Poland's Corruption Record
October 16, 2003 By Witold ¯ygulski
Poland is losing its war on corruption. Such a conclusion can be drawn from the latest annual report by Transparency International, an international organization monitoring corruption in individual countries. For at least two years, Poland's corruption record has been deteriorating consistently. The latest TI report shows that Poland has become the most corrupt state of all 15 European Union member and nine candidate states covered by the survey. A similar conclusion may be included in the annual report of the European Commission on the candidate countries' progress in adapting to EU standards. The report is expected to criticize Poland for rising corruption, and the Polish government may take flak for insufficient efforts to contain such practices.
Voice readers, alas, almost every week discover the details of one corruption scandal or another, or an affair which stirs politics and crime. This issue is no exception-it carries further details on a probe mounted by a special Sejm commission into "Rywingate," the number one scandal of the past year (see page 6). We also provide further information on the backstage workings of a scandal involving Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) deputies from Starachowice, the alleged accomplices of local gangsters, and their supposed mentors in the highest echelons of power.
Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former president of France now presiding over the European Convention, has lost his warm feelings for Poland. In a French radio interview, far too frank for a politician, he made a statement that raised indignation first in Madrid and later in Warsaw. He suggested that the amendments urged by the Convention to the EU's future Constitution Treaty (a move away from the rules agreed on at the December 2000 EU summit in Nice regarding the division of votes in the future Union) simply resulted from a desire to limit the influence of Spain and in the future-Poland. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his Polish counterpart Leszek Miller both expressed surprise and then indignation over Giscard d'Estaing's comments. Talks on a potential compromise on the future EU constitution have become even more difficult, and the Polish public has learned another painful lesson regarding France's position toward Poland as a future partner in the EU.
The Poles, on the other hand, have lost their warm feelings for Sweden. This chiefly applies to the male section of the Polish population, especially those gung-ho on soccer. The Polish national team's win in an away match against Hungary, the last match in the qualifying round for Euro 2004, did not help the team qualify. In another match played at the same time in Stockholm, Sweden were beaten by Latvia, even though the Swedes had not lost a World Cup or European Championship qualifying game for six years. For Latvia, the victory meant participation in the playoffs. Anyone who watched the pitiful performance of the Swedes may have wondered if the result was not set before the referee's first whistle.
The only good news this week is that Polish food has a chance to prosper in EU markets after Polish accession to the Union. Rumors that the 15 EU countries might seek to block food imports from the current candidate countries in one way or another have proven unfounded.