An extraordinary week…
Sunday evening – summing up quite an extraordinary week. So filled with impressions that I can hardly remember everything that took place.
But when checking my calendar I think the programme to quite a large extent reflects the duties of an Ambassador.
On Monday I was very happy to host a meeting with Women diplomats, having invited personalities like Professor Magdalena Sroda, Deputy Speaker Wanda Nowicka and MP Alicja Olechowska to give their views on gender equality, particularly in politics. A theme close to my heart and an area where I would like to learn much more in the years to come.
Tuesday was a very special day for two specific reasons.
That day, December 13th thirty years ago martial law was declared in Poland – the last shivering, staggering steps of a dictatorship finally breaking down at the end of the same decade. At that time I worked for the Swedish Foreign Minister, Ola Ullsten, and I remember that he afterwards for a long time used to begin his speeches with references to Poland.
Three decades later, the same day, we were able to celebrate the Swedish Lucia tradition in a modern, democratic Poland just finishing a very successful Presidency of the European Union. Dark days finally followed by brighter days. The lesson is clear: Dictators don’t last forever. Change was possible. It could happen and it did.
I must admit I was quite exhausted after our Lucia-reception. Still, it was an unforgettable experience with over 400 guests according to my very amateuristic estimations. And the preparations made by the Embassy staff in cooperation with the Swedish business club were perfect. Not to mention the Swedish studying students from Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities and from University of Warsaw doing the performance, singing the traditional songs as if they were native Swedes…
Wednesday followed. Having lunch with and getting to know the Chief of Staff of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Tomasz Chlon, a Ministry which obviously is our key partner in Poland. Followed by planning the next year’s promotion activities together with the Swedish Trade Council. Followed by the inauguration of an exhibition by fourteen young Swedish photographers in Academy of Fine Arts “Swedish young” – continuing until January 10th.
Catch the opportunity and visit it! An example – by Sonia Nansid - of the images is shown here (together with a picture from the inauguration).
And this is not an isolated event, on the contrary it is the beginning of a cooperation between the institutions educating photographers in Stockholm in Warsaw.
Thursday gave me an opportunity to reconnect to my previous sixteen years in development cooperation through the European Development Days in Warsaw – this time with a strong focus on democracy. Listened with fascination to Professor Hans Rosling from Stockholm; he used the term “edutainer” about himself. Educating and entertaing at the same time. And giving room for some optimism in the area of global development. Did you for example know that the number of births in the world has stopped growing? It is today 135 million as it was twenty years ago.
And Former Polish Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki communicated some transition experiences, some lessons learned. Like the fact that truth matters, democracy matters, timing matters. And – very relevant in this development cooperation context – assistance matters. If it’s quickly delivered on time and with minimal bureaucracy.
My week ended with an amazing visit to Swidnica Friday from early morning to late night. But that need to be reported on in a separate blog.
So much more happened around me this week, not least the debate in the sejm on European Union – listened to and reported on by my Deputy Mikael Benthe. But my diary ends here and now.
An extraordinary week is over.