Vol 2, No 8
28 February 2000
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N N E W S:
News Review for Poland
News from Poland since 21 February 2000
Compiled by Joanna Rohozińska
A losing battle still worth winning? AWS (Solidarity Electoral Action) parliamentary deputy Maciej Jankowski told Polish Radio this week that the AWS should focus on next year's parliamentary elections and "forget" about this year's presidential ballot. Jankowski stated that, unsurprisingly, the AWS has no "strong" presidential candidate and is currently not in a position to run two sequential effective election campaigns. A number of Jankowski's colleagues, leading activists from the AWS, disagreed with his conclusions and suggested course of action. For one parliamentary speaker Maciej Plazynski said that the AWS will "certainly" put forth a presidential candidate. And, according to Mirosław Styczen Jankowski's proposal is a "scenario for the AWS's disappearance." Finally the AWS parliamentary caucus secretary Kazimerz Janiak (apparently a faithful servant of St Jude's) commented that "political parties must include every campaign in their plans, even a potentially lost one." In light of several facts, not the least of which being the fact that incumbent President Aleksander Kwaśniewski is currently enjoying ratings of over 70 per cent, Jankowski's proposal is rather sound. The AWS who have been plummeting in the polls for months now are going to have to fight hard even for a decent showing in the parliamentary elections. Any candidate they may propose for the presidential race is going to have to first have overcome this obstacle before even trying to tackle the popular incumbent. Indeed pursuing both races seems far more of a certain death warrant than not.
Jan Truszczynski, Poland's ambassador to the European Union, has dismissed rumours circulating in French diplomatic circles that Poland could be excluded from the first wave of EU expansion. Apparently the rumours, which Truszczynski described as "pure grapevine," have been running for a little while now. These rumours have not deterred the Poles from submitting a demanding position paper on agriculture for the EU talks contains 55 issues for discussion - more than any other EU candidate.
In other governmental news Polish government spokesman Krzysztof Luft dismissed rumours that the cabinet has already decided to purchase used US F-16 aircraft instead of the British-Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters it had considered earlier. These rumours reached the ears of British Aerospace Systems who were not pleased saying they were "disturbed" about what they had heard. Should they buy the US planes Poland would be bypassing a regular public tender on the purchases of the aircraft.
Warm and fuzzy feelings abounded as President Kwaśniewski visited Prague this week. "We are not competitors and have equal chances of becoming [EU] members at the same time," said Kwaśniewski after a meeting with Václav Havel. He went on to comment that the two countries "must exchange experiences," adding that "good cooperation in Central Europe means a great contribution to the continent's stability." Havel for his part towed the cooperation line and said both he and Kwaśniewski want their countries to "be ready for EU membership by the end of 2002." He added that "EU and NATO enlargement must not stop with the admission of our countries," reiterating that the expansion of both organisations serves European interests as a whole.
The Polish Appeal Court overruled a district court decision that had imposed a POL 10,000 (USD 2450) fine on Gazeta Wyborcza reporter Jerzy Jachowicz Zl. Jachowicz was fined last year for including the name of an intelligence officer in a 1996 article on the spying scandal that involved former Polish Prime Minister Józef Oleksy. The Appeal court also finally sent the case back to the district level.
Aleksander Hall, the deputy head of the governing AWS parliamentary caucus said that the right-wing parties should select a presidential candidate who would be acceptable to former President Lech Wałęsa. Not meant entirely as a gallant gesture in deference to the older leader Hall went on to say this move might "induce [Wałęsa] to withdraw his own candidacy." On the same day AWS representatives said that most journalists and media professionals who responded to a questionnaire on the group's media policy described that policy as "hopeless," incompetent," and "stupid." However it was not mentioned if this will actually prompt them to do something about it.
An ounce of prevention... Forward thinking thieves ensured they would have peace and quiet to rob a bank on Tuesday by first visiting the local police station to tie up the duty officer. Three masked and armed robbers stopped in the police station in the northwestern town of Gołczewo and bound the resident officer with ropes before going to empty the vaults of the local bank. Police spokesman Krzystof Targonski from the nearby city of Szczecin refused to say how much money was stolen. "It's the first time in my career that I've heard of bandits attacking a police station," he said. Police launched an air and land search operation for the three robbers but by evening had only found their abandoned getaway car, Targonski said.
Compiled by Joanna Rohozińska and Donosy-English, 27 February 2000
News from Donosy's Week in Poland appears in Central Europe Review with
the kind permission of Donosy-English:
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