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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » June 25, 2008
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From the news editor
June 25, 2008   
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Lech Wałęsa, an internationally recognizable icon of the struggle against communism, is making headlines again, only this time round in a way that he could only have dreamt of in his worst nightmares. Two young historians from the state-run National Remembrance Institute, set up to research Nazi and communist-era crimes, have written a book in which they claim-and prove, according to opponents of the onetime Solidarity leader-that Wałęsa secretly collaborated with the communist security services in the early 1970s. The man who went on to play a key role in toppling communism in Poland in 1989 is alleged to have informed on co-workers and on enemies of the former communist regime under the codename "Bolek." Wałęsa has been denying allegations like these for years but the new, 700-page book, which draws on classified security service files, raises a lot of inconvenient questions. The book has predictably polarized public opinion, even though Wałęsa has not held any major public office since 1995.

The European Union is facing another serious political crisis. Irish voters rejected the Treaty of Lisbon June 12 in a referendum. The treaty, which was meant to streamline EU decision-making, was painstakingly negotiated last year. The Irish "no" has come as a shock to the uncritical Euro-enthusiasts who dominate in Brussels as can be seen from their inability to respond quickly and their apparent lack of any Plan B. The European Union summit held in Brussels June 19-20 failed to come up with anything of substance to reverse the deceleration of European integration and get EU reforms back on track. The Polish government is keen for the process of ratifying the treaty to continue but President Lech Kaczyński is considerably less so. Kaczyński has called for a calm and unhurried reflection on the Irish vote.

The government has adopted a draft budget for 2009 which assumes that GDP will grow by 5 percent and inflation will be a stable 2.9 percent. Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski says that these figures are realistic and adds that the planned budget deficit is the lowest since 2000. This, according to Rostowski, demonstrates just how determined the government is to reform the country's public finances, long a political trouble spot. Foreign financial experts share the optimism of their Polish counterparts. Poland has had the second highest rate of growth in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for two years running, according to that organization. Only Slovakia has done better. This has been largely attributed to the steady influx of foreign investment.
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