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Latest News Bytes From Poland (December)

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent
December 2020

“Rule-of-law” mechanism could destroy the EU – Prime Minister Morawiecki
The European Union making funds dependent on a country’s compliance with arbitrarily defined rule-of-law principles is a crass violation of the rule of law itself, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said recently.  “Our main fear is that this mechanism will be used in a very arbitrary and politically motivated way,” he told  Germany’s influential daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Today Poland and Hungary are under attack, tomorrow it could be Italy and Portugal, Morawiecki added. at last July’s EU summit Poland and Hungary agreed  to a rule-of-law mechanism to ensure financial transparency and prevent fraudulent use of EU funds. Since then the concept has been arbitrarily expanded to impose abortion on demand and same-sex marriage as well as to undermine Poland’s judicial reforms. The EU treaties signed by Poland clearly state that family affairs and mores as well as judicial matters are to be regulated by member nations, not the EU bureaucracy.

Dutch House votes for government to sue Poland
The Dutch House of Representatives has voted for a resolution obliging Holland’s government to sue Poland before the European Union’s Court of Justice over alleged breach of the rule of law. The resolution claims that the Polish Supreme Court’s disciplinary chamber which disciplines corrupt, negligence or malpracticing judges violates the rule of law since politicians have a say in its procedures. The Court of Justice is already reviewing a case it launchpad several months ago agaisnt Poland over its judicial reforms, with a  verdict expected in 2021.  Ultra-left Dutch lawmakers apparently want to bolster the case against Warsaw and are looking to other EU nations for added support. Holland has already refused to extradite criminals to Poland, alleging that they could not receive a fair trial there.

EC has no right to interfere in our judicial system – Sejm Speaker
Ryszard Terlecki, Speaker of the Sejm, told Polish Public Radio that the European Commission had no right to interfere in Poland’s judicial-reform programs. As Marshal (Speaker) of the main lawmaking chamber of Poland’s parliament, he is second only to the President of Poland in the chain of command. A senior lawmaker with Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, Terlecki was speaking after the EC, the EU’s executive , stepped up its pressure on Warsaw over alleged rule-of-law breaches.˛ The  EC claimed it was acting to protect the independence of the country’s judges. Specifically it does not recognize the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court which goes after judges charged with corruption, neglect of duty or other offenses.  The reforms were adopted by parliament and signed into law by the president which is the accepted, legal procedure. But the liberal-leftist EC has routinely preferred to accept the  narration of Poland’s vindictive liberal-leftist opposition, brushing aside the arguments of its democratically elected government.

Multi-billionaire Soros urges EU to crack down on Poland
George Soros, 90, the controversial hard-left multi-billionaire who has mostly operated behind the scenes, recently openly spoke out against Poland and his native Hungary. In an article, the Hungarian-born Jew and naturalized US citizen called on the European Union not to back down in its dispute with those two countries over the rule-of-law issue. He also indicated a way of circumventing the Polish-Hungarian veto against linking EU funds to those countries’ compliance with the Brussels dictate. Under the umbrella of his Open Society Foundation, over the years through a worldwide network of NGOs Soros has donated $32 billion to a wide range of leftist institutions and causes including BLM, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Antifa, CNN and the New York Times.

Poland orders 45 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines
The Polish’s government has announced details of its plans to make the Covid-19 available to the coutnry’s population. It will be available free of charge and on a voluntary basis, Three weeks after beign vaccinated a patient will receive a booster dose of the vaccine. Healthcare staff on the front-lines of the pandemic war on the Coronavirus, the elderly and uniformed services will be the first to be vaccinated. Although the procedure will remain voluntary, the authorities hope that  70% to 80% of the population will choose to get vaccinated. The immunization campaign is due to begin at the end of January. Since the start of the epidemic in Poland on March 4, 2020, by early December the number of Covid-19 cases had crossed the one million mark.  and the overall death toll was approaching 19,000. During that period 647,000 patients had recovered. The hardest hit have been populous, urbanized regions including Mazowieckie (Warsaw), Małopolskie (Kraków), Śląsk (Katowice) and Wielkopolskie (Poznań). The fewest cases and deaths have been record in largely rural voivodeships such as Opolskie, Lubuskie and Podlaskie.

Only 36% of Poles want Covid vaccination – survey
A survey conducted by Polish pollster CBOS has shown that only 36% of those polled are willing to to get an anti-Covid vaccination, and 47% said they were unwilling to.  The results were released the same day the government provided details of a mass voluntary vaccination program due to begin at the turn of January and February 2021. The main reason Poles do not want to get inoculated,  according to the poll, is their concern over the new vaccine’s potential side effects (69%), while others (25%).questioned its effectiveness.  Ever since the virus appeared on the scene, not only Poland has been awash with conflicting reports, rumors, predictions and speculations defining the pandemic and suggesting how to deal with it.

New financial-aid for pandemic-crippled businesses
The government continues to introduce successive financial-aid programs for business sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced another hefty stimulus package for companies affected by the Covid-19 crisis. He said the package would be worth at least 35 billion złotys or $9.3 billion (at the rate of  $1 = 3.68 złotys).), including 3 billion złotys) for micro-companies, 7 billion for small and medium-sized businesses, and 25 billion for large companies in nearly 40 different fields. The latest assistance package is expected to help 200,000 businesses weather the crisis and save some 372,000 jobs in the restaurant, entertainment and fitness sectors as well as retail trade.

Poland acquires German media group under re-polonization plan
Poland’s state-controlled fuel giant PKN Orlen has announced its acquisition of the German-owned Polska Press publishing concern.Thanks to the transaction, we will gain access to 17.4 mln website users,” Orlen CEO Daniel Obajtek said. Part of the German Verlagsgruppe Passau media group, Polska Press owns 20 out of Poland’s 24 regional dailies and nearly 120 local weeklies. It also includes 500 websites, making it Poland’s online general-information leader. The price paid by Orlen has not been disclosed. In 2019, Polska Press generated revenues of nearly $105 million. When the ruling Law and Justice party came to power in 2015, it found a Poland most of whise3 assets had been sold off by previous governments to foreign companies, promptinvg it to launch a re-polonization campaign. So far, Poland has  bought back several banks, food-processing firms and other industrial assets.  Still, to this day, most Poles do their grocery shopping at foreign-old retail chains, because Polish ones are few and far between.

Polish economy to grow 2.9% in 2021 and 3.8% in 2022 – OECD
The Organization for Economic Cooperation ad Development recently said it expected the Polish economy to shrink 3.5 percent in 2020, but then rebound and expand by 2.9 percent in 2021. In its latest Economic Survey of Poland, it said it expected Polish GDP to grow 3.8 percent in 2022. “Poland will likely exit the Covid-19 crisis with fewer scars than many other countries thanks to the strength of its economy going into the crisis and its swift response with containment and support measures when the pandemic struck,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said in a statement. “Yet reforms to tackle long-standing challenges are now even more essential if Poland is to get back to the pace of gains in living standards seen in recent years,” he added.

Poland to phase out coal industry by 2049
After years of being attacked by the EU and foreign environmentalist groups for dragging its feet on climate change, for the first time Poland has put a timeline on ending coal-mining,  Some 80 percent of Poland’s electricity is still generated by coal-fired powerplants. Following prolonged and often turbulent negotiations amid an underground miners’ occupation strike, the Polish government, miners’ unions and the state-owned coal firm, Polish Mining Group  agreed a plan to phase out collieries by 2049. That should enable the country to meet the EU’s climate targets of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Previously Warsaw had been reluctant to agree to a deadline fearing a labor unrest in the Śląsk region where collieries have long been a way of life and family tradition.

Polish, US troops hold joint maneuvers near Russian border
Regular Polish Army troops together with Territorial defence (National Guard) units have carried out military exercises with their NATO allies, including US troops stationed in Poland. The joint maneuvers involving 5,000 troops were held at a military training ground near the northeastern town of Orzysz, some 57 miles from the Russian border. “Their main purpose was to test the readiness of soldiers to perform tasks and to raise their training level while following health safety protocols amid the pandemic,” Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak explained. “The exercises  were a part of efforts to strengthen the alliance’s eastern flank.”  So far, most such maneuvers had taken place some distance away from Poland’s border with Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave.

New US Secretary of State’s Polish connection
In his acceptance speech after being nominated to the influential post of US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken mentioned his family’s Polish connection. Born to a Jewish-American family in Brooklyn, Blinken said his mother  divorced his dad and remarried Polish-born Jew Samuel Pisar. “My late stepfather (Pisar) was one of 900 kids in his school in Białystok, Poland and the only one to survive the Holocaust,” Blinken said. He had spent four years in German concentration camps, escaped and was hiding in a forest in Bavaria when he heard a tank approaching. He jumped out in front of it, saw a black GI emerge, fell to his knees and uttered the only three words he knew in English: “God bless Ameirca.” They had been taught to Pisar by his mother, Blinken added in his speech delivered in Wilmington, Delaware.

Poland – a leading European maker of electric buses
In the first nine months of 2020, the share of Polish-made electric buses amounted to nearly one-third out of all new electric buses registered in Europe. The largest player is Poland’s own Solaris Bus & Coach Co. which manufactures city buses, cross-country coaches, trolleybuses and trams. The Warsaw-based Industrial Development Agency is planning to laucnh the production of electric buses in 2021. Foreign companies have also set up shop in Poland. Volvo of Sweden operates an electric-bus factory in the siouthwestern Polish city the central city of Starachowice. Other producers are reportedly considering setting up similar facilties in Poland.

Poland: European culture’s last bastion  – Polish ambassador
With with Germany and other countries succumbing to postmodernism and “gender ideology”, Poland now stands alone as “the last bastion of the West” holding out against “the fall of Europe, Poland’s Ambassador to Germany Andrzej Przyłębski said recently in an interview. He also criticized the German media for producing “anti-Polish propaganda” and for supporting the Polish political opposition, including “clear interference” in last summer’s presidential election. “Today’s Europe is founded on principles that lead to a dead end,” he told the German newspaper Junge Freiheit.  As examples he mentioned ”the widespread atomization of societies, family breakdown, growing hostility towards the Christian faith, the domination of gender ideology and destructive criticism of European culture”.  In America, a trendy postmodernist ploy is condemnation of “the white heterosexual male.”

Poland to face England, lesser rivals in Soccer’s 2022 World Cup
At a random drawing held recently in Zurich, Switzerland, Poland was drawn against England, Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino in Group I of the 2022 World Cup. While the remaining rivals do not represent an insurmountable challenge, England is a formidable rival that strikes fear into Polish footballers, coaches and fans alike.  Since 1938, Poland has qualified for eight World Cups. It stunned the world at the 1974 event by eliminating World Champion England from the qualifiers. Poland’s best result so far were the bronze medals it won in 1974 and 1982, a period known as the golden era of Polish international football.

Kino Lorber acquires North American rights to Polish Oscar hopefulKino Lorber, a leading distributor of art-house and international films, has acquired North American distribution rights to  Never Gonna Snow Again, The movie by Polish directorial duo, Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert, is Poland’s candidate for an Academy Award in the best foreign film category. The plot follows the life of a Ukrainian masseur, played by Alec Utgoff, who enriches the lives of rich, unfulfilled residents living in a walled-off community. The cast also includes such leading Polish actors as Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza, Łukasz Simlat and Andrzej Chyra. Premiered at the 2020 Venice Festival, the film has also been shown at international festivals in London, Seville, and Bergen. It is due to go on general release in Poland in 2021.

Armless, one-legged Polish woman – an accomplished painter
Jadwiga Markur, 68, has lived her life to the fullest despite being born without arms and only one leg.  She had worked as a receptionist at an Invalids Cooperative that employs the handicapped, and after retiring took up painting. A wheelchair-bound widow, Markur lives alone but is assisted by friendly neighbors. One friend installed a modern kitchen suited to her disability free of charge.  The walls of her modest flat in the Baltic port of Szczecin are covered with her oil paintings which include still lifes, landscapes and portraits. She paints with her right foot. holding the brush between her big and second toe. Those who know her can’t get over how cheerful she is, always smiling and never complaining. “I can see, hear, speak and paint, and that’s a lot,” she remarks in her typically upbeat fashion.  She can be reached at: jadziamarkur@wp.pl ; phone:.: +48 91 44 80 585

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