Episode 69

POLAND: NATO military drill & more – 13th Feb 2024

Farmers protest, NATO military drill in Poland, four day working week, gang forging documents for Polish residency, Presidents visit to Germany and France, protest against EU climate regulations, and much more!

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Witam from Keswick Village! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 13th of February twenty twenty-four. A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

On Friday, the 9th, Russian President Putin spoke about Poland in his first interview since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said that Russia won’t attack Poland if they win the war with Ukraine and occupy all the territories. Additionally, he said that Poland cooperated with Nazi Germans before and during World War II.

In light of the possible threat, Poland continues stregnthening the army and issuing new civil defense laws to prepare for a possible war with Russia. US President Biden and Polish government leaders always had concerns that Russia would attack Poland eventually. In response to the interview, the Polish Foreign Ministry said Putin lied when he talked about the cooperation between Poland and Nazi Germans.

With the increasing spread of Russian disinformation, on Sunday, the 11th, France, Germany, and Poland announced they would join forces to fight against Russian propaganda.

On that note about the military, on Sunday, the 11th, the Polish army informed citizens that the country will host the biggest military drill in the thitsotry of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (or NATO) since the cold war. Starting from February the 12th, 90,000 NATO soldiers will travel to the country for training. The drill called Steadfast Defender-24 will test NATO's ability to respond to a possible attack on Poland, which is the organization’s eastern flank.

The army informed that the number of military vehicles in the traffic will increase and that the citizens should avoid taking photos of the vehicles, reveal their locations or drive their cars in between.

Speaking of Ukraine, on Thursday the 8th, prime minister Tusk criticized US Republicans for opposing a bill of sixty billion dollars in military aid for Ukraine during the US Congress session. Tusk shared a post in X, saying that US previous presidents helped millions win back freedom and independence, unlike the current government. Tusk added that without US military help for Ukraine, Russia would capture all territories and win the war.

Speaking about Tusk, on Monday, the 12th the prime minister visited France and Germany and met with French President Emmanuel Macron and with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The current government is trying to improve the relations with Germany and France that worsened during the rule of Law and Justice. The three countries renewed the Weimar Triangle agreement about their cooperation, which they signed in nineteen ninety-one.

One of the most important topics during the meetings was the farmers’ widespread protests in the EU, since the three countries are among the most affected. Lastly, the leaders said it is important to increase the EU’s military capacities.

On the topic of the farmers' protests, last week Polish farmers joined the European protest that broke out in France, Germany, and other countries after the EU shared its updated climate change regulations. Farmers had their greenhouse emissions limit reduced, as well as the amount of pesticides they can use during the production. As a result, European products will cost more than those from non-European countries. Farmers think it will harm their businesses and decrease their income.

On Friday, the 9th, Polish farmers blocked roads within the country for the first time, in addition to their blockade on the Ukrainian border. They demand the government to oppose the EU’s climate change policies in the European Parliament. Furthermore, the agricultural ministry warned that the Polish economy would suffer if the protests continued.

On Sunday, the 11th, Polish farmers stopped three Ukrainian trucks with grain that were heading to Lithuania and scattered half of Ukrainian grain on the road. The incident happened on the Polish-Ukrainian border, where farmers were protesting the EU’s planned climate changes and cheap Ukrainian grain that the EU allowed to transport without additional taxes. Polish farmers are dissatisfied that they earn less since their grain is more expensive in the market.

The Ukrainian Foreign Minister responded to the incident saying protestants wasted grain which was difficult to grow during the war, and asked the Polish government to punish those responsible because the incident does not fit the friendly relations between Poland and Ukraine. The Polish authorities started an investigation, but they have detained no one yet.

On a sad note, On Monday, the 12th, an armed group kidnapped a Polish doctor in Chad, a Central African country. The doctor was a volunteer, helping poor citizens who have no access to local medicine. The Polish Foreign Ministry said that the Chadian and French authorities are searching for her. The ministry believes that the kidnappers will ask for a ransom to release her.

Let’s move on to internal affairs. On Wednesday, the 7th, Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik, two former Law and Justice Party MPs, tried to enter the parliament, saying they were legitimate MPs according to the law.

However, the parliament had suspended these two politicians' MP status at the beginning of the year because a court sentenced them to two years in prison for abuse of power during the Anti-Corruption Office work. When Wąsik and Kamiński tried to enter the parliament along with other MPs from the Law and Justice, they were stopped by the guards, creating a scuffle. The group successfully breached the guards; however, the parliamentary door was closed. Wąsik and Kamiński gave up and left.

After the incident, the tension between the Law and Justice Party and the ruling coalition MPs increased. The MPs shouted and argued with each other.

Moving on, the Church is losing its political influence after the new liberal government took office in December twenty twenty-three. Recently the new government fired state television TVP executives because they used to work for the former ruling party. On Monday, the 12th, TVP’s new executives canceled a religious broadcast called With the Eye of Faith, which the Law and Justice government previously introduced. The program reflected the news in the country and world from the Church’s perspective.

On that note, the Ariadna Research center published a poll saying seventy percent of citizens think the Church is too involved in politics. The liberal part of society believes the Church influence should decrease, while the conservatives are against any changes.

On Thursday, the 8th, the Left party, the ruling coalition partner, said they will support the bill on a four day working week in parliament as they had promised during elections in twenty twenty-three, given that Poland has one of the highest working hours among the EU members in twenty twenty-two, after Greece.

On the same topic, a major company in Poznań called Herbapol started an experimental project to test if a four-day working week will increase employee efficiency. The project will last one year, and it will give workers one extra free day on Fridays. The government may apply this model to the whole country soon to align with other European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, which have four-day work weeks.

Retired people also received good news this week. The Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy announced the increase of social pensions and financial help for those incapable of working. The indexation rate will be 112 percent, meaning the minimum pension will increase from 400 dollars to 500 dollars, the 600-dollar pension will become 700 dollars, and so on.

In unrelated news, On Tuesday, the 13th, the police detained a gang that was making false documentation required from people who want to receive Polish residency and selling them to foreigners in Warsaw. The leader of the group was a 49-year-old Polish man. The police said the gang helped 1,500 foreigners from India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Russia get residency documents.

That’s it for this week! Thanks for joining us!

Last week we asked you to fill in a survey to get to know you and we got quite a few replies, thank you so so much ! We are very excited, tons of great ideas! We’ll be sharing the link to the survey one more time this week in the shownotes in case you didn’t see it. All respondents will be entered in a lottery to win a cruise in the Mediterranean… just kidding, it's in the South Pacific, but we would love to hear from you! Don’t be shy!

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