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The Warsaw Voice » Society » January 30, 2014
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From the editor
January 30, 2014   
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This year is shaping up to be a remarkable one, and not just because the economy is expected to pick up. The number of anniversaries in 2014 is extraordinary, and they are certain to make us pause and reflect. Here are some of them:
- The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I;
- The 25th anniversary of the Round Table talks between the communist government and the democratic opposition that resulted in Solidarity being admitted into government;
- The 25th anniversary of the country’s first partially-free parliamentary elections (the communists reserved 35 percent of the seats in the lower house for themselves);
- The 15th anniversary of Poland joining NATO;
- The 10th anniversary of Poland joining the EU.

It’s natural that a time of anniversaries prompts reminiscences, conclusions, and wide-ranging forecasts and speculation about the future. Some have even compared the situation in Europe today to that of 100 years ago, ending in a drastic conclusion: that we are slipping toward war.

In Poland there are two opposing schools of thought, like heads and tails on the same coin: one wants to unite, the other wants to divide. Moderates are in favor of the former, radicals of the latter. Of the “Polish” anniversaries, only one has been excluded from this conflict – the 15th anniversary of the country joining NATO. There doesn’t seem to be any major opposition to Poland’s membership of the military alliance. But the other three anniversaries have been a bone of contention: some see them as historic achievements, while for others they are a disgrace.

For the moderates, the Round Table talks, the June 1989 elections and EU entry are groundbreaking events that laid the foundations for democracy and gave Poland opportunities to develop that it hadn’t seen for 300 years. These opportunities have been largely well used. For the radicals, the same three events are lost opportunities and milestones on the road to disgrace, a road leading toward a precipice at whose edge we are standing. The moderates are predominantly calm, the radicals are destructive. The moderates stand for rational hope, the radicals spread fear.

What purpose do these two groups serve in society? They demonstrate the light and the dark side of the force. Should they be cooperating or can they continue to be at war with each other? Or perhaps there’s another way for them to cohabitate?
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