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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » July 9, 2008
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From the news editor
July 9, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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As expected, the recent book on Lech Wałęsa, the former Polish president and a leader of the Solidarity independent trade union movement which helped bring about the collapse of communism in 1989, has become a best seller. The book, written by historians Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, and published by the National Remembrance Institute (IPN), a state-run body set up to investigate communist and Nazi crimes, alleges that Wałęsa collaborated with the communist security services in the early 1970s. The book has split the Polish public and political commentariat like nothing else has for a long time. Some consider it to be part of a political offensive the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party have been waging against those who challenge their assertion that the period 1989-2005 was a lost opportunity for Poland and that former communist agents manipulated the country politically and economically.

On the other side of the divide are those who stress the importance of finding out the truth about Poland's communist past. Wałęsa himself has refused to comment any more and has declined an offer to defend his name via a television address. He has said he may sue the authors and the head of the IPN.

Time is running out for the government to resolve two important issues with international ramifications. The first is where, or even whether, to site a battery of interceptor missiles as part of the U.S. National Missile Defense system, commonly known as the anti-missile shield. The Czech Republic has already agreed to host a radar station. Poland, by contrast, has expressed dissatisfaction with what the Americans are offering. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said that Poland wants security guarantees. Unofficial sources have said Washington's refusal to agree to Warsaw's demand that U.S. Patriot missiles be permanently installed in Poland is a major stumbling block.

Polish and American politicians are now waiting for the next round of negotiations. President Lech Kaczyński, whose enthusiasm for having a part of the missile shield in Poland is well known, has been growing visibly impatient with the lengthy negotiations.

That is not the end of the president's woes. He has claimed that ratifying the EU's Lisbon Treaty is "pointless," because it has lost its raison d'etre after Irish voters rejected it in a referendum. Kaczyński will not be changing his mind unless the Irish do, which for now does not seem very likely. The president has refused to budge despite calls from European leaders and the Polish parliament to ratify the treaty as soon as possible. The fate of the Lisbon Treaty here in Poland is now up in the air.

The Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE) has opened a branch office in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, mainly as an information center for Ukrainian investors interested in Polish stocks. This indicates the extent of Ukrainian interest in Poland and, in the words of WSE chairman Ludwik Sobolewski, is another "milestone on the road to integrating the Polish and Ukrainian capital markets"
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