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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » December 3, 2008
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From the NEWS editor
December 3, 2008   
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Lech Wałęsa, the then-leader of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the Eastern Bloc, received the Nobel Peace Prize 25 years ago. This was a historical moment for his countrymen and fellow pro-democracy activists, despite the attempts by the communist government to stifle the news coming from Oslo. Today Wałęsa, who went on to become Polish president 1990-95 and an internationally recognized Polish icon, is able to calmly celebrate the anniversary of winning the Nobel, enjoying the congratulations of public figures around the world.

The events which took place in Georgia Nov. 23 caused at first outrage, then surprise, and finally embarrassment. Bullets flying around two European presidents are hardly an everyday event, but it is equally difficult to imagine that the whole affair was a deliberately staged political power play. Regardless of who may have been behind it, it remains a fact that the Polish head of state allowed himself to be maneuvered into an ambiguous situation.

Despite ever more articulate pessimism from Western analysts concerning the Polish economy in the coming year-the prize goes to BNP Paribas, which forecast a 0.4 percent increase in GDP-Polish politicians are unfazed. Adam Szejnfeld, a deputy economy minister, puts the figure at 3.5 percent at least. Waldemar Pawlak, deputy prime minister and leader of the Polish People's Party (PSL), is an even greater optimist and declares that the 4.8 percent increase planned in the budget is still a realistic target.
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