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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 6, 2008
CHAIR OF THE YEAR 2007
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Our Award Marking 1,000 Issues: It's the Economy
February 6, 2008   
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In December 2007 The Warsaw Voice published its 1,000th issue. We have been around for more than 19 years. Our weekly has been a witness to all the major events taking place in Poland after it regained independence. We have also reserved a special right-the right to judge; to judge people, institutions, trends, even everyday objects, and each year we sit down to work out which of them had the greatest influence on the lives of people in this country over the past 12 months.

This time, in view of our jubilee, we have decided to grant two Chair of the Year awards. One will be the award for 2007. The other for the last 19 years as a whole. We have called it The Chair of a Thousand Issues.

Evaluating the present is impossible without looking at the past. Of course, we exist here and now, but without a historical background the picture is flat. Not only is there no depth or perspective to it, there is no soul.

When we look at the past 19 years, there cannot be the least doubt that the economy towers over the entire period. This is not the place to go into detailed statistics, as we publish those often in our weekly. Suffice to say that two decades ago we were Europe's poor relations. Not only were we a poor country, but even worse we had neither the tools nor the know-how to change this. Polish society had grown used to a welfare system and so expected the authorities to take care of everything. The economy was in ruins. Almost all of it was centrally controlled by the state. Business links were mainly with Eastern Europe and in a state of disintegration. Productivity was extremely low, inflation was huge.

The hopes and expectations were great. But, as things turned out, so were the people of this country. They lived in an atmosphere of enthusiasm at Poland's regained freedom. Democracy and market forces were growing stronger; the international mood was sympathetic to Poland. And people by and large had enormous confidence in their leaders, although this ebbed and flowed.

A thousand issues of The Warsaw Voice later, we live in a different country. The laws of economics and the efforts of business people, managers and employees, in other words all that makes up the economy, have transported us into a different reality. We are not yet a rich country, but neither are we the poor relations any more. Our mind-set has changed too. There is no question that this has happened thanks to the economy. That's why The Warsaw Voice grants its special Chair of a Thousand Issues award to the economy.
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