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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » January 30, 2008
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From the news editor
January 30, 2008   
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A team of experts is investigating the causes of the fatal Jan. 23 crash of a CASA transport plane that was carrying a group of senior Polish air force officers from-ironically-a conference on flight safety. So far little is known about what led to the disaster.

Possible causes include aircraft malfunction, pilot error or a sudden weather change. The incident was the worst accident in the history of the Polish air force, killing all 20 people on board. After the crash, which took place in northwestern Poland, President Lech Kaczyński declared three days of national mourning, and condolences poured in from around the world.

When the Law and Justice (PiS) party was in power in 2005-2007, the then opposition Civic Platform (PO), which now heads a ruling coalition, harshly criticized the government's foreign policies, including relations with the United States and Russia. PO politicians accused former Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński and his Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga of subservience to Washington and of putting a big chill in relations with Moscow. Now the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk is exercising a new approach in foreign policy that features a firmer stance on the Pentagon's plans to install parts of the U.S. National Missile Defense system in Poland. The government under PO has also held intensive talks with Russia, with a special focus on sensitive issues such as a Russian embargo on Polish meat and farm produce imports, and the Polish veto on negotiations on a cooperation agreement between the European Union and Russia.

Jan. 21 was "Black Monday" on stock markets around the world. The Warsaw Stock Exchange was no exception, its WIG20 blue-chip index plummeting 6.7 percent, its sharpest decline in almost eight years. That added to the already bad mood among Polish investors, as the Warsaw stock market had been down since November. Many of those who bought shares in mutual funds in the past six months have lost 20-30 percent of their money. Driven by fears of a further slump or a complete market crash, many people have started selling their shares and withdrawing from the stock market, even if that means considerable losses. Meanwhile, all those whose opinion counts for something on the Warsaw Stock Exchange are doing their best to calm investors.
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