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Poland - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:48

Poland Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
August 2007

Background Note: Poland


Republic of Poland

Area: 312,683 sq. km. (120,725 sq. mi.); about the size of New Mexico.
Cities (2004): Capital--Warsaw (pop. 1,690,821). Other cities--Lodz
(776,297), Krakow (757,957), Wroclaw (636,854), Poznan (573,003), Gdansk
Terrain: Flat plain, except mountains along southern border.
Climate: Temperate continental.

Nationality: Noun--Pole(s). Adjective--Polish.
Population (July 2006): 38.5 million.
Annual growth rate: Unchanging.
Ethnic groups: Polish 98%, German, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Lithuanian.
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Eastern Orthodox, Uniate, Protestant, Judaism.
Language: Polish.
Education: Literacy--98%.
Health (2006): Infant mortality rate--7.2/1,000. Life expectancy--males 71
yrs., females 79 yrs.
Work force: 17.2 million. Industry and construction--29%; agriculture--16%;

Type: Republic.
Constitution: The constitution now in effect was approved by a national
referendum on May 25, 1997. The constitution codifies Poland's democratic
norms and establishes checks and balances among the president, prime
minister, and parliament. It also enhances several key elements of democracy,
including judicial review and the legislative process, while continuing to
guarantee the wide range of civil rights, such as the right to free speech,
press, and assembly, which Poles have enjoyed since 1989.
Branches: Executive--head of state (president), head of government (prime
minister). Legislative--bicameral National Assembly (lower house--Sejm, upper
house--Senat). Judicial--Supreme Court, provincial and local courts,
constitutional tribunal.
Administrative subdivisions: 16 provinces (voivodships).
Political parties (in parliament): Law and Justice (PiS), Civic Platform
(PO), Self-Defense (SO), Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), League of Polish
Families (LPR), and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

GDP (2006): $265.4 billion.
Real GDP growth (2006): 5.3%.
Per capita GDP (2006): $14,100.
Rate of inflation (2006): 1.3%.
Natural resources: Coal, copper, sulfur, natural gas, silver, lead, salt.
Agriculture: Products--grains, hogs, dairy, potatoes, horticulture,
sugarbeets, oilseed.
Industry: Types--machine building, iron and steel, mining, shipbuilding,
automobiles, furniture, textiles and apparel, chemicals, food processing,
glass, beverages.
Trade (2006): Exports--$110.7 billion: furniture, cars, ships, coal, apparel.
Imports--$113.2 billion: crude oil, passenger cars, pharmaceuticals, car
parts, computers.

Poland today is ethnically almost homogeneous (98% Polish), in contrast with
the World War II period, when there were significant ethnic minorities--4.5
million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belorussians, and 800,000
Germans. The majority of the Jews were murdered during the German occupation
in World War II, and many others emigrated in the succeeding years.

Most Germans left Poland at the end of the war, while many Ukrainians and
Belorussians lived in territories incorporated into the then-U.S.S.R. Small
Ukrainian, Belorussian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian minorities reside along the
borders, and a German minority is concentrated near the southwest city of

Poland's written history begins with the reign of Mieszko I, who accepted
Christianity for himself and his kingdom in AD 966. The Polish state reached
its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years following the union
with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of the Teutonic Knights at
Grunwald in 1410. The monarchy survived many upheavals but eventually went
into a decline, which ended with the final partition of Poland by Prussia,
Russia, and Austria in 1795.

Independence for Poland was one of the 14 points enunciated by President
Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Many Polish Americans enlisted in the
military services to further this aim, and the United States worked at the
postwar conference to ensure its implementation.

However, the Poles were largely responsible for achieving their own
independence in 1918. Authoritarian rule predominated for most of the period
before World War II. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed
the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact, which secretly provided for the
dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Soviet-controlled zones. On September
1, 1939, Hitler ordered his troops into Poland. On September 17, Soviet
troops invaded and then occupied eastern Poland under the terms of this
agreement. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Poland was
completely occupied by German troops.

The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a government in
exile, first in Paris and later in London, which was recognized by the Soviet
Union. During World War II, 400,000 Poles fought under Soviet command, and
200,000 went into combat on Western fronts in units loyal to the Polish
government in exile.

In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish government in
exile after the German military announced that they had discovered mass
graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn, in the U.S.S.R. (The
Soviets claimed that the Poles had insulted them by requesting that the Red
Cross investigate these reports.) In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered
Poland and established a communist-controlled "Polish Committee of National
Liberation" at Lublin.

Resistance against the Nazis in Warsaw, including uprisings by Jews in the
Warsaw ghetto and by the Polish underground, was brutally suppressed. As the
Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled the city.

During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were
deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but about
100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in death camps like those at
Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Treblinka, and Majdanek.

Following the Yalta Conference in February 1945, a Polish Provisional
Government of National Unity was formed in June 1945; the U.S. recognized it
the next month. Although the Yalta agreement called for free elections, those
held in January 1947 were controlled by the Communist Party. The communists
then established a regime entirely under their domination.

Communist Party Domination
In October 1956, after the 20th ("de-Stalinization") Soviet Party Congress in
Moscow and riots by workers in Poznan, there was a shakeup in the communist
regime. While retaining most traditional communist economic and social aims,
the regime of First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka liberalized Polish internal

In 1968, the trend reversed when student demonstrations were suppressed and
an "anti-Zionist" campaign initially directed against Gomulka supporters
within the party eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland's
remaining Jewish population. In December 1970, disturbances and strikes in
the port cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin, triggered by a price
increase for essential consumer goods, reflected deep dissatisfaction with
living and working conditions in the country. Edward Gierek replaced Gomulka
as First Secretary.

Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth rate
was one of the world's highest during the first half of the 1970s. But much
of the borrowed capital was misspent, and the centrally planned economy was
unable to use the new resources effectively. The growing debt burden became
insupportable in the late 1970s, and economic growth had become negative by

In October 1978, the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became Pope
John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics rejoiced at
the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to
Poland with an outpouring of emotion.

In July 1980, with the Polish foreign debt at more than $20 billion, the
government made another attempt to increase meat prices. A chain reaction of
strikes virtually paralyzed the Baltic coast by the end of August and, for
the first time, closed most coalmines in Silesia. Poland was entering into an
extended crisis that would change the course of its future development.

The Solidarity Movement
On August 31, 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an
electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21-point agreement with the
government that ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at
Szczecin and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the
guarantee of the workers' right to form independent trade unions and the
right to strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national union
movement--"Solidarity"--swept Poland.

The discontent underlying the strikes was intensified by revelations of
widespread corruption and mismanagement within the Polish state and party
leadership. In September 1980, Gierek was replaced by Stanislaw Kania as
First Secretary.

Alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the PZPR's authority following the
Gdansk agreement, the Soviet Union proceeded with a massive military buildup
along Poland's border in December 1980. In February 1981, Defense Minister
Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of Prime Minister as well, and
in October 1981, he also was named party First Secretary. At the first
Solidarity national congress in September-October 1981, Lech Walesa was
elected national chairman of the union.

On December 12-13, the regime declared martial law, under which the army and
special riot police were used to crush the union. Virtually all Solidarity
leaders and many affiliated intellectuals were arrested or detained. The
United States and other Western countries responded to martial law by
imposing economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet
Union. Unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter.

In a series of slow, uneven steps, the Polish regime rescinded martial law.
In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of political
prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended in July 1983 and
a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained
in jail.

In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and 2 years later, the
government had released nearly all political prisoners. The authorities
continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity
remained proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications
were censored.

Roundtable Talks and Elections
The government's inability to forestall Poland's economic decline led to
waves of strikes across the country in April, May, and August 1988. In an
attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de facto
recognition to Solidarity, and Interior Minister Kiszczak began talks with
Lech Walesa on August 31. These talks broke off in October, but a new series,
the "roundtable" talks, began in February 1989. These talks produced an
agreement in April for partly open National Assembly elections. The June
election produced a Sejm (lower house), in which one-third of the seats went
to communists and one-third went to the two parties which had hitherto been
their coalition partners. The remaining one-third of the seats in the Sejm
and all those in the Senat were freely contested; virtually all of these were
won by candidates supported by Solidarity.

The failure of the communists at the polls produced a political crisis. The
roundtable agreement called for a communist president, and on July 19, the
National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies, elected
General Jaruzelski to that office. Two attempts by the communists to form
governments failed, however.

On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist
Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government; on September 12, the Sejm voted
approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first time in
more than 40 years, Poland had a government led by non-communists.

In December 1989, the Sejm approved the government's reform program to
transform the Polish economy rapidly from centrally planned to free-market,
amended the constitution to eliminate references to the "leading role" of the
Communist Party, and renamed the country the "Republic of Poland." The Polish
United Workers' (Communist) Party dissolved itself in January 1990, creating
in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. Most of
the property of the former Communist Party was turned over to the state.

The May 1990 local elections were entirely free. Candidates supported by
Solidarity's Citizens' Committees won most of the races they contested,
although voter turnout was only a little over 40%. The cabinet was reshuffled
in July 1990; the national defense and interior affairs ministers--holdovers
from the previous communist government--were among those replaced.

In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of
President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Walesa became the first popularly
elected President of Poland.

The Republic of Poland
The Republic of Poland in the early 1990s made great progress toward
achieving a fully democratic government and a market economy. In November
1990, Lech Walesa was elected President for a 5-year term. Jan Krzysztof
Bielecki, at Walesa's request, formed a government and served as its Prime
Minister until October 1991, introducing world prices and greatly expanding
the scope of private enterprise.

Poland's first free parliamentary elections were held in 1991. More than 100
parties participated, representing a full spectrum of political views. No
single party received more than 13% of the total vote.

Since 1991, Poland has conducted five general parliamentary elections and
four presidential elections--all free and fair. Incumbent governments have
transferred power smoothly and constitutionally in every instance to their
successors. The post-Solidarity center-right and post-Communist center-left
have each controlled the parliament and the presidency since 1991. Most
recently, Poles elected Law and Justice (PiS) candidate and Mayor of Warsaw
Lech Kaczynski to a 5-year term as President. Kazcynski narrowly defeated
Civic Platform (PO) candidate Donald Tusk and was sworn in December 23, 2005.

PiS was also the top vote-getter in September 25, 2005, parliamentary
elections. After coalition talks with runner-up PO collapsed, PiS alone
formed a minority government under Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.
Frustrated by its inability to achieve its legislative program alone, PiS
formed a formal coalition government with Self-Defense (SO) and the League of
Polish Families (LPR) in April 2006. In July 2006, Prime Minister
Marcinkiewicz resigned and was replaced by PiS party leader Jaroslaw
Kaczynski as Prime Minister.

The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led by a
Prime Minister, typically chosen from the majority coalition in the bicameral
legislature's lower house (Sejm). The president, elected every five years for
no more than two terms, is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the
armed forces. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decision-making.

The parliament consists of the 460-member Sejm and the 100-member Senat, or
upper house. The new constitution and the reformed administrative division
(as of 1999) required a revision of the election ordinance (passed in April
2001). The most important changes were liquidation of a national list (all
deputies are elected by voters in electoral districts) and introduction of a
new method of calculating seats (the modified St. Lague method replaced the
d'Hondt method, thus eliminating the premium for the top parties). The law
stipulated that with the exception of guaranteed seats for small ethnic
parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter

Parties represented in the newly elected Sejm are Law and Justice (PiS),
Civic Platform (PO), Self-Defense (SO), Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the
League of Polish Families (LPR), and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL).

Principal Government Officials
President--Lech Kaczynski (PiS)
Prime Minister--Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS)
Deputy Prime Minister--Przemyslaw Gosiewski (PiS)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance--Zyta Gilowska (PO)
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development--Wojciech Mojzesowicz
Minister of Transport--Jerzy Polaczek
Minister of Health--Zbigniew Religa
Minister of Science and Higher Education--Micha³ Seweryñski
Minister of Interior and Administration--W³adys³aw Stasiak
Minister of National Defence--Aleksander Szczyg³o
Minister of Environment--Jan Szyszko
Minister of Culture and National Heritage--Kazimierz Micha³ Ujazdowski
Minister, Member of the Council of Ministers--Zbigniew Wassermann
Minister of Economy--Piotr Grzegorz WoŸniak
Minister of Justice--Zbigniew Ziobro
Minister of Construction--Miros³aw Barszcz
Minister, Member of the Council of Ministers, Head of the Chancellery of the
Prime Minister--Mariusz B³aszczak
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Anna Fotyga
Minister of Regional Development--Gra¿yna Gêsicka
Minister of Marine Economy--Marek Gróbarczyk
Minister of Sport and Tourism--El¿bieta Jakubiak
Minister of State Treasury--Wojciech Jasiñski
Minister of Labour and Social Policy--Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska
Minister of National Education--Ryszard Legutko
Coordinator for Special Services--Zbigniew Wassermann (PiS)

Ambassador to the United States--Janusz Reiter
Deputy Chief of Mission--Woijciech Flera

Poland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2640 16th St. NW,
Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-234-3800/3801/3802); the consular annex is at
2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-234-3800). Poland has
consulates in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

The Polish economy grew rapidly in the mid-1990s, slowed considerably in 2001
and 2002, and returned again to healthy growth rates in 2003. Poland's gross
domestic product (GDP) grew at an annualized rate of 5.2% in the first
quarter of 2006. Faster growth has begun to reduce persistently high
unemployment, from nearly 20% in the middle of 2004 to 16.5% in May 2006.
Tight monetary policy and dramatic productivity growth have helped to hold
down inflation, which was 2.1% in 2005. Likewise, Poland's current account
deficit, which grew rapidly in the late 1990s, has since moderated to 1.4% of
GDP in 2005. The 2005 budget deficit was 27.5 billion zloty, or 2.8% of GDP
in 2005, and the current government pledged to restrain the 2006 and 2007
budgets at 30 billion zloty.

Throughout the 1990s, the United States and other Western countries supported
the growth of a free enterprise economy by reducing Poland's foreign debt
burden, providing economic aid, and lowering trade barriers. Poland graduated
from U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance in 2000 and
paid the balance of its U.S.-held Paris Club debt in 2005. Poland officially
joined the European Union (EU) on May 1, 2004.

Agriculture employs 16.1% of the work force but contributes only 5% to the
gross domestic product (GDP), reflecting relatively low productivity. Unlike
the industrial sector, Poland's agricultural sector remained largely in
private hands during the decades of communist rule. Most of the former state
farms are now leased to farmer tenants. Lack of credit is hampering efforts
to sell former state farmland. Currently, Poland's 2 million private farms
occupy 90% of all farmland and account for roughly the same percentage of
total agricultural production. These farms are small--8 hectares (ha) on
average--and often fragmented. Farms with an area exceeding 15 ha accounted
for only 9% of the total number of farms but cover 45% of total agricultural
area. Over half of all farming households in Poland produce only for their
own needs with little, if any, commercial sales.

Poland is a net exporter of confectionery, processed fruit and vegetables,
meat, and dairy products. Processors often rely on imports to supplement
domestic supplies of wheat, feed grains, vegetable oil, and protein meals,
which are generally insufficient to meet domestic demand. However, Poland is
the leading producer in Europe of potatoes and rye and is one of the world's
largest producers of sugarbeets. Poland also is a significant producer of
rapeseed, grains, hogs, and cattle. Attempts to increase domestic feed grain
production are hampered by the short growing season, poor soil, and the small
size of farms.

Pressure to restructure the agriculture sector intensified as Poland prepared
to accede to the European Union, which is unwilling to subsidize the vast
number of subsistence farms that do not produce for the market. The changes
in agriculture are likely to strain Poland's social fabric, tearing at the
heart of the traditional, family-based small farm as the younger generation
drifts toward the cities. Nonetheless, dramatically increasing agricultural
exports to the EU-15 (38% growth in 2005) and payments to farmers from
Brussels following accession have enriched Polish commercial farmers and
dramatically increase support for EU membership in Poland's rural areas.

Before World War II, Poland's industrial base was concentrated in the coal,
textile, chemical, machinery, iron, and steel sectors. Today it extends to
fertilizers, petrochemicals, machine tools, electrical machinery,
electronics, and shipbuilding.

Poland's industrial base suffered greatly during World War II, and many
resources were directed toward reconstruction. The communist economic system
imposed in the late 1940s created large and unwieldy economic structures
operated under a tight central command. In part because of this systemic
rigidity, the economy performed poorly even in comparison with other
economies in central Europe.

In 1990, the Mazowiecki government began a comprehensive reform program to
replace the centralized command economy with a market-oriented system. While
the results overall have been impressive, many large state-owned industrial
enterprises, particularly the railroad and the mining, steel, and defense
sectors, have remained resistant to the change and downsizing required to
survive in an open market economy.

Economic Reform Program and Direct Foreign Investment
The economic reforms introduced in 1990 removed price controls, eliminated
most subsidies to industry, opened markets to international competition, and
imposed strict budgetary and monetary discipline. Poland was the first former
centrally planned economy in central Europe to end its recession and return
to growth in the early 1990s. The private sector now accounts for over
two-thirds of GDP.

In early 2002, the government announced a new set of economic reforms known
as the Hausner Plan, designed in many ways to complete the process launched
in 1990. The package acknowledged the need to improve Poland's investment
climate, particularly the conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises,
and better prepare the economy to compete as a European Union (EU) member.
The government also aimed to improve Poland's public finances to prepare for
eventual adoption of the euro. Though the government was able to enact only
portions of the Hausner Plan, those successes coupled with successful
monetary efforts to strengthen the zloty, have put Poland within reach of the
National Bank's goal of Euro accession in 2008-2009.

As a result of Poland's growth and investment-friendly climate, the country
has received over $85 billion in direct foreign investment (DFI) since 1990,
with roughly $7 billion in 2004 alone. According to a recently publish report
by Ernst and Young, Poland is tied with Germany as the most attractive
destination for foreign investment in Europe. The availability of cheap land
and a large, relatively skilled labor force are among Polish strengths.
However, the government continues to play a strong role in the economy, as
seen in excessive red tape and the high level of politicization in many
business decisions. Investors complain that state regulation is not
transparent or predictable, and the economy suffers from a lack of
competition in many sectors, notably telecommunications.

Foreign Trade
With the collapse of the ruble-based COMECON trading bloc in 1990, Poland
scrambled to reorient its trade. As early as 1996, 70% of its trade was with
EU-15 members, and neighboring Germany today is Poland's dominant trading
partner. Most of Poland's imports are capital goods needed for industrial
retooling and for manufacturing inputs, rather than imports for consumption.
Therefore, a deficit is expected and should even be regarded as positive at
this point. Poland, a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and
European Union, applies the EU's common external tariff to goods from other
countries--including the U.S.

In the year after it joined the EU, Poland experienced an overall growth in
exports of 30%. This growth was not confined to trade among EU partners:
while exports to EU countries rose by 27%, exports to developing countries
rose by 46%, and exports to Russia rose an unexpected 77%. Poland's trade
balance continued to improve, with export growth significantly outpacing
import growth. Opportunities for trade and investment continue to exist
across virtually all sectors. The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland,
founded in 1991 with seven members, now has more than 300 members. Strong
economic growth potential, a large domestic market, EU membership, and
political stability are the top reasons U.S. and other foreign companies do
business in Poland.

Poland became an associate member of the EU and its defensive arm, the
Western European Union, in 1994. In a June 2003 national referendum, the
Polish people approved EU accession by an overwhelming margin, and Poland
gained full membership in May 2004.

Changes since 1989 have redrawn the map of central Europe, and Poland has had
to forge relationships with seven new neighbors. Poland has actively pursued
good relations, signing friendship treaties replacing links severed by the
collapse of the Warsaw Pact. The Poles have forged special relationships with
Lithuania and particularly Ukraine in an effort to firmly anchor these states
to the West.

Poland became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
in March 1999 as part of the first wave of enlargement outlined at the July
1997 NATO Summit in Madrid. Poland's top national security goal is to further
integrate with NATO and other west European defense, economic, and political
institutions while modernizing and reorganizing its military. Polish military
doctrine reflects the same defense posture as its Alliance partners.

Poland maintains a sizable armed force currently numbering about 140,572
troops divided among an army of 87,877, an air and defense force of 31,147,
and a navy of 21,548. Poland relies on military conscription for the majority
of its personnel strength. All males (with some exceptions) are subject to a
12-month term of military service. The Polish military continues to
restructure and to modernize its equipment. The Polish Defense Ministry
General Staff and the Land Forces staff have recently reorganized the latter
into a NATO-compatible J/G-1 through J/G-6 structure. Although budget
constraints remain a drag on modernization, Poland has been able to move
forward with U.S. assistance on acquiring 48 F-16 multi-role fighters, C-130
cargo planes, HMMWVs, and other items key to the military's restructuring.

Poland continues to be a regional leader in support and participation in the
NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has actively engaged most of its
neighbors and other regional actors to build stable foundations for future
European security arrangements. Poland continues its long record of strong
support for UN peacekeeping operations by maintaining a unit in Southern
Lebanon, a battalion in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), and by providing and
actually deploying the KFOR strategic reserve to Kosovo. Polish military
forces have served in both Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and
Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Poland assumed command of a multinational division of stabilization forces in
Iraq (MDN-CS) on September 3, 2003. Poland and its MND-CS partners have
worked effectively since then to stabilize south central Iraq while working
to train Iraqi forces to take over MND-CS responsibilities and operate

The United States established diplomatic relations with the newly formed
Polish Republic in April 1919. After Gomulka came to power in 1956, relations
with the United States began to improve. However, during the 1960s, reversion
to a policy of full and unquestioning support for Soviet foreign policy
objectives and anti-Semitic feelings in Poland caused those relations to
stagnate. U.S.-Polish relations improved significantly after Gierek succeeded
Gomulka and expressed his interest in improving relations with the United
States. A consular agreement was signed in 1972.

In 1974 Gierek was the first Polish leader to visit the United States. This
action, among others, demonstrated that both sides wished to facilitate
better relations.

The birth of Solidarity in 1980 raised the hope that progress would be made
in Poland's external relations as well as in its domestic development. During
this time, the United States provided $765 million in agricultural
assistance. Human rights and individual freedom issues, however, were not
improved upon, and the U.S. revoked Poland's most-favored-nation (MFN) status
in response to the Polish Government's decision to ban Solidarity. MFN status
was reinstated in 1987, and diplomatic relations were upgraded.

The United States and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations since
1989. Every post-1989 Polish government has been a strong supporter of
continued American military and economic presence in Europe. As well as
supporting the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom in
Afghanistan, and coalition efforts in Iraq, Poland cooperates closely with
American diplomacy on such issues as democratization, nuclear proliferation,
human rights, regional cooperation in central and eastern Europe, and UN

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Victor Ashe
Deputy Chief of Mission--Ken Hillas
Press and Cultural Affairs Counselor--Edward J. Kulakowski
Political Counselor--Mary Curtin
Economic Counselor--Richard Rorvig
Consul General--Lisa Piascik
Management Counselor--Sara Drew
Agricultural Counselor--Ed Porter
Defense Attaché--Henry Nowak
Principal Officer, Krakow--Anne Hall
Counselor for Commercial Affairs--John McCaslin

The street address and international mailing address of the U.S. Embassy in
Poland is Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, 00540 Warsaw, Poland; tel: 48-22-504-2000;
fax 48-22-504-2688. The Consulate General in Krakow is at Ulica Stolarska 9,
31-043 Krakow, Poland; tel: 48-12-424-5200; fax: 48-12-424-5100; and a
Consular Agency in Poznan is at Ulica Paderewskiego 8, 61-708 Poznan, Poland;
tel: 48-61-851-8516; fax: 48-61-851-8966.

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toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
To change your subscription, go to http://www.state.gov/misc/echannels/66822.htm Poland

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