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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » June 11, 2008
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From the news editor
June 11, 2008   
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Football fever has gripped the country and the Euro 2008 soccer championships have been headline news for days on end. Despite all the patriotic optimism-none of the many public figures quoted by the press dared to utter a pessimistic word about Poland's first match-the national squad's debut in the championships can hardly be called a success. Poland's 2:0 defeat at the hands of Germany does not mean the national team has lost its chance to advance to the quarter finals, but the game was a cold shower for Polish fans. Now, in order to advance, Leo Beenhakker's squad has to defeat Austria, the tournament's host, and Croatia, who beat Austria in their first match. The task is difficult, but not impossible.

Just minutes before the Polish and German players ran out onto the pitch in Klagenfurt, Polish sports fans were given reason to celebrate. Robert Kubica, considered one of the most talented Formula One drivers in recent years, won his first Grand Prix race. With his win in Montreal, Canada, where he had a serious accident a year ago, Kubica moved to first place in the F1 driver standings. Although experts say Kubica does not have much of a chance to maintain this position and win the championship title because his BMW Sauber team lags behind Ferrari and McLaren in terms of technology, his win is nevertheless the biggest success in the history of Polish motor sports.

While sports have pushed politics into the background, one development has attracted much interest-a Polish-Swedish initiative called the Eastern Partnership, a proposal to adopt special rules for the EU's relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and, to a limited extent, Belarus. The objective is to promote a pro-European orientation and democracy in those countries. EU member states seem to support the Polish-Swedish initiative. As expected, a rumble of discontent can be heard from the Kremlin.

The Polish economy is still growing rapidly. In the first quarter, GDP rose by 6.1 percent. According to officials from the finance and economy ministries, a 6-percent growth rate will be maintained throughout the first half of the year. Slovakia and Lithuania are the only EU countries with faster growth than Poland. But despite its rapid expansion, the Polish economy is facing many dangers, with inflation viewed by most economists as the greatest risk.
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