005, her country had adopted in Warsaw the Council of Europe�s Convention on efforts against trafficking in human beings. Preparations were under way to ratify the Convention. She noted that Polish police had participated in the Baltcom Task Force on Organized Crime of the Council of Baltic Sea States. A recently created inter-ministerial Team to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Humans had devised the 2005-2006 National Programme to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Human Beings and was working on a similar programme for the 2007-2008 period.

She added that the April 2005 amendment to the Law on Aliens and adoption of other laws law to protect aliens made it possible for victims of human trafficking to obtain residence visas in Poland. Further, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration and the La Strada Foundation were providing victims with safe shelters, medical care, psychological support and legal aid. The IRIS -� Partnership for Development, funded in part by the European Social Fund, helped female victims of trafficking re-enter the job market and raised public awareness of groups at risk of becoming victims of trafficking, forced labour and slavery.

Concerning women�s health, she said public health and life expectancy for both men and women in Poland had been improving steadily since 1991. The 1996-2005 National Health Programme comprised breast cancer screening programmes, programmes for early detection of cervical cancer and ovarian cancer treatment programmes.

In terms of social welfare, she said the 2004 Social Welfare Act focused on crisis intervention for individuals and families, particularly mothers of infants and pregnant women victims of violence. The June 2003 law on social employment promoted social and occupational re-integration of socially marginalized women. The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy had also devised several Government programmes to improve the quality of life of women within the social-welfare system.

Experts� Questions and Comments -� Articles 1-6

DUBRAVKA �IMONOVI�, expert from Croatia, noting the combination of the fourth, fifth and sixth periodic reports, asked why Poland had delayed for 13 years reporting on its progress. In connection with the preparation of Poland�s report, she noted that answers had not been received on whether the Government had cooperated with non-governmental organizations, particularly on the issues of gender equality. Was the report presented to non-governmental organizations or the Polish Parliament? It was the responsibility of the Government to send reports to the Committee, but it was also important to send it to Parliament.

On a constitutional level, it was clear that the Convention had been applied, as seen in its use by the courts. However, she wondered what would happen in a case, for example, regarding the retirement age differences between men and women. How was the Government putting its practice in line with the women�s Convention?

On the prohibition of discrimination, she noted a new chapter on the equal treatment of women and men in employment. When Poland had presented the report in 2004 before the Human Rights Committee, that Committee noted that a non-discrimination provision had not been introduced into the legal system. A non-discrimination clause was needed in all fields, including the economic and social spheres covered by the convention, not solely in the employment field.

ZOU XIAOQIAO, expert from China, asked a question related to improving State mechanisms that dealt with women�s status. There was now a new Women and Family Eradication of Discrimination Unit. What was the Government�s perspective for changing the organizational set up? Did the Unit have enough resources and power and how did it differ from its predecessors? Did it have enough of a mandate to formulate policies?

MARIA REGINA TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, asked about the non-existence of legislation on equality. Poland�s earlier proposals had been rejected twice, most recently in the Senate in 2005. What was the status now of efforts to promote equality and to prohibit discrimination? She said the second rejection had not been explained; it had only been noted that the bill had not been considered. However, that bill had contained important issues, including equal opportunity in all spheres. Why had it been rejected? What was the understanding of Government and Parliament of the issues?

Regarding the National Action Plan, she noted Poland�s second stage of implementation for the 2003-2005 period; however, she wondered about plans for future periods and whether there would be an assessment of results. It was a requirement of the Platform for Action that Governments adopt National Plans.

Regarding article 5 on existing stereotypes of sex roles in society, she said that, although the report acknowledged there were deeply rooted stereotypes in the areas of media, education and employment, no actions to counter those stereotypes had been outlined. European Union initiatives had only been mentioned in the field of work and employment, not in a comprehensive manner. Noting that stereotypes had consequences in public life and that there had been a decrease in women�s representation to elected bodies, she asked how the Government would address stereotypes in all areas.

SAISUREE CHUTIKUL, expert from Thailand, noting a current focus on women�s issues in the labour and employment sphere, asked who was responsible for women�s issues as a whole and about work on those issues under the Convention? Similarly, she said efforts related to the advancement of women and the eradication of discrimination against women required working across ministries and with non-governmental organizations. Did Poland have a high-level coordinating body to deal with interdisciplinary issues and across ministries? If such a body did not exist, would its creation be feasible and possible? On the creation of the National Plan of Action, she wished to learn more about who was involved. Was the Plan comprehensive enough to address the breadth of issues?

On Poland�s data, had Poland developed impact indicators related to women and were they comprehensive? Were they distributed among ministries? How were general and women�s specific data collected and was that collection comprehensive? Had there been sufficient gender analysis on trends and was it used for policy planning, monitoring and evaluation at the national and local levels?

Country Response

The Deputy Minister of Labour, responding for the Polish delegation, said it was true that in Poland there used to be a plenipotentiary of equal status for men and women. The competences of that plenipotentiary were then directed to the Deputy Minister of Labour. She had taken over responsibilities for all European Union programmes and funds to be used for implementation of the European Union programmes. Those competencies were then expanded to include family issues. It was true that the abolition of that office had raised doubts; however, reality showed a different situation. One of the major discrimination problems was in the labour market. One and a half years ago, Poland had a 19 per cent unemployment rate, the highest in the European Union, however that was not the only issue the Government was addressing in terms of women.

As Deputy Minister of Labour, she said she was responsible for various issues at the parliamentary level and her impact on structuring law was larger than when she had held the rank of plenipotentiary. Now, she was able to follow up on issues in Parliament and had more possibilities to act. As a plenipotentiary, she had been invited only to express opinion.

Polish law was quite good, as it had provisions in the Constitution that prohibited discrimination on any grounds, she said. The labour code was undergoing changes, but provisions to protect women in the labour market existed and worked very well. The problem was that Polish women did not know how to protect themselves, which was why the Government was focusing on educational programmes and media campaigns. There was a need to change the mindset, not the law, and that would be a long process.

On equalizing the pensionable age for men and women, she said prolonging the pensionable age for women would bring benefits. Women were better educated than men and data indicated that three fourths of students in post graduate programmes were women. However, those approaching the pensionable age of 55 found it more difficult to find a job. According to Government surveys of women on equalizing the pensionable age, many women were against the idea because they felt afraid of falling outside the labour market and being forced to live for 5-10 years on State benefits. There was currently much discussion on how to deal with those issues. Further, she said Poland had conducted research on the situation of women in different walks of life and was currently organizing another series of studies.

On fighting discrimination, Poland was fortunate because the European Union had announced that 2007 would be the Year of Equal Chances for Everybody. The Ministry of Labour was responsible for implementing that Year. She appreciated the role of non-governmental organizations and was convinced that they were, at times, more effective than Government and other public structures. Cooperation with them was important. Those that dealt with fighting discrimination knew best where to direct their efforts for maximum effectiveness. The Government had established a round table with them and all actions to be taken in 2007 were in full cooperation with the non-governmental organization community. A preliminary programme on family policy would be subject to wide-ranging discussion in which non-governmental organizations would participate.

In explaining why Poland had not presented information at the United Nations for a long time, another representative discussed the process of submitting a report in Poland. She noted that the legal system outlined inter-ministerial consultations. Prior to submission, the report must be discussed by the Cabinet and other ministers. The consultations with non-governmental organizations were not provided for in the legal system.

Experts� Questions and Comments

TIZIANA MAIOLO, expert from Italy, asked what the Government had done to decrease stereotypes. What did the Government intend to do with regard to the media?

FERDOUS ARA BEGUM, expert from Bangladesh, asking about how to counteract violence in the family, wondered how effective the law was when cruelty was not reported, due to tolerance in name of privacy and shame. Police could issue a restraining order only under certain conditions. Given that, how were women protected from violence at home? She asked whether there had been any evaluation on the blue card system of preventing violence. What measures had been taken to increase the number of shelters? There was no mention of legal help or psycho-social counseling in the report. Could the panel provide further explanation?

SAISUREE CHUTIKUL, expert from Thailand, asked about the bilateral agreement between Poland and the Czech Republic created in 2001. What was contained in that agreement and how had it been implemented? What were the achievements and remaining obstacles? Could the panel discuss other bilateral multilateral agreements? On the National Action Plan for the Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking, what was the Government�s approach for 2007 and beyond, particularly in the areas of policy, prevention, recovery and reintegration? Did Poland have data available for the number of victims? Regarding Polish law, she said Poland did not have an anti-trafficking law. She wanted to know how Poland defined trafficking. Did it use the definition created by the Palermo Protocol?

DUBRAVKA �IMONOVI�, expert from Croatia, reiterated her question regarding the preparation of the combined fourth, fifth and sixth periodic reports. She had asked for information on whether consultations with non-governmental organizations had taken place and had recommended that all committees send their reports to Parliament in order to raise the visibility of the whole Convention.

She further asked for data on women murdered per year in cases of domestic violence. If police could not issue restraining orders, what did women do in cases of emergency when they needed immediate help? Did the Government have data on the number of shelters for victims? Were shelters located in all regions and were they supported by Government? She also asked for information on whether Poland followed the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women in 2007-2008.

Country Response

Regarding stereotypical roles of men and women, a representative said the problem stemmed from the fact that women were always portrayed in domestic and family roles. Equal opportunities for women in the labour market were crucial to countering those stereotypes. People were increasingly aware that women were as competent employees as men. Women were entering employment in professional-level jobs and men needed to participate more in child rearing. It was difficult to convince advertisers to reflect and promote that change in mass media campaigns; however, Polish officials were making use of European Union funds to erase gender stereotypes.

In terms of violence against women, she said that, indeed, rural women were at greater risk. Non-governmental organizations were crucial in reaching out to marginalized communities. Polish officials were working to create a comprehensive, streamlined system so that teachers, law enforcement officers and other actors could detect cases of violence against women and respond faster to victims� needs. An important first step had been to make women, particularly in rural areas, understand that they were not to blame. A Government survey under way aimed to reveal institutional perceptions of women and how women functioned as a group. The survey�s results would be available in a few months.

Concerning trafficking of women, another delegate said article 253 of the Penal Code prohibited trafficking in humans. Traffickers faced minimum prison sentences of three years. Abductors of humans for prostitution also faced prosecution and sentencing.

The Palermo Protocol, she continued, provided for the first time a clear definition of trafficking in humans. Poland applied the Protocol to all sexual harassment cases. The 2007-2008 anti-trafficking plan would focus on the need to introduce a definition of trafficking in people into Poland�s Penal Code. During 2003 and 2004, the Polish Government provided special recommendations to national prosecutors and judges on how to handle trafficking cases, including methodologies to be used. In 2005, 26 judges and 36 prosecutors had received special training sessions on methodology, the European Union perspective on trafficking in humans and procedures for addressing victims. During 2005 and 2006, work began to create a practitioners� manual.

She said that, under the 2005 National Compensation Law, victims of violence and their families could apply for reimbursement of hospital or funeral expenses associated with the crime. A crime prevention team was preparing special guidelines on how �first responders� should treat rape victims. In addition, a nationwide crime victims assistance network had been launched in December 2006. A programme to establish a custodian to support victims throughout criminal proceedings was under way.

Poland maintained statistics on the number of female victims of violence, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and human trafficking as well as data on the infringement of equal treatment of women and men.

Concerning the number of murdered women due to domestic violence, she said the Polish Government would add that statistical category if deemed necessary by the Committee.

Another country delegate said police procedures for tracking perpetrators of violence against women had been streamlined in 2002 and were constantly being improved. During the period 2003 to 2006, 8,500 police officers had been trained on how to track and handle such cases. All police reports and interventions concerning domestic violence cases were registered in the national �blue card� system, which police officers could access for background on a specific case. In 2004, Poland�s Police Commander had set up a network of 24 plenipotentiaries for human rights in police stations and schools throughout the country. The Government�s �safer together� partnership involving police and citizens aimed to further improve that cooperation between law enforcement and local communities.

Another country delegate said enforcement of the law concerning victims of domestic violence guaranteed them safe haven in shelters. In 2006, 32 centres for domestic violence victims had been set up. Since 2004, the number of women going to shelters had increased nine-fold.

Regarding police jurisdiction over domestic violence perpetrators, another representative said police could arrest a perpetrator for a maximum of 48 hours and could detain persons under the influence of alcohol for up to 24 hours.

Experts� Questions and Comments

FERDOUS ARA BEGUM, expert from Belgium, asked about the kinds of legal aid offered to victims.

HAZEN GUMEDE SHELTON, expert from South Africa, noted it was critical to ensure non-governmental organization participation in erasing stereotypes. Was the Government working with and financially supporting non-governmental organizations to do that and if so what criteria were used to select one non-governmental organization over another?

DUBRAVKA �IMONOVI�, expert from Croatia, asked why the Government maintained shelters specifically for single mothers and pregnant mothers. What services were provided for other female victims of violence?

Country Response

Regarding non-governmental organization participation, a representative said the Government indeed recognized the value of and worked with all non-governmental organizations willing to cooperate on domestic violence prevention and assistance. It organized competitions for grant money and awarded funds to those non-governmental organizations that submitted the best programme proposals.

Concerning gender stereotypes in the media, another delegate said the situation was not as bad as perceived. She noted that an August 2005 survey revealed that there were more women press writers than men and that women were increasingly portrayed as professionals in television soap operas. In April 2004, a code of ethics had been distributed to advertising agencies on banning all discrimination in advertising based on gender, race and religion.

On organized crime, another delegate noted that in March 2004 the Polish Prime Minister had appointed a team comprised of Government officials, prosecutors and members of the judiciary to combat trafficking in people. That team, along with a supporting task force, had set up the 2005-2006 national programmes to end trafficking. The 2007-2008 programme would focus on victimization of migrants and the issue of forced labour, slavery and trafficking in children.

In terms of legal aid to domestic violence victims, the delegate noted that a draft amendment aimed to extend aid access to poor women and families. Victims� counselling and legal aid assistance centres were being created, under the overall direction of non-governmental organizations.

Regarding services for female victims of violence who were not single mothers, another delegate noted that such victims could seek help from any of 138 crisis intervention centres.

Experts� Questions and Comments �- Articles 7-8

AROCHA DOMINGUEZ, expert from Cuba, said it had been difficult to study the report�s results. Statistical data from 2002 had been used. Insufficient information had been received to properly assess article 7 and it was difficult to understand how women�s access to elected posts had evolved after 2002.

The number of female Senators had decreased. She asked whether analysis had been produced to explain that drop. The report noted that training measures had taken place to involve women in political life; however, why had so few women been seen in the high courts? What specific action had been taken to ensure more participation? Further, she asked what the situation was today regarding women�s posts in public civil service, particularly at the local and regional levels.

Ms. XIAOQIAO, expert from China, said regrettably, the report did not mention measures to promote women in political life, particularly in managerial life. She asked to learn more about that issue, as well as about any Government measures to combat the low participation of women in high decision-making positions. Further, the National Action Plan for Women�s second stage implementation for 2003-2005 provided measures to ensure equal participation in decision-making bodies. Who or which department monitored the Plan�s implementation? Had an evaluation of the Plan been conducted?

TIZIANA MAIOLO, expert from Italy, asked about the Government�s position on quotas and whether quotas would lead to greater representation of women in Parliament.

The Committee Chairwoman, FRANCOISE GASPARD of France, asked to see an update on the presence of women in local assemblies. Knowledge about the presence of women in villages and towns was important for gender equality policies and raising awareness.

Country Response

On the need for further statistical information, the Polish representative said much had changed since 2002 and she would send more recent information to the Committee in writing. On the participation of women in public life, she noted that the decrease in women represented in Parliament was not a significant decrease.

The issue of participation of women in public life was improving, she said. All political parties had realized women were a key element of political life. Women regularly had political careers at the local levels and generally stayed in power for about 12 years. The fact that more women were needed in public life was a good signal.

The creation of a women�s party by a female writer had provoked public discussion and prompted women to join the party voluntarily. It remained to be seen whether that party would join the next Parliament, but its creation would work for the benefit of all women, particularly those already established in public life. Women currently held high-ranking positions; indeed, the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland was a woman. On the courts, she said Parliament had a large number of women judges.

Experts� Questions and Comments

Ms. XIAOQIAO, expert from China, asked whether special temporary measures would be taken to improve women�s participation in decision-making processes. Further, what was the attitude regarding the quota system for women to take part in public life?

Ms. TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, noting an almost 10 per cent decrease in the number of women in the Senate, asked the panel to explain the drop. Were there measures in place to counteract it? A maintenance or increase over previous levels had been expected.

HAZEL SHELTON, expert from South Africa, reiterated the question about why there was such a drastic difference in percentages between women in the lower courts and those in higher courts.

MERIEM BELMIHOUB-ZERDANI, expert from Algeria, noting that Poland was characterized by atmosphere of stereotypes, asked what the Government had done in the media to give women a better chance of being elected. Were parties subsidized? If so, and if women did not win elections, would those subsidies be pulled?

Country Response

The Polish representative said she would have been happy if Parliamentary elections had brought more women into Government, however, the Government could not impact what society had chosen. She said she considered quotas a short cut and, given Poland�s circumstances, they could work to the detriment of society. Training women to become engaged in public life would be beneficial. Poland relied on the experiences of other countries following the same path of choosing broader participation of women in public life.

Noting there were 94 women in Parliament, 13 women in the Senate and 4 women ministers in Government, she said the country would like to see more women in those bodies. Further, fewer children were being born in Poland and women were key to reversing that trend, she said. Speaking about equality and convincing people that women should be equal was not enough. More needed to be done for the functioning of society.

Experts� Questions and Comments �- Articles 10-14

PRIMILA PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, commending the delegation for its candid report, asked questions on articles 10 and 11 relating to education and employment. Although more women were receiving higher education degrees, there were also severe drawbacks on the labour market. There was occupational segregation. She pointed out that concrete and result-oriented measures were lacking. Within the education system, what steps were being taken by ministries to stimulate choices for women to take up non-traditional jobs, especially in science and technology?

Secondly, the first women�s study had been conducted in 1992. She had understood that the Government had not supported such studies and that those studies were being funded by foundations. Recently the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Human Rights Committee had expressed concern about the disparities in remuneration. The panel had stated Government policy was in line with European Union regulations and that remuneration should be equalized gradually. Had that equalization process started?

On preventing wage discrimination, was there a body that conducted job evaluation schemes? Did the Government envisage the restructuring of wage structures in professions such as teaching and child care, with a view to increasing their status?

Ms. GASPARD, expert from France and Committee Chairperson, on the issue of education and involvement at university level, asked about studies regarding women and gender, as only a few activities had been created in that regard. Combating discrimination required political determination and expertise. Were there statistics on combating discrimination? What was Poland doing to encourage training?

ANAMAH TAN, expert from Singapore, on article 11, said the Labour Code had been reviewed to forbid discrimination on the grounds of gender. However, a breach of anti-discrimination law did not constitute a crime. Compensation in the event of unfair treatment placed the burden of proof on the employer. In 2003, a survey had revealed that 50 per cent of respondents had experienced discrimination and one in eight women had felt they were being humiliated at work. She wanted to know how many women had taken advantage of changes in the law to report discrimination at the workplace and the success rate of those women. Following the 2003 survey, had data been collected on sexual harassment in the workplace? Further, would legislation be tied to the results of the survey?

Ms. XIAOQIAO, expert from China, wondered about Poland�s transition in the field of employment. The Government had taken various measures and priorities were outlined for more flexible forms of employment and to help women reintegrate into the labour market. How many women and men had re-entered the labour market? According to the report, some of the women engaged in the black market economy. As age discrimination existed against women over the age of 50, what measures had the Government taken? For example, were there ad hoc preferential policies to train those women? If so, how many programmes had been conducted and how many women had benefited? What kind of monitoring system existed in the field of employment, especially in cases of sexual harassment?

Country Response

A representative from Poland, noting that the representative from the Ministry of Education was not present, said answers on education would be provided in writing. Pointing out that 75 per cent of people participating in life-long learning schemes were women, she said there was a need to translate solid education into promotion and advancement at work. The family context was important in that regard. In Poland, it was important for women to combine their family and work roles. Feminized professions were poorly paid and a difficult labour market had forced men to assume some family roles and also take more feminine types of jobs.

Many women said they had been dismissed because they had been pregnant, or upon return from maternity leave. However, it was the burden of the employer to prove that maternity was not the cause of dismissal. Women needed to claim discrimination. In most cases of discrimination, employers were to blame. Women were successful in winning those cases, they needed more information on how to fight for their rights.

In 2004, an amendment to the Labour Code had been introduced to deal with sexual harassment at work and mobbing ( employees taking unfair advantage of employees ); however, Poland had a slow enforcement system. Courts were working slowly and the Minister of Justice was working to improve that. Further, it had been difficult to find attorneys willing to associate themselves with mobbing. Poland�s population was almost 40 million and the country needed to raise awareness that mobbing was a crime.

Equal pay for equal work was also a problem, she said. Women continued to earn 20 per cent less than male employees. Again, the problem was in gathering good evidence of that phenomenon. Poland had regulated pay schemes which defined the wage range of given positions, she said, however there was a problem of glass ceilings; women simply did not advance because of them. In Warsaw, a woman had become mayor for the first time in the history of the city. It was typical in the Government and in Warsaw itself that women were in charge of finance.

Other problems included Poland�s high unemployment rate, which made it difficult for employers to employ women in a flexible way. She would like to establish preferential conditions for employing women. For women approaching the pensionable age, their professional experience began to work against them, as they were not able to shift to another way of working. The problem of reversing that demographic trend was a specific process. Research had indicated that those women with worse education would like fewer children. A key way to increase the number of children born was to provide a more equal status between women and men. Laws could always be improved.

Another representative from the delegation responded to sexual harassment questions, noting that mobbing was penalized in the Labour Code. Labour courts dealt with those issues. Mobbing could be related to sexual harassment. Data broken down by sex had been collected.

Experts� Questions and Comments

DUBRAVKA �IMONOVI�, expert from Croatia, said the report provided contradictory information on the minority Roma population. The report noted that Roma girls aged 13 to 16 were already considered marriage material in their communities. That was discriminatory. Roma community representatives were likely men and unaware of such discriminatory views of women. What was the main goal of the 2004-2013 programme in terms of addressing the needs of minority groups? Did it have a gender dimension?

MAGALYS AROCHA DOMINGUEZ, expert from Cuba, asked about how the drop in the number of rural clinics due to the restructuring of public health services had impacted rural women. How could rural women access family planning services given that drop? What were the results of the 2004-2006 national development plan in terms of improving pregnant women�s health and family planning services? What kinds of contraceptives were used in rural versus urban areas? She asked for clarification of family planning and abortion policies in Poland. How many doctors had been suspended or fired because they refused to perform abortions?

PRAMILA PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, asked to what extent the Government was promoting and mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes in rural areas. She asked for data on rural women�s access to credit, banks and other financial institutions as well as on efforts to enhance rural women�s income-generating potential and access to land credit.

ANAMAH TAN, expert from Singapore, asked for data on rural standards of living since 2002. Why did young women in rural areas show little interest in local political organizations? Why were they underrepresented there and what barriers did they face?

Why was the maternal mortality rate higher among rural women than urban women? What efforts were being made to educate rural women about the importance of gynaecological care? Did rural women have sufficient access to clinics?

FERDOUS ARA BEGUM, expert from Bangladesh, said the country report did not include gender disaggregated data on female heads of rural households and on rural women�s employment. What policies was the Polish Government devising to eliminate discrimination and promote the advancement of women in rural areas?

Country Response

Concerning the Roma population, a delegate said Poland was very ethnically homogenous. However that should change now that Poland had joined the European Union. Poland prohibited marriage and removal from school of girls aged 13 to 16. Schooling for girls was mandatory. The Government was doing its best to reach Roma communities and get them to keep girls enrolled.

Regarding healthcare for rural women, she said pregnant women did in fact have better gynaecological care in urban areas than in rural areas. While rural women had access to family planning, it was more common in the countryside for women to refuse such services for religious reasons.

Concerning rural women�s ownership rights, she said rural women did own property and land, often as co-owners with their husbands. It was important to note that not all people in rural areas were employed in agriculture. In many areas, farms were run by elderly people �- both men and women. Younger people tended more to migrate to cities.

She added that data on female heads of households in rural areas was not available because rural families did not pay taxes based on income. Children in rural areas had fewer healthcare and educational opportunities than their urban counterparts.

Another representative said almost six million euros had been earmarked through 2006 for educational activities as part of the 2004-2013 programme. She stressed that the focus was on keeping Roma children in schools.

Another delegate noted that a task force of the Ministry of Health was working to improve access to healthcare services -� particularly gynaecological, dental and family planning services �- in rural areas. All women received equal access regardless of their ability to pay. A 2006 survey revealed that 63 per cent of all women in Poland were using contraceptives. Rural women had the same access to contraceptives as urban women.

Concerning reproductive rights, another delegate said abortion was legal for women in cases of rape and when the pregnant woman�s health was in danger. All women had the right to reproductive services. Under the conscience clause, doctors could refuse to perform an abortion. However, if all doctors in a hospital refused to do so, the hospital was required to have a contract with another healthcare facility willing to perform the procedure. All doctors were obliged to perform abortions for women whose health was seriously imperilled by the pregnancy. In such cases, the conscience clause could not be invoked as a reason for refusing to perform the procedure.

In all circumstances doctors were subject to the Penal Code�s provisions concerning abortion rights and the Professional Conduct Code.

Experts� Questions and Comments

Ms. TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, wondered about access to contraceptive methods. She agreed women must be respected if they chose natural methods, but so should those wishing to use hormonal contraceptives. What was happening with information collected through unofficial sources on limiting access to hormonal contraceptives? What was the situation regarding the pending law in Parliament?

A representative of Poland said the pending law aimed at restricting access to contraceptives. The League of Polish Families was a conservative party that wanted to focus on natural methods; however, it enjoyed only 2 per cent popularity. Its views were not supported by society and the Ministry of Health had withdrawn from that idea quickly.

It was not true that access to contraceptives had been easier in the past. The major problem was that some contraceptives were being reimbursed. The Government and the balance of power in Parliament changed every four years and the question of reimbursement of contraceptives was question about the budgetary possibilities and Government priorities. She said it was important to reimburse for various life-saving medications.

Ms. �IMONOVI�, expert from Croatia, asked for the estimated number of illegal abortions. Further, she wanted to know about the Ministry of Health�s promotion of natural family planning. Did the Ministry promote all available contraceptive methods, including natural family planning?

Country Response

The representative of Poland said data on the number of legal abortions varied depending on the source. Some estimates showed between 80,000 and 200,000 per annum, other sources between 30,000 and 40,000. The exact figure was not the issue. Every abortion was a tragedy and Poland must find solutions to that problem. The State had been unable to provide adequate care for pregnant women who were alone. That was the most serious problem and it remained the focus. Poland must ensure women that the State would assist them.

On natural methods, she said she was against adopting such a programme. While there was nothing wrong with family planning, it was worthwhile to promote it in the most effective way. It was important to provide full information on all methods and measures. She reiterated there had been no social or parliamentary support for ultraconservative views on natural methods.

Experts� Questions and Comments -- Articles 15 and 16

MERIEM BELMIHOUB-ZERDANI, expert from Algeria, referring to article 16 on marriage and family law, requested clarification on the report�s discussion of marriages that took place under the Concordat regime, a contract entered into by the Government and the Vatican. In the document of 4 September 2003, in a section on Human Rights under the Polish Constitution, it was noted that relations between the Church and religious organizations were governed by laws developed by the Council of Ministers. In addition to clarifying the Concordat, she wished to know whether the Civil Code would be applicable to everybody, whether they were Muslim, Lutheran or Jewish, for example. Further, the fourth and fifth reports noted that those married under customary law could not make a joint tax declaration, which was a concern.

ANAMAH TAN, expert from Singapore, said the fourth and fifth reports had highlighted a divorce rate of 7.3 per cent per 10,000 in 1993. She was concerned that such a low rate was the result of a difficulty in accessing the courts. The lack of funds and information on part of the woman was an important issue. Did those conditions prevent women from initiating divorces?

Secondly, a divorce bill had been submitted. What was the present status of that bill? Had it become a law? If it had not, when would that happen? Had there been an increase since 1993 of the number of divorces? Since custody of children generally had been awarded to women, did husbands pay alimony? If so, for how long? Did the wife receive 50 per cent of the husband�s assets or joint assets? She also asked for statistics on the causes of divorce and the number of male and female petitioners.

Country Response

The representative from Poland said there was no discrimination regarding women�s faith or whom they married. It was true that the Church was strong in Poland; Communism had existed for 45 years. Regarding the Concordat, she said that during Communist times, most couples had to conduct a civil and a religious marriage ceremony. Today, thanks to that contract, marriages in the Church were deemed complete. That was the point. There was complete separation between the Church and the State.

The number of divorce cases was growing, she said, and Poland had construed the law without consideration for family issues. Polish law had included a provision on financial protection for single mothers, which in turn had induced a 200 per cent jump in the number of separations, many of which had been fictitious. That situation was changing and regulations were being reviewed so as to not favour fictitious separation.

On child custody, she said there was a movement of fathers claiming rights to custody. Courts dealing with family issues were feminized. Often the judge was a woman. That was why child custody was often given to women. She would like to see fathers have more rights.

On alimony and the division of property, she said everything had depended on whether there was a statement of guilt, particularly by the husband. If so, he had to provide alimony to the woman and the children. If the guilt of either party had not been determined, alimony was granted to the children, as it was important for their social status not to decrease after a divorce. In 2004, a law which included an alimony fund had been replaced by one with an alimony advance. As many single mothers were dissatisfied by that change, the Government was currently working to reinstitute the alimony fund.


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