Hanna Suchocka became the first East European woman to be inducted into the Women's International Hall of Fame. At the ceremony, held in Miami Beach, the former prime minister and justice minister said, "This distinction gives me the satisfaction of knowing that my efforts at the start of the transformation [from Communism to democracy] have been acknowledged."
The law professor and prominent UW (Freedom Union) activist who became Poland's first woman prime minister in 1992, later serving as justice minister and prosecutor general from 1997 until this past May, is in pretty good (if diverse) company as other members include US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the late Audrey Hepburn and Barbara Walters. Suchocka played humble, saying "I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the names, because I do not know if I can live up to them." Her induction suggests she already has.
Chills of anticipation
The European Commission's progress reports on prospective candidates for EU accession are due out on 8 November, and rumour has it that Poland will be receiving a far better report card than last year. Foreshadowing the contents of the report, European Commission President Romano Prodi said he expected six countries to be ready to join the EU in 2003. As a result, the EU has to get in gear itself and complete its internal reforms necessary to accommodate the newcomers.
"On 1 January 2003, we want to be ready to start the process of enlargement. Six countries will be ready, and we cannot be the ones who are late," he said. He also expressed optimism that EU leaders could get their act together by the time they meet in Nice, in December. "The expectations I have for Nice are optimistic in the sense that I think we are going towards an accord even though some compromises will be necessary."
Despite warning that 2005 is a more likely date for EU expansion, and the failure of the EU to set concrete dates, Poland has been pressing ahead with reforms and working with a January 2003 deadline. Perhaps the tables are turning and it is no longer a question whether the accession hopefuls are ready for the EU, but whether the EU is ready for them.
Hold the line!
Perhaps—though unlikely—the listing AWS (Solidarity Electoral Action) coalition has found its knight in shining armour. So far in the story... current coalition leader, leader of the AWS Social Movement (RS AWS) and foiled presidential hopeful Marian Krzaklewski has failed to heed the calls from coalition members (Christian National Union (ZChN), the Polish Party of Christian Democrats (PPChD) and the Conservative Peasant Party (SKL)) to step down.
Parliamentary speaker Maciej Plazynski has now proposed that the AWS be transformed into a federation of the four parties that now constitute the coalition. The federation would be led by a six-person body, to which each party and the Solidarity trade union would name a representative and appoint the secretary. The proposed tenure of the federation's chairman would last one year. Plazynski added that current prime minister, Jerzy Buzek, could become the first chairman. He expects a reply from all the parties by Friday.
According to a recent OBOP poll, 27 per cent of Poles want Plazynski to become the new leader of AWS, 14 per cent have no objection to Krzaklewski staying put, ten per cent would like Buzek to take over, six per cent thought SKL leader Jan Maria Rokita was the best candidate and SKL executive Wiesław Walendziak has two per cent rooting for him.
It's been a little while but only long enough to lull people into a false sense of security. The Solidarity Union's Mining and Energy Secretariat are planning to launch two-hour strikes on 6 November. This strike action is meant as a warning to the government of future full-scale general strike if no proposals for resolving the current situation in the mining industry are forthcoming.
The demands include the maintenance of the present wage level, feasible retirement schemes for those working in particularly strenuous conditions and the fulfilment of earlier agreements guaranteeing retirement rights to miners after 25 years of pit work-regardless of age.
Joanna Rohozińska, 2 November 2000
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