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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » October 23, 2002
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Ireland vote
October 23, 2002   
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Many European politicians, in the 15 European Union countries and the aspirant states, sighed with relief Oct. 19-the people of Ireland finally voted "yes" to the Nice Treaty. The clear prevalence of those in favor, coupled with a decent turnout, removed a major hurdle in the historic process of enlarging the EU in the coming years. The Irish vote was received with enthusiasm in Warsaw. Both President Aleksander Kwa¶niewski and Prime Minister Leszek Miller outdid each other complimenting the residents of the Emerald Isle.

For Polish politicians, the news from Dublin somewhat sweetened the bitter pill of the unprecedented incidents in the national parliament. Over a two-day Sejm session, not a single item on the agenda was carried out. Instead, the roster was blocked twice, individually and collectively, and the Speaker's Guard moved in to restore order-at about 4:20 a.m. This was followed by tussles with a group of deputies, a motion to dismiss the Speaker, a dozen or so breaks in the session, during which attempts were made to rescue the situation, and finally the closure of proceedings. This "model" of Polish parliamentarianism was referred to as a "circus" by most of the media. Deputies now have a week to ponder ways of dealing with the parliamentary crisis.

Over the past decade, more than 100,000 Poles have changed their religious alignment. Sociologists say this means that religion still plays an important role in Polish society. Unlike most EU nations, Poles show no sign of moving away from religion in general; rather, they are oriented toward a spiritual search that often leads to a change of religion, even as drastic as abandoning Christianity in favor of other major religions.

The recent opening of the Diplomatic Academy in Warsaw was another step on Poland's road to modern statehood. The idea of the academy matured for over a decade to materialize on the eve of Polish accession to the EU. The first batch of students numbers 37, selected from among nearly 600 applications. During the year-and-a-half studies, they are expected to grow into full-fledged candidates for diplomatic posts. They will probably manage to join the foreign service just in time-before Poland, hopefully, becomes an EU member.
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