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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » September 16, 2009
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From the NEWS editor
September 16, 2009   
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Ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II were a test of self-restraint for Polish politicians in the wake of an unprecedented propaganda campaign in Russia in the run-up to Sept. 1. With victory in the "Great Patriotic War" seen in Russia as central to the country's national identity, the authorities in Moscow are bending over backwards to whitewash prewar Soviet policy at any cost-even if the cost is falsifying history. The Kremlin wants to avoid responsibility for crimes committed during the war, including the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish POWs by the Soviet NKVD secret police.

Observers carefully compared the address delivered by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the Westerplatte peninsula, where some of the first shots of World War II were fired, with a speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, unlike Putin, unreservedly and clearly admitted Germany's responsibility for the war. Although Polish President Lech Kaczyński could not hold back from bitter remarks, Polish leaders managed not to escalate the clash over history, something that was seen in Poland and beyond as a sign of their political maturity.

Poland is now the only European Union country with an economy that is growing. According to the government's Central Statistical Office (GUS), Poland's GDP grew by 1.1 percent in the second quarter. Data from Eurostat, the EU statistics office, is even more optimistic, putting Poland's second-quarter growth at 1.4 percent. At the same time, the EU economy as a whole contracted by 4.8 percent. Experts believe that one of the main reasons why Poland has been coping with the crisis better than other countries is that exports contribute only around 30 percent to the GDP here. Domestic demand, which continues to grow, accounts for the remaining portion of the GDP. The economy has also been helped by a weaker zloty and falling imports.
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