Episode 57

Truck Drivers Protest in Ukrainian Border & more – 21st Nov 2023

Truck drivers’ protest against Ukrainian free pass, vaccination against the COVID-19 Kraken variant, the new Witcher book, measures to improve air quality, the increasing value of the  zloty, and much more!

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Witam from Keswick Village! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 21st of November twenty twenty-three A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

Let’s get the show on the road with foreign affairs…

On Thursday, the 16th, Poland's infrastructure minister met with the European Union's head of mobility and transport and a Ukrainian deputy minister for communities to find a solution for the issue in the Ukraine border area. For weeks, Polish truck drivers blocked the way between Poland and Ukraine to protest against Ukrainian truck drivers using tax-free passes to access Europe due to the war. Polish drivers are complaining that they earn way less money after the influx of cheap Ukrainian goods into the EU market. The Polish minister said they want Ukraine and the EU to fulfill the truck drivers’ demand to cancel Ukrainian drivers' free passes to Europe.

However, the Ukrainian side refuses to comply with the proposed terms since their economic survival during the war depends on their trade in Europe. On Sunday, the 19th, the protests led to a massive queue of cars and trucks waiting to cross the border, and the traffic on the road to Ukraine reached over forty-two kilometers. Local witnesses said that the incident also blocked the transportation of humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.

Speaking of borders…

On Monday, the 20th, President Andrzej Duda met with his Finnish counterpart in Warsaw. Duda said that Russia pushes illegal immigrants to Finland to destabilize NATO and European borders. The president promised to help Finland combat illegal immigration by sharing Poland’s experience in protecting the border for more than two years against Belarus. Even though the situation at the Polish-Ukrainian border is icky, the two leaders still promised further support for Ukraine.

On a happier note…

On Monday, the 20th, the Polish zloty became the currency that increased the most against the dollar in the last quarter of this year. At the beginning of October, the exchange rate stood at four and a half zlotych to the dollar. However, this week, it stood at four zlotych.

According to economic experts from the online media Gazeta Poland, the zloty value will continue to rise against the dollar and the euro because the EU-friendly opposition bloc will most likely govern in the next parliament term and support economic integration with the EU.

Since we mentioned the zloty, politicians have been discussing replacing the national currency with the Euro in the upcoming years. An Institute of Social Research, or IBRiS, conducted a survey for Radio Zet. According to the results, only twenty-one percent of Poles support the adoption of the Euro in the country.

Moving on to political news…

Last week, the parliament chose Szymon Hołownia, the leader of the Poland twenty fifty party, to be the new speaker for the new term. On Friday, the 17th, he said he would meet with President Duda to ensure close cooperation between the parliament and the president in the legislative process. The cooperation between the two is important because the parliament can only pass laws if the president signs them.

On Friday, the 17th, Mateusz Morawiecki, the current prime minister, said that his party, Law and Justice, would look for a coalition with MPs from the far-right Confederation Party and the Third Way Alliance, composed of the Polish People’s Party and the Poland twenty fifty Party. He also mentioned that his new cabinet would have more women than men as ministers. Morawiecki will look for a vote of confidence from the new parliament, where members of parliament will vote to show their support for his new cabinet in the next few days.

In the light of constantly shifting events, most people have already forgotten about COVID-19.

Health experts warned that COVID-19 cases were increasing after the outbreak of the Kraken variant in October twenty twenty-two. On Friday, the 17th, the Ministry of Health announced that a new vaccine to fight the Kraken variant will be available on the 6th of December. People will be able to get vaccinated at different vaccination centers, including clinics and pharmacies.

On the same note about vaccines, on Wednesday, the 15th, scientists from the University of Gdańsk and the Medical University of Gdańsk announced that they had developed the world's first prototype vaccine against the Zika virus. The Zika virus causes birth defects in newborn children. The scientists completed their tests on mice and will proceed with clinical trials soon.

There have also been improvements in environmental protection.

On Thursday, the 16th, Poland and the Czech Republic signed an agreement to fight against cross-border air pollution. Anna Moskwa, the Climate and Environment Minister, said both sides would introduce measures to improve air quality.

Similarly, the Polish-built futuristic marine vessel Canopée collected the Ship of the Year award in the Netherlands due to its environmentally friendly innovative design, which reduces fuel consumption by thirty percent compared to average ships.

Speaking of air pollution…

Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, created a Clean Transport Zone rule. Starting from twenty twenty-four, old cars that pollute the air more than new ones won’t be allowed to enter the city. The Clean Transport Zone aims to reduce CO2 emissions to fight against climate change. Moreover, the same rule applies to residents of Warsaw. If they have high-polluting old cars, they won’t be able to use their vehicles in the city.

However, the ruling party and the opposition started a debate regarding the initiative. On Saturday, the 18th, on state television TVP, journalists supporting the ruling party said that the car emissions in Warsaw would not change the air pollution levels. They said Trzaskowski’s decision would undermine society's poor segment while promoting large companies that sell electric vehicles. Still, the mayor of Kraków plans to introduce the same Clean Transport rule in twenty twenty-four.

Let’s move on to cultural news…

Agnieszka Holland's film The Green Border is still winning accolades around the globe. The movie is about the tragedies immigrants suffer on the Polish-Belarusian border. Conservatives and the ruling party had already stated that the film portrayed border soldiers negatively. They had said that, in most scenes, soldiers were chasing immigrants like hunters chase prey. Despite all the debates, on Wednesday, the 15th, Holland won the Fuoricampo award at the Tertio Millennio film festival in Rome.

Along the same lines…

The Witcher book series by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski hit international audiences long ago. The series inspired three computer games and one Netflix series with the same title. On Monday, the 20th, Sapkowski announced that he plans to issue his new book of The Witcher series at the end of twenty twenty-four. The English version will be available in early twenty twenty-five.

On Thursday, the 16th, the National Museum in Warsaw launched a special exhibition about the idyllic vision of a perfect world described in Virgil's Eclogues. The exhibition, titled Arcadia, includes utopian pieces of art such as paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, and artistic crafts, starting from the early Renaissance to contemporary works. Visitors can participate in interactive activities where they can share their impressions of the mythical Arcadia. The exhibition will last until the 17th of March, twenty twenty-four.

Similarly, the National Museum in Kraków launched an exhibition for those who want to see Poland in the communist era. The exhibition offers a diverse collection of 360 items that range from art to typical objects of Communist-era Poland.

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