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Tag: Poland

Kashubian Poles: Struggling with the “fifth column” label

Kashubia was once a culturally independent community in what is now known as the Pomeranian region in Poland. After a history filled with wars, Germanisation, Polonisation, and Sovietisation, where should the boundaries of Kashubian cultural identity be drawn today – and to what extent does it matter?

March 18, 2019 - Balsa Lubarda

A western in Warsaw

A Covert Action. Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland. By: Seth G. Jones. Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2018.

When on December 13th 1981 the Polish communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski introduced Martial Law in Poland, Ronald Reagan, the US president at that time, was vacationing at Camp David. The interpretation of this fact still remains ambiguous today: were the Americans surprised by the decision of the Polish communist authorities? Or was the president’s weekend outing a demonstration of his peace of mind? This question remains unanswered, even though it is widely known that the defecting Polish Colonel, Ryszard Kukliński, had informed the CIA about the communists’ plans to introduce Martial Law. Why, in that case, did the Americans not warn the Polish underground?

March 4, 2019 - Andrzej Brzeziecki

The binomial voting system in an era of hyperpartisanship

As evident in the Chilean and Polish examples of the 1980s and 1990s, the binomial voting system preserves minority power, encourages compromise and helps countries to fully democratise. Today, in a similar period of political uncertainty, this system again may prove beneficial to western political life.

February 20, 2019 - Samuel Kramer

Local governments are the foundation of democracy

A conversation from 2016 with Paweł Adamowicz, Mayor of the city of Gdańsk. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

January 15, 2019 - Iwona Reichardt

The land of the warm breeze

Behind the cellars we come across a billboard with a mosaic showing a map of today’s Hungary. Overlaid on it is the map of Hungary from before the Treaty of Trianon. Marked in blue on the map are “Hungarian rivers” – the Danube, Tisza, Mureș and Sava. This piece of patriotic art reminds everybody that this 1920 defeat hurts Hungarians until today.

The Polish city of Krosno was drenched in sunlight. For a few days the warm wind wafts from the mountain pass. That southern gale is characteristic of this part of the Subcarpathia, or podkarpackie in Polish. In the autumn the wind brings beautiful, warm weather. Scholars call it a tunnelling wind to distinguish it from the foehn wind, or halny as it is called in the Polish Tatra Mountains. The wind follows the path once used by military troops and trading caravans – the lowest part of the bend of the Carpathian Mountains in the Dukla Pass. Today, the pass is known as expressway S19, the road that once served as the route through which Hungarian wines were brought to Poland.

January 2, 2019 - Katarina Novikova and Wiktor Trybus

More than independence. Poland and 1918

After the First World War Poland regained its independence. At the same time, it failed to recreate its former state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and reconstruct a map of western Eurasia.

In 1918 a newly independent Poland appeared on Europe’s stage with a complex and ambitious vision to rebuild the western parts of the former Russian Empire. The new opportunities that Poland saw were a result of Germany and Russia’s defeat in the First World War. Poland, seeing a geopolitical vacuum in the East, came up with three visions.

November 5, 2018 - Adam Balcer

Nord Stream: The narrative of a new Molotov–Ribbentrop pact?

The debates that took place on the first Nord Stream pipeline exemplify the politically detrimental consequences that can arise from the misuse of the past for political gains. Carefully analysing the context and history of the comparison shows that Polish politicians are not trapped in memories of the past, rather they have developed tools to play on their audience’s sensitivity to its own history.

History appears in various shapes within the public debate. Though not a Polish specificity, the Polish political sphere offers fertile ground for memory studies. History can be the object of public policy, as in the ongoing debate on the 2018 amendments to the 1988 Act on the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN law).

November 5, 2018 - Francis Masson

Behind the thaw

For over two decades Polish-Belarusian relations have been connected to Belarus’s relations with the West. There have been oscillations between years of warming relations and colder periods. Since Russia annexed Crimea and the Russian threat in Eastern Europe has become widely recognised, many European countries have re-evaluated their policies towards Belarus, which although authoritarian is not aggressive. Poland is one such country.

The foundations for a new opening towards Belarus were laid before Poland’s 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections. It was in April 2014, during the first weeks of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, when President Alyaksandr Lukashenka asked the Polish government to join in a mediation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Poland’s prime minister at the time, Donald Tusk, turned down the offer for fear that the Kremlin was behind the initiative. Based on information that I have gathered from sources, this proposal called for placing Belarusian peacekeeping forces in Donbas, thereby disregarding the Crimea issue as well as the guarantee of Ukraine’s neutrality.

November 5, 2018 - Michał Potocki

Polish youth powering the economic and social transformation

A new generation of young leaders is asking an important question: How can we fix the economic, social and environmental problems our elders failed to solve? Polish students with the “Education is a Window to the World” programme created the “Global Reading on Global Challenges” project to educate Poles, from juniors to seniors, on the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action ahead of the COP24 Katowice Climate Conference in December.

October 29, 2018 - New Eastern Europe

Poland – update on the local elections

While still awaiting official results, some candidates have already brought out the champagne.

October 22, 2018 - New Eastern Europe

A barbarian in the besieged city

Zbigniew Herbert felt suffocated in communist Poland where he lacked a creative atmosphere. Travelling inspired him and provided him an opportunity to write on a variety of topics beyond social realism. Yet, in the end, he simply could not live without Poland. He disliked communist Poland, but it was still Poland – his homeland.

Zbigniew Herbert is one of those writers that everyone has heard of but very few have read. People in Central and Eastern Europe had high hopes that he might win the Nobel Prize in Literature, but it never happened. Perhaps it was because two Poles (Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska) were already awarded the prize during that period. Be that as it may, now 20 years after the writer’s death, it is worth looking back and examining this outstanding figure from a different perspective: as a deep poet, a sophisticated essayist, a profound thinker, a dissident and an Eastern European barbarian who saw the garden of Western culture in his own way.

September 1, 2018 - Andriy Lyubka

August 80′ forever

Today Poland celebrates the accords of the 31st of August 1980. The Solidarity movement had a profound impact on the countries of the Eastern Bloc under Soviet control. In Poland, the events that led to its creation still continue to influence national politics.

August 31, 2018 - Daniel Gleichgewicht

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