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  • NYHETER

  • 4 december 2017

    After a series of one-sided and very often untrue descriptions of the situation in Poland, published in Swedish largest daily newspaper “Dagens Nyheter”, Ambassador of Poland in Stockholm wrote a letter to Peter Wolodarski, Editor-in-Chief.

     

    Mr. Peter Wolodarski

    Editor-in-Chief

    Dagens Nyheter

    Dear Peter Wolodarski,

    The last couple of days I have been reading in Dagens Nyheter several articles describing different aspects of contemporary life in Poland. I can understand the right of each and every to have his own judgement on different issues but as Ambassador of Poland to Sweden I feel obliged to react to the one-sided and very often untrue description of the situation in my country. As there has been a real flood of articles and commentaries on Poland recently let us take as example only two of them: one about the celebration of the Independence Day earlier this month on the 11th of November “Polsk nationalistmarsch samlade 60000” and another of 27th describing the role and position of the Polish woman in contemporary Poland “I Polen vill regeringen att kvinnorna stannar hemma.”

    The Poles, as every year, celebrate their Day of Independence on the November the 11th. As Poland had been erased from the map of Europe for 123 years and reappeared as free nation 99 years ago – of which 5 were a tragic occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union followed by 44 of communism – this date evokes special feelings and emotions. It is important to mention that the celebration of this day was forbidden during communist rule from 1945 until 1989. I remember as a student the illegal gatherings at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

    It is true that among those celebrating there were loud but marginal groups of aggressive nationalists. They were decidedly condemned by the President of the Republic Andrzej Duda, I quote: „There is no place in Poland for xenophobia, pathological nationalism and antisemitism.” At the same time tens of thousands were celebrating peacefully not only marching in the March of Independence, but participating in the traditional ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or running in the annual Independence Running Contest. Some others were enjoying the parade of oldmobiles and shows of historic reconstruction.

    I was in Gothenburg in 2001 and I remember very well how quickly a European Summit can be turn to a battlefield covered by black stinky smoke. When a loud aggressive minority steals the joy and proud from the peaceful majority. Something similar happened to Warsaw on the 11th of November this year. Bearing all that in mind and having in front of my eyes I cannot accept calling the loud extremist minority a group of 60000 nationalists.

    In another article ”I Polen vill regeringen att kvinnorna stannar hemma.” its author Ingmar Neveus takes an isolated case of a Polish women to generalize about the role of woman in contemporary Poland. I quote “Det populära flerbarnbidraget som PIS har infört, kallat 500plus, syftar bland annat just till att kvinnor ska föda fler barn och kunna stanna hemma med dem i större utsträckning.”

    Reading this article I really wonder wherefrom the conclusions come that connect 500plus with results already described by Neveus. For the first the program 500plus has been in place for 2 years only. All decent analysts have to admit that it is too short a period of time to really be able to understand the impact 500plus has or will have on the Polish family life and labour market. For the second even if experts are divided in the opinions if the program is well thought or not there is a wide consensus in Poland that the Polish families, not only the Polish women, deserve child benefits, Polish “barnbidrag”. The main opposition party Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform) declared already that if they would come to power in 2 years they would not only keep it but introduce 500plus even for the first child in a family. Another surprise for me was calling 500plus “flerbarnbidraget”. The program starts with a second child in the family so the alternative would be of course the “one child policy” in the Chinese style.

    If DN wants to give a real picture of the Polish woman I would encourage to take a closer look at some of the latest data of Eurostat on e.g. number of women on higher positions in the EU member states. Poland takes here second position with 41%. It is not equal yet but still in the European lead. If we in turn take a look at the discrepancy in wages between women and man so the difference in Poland is at 7,7% while the average for the EU is 16,3%. The comparison does not require a comment.

    It does not mean that there are no problems for women in the Polish society but I am sure that in very many fields Poland performs much better than many other countries of EU. And it is not only due to the state policy but to the self-confident and traditionally firm position of women in the Polish society. Last but not least it is for the 3rd time that a woman is a prime minister in Poland (Hanna Suchocka, Ewa Kopacz, Beata Szydło). I do not need to mention that a woman at the top of the government is a strong encouragement for the Polish women to advance in the society.

    Dear Sir,

    Commenting the two of the series of articles published lately I would like to encourage you to give a better balanced picture of contemporary Poland and to avoid one sided or simply untrue reporting that makes the reality rather more difficult instead of easier to understand.

    With Regards,

    Wiesław Tarka

    Ambassador

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