Elections for Europe

I have just finished my regular monthly letter to Swedes living in Poland. It ends with some information about the possibilities to vote at our Embassy – starting already May 5th – in the elections to the European Parliament May 25th.

We are eager to highlight that opportunity. We want to contribute in the ways we can to a high turnout.

Many European countries face similiar challenges when approaching the elections in late May. The European Parliament is growing in importance, especially after the Lisbon treaty from 2009. Quite a few more or less extremist forces mobilise to strengthen their position at the European level. At the same time turnout has traditionally been low in most countries. In the Swedish Paliamentary elections 2010 we had a turnout of around 85 percent. In the elections to the European Parliament the year before the turnout was around 45 percent – an increase compared to 2004 but still very low by Swedish standards.

These days Europe – and the world – is facing a major crisis through the Russian aggression towards Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. It is an equally sad and clear reminder that nothing in terms of stability and democracy could be taken for granted. What EU has achieved on this continent is extremely well illustrated by the example of Poland. Additionally, we have clearly seen how much Europe by millions of Ukrainians is seen as equivalent with the hope of a better life.

I will vote. I hope you all will.

I have a couple of quite diversified weeks behind me – and ten hopefully relaxing days in front of me.

My last blog was written on the road back home to Warsaw after our visit to Podlasie. Some more travelling followed. First to Radom for a lecture on gender equality at the University followed by an excellent briefing about the city by our hosts led by Sekretarz Miasta Rafał Czajkowski when I i.a. learned about one link to Sweden - an Ericsson telephone factory before the war.

The next trip took me to Szczecin and the city’s Scandinavian Days, that were inaugurated last Friday in the presence of my Nordic colleagues and me.

Excellent initiative, highly appreciated by us all and hoppefully an inspiration and example also for other Polish cities. The organizers old us that the response for the idea from different parts of the local community like private sector, schools and non-governmental organisations had been very encouraging. And we saw it ourselves when visiting the Primary School nr 35 where enthusiastic children showed their works including a ballet performance to ABBA music…

My Finnish colleague Jari Vilén suggested a visit to the LNG (liquified natural gas) terminal under construction in Świnoujście, a very good idea which I accepted. So we spent a very informative hour and a half learning about this huge project – obviously gaining in significance these days when energy security is high on the agenda not only in Poland but broadly all over Europe.

The yearly award ceremony “Equality glasses (Okulary równości)” is mandatory in my calendar in March. I have presented it before in my blogs and every time I participate I leave with more energy and inspiration than before. The award winners are presented at Fundacja Izabeli Jarugi-Nowackiej is to be congratulated. It is simply great that the initiative is taken forward year by year.

Sunday March 30th offered a very different experience. Together with our Defence Attaché Claes Nilsson and his son Henrik I made the Warsaw halfmarathon – in sunshine without even one small  cloud in the sky. That was my first longer run of this kind in seven years and we had all suffered from the winter infections moving around this time of the year. But we made it happily and I think we were all honestly impressed by the logistics. Very well organised. Just the small detail that we were served some soup at the stadion after the race. Has never happened to me before.

Claes and I have already promised each other that we will be there once more next year.

But now I am working my last hours before Easter vacation. In five hours I will take a flight to Cambodia joing my wife Karin who is already there, visiting our eldest daughter Sofia. We have not seen her since she left her Christmas stay in Warsaw in January to become an intern in Phnom Penh. So it is high time.

Wesołych świąt. Glad påsk!



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