Poland Threatens Fragile Forest Despite EU Warning

Polish authorities on Wednesday said they would begin building a section of trans-European highway in a protected forest and wetland region, despite an EU warning that it would breach environmental rules. "We will start tomorrow," Polish highway service chief Tadeusz Topczewski was quoted as saying by the PAP news agency. Environment Minister Jan Szyszko visited the planned construction site in northeast Poland on Wednesday, and decided it was too late to opt for an alternative route, PAP reported.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said Tuesday that he had sent Warsaw a written warning, threatening to request a European court order to halt the project if Polish authorities did not revise their plans.

If Warsaw stuck to its guns, Dimas warned, it would represent a "major catastrophe in this precious area of Poland."

Dozens of activists have pitched camp to try to halt the construction in the Rospuda Valley, a swathe of near-untouched peat bogs and woodland near the border with Lithuania.

The area is home to protected birds including cranes and black grouse, as well as otters, beavers and lynx. It also boasts rare orchids.

The European Commission launched an initial round of legal action in December against Warsaw over its plans to build parts of the so-called Via Baltica road corridor from Finland to Poland in various protected areas.

The Rospuda project has been in the pipeline for more than a decade, well before Poland joined the EU in 2004.

Polish authorities say that the road is needed to ease the burden on the nearby town of Augustow.

Some 4,500 heavy goods vehicles cross Augustow every day on their way to and from the Lithuanian border.

The authorities also say that the 40-kilometre (25-mile) bypass would cause minimal damage, because the plans include a bridge spanning around 300-500 metres (yards) across the Rospuda Valley rather than a highway directly on the ground.

Although EU environmental authorities have Warsaw in their sights, Brussels has also been pressing Poland to upgrade its infrastructure in the face of ever-increasing road trade between eastern and western Europe.


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Pa.-based spirits seller selling stock in Poland

The Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based producer and distributor of alcoholic beverages (NASDAQ:CEDC) said it will offer 1.55 million shares of common stock for sale in Poland. It said it may also sell shares in the United States.

The company expects to issue and deliver the shares on or about Feb. 27.

Central European Distribution said it plans to use the proceeds to redeem a portion of its senior secured notes.

On Tuesday, the company said it had increased its holdings of a Polish vodka maker, Polmos Białystok SA. It now owns 90 percent of the company's outstanding shares. At the time, Central European Distribution said it expects full year earnings of $1.50 to $1.66 a share, based on sales of $1.05 billion to $1.1 billion.

Central European Distribution is the largest vodka producer in Poland and produces the Absolwent, Zubrowka, Bols and Soplica brands, among others. It also exports Zubrowka to many markets around the world. The company also produces and distributes Royal Vodka, the No. 1 vodka in Hungary.

In Poland, the company has 16 distribution centers and 76 satellite branches, importing brands like Remy Martin, Jagermeister, Metaxa, Jim Beam, Sauza Tequila, Grant's, E&J Gallo, Sutter Home, Torres, Penfolds and Concha y Toro wines, Corona, Foster's, and Guinness Stout beers and Evian.


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Gedeon Richter exceeds PLN 250m sales in Poland in 2006

Grodziskie Zaklady Farmaceutyczne Polfa (Polfa Grodzisk), a Polish pharma manufacturer in which the Hungarian Gedeon Richter holds a majority 70% stake, generated PLN 127m (€32.6m) sales revenue in 2006, down 3% year on year. Gedeon Richter’s representative office in Poland closed last year with PLN 125m (€32.1m) in sales, which was 18% higher than in the previous year. Thus, the consolidated sales of Gedeon Richter in Poland amounted to PLN 252m (€64.8m) in 2006, which ranked the firm 16th among pharmaceutical manufacturers operating in Poland. The company expects its sales to expand 15-20% in the country in 2007.
The sales growth in 2006 was chiefly generated by products which have been in the company’s portfolio for many years and by gynaecology preparations, as Laszlo Nemes, the director of Gedeon Richter representative office in Poland, explained to Pharma Poland News.
Depending on the course of the registration process, the company plans to launch subsequent products on the Polish market of gynaecology and urology lines this year.
In Mr Nemes’ opinion, the fact that the Polish reimbursement system is not regulated properly is detrimental to sales, chiefly because the lists of reimbursed drugs are not published systematically and their publication is often postponed many times.
Consolidated sales achieved by Gedeon Richter worldwide in 2006 amounted to HUF 209.419bn (€833m), 21.3% more than the previous year, while net profit for the reported period was HUF 52.1bn (€207m), an increase of 15.0% over 2005.

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Poland hopes to end negotiations on misslie defense shield as soon as possible

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Wednesday he hoped that the negotiations with the United States on an anti-missile shield would end as soon as possible.

He added that it was currently impossible to talk about their outcome.

"At the moment it is impossible to say when these negotiations can end," Kaczynski was quoted by the Polish news agency PAP as saying. But He hoped such matters would end quickly.

Kaczynski said the U.S. has put forward its own proposal, but Poland also has its own conditions, adding "I hope that these conditions will be discussed and accepted by the United States."

According to the prime minister, the shield will serve in the protection of U.S. territory and consolidate the Polish-U.S. alliance. But it must be built in a way that does not harm Poland's security.

On Jan. 20, Washington proposed to locate a radar centre of its National Missile Defense (NMD) system in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland. The base in Poland would supplement two others located in Alaska and California.

The United States said that the shield has been designed to intercept rockets fired against the U.S. from the Middle or Far East.

The Polish prime minister on Monday met with visiting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The two sides discussed the possible deployment of components of the U.S. missile defense shield in the two countries.

After the meeting, Topolanek said that Poland and the Czech Republic would continue consultations on the NMD.


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Poland starts work on highway to Helsinki

Work began on Thursday on a controversial highway bypass around Augustow in north-east Poland, a project that has caused concern in the European Commission and aroused the ire of environmentalists because the road is to run through an ecologically sensitive bog.

The bypass through the Rospuda valley was approved by Jan Szyszko, Polish environment minister, who said on Thursday in a radio interview he was not worried about Poland being fined by the European Commission.

"I don't expect that any fines will be levied on a country which is undertaking everything in accordance with the law," he said.

Earlier this week, Stavros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner, asked the Polish government to delay the project and warned that the Commission could turn to the European Court of Justice if Poland refuses to listen. The planned 17-km bypass runs through territory protected under the EU's Natura 2000 programme.

The road is part of the Via Baltica project, designed to link Warsaw and Helsinki with a modern express motorway running through the Baltic countries. The current two-lane road is narrow and dangerous, often running directly through towns and villages and clogged with transport trucks. The new motorway has been in the works since 1992.

Several hundred demonstrators from environmental organisations are staging a protest in the forested valley. They argue there is an alternative route which runs through less ecologically sensitive areas.

But several thousand people from Augustow held their own rally earlier this week, demanding the swift construction of the highway which would shift traffic from the centre of town. Town officials have warned that if the project is cancelled, they will blockade the road through Augustow and will appeal to the EU to shut the main border point between Poland and Lithuania to divert traffic elsewhere.

The Polish government is divided on the issue. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the prime minister, said his government is open to talks with the EU on the issue, but worried that if protests over the Rospuda derailed the project, the precedent could disrupt ambitious plans to build a modern network of highways in Poland. Meanwhile, his twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, Poland's president, has expressed his disapproval over the project.

Poland's new Central Anti-Corruption Bureau yesterday began investigating General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways, the government department responsible for road construction, to see if the bid for the Augustow bypass was correctly carried out.

Source:By Jan Cienski in Warsaw,

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He’s got that special glint in his eyes and an easy manner that would make you thump him on the back and make buddies in the street. “Of course that’s what Polish people are like,” he explains, “Quite like the Indians. Very warm and friendly”. He would know. After all, his association with India spans over two decades including several years as an engineering student in Bangalore.

This ‘expert opinion’ comes from a gentleman who, when on duty, is His Excellency Dr Krzysztof Majka, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland!

In Lucknow, as the guest of honour at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Dr Majka gushed about the growing ties between India and Poland. “In the recent past, development of business relations, exchange of ideas and services have grown.

More and more students are finding Poland a fantastic place to study in with economical facilities as compared to the rest of European Union. Cultural exchange has grown between the two countries,” he says.

Remember Amir Khan’s Fanaa was shot in Poland?

Of course, there are several other areas of concern between the two countries, including exports, gas and oil, pharma sector, textiles etc, says this Yoga practitioner who also loves Indian spicy food. Music afficionado and an avid swimmer, Dr Majka adds, “Polish varsities also have special Indology Departments and the interest in Asia is just growing”.

So, here’s three cheers to Indo-Polish friendship!


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EU threatens Poland with court order to stop highway construction

The European Commission on Thursday increased pressure on Poland to halt building a section of trans-European highway in a protected region, saying it was considering to request a European court order to halt the project 'as soon as possible.'

The commission is to ask the European Court of Justice, the bloc's second-highest tribunal, to stop the disputed project should construction works have been begun, or to block the works from being started, a commission spokeswoman told reporters.

'The commission is studying the possibility of taking a decision to go to the court as soon as possible,' she added.

The spokeswoman also said that an EU member state might face hefty fines if it did not comply with the court's judgement.

'We expect Poland to take less dangerous alternatives,' she said.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas earlier this week indicated that he was ready to take legal action to ensure that no irreparable damage was done.

If Warsaw pursued its course, Dimas warned, it would represent a 'major catastrophe' for the pristine Rospuda river valley.

The controversial project has been in the pipeline for more than a decade. Poland joined the EU in May 2004.

The picturesque Rospuda river valley in north-east Poland includes a marshland and peat bog ecosystem regarded as the last of its kind in Europe. It is home to a unique variety of flora and fauna.


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Goodyear to Expand High-Value Tire Production in Poland

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE:GT) announced today that its Poland affiliate plans to invest more than $100 million to expand production of high-value tires.

The investment, which will take place over the next four years, will be made at the company's TC Debica operation, one of Goodyear's lowest cost facilities. The investment is consistent with Goodyear's strategy to upgrade and expand existing capacity to produce high performance and ultra-high performance tires.

"This investment demonstrates our commitment to drive our growth by aligning low-cost manufacturing with high-value-added tires," said Goodyear Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert J. Keegan. "A continued stream of innovative new products backed by great marketing, and a lower global cost structure create tremendous opportunities for our future."
This major investment is another clear indication of Goodyear's confidence in Debica's ability to deliver the highest quality products at a competitive cost," said Jarro F. Kaplan, president of Goodyear's Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East tire business. "This investment will put us in an excellent position to capitalize on the growing market for high performance tires throughout Eastern and Western Europe."

Goodyear holds a 60 percent ownership interest in TC Debica, Poland's largest tiremaker. The company has invested almost $200 million to enhance Debica's operations since acquiring an interest in 1995.

Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. The company manufactures tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals in more than 90 facilities in 28 countries around the world. Goodyear employs more than 75,000 people worldwide.

Certain information contained in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. There are a variety of additional factors, many of which are beyond the company's control, which affect its operations, performance, business strategy and results and could cause its actual results and experience to differ materially from the assumptions, expectations and objectives expressed in any forward- looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to: actions and initiatives taken by both current and potential competitors; increases in the prices paid for raw materials and energy; the company's ability to realize anticipated savings and operational benefits from its cost reduction initiatives, including those expected to be achieved under the company's master labor contract with the United Steelworkers (USW) and those related to the closure of certain of the company's manufacturing facilities; whether or not the various contingencies and requirements are met for the establishment of the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) to be established to provide healthcare benefits for current and future USW retirees; potential adverse consequences of litigation involving the company; pension plan funding obligations as well as the effects of more general factors such as changes in general market or economic conditions or in legislation, regulation or public policy.

Additional factors are discussed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company's annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our estimates only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our estimates as of any subsequent date. While we may elect to update forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we specifically disclaim any obligation to do so, even if our estimates change.


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Poland: bananas are by far the leading imported fruit

Bananas are the most important products in Polish fruit import - their share has been estimated lately at about 30% (was even larger before Poland joined the EU, e.g. 36% in 1995) . The import of bananas started to grow after 1990 and in 1999 was 30 times larger than in 1988. Between 1999 and 2003 it grew by 70% - from 153 thousand MT to 260,5 thousand MT. The latest import data come from 2005 – 222 thousand MT, and 2006 (estimates) – 215 thousand MT. Some of the fruits are re-exported – e.g. around 10% (30 thousand MT) in 2003.

The bananas mostly come from Ecuador, Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama (together – 98-99% from Latin America), and only small quantities from France, Spain and some African countries. For example in 2004 Poland imported 254,9 K MT of bananas, including 129,5 K MT (51%) from Ecuador, 53,1 K MT from Costa Rica, 35,6 K MT from Columbia and 23,9 K MT from Panama.

The most recognizable banana brand in Poland is Chiquita. This company’s latest marketing campaign – with the slogan “Chiquita. Poczuj klimat”, which translates to “Chiquita. Feel the mood” - started in Poland on February 19th and it will continue until April 15th. During the campaign 15 and 30 second video spots will be emitted on major TV stations and banana buyers will receive special gifts in selected stores.


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RR Donnelley's UK print site in Flaxby Moor has been dealt a further blow with news that the press devastated by fire last year is to be moved to Pola

RR Donnelley's UK print site in Flaxby Moor has been dealt a further blow with news that the press devastated by fire last year is to be moved to Poland.

According to local press reports, a letter has been sent to employees revealing that the press will be refurbished and relocated to Poland during the course of this year.

It is understood that staff at the company fear further job cuts on top of the 35 reported earlier this month. The two-tower press, a Goss Universal 70, was damaged in a fire in November last year.

The Yorkshire-based division's best known client is the Yellow Pages and the site employs 390 staff.

One anonymous member of staff told the local press that the "vast majority of the workforce" felt "badly let down by the company".

"The presses at Flaxby are some of the best in the industry but it's plain to everyone that this just comes down to cost," added the worker.


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Magdalena Tran-Van, General Director, French Commercial and Trade Chamber in Poland: French employers awarded

I am very happy to see awards of the Confederation of Polish Employers, “Vectors 2006”, granted to managers of French companies. I see this as a sign of appreciation for French enterprise and its involvement in Polish economy. Carrefour Polska President Alain Souillard received the prize for setting new commercial standards and promoting honest business. I believe big sales firms contributed greatly to imprioving trade in Poland. In the 1990s I cooperated with several textile firms, and I could see how hard it was for the industry to adjust to free market rules and switch from producer- to consumer-oriented commerce. I think big sales companies were mainly responsible for introducing new business standards and customer care. A rather underestimated fact is that Carrefour first introduced quality trademarks and long-term supplier agreements in Poland. Such agreements set very high production standards and allow cooperation with suppliers and producers over many years.
Source: polishmarket.com.pl

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Alain Souillard, President of Carrefour Poland: A great potential and development opportunities

Q: In the large distribution sector, Carrefour Group occupies the top place on the European market and the second place in the world. What is the current potential of your Company?

A: 2006 was a very favourable year for the expansion of large distribution in Poland. The market was developing rapidly, together with the level of consumption and the purchase power in Poland. Also for Carrefour the year abounded in successful projects and spectacular investments. It is worth mentioning our projects in Gliwice, Zamość, Zgorzelec, Grudziądz, and Rybnik. We considerably expanded our product range, which now includes around 1,500 products. We continuously adjust our services to the customers’ needs and introduce new ones, such as gas stations and bill payments at the cash desk.

In 2006 we successfully continued opening hypermarkets, small hypermarkets and Carrefour Express supermarkets. We are glad to see a positive response of our customers, because our main goal is their satisfaction. We are proud to receive the Laur Klienta 2006 (Customer’s Laurel 2006) awarded by customers. Another important distinction was the Vector 2006 award, which we received for responsibly building new standards on the market and consistently creating the image of a reliable employer.

One of the key elements of Carrefour’s success in Poland is innovation. We aim at becoming an exemplary modern company, each day working for the benefit of economic and social development and environmental protection. Each year we implement pioneering solutions and services. We were the first to introduce the MasterCard credit cards and Rodzyiynka, the first Polish loyalty programme for the supermarkets. We are good at promoting innovative solutions, which is confirmed by the fact that we have many followers.

In 2007 we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of our operations in Poland. We want to invite everybody to join the celebration of this event.


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Poland sends special troops to Afghanistan

Soldiers from Poland’s Operational Mobile Reaction Group (GROM) will leave for Afghanistan soon to support other Polish units there, reported the Polish news agency PAP.

The troops on Monday received an official farewell from Defence Minister Aleksander Szczyglo and military Chief of Staff General Franciszek Gagor.

Established on July 13, 1990, GROM is a special unit of the Polish army, which can also serve in counter-terrorist operations.

Currently, there are over 100 Polish soldiers in Afghanistan, and the Polish government last year vowed to send 1,000 more in the first half of 2007.

But the plan has been strongly opposed by Poles. The latest opinion poll conducted by the Polish National Public Opinion Center showed that nearly 80 percent of Poles are against the deployment of Polish troops in Afghanistan.


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Central European Distribution Corporation Closes Tender for Approximately 2.54 Million Shares of Polmos Bialystok; Releases Earnings Guidance for 2007

Central European Distribution Corporation has announced today that it has closed the tender for 2.54 million shares of Polmos Bialystok S.A. which increased its total shareholdings of Polmos Bialystok to 90.14% of the outstanding shares. The company will look to further increase its share ownership in Polmos Bialystok during the summer of 2007, as a restriction on the transfer of shares held by employees, approximately 6%-7% of the outstanding shares of Polmos Bialystok, expires in May 2007.
The Company also released its full year 2007 fully diluted earnings per share guidance of $1.50 to $1.66 and full year net sales guidance of $1.05 billion to $1.10 billion.

William V. Carey, President and CEO, stated, "The ability of our management team to integrate our two production facilities and our first international expansion (Hungary) is continuing to show solid top to bottom line results which is reflected in our 2007 guidance. We are continuing to look at different distributors in Poland to acquire and are projecting acquisitions of distributors with net annualized revenue of approximately $100-$120 million in 2007. These distributors will continue to strengthen our presence in selected geographical areas within Poland."

The 2007 guidance given above does not factor in the impact of any new acquisitions (in Poland and outside) or exchange rate movements related to the Company's Senior Secured Notes, but does include the impact of expensing of stock options. The number of shares used to calculate the 2007 fully diluted earnings per share guidance is 39.9 million.

CEDC is the largest vodka producer in Poland and produces the Absolwent, Zubrowka, Bols and Soplica brands, among others. CEDC currently exports Zubrowka to many markets around the world. CEDC also produces and distributes Royal Vodka, the number one selling vodka in Hungary.

CEDC also is the leading distributor and the leading importer of alcoholic beverages in Poland and Hungary. In Poland, CEDC operates 16 distribution centers and 76 satellite branches and imports many of the world's leading brands, including brands such as Remy Martin, Jagermeister, Metaxa, Jim Beam, Sauza Tequila, Grant's, E&J Gallo, Sutter Home, Torres, Penfolds and Concha y Toro wines, Corona, Foster's, and Guinness Stout beers and Evian.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of CEDC to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that forward- looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and that undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. CEDC undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements or to make any other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise unless required to do so by the securities laws. Investors are referred to the full discussion of risks and uncertainties included in CEDC's Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2005, and in other reports filed by CEDC with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


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Poland faces court over motorway through protected wetlands

The EU threatened legal action against Poland on Tuesday over the construction of a motorway that would destroy Europe's only remaining ancient peat land if built.
As hundreds of campaigners stayed put in tents pitched on snowy ground in Eastern Poland this week, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas personally warned Polish environment minister Jan Szyszko that Europe can seek to stop the project through a court order, and sent a letter to Warsaw asking ministers to put the construction on hold.

With peat bogs that formed over 10,000 years and rare species of plants and animals, the Rospuda valley is protected under EU law as a Natura 2000 conservation site. Despite this, the Polish government has so far been intent on letting the motorway plans to go ahead, but now seems to be reconsidering following the EU warnings.

"If we do not have a positive reaction from the Polish government to the letter that I am going to send today, then we shall start the accelerated procedure. It should be done as soon as possible in order to avoid and avert the irreparable destruction of the habitats in that area of Poland," Stavros Dimas said.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has since said his government may reconsider the route. He had previously warned that giving in to the EU on Rospuda would set a dangerous precedent that could harm the development of the country.

The controversial section of motorway would provide a bypass for the town of Augustow in the Polish lake district. While environmental campaigners agree the bypass is necessary, they are proposing an alternative route which would come at a lower financial as well as environmental cost (see related story).

"The option we are proposing is maybe 3km longer, and much cheaper because it sidesteps the need to plough through these wetlands," Jacek Winiarski of Greenpeace Poland, one of the groups campaigning on Rospuda, told edie.

With the entry of bulldozers into the valley imminent, protests have spread across Poland. Thousands took to the streets of 13 Polish cities on Sunday and 450 protesters continue their sit-in protests at a camp in the snow-covered valley itself. Last summer, 150,000 holiday-goers signed a petition against the plans, reflecting the area's status as a national symbol of wild nature for many people.

Campaigners say the construction of a 500m flyover across the peat land would lead to the extinction of species and destroy a unique European ecosystem.

"If this road is built through Rospuda valley, then the last peat lands of this kind West of the Ural mountains will be destroyed," said Maciej Muskat of Greenpeace Poland.

The road would modify the water balance of the wetlands, cut across the migration routes of animals including big mammals like lynx and wolves, as well as causing noise which would disturb the entire ecosystem.

The construction work itself would cause even greater damage as 100-year old pines are chopped down and heavy machinery is brought in.

The Augustow bypass is part of Via Baltica, a mega-motorway that is to connect Western countries with Finland via Poland and Estonia and crosses numerous national parks. In the face of growing urgency campaigners decided to concentrate their efforts on saving Rospuda valley as the most unique of the natural areas.

They chose to focus on Rospuda "for emotional as well as scientific reasons," Jacek Winarski said - Rospuda valley is both a popular holiday destination whose wild nature many Poles remember from childhood holidays and a unique peat land home to endemic species of plants and rare and protected birds and mammals.

Local people in the Augustow region are divided on the issue. While some oppose the road and say it would bring destruction of their natural heritage, others believe it would bring jobs, easing the area's high unemployment, as well as stopping the stream of lorries currently tearing through the town centre.

Environmentalists said their opposition was targeted at the chosen route and acknowledged the need for a bypass.

"We hope that work on an alternative route for a bypass for the Augostow bypass, which is essential for the town's residents, begin as soon as possible," said a spokesman for Greenpeace Poland.

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Goodyear's Poland affiliate to expand production

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said on Tuesday its TC Debica affiliate in Poland plans to invest more than $100 million over four years to expand production of more expensive and higher-profit car tires.

Goodyear, the largest U.S. tire maker, acquired an interest in TC Debica in 1995 and has invested almost $200 million in its operations since. Goodyear now holds a 60 percent ownership interest in the TC Debica.

The production expansion covers high performance and ultra-high performance car tires and would include the Debica, Goodyear, Dunlop and Fulda brand tires.


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Czech Republic, Poland Willing to Accept U.S. Missiles

Czech Republic and Poland have agreed to accept an offer to host parts of the U.S. anti-missile defense system on their territories, the DefenseNews.com news agency reported Tuesday.
Poland would host a battery of up to 10 ground-based ballistic rockets while Czech Republic would be the site for an advanced radar system.

The U.S. missile shield is not aimed against Russia or other “normal” countries, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Jaroslaw Kaczynski as saying that the deployment of U.S. military bases in the country will ensure that Poland will cede from Russia’s influence. “Following the deployment of a missile defense base here, the chances of such undue influence will be greatly reduced for at least several decades,” the Polish prime minister told the reporters.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg accused Moscow of blackmailing in the U.S. defense system issue on its territory. “The Czechs will now think the shield is even more necessary,” Mr. Schwarzenberg said, the Reuters news agency reported.

Russia earlier said it may consider installing medium-range ballistic missiles in a region neighboring Poland if the United States persists in its plans to deploy the anti-missile system in Europe.

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Poland, Sweden focus on controversial Baltic pipeline plan

Warsaw - Foreign ministers from European Union partners Poland and Sweden discussed on Tuesday in Warsaw controversial German-Russian plans to construct a natural gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea floor.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt vowed Sweden would 'closely' analyse any pipeline proposal in the context of international, maritime and particularly environmental law before taking a decision whether to approve the plan.

The planned pipeline passes through Swedish, Danish and Finnish maritime economic zones.

Sweden has not yet received any official notification of construction plans from investors in the project, he revealed.

Poland and fellow EU Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania remain united in staunch opposition to the natural gas pipeline plan, insisting it poses a grave environmental hazard to the fragile Baltic Sea eco-system and a threat to their own energy security.

Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Anna Fotyga underscored Poland's continued opposition to the pipeline plan and said it was counting on Sweden's 'traditional solidarity on the issue.'

Agreed by Germany's E.ON-Ruhrgas and BASF Russian fuel titan Gazprom last year, the controversial Baltic pipeline plan is aimed at providing a direct supply of Russian natural gas to Germany, bypassing existing lines passing through Poland.

Plans call for construction to begin next spring.


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Poland’s Netia selects Alcatel-Lucent to build 10 Gigabit Metro Ethernet network

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that its IP solutions have been selected by Netia, Poland’s largest alternative fixed telecommunications provider, as the basis for the country-wide deployment of its next-generation 10G Metro Ethernet networks. The Alcatel-Lucent solution provides a single unified infrastructure upon which Netia can offer highly reliable business services such as Virtual Private LAN Services (VPLS) and IP VPNs, and also will form the base for all future services including triple play.

Netia chose to replace its existing equipment with the Alcatel-Lucent Metro Ethernet solution, which supports multiple service types with superior scale, hierarchical quality of service and availability – all critical for guaranteeing stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs) on business-critical data. The Alcatel-Lucent solution will also accommodate triple play services allowing Netia to offer the next wave of advanced services with minimal further investment.

“Poland has one of the fastest growing broadband markets in Central-Eastern Europe and that requires us to aggressively expand our services to meet customer demand,” said Jolanta Ciesielska, Netia spokesperson. “Alcatel-Lucent offers excellent technology and proven performance giving us a solid base to grow our business with services that are a cut above those of our competitors. It also will be the infrastructure for future advanced broadband services.”

“As broadband penetration is still low in Poland compared to other European Union countries, the opportunity is huge for services providers who are willing to invest in a converged IP/MPLS network and offer advanced Ethernet services,” said Basil Alwan, President of Alcatel-Lucent’s IP activities. “Netia has replaced its legacy gear with a solution that gives them the freedom of introducing services quickly, simply and in line with market demand.”

Alcatel-Lucent will deploy its industry-leading Metro Ethernet portfolio in various locations across Poland over the next three years. The Alcatel-Lucent solution consists of the 7750 Service Router, 7450 Ethernet Service Switch, 7250 Service Access Switch and the 5620 Service Aware Manager.

Worldwide, more than 160 service providers in 60 countries, including AT&T, BT, Telia Sonera, Telefonica and France Telecom, have selected the Alcatel-Lucent IP portfolio.

About Netia SA

Netia is the leading alternative fixed-line telecommunications operator in Poland. It operates on the basis of its own, state-of-the-art fiber-optic backbone network that connects the largest Polish cities as well as its local access networks. Netia provides a broad range of telecommunications services, including voice, data and network wholesale services. P4 – the mobile telephony venture of Netia - creates an opportunity for Netia to extend further its range of products on offer by providing mobile telephony and convergent services. To provide high quality voice and data services Netia builds its access network based on WiMax technology and using 3.6 – 3.8 GHz frequency. International and Polish finance funds are the biggest Netia’s shareholders. Netia’s shares are listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

About Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) provides solutions that enable service providers, enterprises and governments worldwide, to deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. As a leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP technologies, applications, and services, Alcatel-Lucent offers the end-to-end solutions that enable compelling communications services for people at home, at work and on the move. With operations in more than 130 countries, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with global reach. The company has the most experienced global services team in the industry, and one of the largest research, technology and innovation organizations in the telecommunications industry. Alcatel-Lucent achieved adjusted proforma revenues of Euro 18.3 billion in 2006 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. [All figures exclude impact of activities to be transferred to Thales]. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com

Source: webwire.com

Flights to Poland

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Poland summons ambassador home over spy claims

Poland called its ambassador to Austria home for talks on Monday after an official report identified him as a collaborator with a disbanded intelligence agency that the government says worked for Russia.

Ambassador Marek Jedrys was named on Friday in a 400-page government report that accused hundreds of Poles in positions of authority of working for Poland's Military Intelligence Service (WSI), disbanded last year by the conservative-led government.

The government says the agency, staffed by Soviet-trained agents, kept close ties with Moscow even after the fall of communism in 1989, allowing Russian spies to work on Polish soil and controlling many of the levers of power.

'We have called Mr Jedrys to Warsaw for consultations,' Pawel Zalewski, head of parliament's foreign policy committee, was quoted by Poland's national PAP news agency as saying.

It was not clear what Jedrys's alleged relationship with the WSI was. He himself was not available for immediate comment.

A campaign by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski to root out former communists and their associates from public life has already affected several senior officials.

Earlier this month, Andrzej Krawczyk, foreign adviser to President Lech Kaczynski, the prime minister's twin brother, resigned amid accusations he was an informer for the communist secret police before 1989. Krawczyk has denied any wrongdoing.

In a major embarrassment for the Vatican, the newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, resigned in January after files showed he had collaborated with communist secret police.

Critics of the government say Friday's report contained plenty of innuendo but little evidence and that it failed to back up claims by Kaczynski that ex-communists had too much influence on Polish public life.


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Environmentalists protest plans for highway across rare peat bog in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Hundreds of environmentalists on Sunday protested the planned construction of a highway that would cross one of Europe's rare peat bogs.

Polish authorities have approved plans to construct a section of the Via Baltica highway, linking Poland to Finland, that would cross a protected peat bog area off the Rospuda River in the northeast of the country.

The decision, approved Feb. 9, violates a European program that protects rare ecological environments. The European Union's executive office has demanded an explanation from Warsaw and threatened sanctions if the project goes ahead.

The government recently replied to the European Commission, saying that delaying the construction would threaten Polish plans to build a badly needed network of highways.

Holding banners that read ``The Government or Nature _ The Choice is Yours,'' and ``Hands off Rospuda,'' some 100 protesters gathered near one of the presidential residences, the Belvedere, in downtown Warsaw. They also gathered signatures for a protest letter to the government arguing the highway should bypass Rospuda.

Similar protests were held in Szczecin and Gdansk, on the Baltic coast, and in the southern city of Krakow.

The environmentalists argue that the presence of heavy construction equipment and the planting of support pillars will destroy dozens of rare plants and animals found only in the bog.

On Sunday, Environment Minister Jan Szyszko was to meet opponents and supporters of the highway gathered in the Rospuda Valley, where Greenpeace activists have been camping for a week in protest of the planned construction, which is to start in the coming weeks.


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Environmentalists protest plans for highway across rare peat bog in Poland

Hundreds of environmentalists on Sunday protested the planned construction of a highway that would cross one of Europe's rare peat bogs.

Polish authorities have approved plans to construct a section of the Via Baltica highway, linking Poland to Finland, that would cross a protected peat bog area off the Rospuda River in the northeast of the country.

The decision, approved Feb. 9, violates a European program that protects rare ecological environments. The European Union's executive office has demanded an explanation from Warsaw and threatened sanctions if the project goes ahead.

The government recently replied to the European Commission, saying that delaying the construction would threaten Polish plans to build a badly needed network of highways.

Holding banners that read "The Government or Nature — The Choice is Yours," and "Hands off Rospuda," some 100 protesters gathered near one of the presidential residences, the Belvedere, in downtown Warsaw. They also gathered signatures for a protest letter to the government arguing the highway should bypass Rospuda.

Similar protests were held in Szczecin and Gdansk, on the Baltic coast, and in the southern city of Krakow.

The environmentalists argue that the presence of heavy construction equipment and the planting of support pillars will destroy dozens of rare plants and animals found only in the bog.

On Sunday, Environment Minister Jan Szyszko was to meet opponents and supporters of the highway gathered in the Rospuda Valley, where Greenpeace activists have been camping for a week in protest of the planned construction, which is to start in the coming weeks.


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Poland to reply on U.S. missile plan in two weeks

Poland will reply within two weeks to a U.S. offer to build an anti-missile base on Polish soil, new Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo said on Sunday, confirming a weekend media report.

Szczyglo, who took office after this month's surprise resignation of Radoslaw Sikorski, did not give any indication of what the response would be.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is in favor of the anti-missile shield saying it would bring Poland greater security. But public opinion is divided and misgivings have emerged in his ruling coalition.

"We are now in the process of preparing a reply ... and I think within two weeks it will be relayed to the American government via diplomatic channels," PAP news agency quoted Szczyglo as saying.

"I shouldn't want to give concrete dates because such things always takes a bit of time, but I think the first meeting on the issue will take place in a few weeks."

The United States has asked Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic to host elements of its multi-billion dollar global defense system designed to counter missiles potentially fired by what Washington calls rogue states.

The Polish base would supplement existing missile-shield installations in the U.S. states of Alaska and California and intercept any hostile missiles from the Middle and Far East.

Russia has threatened to install medium-range ballistic missiles in its Baltic Kaliningrad region neighboring northern Poland if Warsaw agrees to host the U.S. base in its territory

On Saturday, daily Gazeta Wyborcza also said Poland would reply in the next two weeks to Washington's proposal, after the response had been delayed by Sikorski's resignation.

Kaczynski, the prime minister, has acknowledged the program entailed an element of risk but added that "if properly negotiated, it should serve Poland's security."


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Czech PM to visit Poland on Monday

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will start a two-day visit to Poland on Monday, the PAP news agency reported.

During the visit, the Czech prime minister will meet with Polish politicians and business representatives.

Topolanek will meet among others with Polish President Lech Kaczynski, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and speakers of the Sejm and Senate -- Marek Jurek and Bogdan Borusewicz.

The Czech prime minister will also take part in the opening of a Polish-Czech Economic Forum.


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Polish Donuts Stimulate Poland And Help The Economy

Warsaw, Poland 16 February 2007 The average Pole eats 2 ˝ paczki on Fat Thursday. That means about 100 million Polish Donuts, Paczki, were eaten in Poland yesterday. The Polish people added 50 billion calories to their waste lines and trailing posteriors. In the process, they stimulated the economy.

Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Lent, is a day of gluttony and belly worship in Poland. People gather together and consume huge numbers of Paczki. Eating 10 of the lard fried calorie bombs is not uncommon.

Paczki are deep fried donuts that are filled with jam or other sweet filling. A traditional filling is rose bud marmalade. They are covered with sugar icing and/or fried orange zest.

Traditionally they were made to rid a house of lard, sugar and fruit, all of which are forbidden during the Roman Catholic days of Lent.

In modern Poland, you find mountains of them for sale on street corners, in small shops and any other place someone can fit them.

No office is immune from a pile of Paczki being the talking point of the day.

Poles spent between 100 and 150 million zloty on Paczki yesterday.

They stimulated the economy. And as they go to the fitness centers to try to undo the damage, they will stimulate it some more.


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Poland: negative trend in cauliflower and broccoli production

Production of cauliflowers and broccoli has a negative trend in Poland and France. The total worldwide production of broccoli and cauliflowers is much smaller than cabbage and is estimated at 16 million MT (cabbage – around 40 million MT). Between 2000 and 2005 the average yearly drop in cauliflower and broccoli production in Poland amounted 2,6 thousand MT, and even more in France - 10 thousand MT.

Both broccoli and cauliflower require a good soil condition and irrigation. Warm and dry summers are not favourable for those vegetables. In 2006, the summer season in Poland was very dry and warm. Therefore not only yields were low, but also the quality of produce, because of high temperature and water deficit.

Only growers with good irrigation systems achieved better yields (even 40% higher comparing with unirrigated plantations), but the number of vegetables farms with good irrigation systems in Poland is relatively low. This is the main reason of low average cauliflower and broccoli crop in Poland. According to Central Statistical Office of Poland, the total cauliflower crop in 2005 was 204 thousand MT. In 2006 this was only 182 thousand MT. The total acreage of Polish cauliflower plantations in 2005 was estimated at 10,5 thousand hectares (compared with 4500 hectares of broccoli plantations), and the average crop at 17,8 MT. Only 17% of Polish cauliflowers is processed (mainly used for freezing), and the rest is sold as fresh produce. The opposite can be seen in the broccoli market, where 70% is destined to be processed.


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Russian experts to inspect Poland vegetable, fruit producers

MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russian veterinary experts will begin inspections Monday of Polish companies producing fruits and vegetables, the Russian food safety watchdog said Friday.

Moscow banned Polish meat imports in November 2005, citing food safety concerns and numerous attempts to export banned produce with falsified health safety certificates. It followed up with a complete ban on agricultural products.

"Russian inspectors will check the companies that offer supplies of agricultural produce to Russia and the food safety measures applied to exported goods," said Alexey Alekseyenko, a spokesman for Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Oversight.

He said a team of Russian experts will spend 15 days in Poland, mainly auditing the firms that produce vegetables and fruits, and will compile a list of companies that will be allowed to export their produce to Russia.

Alekseyenko also said that a similar team of Russian food safety experts had been checking Polish companies producing meat products since February 6 with the same purpose.

Relations between Russia and Poland, a former Communist Bloc country that joined the EU in May 2004, have deteriorated dramatically in the past few years. A string of recent diplomatic spats has increased mutual distrust between the two former allies, prompting many politicians in Warsaw to conclude that the Kremlin is using the embargo on Polish imports as a political weapon.

Russia's ban on meat and other agricultural imports from Poland led the EU newcomer to veto the launch of negotiations late last year on a new trade and energy cooperation deal between Moscow and Brussels to replace the current partnership accord, which expires at the end of 2007.

European Commission officials have described Russia's trade ban as unjustified and disproportionate, although they admitted that Poland had violated European meat export standards on several occasions.


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Poland: Actions Against Wetland Destruction

Anarchists, environmentalists, some NGOs and just plain citizens have been involved lately in stepping up the protest against the destruction of the Rospuda Valley Wetlands in Poland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rospuda_River
The battle has been going on for some time. The government plans to build the Agustow Bypass, part of the Via Baltica highway, though these wetlands, despite the fact that there is a proposed alternative route. Recently, the decision to start people was signed by government bureaucrats, which means that the bulldozers can come at any moment. We suppose they are only waiting for the snow to thaw to start this work.

In response, a camp has been set up on the sight. So far there are some members of Greenpeace and other ecological organizations and some anarchists there. They are camping in rather rough conditions (you can see what the weather is like:
http://www.greenpeace.org/poland/multimedia/slajdy/dolina-rospudy-oboz?page=1 ). We suppose that when it gets a little warmer next week, a larger group of people will go, including a large anarchist delegation.

In Warsaw, ordinary citizens started a daily action at the Ministry of the Environment which is growing in number. Anarchists from FA Praga and the Praga Bicylist Group, supported also by Green Mazovia, have started some protests at the Budimex headquarters: Budimex is the company which is to start building in the Rospuda Valley.

At yesterday's picket, anarchists pointed out the political and economic aspects of the decision to build in the valley, not only the environmental impact. It was also pointed out that while Budimex firm and some politicians who invested in the land along the highway route will profit, Poland will probably get a fine imposed by the European Union for destroying an area protected by Nature 2000 and that normal citizens will have to suffer because their tax money will be wasted to pay that fine. Complaints about how tax money is misused and wasted were of interest to the Tax Inspectorate which by some strange coincidence shares a building with Budimex.

Today the pickets will continue, at the Ministry and Budimex and soon the radical direct actions will start. On Sunday there is a national day of protest.

The protest is supported by a large group of people in society, even though most don't come out to protest; a huge amount have signed protest letters though. There is a lot of support from unexpected quarters as well, for example yesterday the Lech Poznan football team also lent support to the protest.

People from abroad can also send protests: there are lots of letters to be found on the Internet: it's enough to start a google search and you can find them. You can also check the web pages of NGOs like BankWatch or Greenpeace for updated information.

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Poland wants to have good relations with Russia: PM

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Thursday in Warsaw that Poland wants to have good relations with Russia and be treated by Russia like any other EU member state.

Kaczynski told reporters at a press conference that Poland will not put up with a situation when it is treated by Russia like a country that does not belong to the EU.

Relations with Russia are the top priority in the Polish foreign policy towards non-EU neighbor states, Kaczynski said. " They are very important but very difficult at present," the PAP news agency quoted Kaczynski as saying.

"We offer our good will but are also determined to defend our interests," the prime minister said.

Poland has no ill intentions towards Russia, he said, adding that it is willing to hold various talks with Moscow.

Relations between Poland and Russia have been deteriorating in recent years, due to disputes on the gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea, the U.S. missiles shield base, and the Katyn forest event.

In Nov. 2005, Russia imposed a ban on the imports of Polish meat, causing serious losses to Poland. In November last year, Poland vetoed the launch of talks on a broader economic cooperation agreement between the EU and Russia in protest against the Russian ban on imports.


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