Monthly Archives: October 2007

Polish report

From the original Ovi magazine (Ovi lehti in Finnish)

No more Mr. Nice Guy

Poland’s opposition leader has mocked the prime minister for lacking a driver’s license, compared him with a notorious communist and accused him of forcing two million Poles from their homeland. Donald Tusk, a trim, sandy-blonde economic liberal, is showing a new toughness as he fights to unseat Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski in elections this Sunday, revealing steel unseen when he failed to win power in 2005.

Polls show a tight contest between Tusk’s pro-business and socially conservative Civic Platform, and Kaczynski’s Law and Justice, which is also conservative, but favors greater social spending to help the needy and is more skeptical of the European Union.

The bitter truth is that the amazing twins must go out from power in Poland but what remains causes more wonders. Their anti-communist menace has often led their policies to the limits of fascism and Poland has been often under criticism from the European Parliament, not to forget all the problems the twins caused in the last summit.

Poland may block Russia’s entrance to WTO

Poland warned on Monday that it would block Russia’s entrance to the World Trade Organization if Moscow did not cancel an embargo on exports of Polish meat and produce. Russia imposed the ban in late-2005 after uncovering what it said were violations of food safety regulations. Polish officials maintain that the country’s food quality standards meet EU norms and that the embargo is political.

“If Russia’s position toward Poland doesn’t change, we will have to vote against Russia’s membership in WTO,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski told a news conference in Moscow, according to Russian news agencies.

Poland also warned it would continue to block a strategic EU-Russia agreement if the embargo was not lifted. “Poland has to link these two issues — the embargo and the signing of a new agreement between Russia and the European Union,” Ardanowski was quoted as saying.

The question that arises is not if Russia will stop banning Polish meat but if Polish meat meets the standards of food safety regulations and if the EU can guarantee that they do.

Polish Church Advises People How To Vote

The Polish Catholic Church reminded Poland’s voters that they have an obligation to vote in keeping with the fundamental values taught by the Church. In a letter by Polish Bishops that was read to congregations all over Poland this weekend, people were told that they should pay attention to the moral condition of political candidates, their identity, values and readiness to cooperate with others.

Prime Minister Kaczynski’s voter base rests primarily in the countryside among the older population and followers of Radio Maria’s Father Taduesz Rydzyk. These voters are devoutly Catholic and tend to support Kaczynski. How much some of them support him and his party was made reported today in the Polish Weekly Gazeta Wyborcza.

In Lublin, after a church service yesterday, PIS flyers were distributed on the church’s premises and when a Gazeta Wyborcza reporter started taking pictures, some people surrounded him, started calling him names, and told him to “f**k off!” – One woman even hit him in the face. Finally a man urged people to calm down and the reporter was able to get away.

The candidates whose fliers were distributed said that they had no idea about what happened. They said that people take their flyers and distribute them any way they want. Candidates have no control over what they do.

It seems that the Vatican will never stop getting involved in Polish politics despite the fact that the wall has fallen and the Polish Pope is dead.

 

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Latvian Report

From the original Ovi magazine (Ovi lehti in Finnish)

Gang of former KGB agents operating in Latvia

A criminal group composed of Soviet-era KGB agents and former and present special service agents are operating in Latvia, the country’s prime minister said Thursday. “We know people, their names, concrete crimes, we have testimonies, but we haven’t detained anyone yet,” Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said.

The criminal gang – allegedly linked to certain politicians – is believed to be involved in extortion and drug trafficking in the small Baltic EU country, he said. Kalvitis did not disclose any names, but called on President Valdis Zatlers to hold a special national security council meeting “as soon as possible.” Theoretically Kalvitis’ allegations could be true, said Lolita Cigane, a corruption expert at Providus Center.

While one former KGB employee tries to be elected Russia’s next PM, others have taken a different path that is usually the plot of a James Bond film.

Latvia extends peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan

Latvia has decided to extend its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan for another year, allocating $14 million in funds, the governmental press service said Tuesday. The ex-Soviet Baltic state plans to send a total of 260 troops into the country in two alternating troop contingents, the press service said. At the moment, 100 Latvian troops are deployed in northern Afghanistan as part of the UN peacekeeping mission. A NATO and European Union member, Latvia withdrew from Iraq in June.

This year has been the bloodiest period in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led campaign to overthrow the Taliban movement in 2001, as radical Islamist forces step up attacks in an attempt to topple the government and drive foreign troops out of the country.

Latvia is certainly a country of contradictions with the World Bank ranking it as the 22nd best country for business, while it also has the most expensive chicken meat, sausages, milk, eggs, bread and sugar in the Baltic States and is facing increasing accusations of corruption.

Russian Parliament’s Upper House Ratifies Latvia Border Pact

The upper house of Russia’s parliament Wednesday ratified a border treaty with Latvia that allows Russia to retain a swathe of land contested by Latvian nationalists. The treaty gives Russia control of an area known as the Pytalovo district to Russians and Abrene to Latvians that was seized by the Soviet Union after World War II.

Latvian nationalists protested the agreement as a sellout when the Latvian parliament signed it earlier this year, but supporters hope the agreement will help improve often-chilly relations with Russia. Moscow frequently complains that Latvia discriminates against its large ethnic-Russian population and regards Latvia’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union as Western encroachment on Russia’s border.

The 117-1 vote by the Federation Council sends the measure to President Vladimir Putin for signing. Latvia already has ratified and signed the measure. The situations sounds similar to that of some Finns and their belief that Karelia should be returned to Finland, which was also an area taken by Russia at the end of World War Two and has caused extensive diplomatic problems recently after some officials made claims regarding a secret buy-out offer made by Russia in the 1950s.

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