Summing up the week – and the visit to Wrocław

Friday afternoon – summing up the week.

My calendar has been even more packed then it usually is, for some good reasons. The first one being my first visit to Wrocław together with my wife Karin. We had some time during Sunday to get aquainted with the city and were extremely lucky with the weather.

Just the experience of strolling around in the Old City and on Ostrów Tumski was really memorable. So much colour and architectural beauty concentrated in a limited area. Wrocław will be the European Capital of Culture 2016. I don’t know the exact criteria for those choices, but it is easy to understand that a city like Wrocław could be chosen.  

Additionally from a Swedish  perspective it is great to be there. The presence of Sweden-related companies is significant. Skanska, Volvo, Electrolux and og course IKEA just to name a few. Our honorary Consul Małgorzata Ryniak who took care of us the whole day obviously showed us the office of the Honorary Consulate which is located at Volvo premises, and we got the opportunity to see the factory as well, producing i.a. hybrid buses. Also, many Swedish medical students are studying there, and the region – Dolny Śląsk - seems to have well developed relations with the Swedish region of Västmanland. Sweden provided quite a lot of assistance after the floods in 1997; I was to some degree involved myself at that time Director for Sida in Central and Eastern Europe.

The State Visit by the King and Queen last May is adding to this picture of close ties.

What more could be added? Hopefully an intensified cooperation in the area of green solutions. I experience quite a lot of interest for that in many municipalities and regions I visit. The City Mayor Rafał Dutkiewicz and I had an interesting conversation i.a. about that.

Wrocław has become well known for its dynamic economy. It is attractive for investors including Swedish ones. And I guess the Euro2012 success also adds to this picture. The officials I met stressed not least the advantegous geographical location quite close to Berlin, Prague and Vienna. I can easily grasp this character of the city.

The visit to the synagogue added an important dimension. It has recently been renovated with suport from Norwegian EES-related funds, and the Bente Kahan-foundation in Wrocław is a key actor in this exciting process. We met with Bente Kahan herself. Saw the amazing synagogue and realized that it is planned and used as something much more than only for religious purposes. A centre of culture. And carrying the legacy of Jewish culture, once so present in Wrocław (former Breslau), forward into the future. Extremely impressive.

The week continued at a similar speed. Planning day at the Embassy. Yearly dialogue with our Ministry in Stockholm. Starting the planning process for the Lucia celebrations in December. As well as for the promotion activities during 2013.

And the next stop will be Sweden. A Swedish artist and relative Ms Lena Björn will have her latest exhibition “Face the future” inaugurated Sunday evening. I will be there to give a speech on Tanzania where I spent three unforgettable years, and where she got the inspiration for the art work that is to be presented in two days.

Many memories connected to this visit. I will soon be back in Warsaw, but for some hours and days Tanzania will be very present in my mind.




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