Poland. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Poland. The government’s efforts to adapt Poland’s economy to future EU membership led to repeated protests during the year from mainly farmers. The farmers’ so-called Self-Defense Group set up roadblocks in protest of low prices for agricultural products and with demands for government subsidies. It led, among other things. to hundreds of police and civilians injured in clashes in August. The government bought up surplus production and increased import duties on a range of foods, which in turn caused protests from the EU. But the question of heightened tariff created disagreement within the ruling coalition.
In September, about 35,000 farmers, miners and others demonstrated. in Warsaw against reforms in health care, pension systems and education. The outdated Polish school system underwent a thorough reform in the autumn term, and teachers protested against extra work and low wages. Health care employees also conducted a series of strikes with demands for higher wages and more resources for care.
Economic growth slowed sharply at the beginning of the year and then regained momentum. For the whole year, forecasts were between 2.5 and 3.7%. But foreign trade went into deficit. The Polish industry had difficulty competing internationally, even in traditional markets such as the Russian Federation and the CIS countries. The government decided during the year to offer parts of the state airline LOT for sale on the international market.
Despite the government’s efforts with EU adaptation – i.a. during the autumn a tax reform was run during the battle by Parliament – the EU was not happy with the pace. In November, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement expressed its doubts that until 2003 – when Poland hopes to become an EU member – the Polish Parliament would be able to address the thousands of pages of EU law that remain.
In March Poland joined the NATO military alliance together with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek expressed the hope that Poland will be able to contribute to good relations between NATO and the Russian Federation, which opposed Polish NATO membership. But shortly thereafter, NATO began bombing Yugoslavia, weakening relations with both the Russian Federation and Belarus, Poland’s neighbor to the east.
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek was accused at the beginning of the year of cooperating with the security services during the communist era. In May, the Ombudsman declared that there was no basis for the information, a message that opposition politicians described as “outrageous”.
In June, the Polish-born pope, John Paul II, visited his former homeland for 13 days. The Polish-Swedish relations flourished during the year through the Swedish initiative “Poland in focus 1999”. The Polish year was aimed, inter alia, at for increased trade, strengthened regional cooperation and support for Poland’s EU integration, including in the environmental field. Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek visited Sweden in February, and Prime Minister Göran Persson made three visits to Poland.
In June 2016, President Duda declined to appoint 9 judges to advance to higher courts. There was no explanation for the president’s surprising behavior.
In June, too, Parliament urged new terrorist legislation that gave widespread powers to the intelligence service without mechanisms for monitoring and controlling the work of the service. The legislative amendment considerably expanded the definition of terrorism and at the same time introduced a number of instruments that had hitherto been illegal. Among other things. in future, evidence obtained illegally should be accepted in legal proceedings.
After mass demonstrations and a women’s strike, the draft of a new abortion law was voted down in parliament in October. The law would have banned abortion in almost all circumstances and at the same time criminalized women who had abortions.
The regime refused to accept refugees as they were supposed to. EU quota system. It openly declared that if there were refugees to Poland at all, there must be only Christians.
In December, the country continued its development in an authoritarian direction. In the middle of the month, the reactionary passed new legislation that restricted freedom of demonstration. Tens of thousands of Poles used the 35th anniversary of the Polish military dictatorship’s state of emergency to demonstrate against the new restrictions on democratic rights. A few days later, it came to new demonstrations when the government decided to put the treatment and vote on the Finance Act 2016 into a secret place. It happened after opposition politicians had surrounded the Parliament’s pulpit in protest of the government’s restriction of media access to cover the negotiations. The government then turned the police towards the protesters. Even the Polish President of the Council of Europe, Donald Tusk then called on his country’s government to comply with the constitution. (Poland restricts public meetings, Guardian 14/12 2016; Poland crisis: Donald Tusk calls for respect of people and constitution, Guardian 17/12 2016)
In March 2017, Poland was the only EU country that did not vote for Donald Tusk to be elected for a new term as President of the Council of Europe. Tensions between the EU and Poland grew stronger through 2016-17 as a result of Poland’s development in an increasingly anti-democratic direction.
Poland’s right-wing ruling party PiS in July 2017 passed a far-reaching judicial reform that gave the government the right to remove Supreme Court and lower court judges and appoint new ones. The reform triggered extensive demonstrations in the country. In Gdansk, former president and founder of Solidarnosz, Lech Walensa, spoke at a mass meeting and sharply criticized the government’s reform. The reform was only supported by 29% of the population, while 55% were opposed. The government defended the reform, which had never cleaned up the judiciary after the fall of the Socialist in 1990. Walensa declared that the triad of power in legislative, judicial and executive was one of the biggest victories in the transition to civil democracy, and that it was this triad the government. was now in control. While the right-wing government of Hungary came to the rescue of Poland, the EU declared, that if Poland continued its judicial reform, the Union would apply Article 7 of the Treaty and deprive it of its voting rights in the EU.
In November, 60,000 nationalists and Nazis walked through the streets of Warzawa under the slogan: «Clean Poland. White Poland. Refugees out ». The demonstration was organized by the right-wing groups of Poland and also had support from the ruling party PiS and the British Nazi organization English Defense League. “It was a beautiful sight,” declared Minister of the Interior Mariusz Błaszczak, and continued: “We are proud that so many Poles decided to take part in the celebration of Polish Independence Day.”
In February 2018, the government passed a law prohibiting mention of Poles’ complicity in the Holocaust. A significant part of the DKK 20 million people killed during the Holocaust were killed in the Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibór camps in western Poland, and although the vast majority of those responsible for the genocide were Germans, Poles and forced prisoners also participated. But the government’s law had a penalty of up to 3 years in prison if anyone dared to mention the Polish role in the camps. The law sparked sharp protests from the EU, the United States and especially Israel, which saw it as an attempt to wash hands of history’s crimes. Foreign criticism, in turn, triggered a Polish state-controlled media campaign with anti-Semitic undertones, whose discourse was that foreign countries would decide on Poland’s history. In late June, however, the government bowed and partially withdrew the law.
The regime passed a law on compulsory retirement of judges over 65 in January. 3 months term of office, but Supreme Court President Małgorzata Gersdorf spearheaded and defied the law which the Court considered unconstitutional. She showed up at work – as usual – July 2nd. The law was sharply criticized by the EU, which declared itself in defense of an independent Polish judiciary. In the intensified conflict between regime and judges, the regime immediately refrained from removing the judges by force. (Head of Polish Supreme Court defies ruling party’s retirement law, Guardian 4/7 2018)
Poland’s development in the right-wing direction has created a right-wing axis down through Europe from Denmark in the north over Poland, Slovakia to Hungary. All countries are persecuting Roma, Muslims and refugees in general.