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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » March 12, 2008
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From the news editor
March 12, 2008   
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Love him or hate him, Lech Wałęsa is a powerful symbol of Poland abroad and a key player in the country's peaceful emergence from communism. There is no denying his contribution to the political and economic changes in the country in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Even though today people in Poland differ in their assessment of Wałęsa's achievements, the ex-president continues to make headlines in the media. The former Solidarity leader recently underwent a series of medical procedures in the United States. Experts at a renowned cardiac clinic in Houston, Texas, implanted a special kind of pacemaker in Wałęsa's heart that is also designed to act as a defibrillator in the event of an emergency. The next couple of months will show if the device is enough to stabilize Wałęsa's heart. In another procedure earlier, using a tube placed inside a coronary artery, doctors widened a constricted artery carrying blood to the patient's heart. Last fall, the Polish media speculated that the former Solidarity leader might need a heart transplant.

Alongside Wałęsa, another prominent Polish public figure struggling with his health is Prof. Zbigniew Religa, the country's best-known heart surgeon, a former health minister and now a deputy with the Law and Justice (PiS) party. Last year, when he was still health minister, Religa had a tumor removed from his lung, but the cancer has since spread to his adrenal gland. Not long ago Religa underwent chemotherapy that has produced serious side effects. Though weak, Religa remains optimistic and believes that he will eventually manage to beat the cancer. In the meantime, he continues to work in the Sejm.

Polish-Jewish relations have always been a controversial subject that stirs heated debate. In a special interview for the Voice, Shevach Weiss, a former Israeli ambassador to Poland and currently a visiting professor of political sciences at the University of Warsaw, outlines his views on the complicated and fascinating relations between the two nations. According to Weiss, relations between Poles and Jews are a "true phenomenon in the history of mankind".

Exports are still a driving force behind Poland's economic growth. Last year Polish companies sold over 101 billion euros worth of goods and services abroad. Exports have trebled since 2000, even though the Polish currency has appreciated significantly in the past several years, diminishing the competitiveness of the country's products on both European and global markets.
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