After Krakow – before Gdansk

Spring 1997 – that was the last time I visited Krakow. At that time on a duty trip with Sida following up development projects financed by Sweden. 

Coming back now was a fantastic experience. First and foremost for the obvious reason: Krakow is such an extraordinary city. Beauty, culture, history – everything. My wife Karin and I stayed on privately during the weekend to be guided around. The castle – Wawel, the churches, the main square, the jewish quarters in Kazimierz, the Schindler museum with a moving exhibition about Krakow under ockupation – and so much more.

 We could have stayed on for another week just to enjoy all that is worth seeing and visiting in Krakow.

What took me to Krakow this time, though, was a conference in Villa Decius outside the city where a prize in honour of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello (killed in Bagdad eight years ago) is awarded on a yearly basis. One of the recipients this year was Bernard Kouchner, former co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontiers and former French Foreign Minister.

In addition I made the usual and very useful visits to the Marshal, the Wojewod and the Mayor and could i.a. learn about the close cooperation with Uppsala– the city where I grew up myself. University cooperation is one example but there is also a developing cooperation between the regional authorities with a focus not least on innovation and how to link research and commercial activities closer.

Still, most inspiring of everything was the meeting at the Institution for Swedish at the main Jagellonian University having 120 students in our language. I met maybe 30 of them and was definitely impressed by their commitment and by the skills already acquired. And Karin and I could have continued the talk with the teachers for several hours if it had not started to become late Friday afternoon.

In addition I found a very different link to Sweden close to the main square: a shop totally devoted to Sweden-designed teddy bears from Bukowski…

This Warsaw-week is very much a conference week on different European integration issues. Yesterday listening i.a. to a Swedish academician Leif Edvinsson presenting ideas on the concept of intellectual capital, tomorrow following the Central Bank conference about very pertinent issues like the Euro and its future.

And then mid-Monday off to Gdansk to the Baltic Development Forum where hopefully the Baltic Sea Strategy adopted during the Swedish EU Presidency will be taken one step forward. Our new Minister of Environment Lena Ek will be there.

Hopefully I will be able to reconnect to my “old” task in Baltic Sea Cooperation at Sida when the environmental challenges were on top of our agenda. So much more to do – and encouraging now to see what is increasingly done in an EU context.




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