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Tag: Poland

The easy times are behind us, but we are not giving up

Poland responded generously to the mass inflow of refugees from Ukraine as Russia invaded in February last year. However, the need for help continues with every day of the war. While times are indeed hard for the country’s army of volunteers, they are determined to continue aiding people in their time of need.

Right before the end of 2022 the vice chairman of the Polish Development Fund, Bartosz Marczuk, published a tweet in which he presented the amount of money that Poland had spent on helping Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian aggression on February 24th. The data that he presented showed that altogether in 2022 it was between 35 and 40 billion Polish zlotys, which is between 7.5 and 8.5 billion euros. Out of it, ten billion zlotys were spent on weapons, six billion amounted to state support for Ukrainian refugees (including support for children), around ten billion was spent by local governments and non-governmental organisations, and another ten billion was made up of the private help of the Polish people.

February 16, 2023 - Iwona Reichardt

The outcome of the war is crucial not only for the future of Ukraine

An interview with Arkady Rzegocki, Head of the foreign service of the Polish ministry of foreign affairs. Interviewer: New Eastern Europe

February 15, 2023 - Arkady Rzegocki New Eastern Europe

This play is a political and social reflection

An interview with Ishbel Szatrawska, a Polish writer and playwright. Interviewer: Łukasz Dąbrowiecki

ŁUKASZ DĄBROWIECKI: Your drama titled “The Life and Death of Mr. Hersh Libkin of Sacramento, CA” is unique, firstly, because dramas are rarely printed in book form before they are staged.

ISHBEL SZATRAWSKA: In Poland, yes.

But also because many readers perceive it in a cinematic way. I myself got the impression that it has the dynamics of an American movie from the 1990s. Am I correct in seeing it as a product of your fascination with cinema?

There is no denying that all the dramas that I have written have, at least in part, these cinema-style dynamics. I attended film studies at the Jagiellonian University for a while and film school for two years. Film was my first love, while theatre came second, and sort of by chance. After high school, I was wondering whether to apply to the famous Polish film school in Łódź. Finally, I decided to do theatre studies in Kraków at the Jagiellonian University, which was also interesting and inspiring.

February 15, 2023 - Ishbel Szatrawska Łukasz Dąbrowiecki

How well-brought up girls became unbeatable warriors. The path from battle glory to modern feminism

The role of women in conflict is often viewed as being on the home front, far away from the front lines of battle. Despite this, the story of Poland’s struggle for independence in the First World War would not be complete without acknowledging the selfless activities undertaken by female volunteers.

One hundred and ten years ago war again came to the vicinity of the city of Kraków. What is now perceived in the West as an unparalleled tragedy, the near collapse of a civilisation and a catastrophe of lost youth was perceived then as a different story, on the verge of three empires: German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian. The outbreak of war marked the end of an unbelievable stability which had lasted more or less since the compromising political treaty conference in Vienna in 1815, with only a short interval for the so-called “Hundred Days” campaign with the Battle of Waterloo in June of the same year – a battle which marked the end of the epic connected to the revolutionary export of Napoleonic civilisation.

February 15, 2023 - Andrzej Zaręba

Poland should be a supportive partner towards Germany instead of a scoffer

The anti-European and anti-Teutonic phobias of the ruling party are perilous for Polish interests.

January 5, 2023 - Eugeniusz Smolar

What Germany does not know

The end of the balance of power in the EU with policies decided by so-called “old Europe” could be one key consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This ongoing shift needs to result in a strategic alliance between Poland and Germany. However, is this possible?

December 14, 2022 - Anna Kwiatkowska

Poland’s Ukrainian refugee assistance as a transformational experience

Russia’s war in Ukraine has changed not only Ukraine but also nearby countries due to the massive influx of war refugees. Poland has become the major destination for people fleeing from the war and hosts the highest number of those seeking shelter. What does this new Ukrainian diaspora mean for Poland and what impact will it have on Polish politics, demography and society?

Immediately after Russia’s full-scale invasion started on February 24th 2022, war refugees began to stream into neighbouring countries, with Poland quickly becoming the main destination. The refugee influx found the Polish state unprepared for such a situation. There was no pre-existing infrastructure nor administrative experience that would be sufficient to comprehensively manage the crisis by state agencies and civil servants.

December 7, 2022 - Maciej Makulski

What the past is for. Polish-Ukrainian memory politics and Putin’s war

Despite contentious differences in memory, Polish-Ukrainian relations have remained close and notably strong in important national moments. This reflects two aspects of Polish society: a generation of youth acclimated to supporting Ukrainian sovereignty with compassion, and a national memory politics which allows humanitarianism, but only when it fits into a politically suitable narrative.

In 2003 the Polish philosopher and historian of ideas Leszek Kołakowski gave a speech at the American Library of Congress titled, “What the Past is For”. Kołakowski believed that history serves not to predict the future nor to gain technical advice on how to deal with the present, but to discover the values constitutive of human identities. He told his listeners that “to say that [the events of the past] do not matter to our lives would be almost as silly as saying that it would not matter to me if I were suddenly to erase from my memory my own past personal life … The history of past generations is our history, and we need to know it in order to be aware of our identity; in the same sense in which my own memory builds my personal identity, makes me a human subject.”

December 7, 2022 - Daniel Edison

Modern Europe – forged in the Gdańsk Shipyard

In recent years Polish collective memory has become too focused on the military traditions of freedom and independence fighters. This approach overlooks the thinking and achievements of the 1970s and 1980s, which were the result of peaceful social movements. By opting for non-violence, the ten-million-strong Solidarity movement, Solidarność, chose a difficult, but in the end effective, path.

The historic Gdańsk Shipyard is one of the most important memory sites in Europe today. It is a complex that includes Solidarity Square, alongside the Monument of the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, the historic Gate Number 2, the former BHP Hall (a place where in 1980 the famous August Accords between the communist authorities and the democratic opposition were negotiated) and the European Solidarity Centre (ECS). Upon the ECS’s initiative the shipyard was placed on the European Heritage Label list.

September 29, 2022 - Basil Kerski

The unfin(n)ished story of the Baltic alliance

From the region’s perspective, the 1922 Warsaw Accord between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Poland was a significant step in strengthening geopolitical interests and safeguarding against Russian aggression. Unfortunately, the agreement ultimately failed. This year’s ratification by Finland’s parliament of its application to join NATO can be seen as a final step in this process that began over 100 years ago.

The most promising and – to a certain degree – surprising declaration made by Finland on its interest in joining the NATO Alliance immediately reminded me of the so-called Warsaw Accord. This treaty was drafted 100 years ago on March 17th 1922 and embodied the initiative of a Baltic alliance between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Poland. Anti-Soviet in nature, cooperation ultimately failed due to reservations expressed by Helsinki. In the summer of 1922 the Finnish parliament – Eduskunta – decided not to ratify the pact. A century later, on May 17th 2022, 188 out of 200 Finnish MPs voted on accession to NATO. The story has come full circle. A story which deserves to be told.

September 29, 2022 - Grzegorz Szymborski

A gap in Polish-German relations

Over 30 years have passed since Germany reunified and signed a pivotal agreement on bilateral affairs with Poland. Meant to signal the start of a new age of co-operation, the treaty’s spirit has nonetheless been challenged by numerous issues both old and new. A renewed agreement is now needed to build a shared future free from the ghosts of the past.

September 29, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

The Queen and Central and Eastern Europe: A personal relationship

The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has led to an outpouring of tributes from around the world. In this regard, Central and Eastern Europe has been no exception. Such a response is emblematic of a human relationship that increasingly transcended politics.

September 19, 2022 - Niall Gray

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