Weekly Round-Up of Polish News Developments
The start of May has been a relatively quiet news period with many Poles taking advantage of the May 1st and 3rd public holidays to take an extended break, but political activity is now back in earnest with the ongoing war in Ukraine and the government’s efforts to shore-up support in advance of the forthcoming general election to the fore. President Duda has once again spoken out strongly on the subject of Russian war crimes against Ukraine while the government has continuing its moves to bolster the Polish military with the purchase of a state-of-the-art air defence system from the UK. Meanwhile, the clash between the Polish and other central European governments and the European Commission over the unilateral imposition of bans on the importation of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products looks to have been resolved – at least for now.
The main developments over the past fortnight have included:
• President Andrzej Duda calls for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes in Ukraine
• Agreement is reached with the European Commission on an EU – wide ban on Ukrainian grain imports replacing national bans
• a £1.9 billion contract is signed for the purchase of the CAMMS air defence system from the UK, and
• Raków Częstochowa secure the Ekstraklasa title with three games to spare.
President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday renewed Poland’s call for the establishment of a special tribunal to fix accountability for alleged Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine, saying that ‘Justice is justice and all Russian crimes must be investigated, judged and punished’. He was addressing an online summit of the so-called ‘Core Group Leaders on the Establishment of the Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression Against Ukraine’.
Duda told the gathering that Ukraine is ‘defending itself against the barbaric Russian aggressor that violates international law and all the principles and values our international community has agreed to follow. It is really difficult to imagine a world in which an aggressor and their crimes are not condemned and punished, a world in which an aggressor avoids legal responsibility for their brutal actions’.
The Polish President claimed that the issuing of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court in March for Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘sent a strong message to Russia but also to other states committing crimes that the enforcement of justice has already started’. He urged the leaders ‘to make every possible effort’ to establish a special tribunal saying ‘We must ensure that international law is respected in every corner of the world. And make all the dictators and aggressors realise that their crimes will be punished’.
Russian Ambassador Summoned Over Black Sea Fighter Jet Incident
On Wednesday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warszawa said that the Russian Ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, had been summoned to receive ‘a note of protest regarding the incident involving a Russian fighter jet against an aircraft of the Polish border patrol’. Ministry spokesperson Łukasz Jasina added that ‘We strongly condemn the provocative and aggressive behaviour of the Russian side, which is a serious international incident’. Earlier the government spokesperson Piotr Müller had described the incident on May 5th over the Black Sea near Romania as ‘a provocation by Russia’.
Poland Secures EU-Wide Ban on Ukrainian Grain Imports
At the end of April Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that the dispute with the European Commission over the unilateral action taken by Poland against Ukrainian grain imports has been resolved. Speaking with reporters in Zaranna, central Poland, on Friday, April 28th, he said that ‘We have managed to reach an agreement with Brussels’.
Under the deal the EU will replace national bans on Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products, which were imposed by several other central European countries in addition to Poland, with an EU-wide ban on the import of five agricultural products – wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower, and sunflower oil. The central European states had sought a ban on an even wider range of agricultural products.
Morawiecki said that the decision to reach the deal ‘is consistent with our agreement with farmers, because above all we are looking after Polish farmers. At the same time, we want to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, while working with the EU’. He claimed that the ban had been secured due to Poland’s ‘strong voice in the EU’ which was ‘further strengthened by four other countries. This voice has been heard’.
Contract Signed for £1.9 billion Air Defence System from UK
On April 28th it was announced that Poland has signed a £1.9 billion contract to purchase the UK designed CAMMS air defence system from MBDA Group as part of its ongoing military modernisation which has gone into overdrive following the outbreak of war in Ukraine. A statement from the Ministry of Defence in London said that the ‘The UK and Poland have signed a major £1.9 billion export agreement to roll out a British air defence system across the European nation’. It added that Poland will be provided ‘with cutting-edge, ground-based-air-defence capabilities that will protect the country for generations to come’.
Poles Lacking Confidence in Government’s Fight Against Inflation
An opinion poll by SW Research at the end of last month showed that 68% of Poles don’t believe that the government will be able to effectively curb inflation, with only 17% of respondents having faith in its ability to deal with rising prices. 15% of those asked didn’t express a view either way.
In other economic news, on Monday the Ministry of Family and Social Policy said that the rate of unemployment in Poland fell by 0.1% to 5.3% in April. According to the official estimate this represented a total of 823,700 people without work at the end of last month, down by 23,100 on the previous month.
May 3rd Constitution Run
Political activity in Poland is swinging back into action after many Poles last week enjoyed a five-day break assuming they managed to secure just one day’s annual leave on the Tuesday, with the May Day public holiday on Monday May 1st being followed on the Wednesday by another public holiday for Constitution Day.
Nearly 4,000 runners took to the streets of Warszawa for the 31st appearance of the annual May 3rd Constitution Run in honour of the 1791 constitution. The 5km route for the Bieg Konstytucji took participants close to locations associated with Poland’s last King August Poniatowski, who was one of the drivers of the constitution hailed as the first modern constitution in Europe and only the second in the world after the U.S. constitution of 1787.
Świątek Loses in Stuttgart Open Final
In a relatively rare event these days Polish women’s tennis superstar Iga Świątek on Saturday lost in the final of the Madrid Open to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. So Sabalenka got some atonement for her loss to Świątek in the Stuttgart Open last month.
Raków Częstochowa Secure Ekstraklasa Title
As the Polish soccer season moves to a conclusion Raków Częstochowa has secured the Ekstraklasa title with three games to spare. They clinched top spot after their nearest rivals Legia Warszawa lost 2-1 to Pogoń Szczecin on Sunday. On Tuesday of last week Legia Warszawa had beaten Raków Częstochowa 6-5 on penalties at the national stadium in Warszawa to win the Polish Cup final. Legia emerged victorious despite having a player sent off after just seven minutes with the game finishing scoreless even after 30 minutes of extra time.
Polish Embassy in Dublin Marks Constitution Day
The Polish Embassy in Dublin marked Dzień Konstytucji in a very special guest. The Polish Ambassador to Ireland, Ms Anna Sochańska, hosted a reception on the occasion of the May 3rd Constitution Day, National Day of the Republic of Poland.
The Embassy said it was attended by numerous representatives of the diplomatic corps, the Oireachtas, and the worlds of culture, science, academia, administration and business. The reception was also attended by the Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché Col. Michał Sprengel. The special guest was indeed very high-profile – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the democratic Belarusian opposition.
That’s all from the Hello Irlandia Weekly News for this week.
William Murphy writes for Hello Irlandia on political and general news.