Back from Opole and Sosnowiec
I woke up this morning to the great news about Poland winning the World Championship in volleyball, defeating Brazil yesterday evening with 3-1. Amazing achievement.
We played a lot of volleyball in school when I was a teenager, but I must admit that I never was able to contribute in a very useful way. For that reason I am even more impressed when I hear about what Poland has managed to do. Warm congrats to the World Champions and to all Poles.
It is a rainy morning outside. I realise we were really lucky with the weather during our trip to Opole and Sosnowiec Friday-Saturday last week. My wife Karin and I enjoyed a lovely Indian summer Friday in Opole, our first visit there. Of course we spent most of the time meeting the local and regional authorities and had very interesting discussions with them not least about the demographic challenges facing the region – and Poland at large. Opole has a very ambitious approach through a program making the region a “special demographic zone”.
Both Wojewoda Ryszard Wilczyński and Deputy Marshal Roman Kolek expressed great interest for Swedish experiences about elderly care, but the need for preschools and kindergartens were also high on the agenda. Opole has i.a. the highest share of kindergartens per 1000 children in Poland. A lot more initiatives are planned, and I look forward to learn more from the information I will receive by mail.
The City President Ryszard Zembaczyński reminded us of the visit by former Prime Minister Göran Persson and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz after the great floods 1997, when Sweden provided different forms of aid, including houses, to the affected areas. The tour of the city we made in the afternoon sunshine took us to a sign showing how high, almost 4 metres if I remember the figure right, the water reached those terrifying days in July seventeen years ago.
I was very happy that we managed to find time also for a visit to the Gallery of Contemporary Art (http://www.galeriaopole.pl)/, where the 4th Biennale Ars Polonia 2014 is ongoing. It was a great experience in all possible ways including the fact that two artists with very strong links to Sweden were represented: Joanna Helander (who emigrated to Sweden 1971) and Krystyna Piotrowska.
Saturday took us to Sosnowiec outside Katowice where the the Germanistic Philology of the University celebrated its 40th Anniversary. I visited them in March, meeting i.a. the students studying Swedish as a complementary subject, and was - as always – impressed by the level they are able reach in a short time.
In parallell I followed the presentation of the new Polish Government by Prime Minister Designate Ewa Kopacz Friday morning.
I gave my last blog the headline Exciting days and that certainly turned out to be valid. Today the new Polish Government will be sworn in – including the new Minister of Foreign Affairs Grzegorz Schetyna, who obviously takes on an especialy crucial position for us diplomats. At the same time the preparations for forming a new Government is ongoing in Stockholm, in our case based on a new majority being the result of last Sunday’s general election. The leader of the Social Democrats, Stefan Löfven, has been tasked by the Speaker of the Parliament to lead those preparations. When I checked the final results of the elections this weekend I was happy to see that the turnout had increased – as all of us of course had hoped – up to almost 86%. An encouraging step forward for democracy at large.
When our new Ministers eventually will take up their positions I look forward to a renewed Polish-Swedish cooperation in line with our joint Declaration from 2011. There is so much more that we can do together.