Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs.
Area: 312,680 sq. km. (120,725 sq. mi.); about the size of New
Cities (1995): CapitalWarsaw (pop. 1.6 million). Other citiesLodz (826,000), Krakow (745,000), Wroclaw (643,000), Poznan (582,000), Gdansk (463,000).
Terrain: Flat plain, except mountains along southern border.
Climate: Temperate continental.
Nationality: NounPole(s). AdjectivePolish.
Population: 38.6 million.
Annual growth rate: Negligible.
Ethnic groups: Polish 98%, German, Ukrainian, Belarusan, Lithuanian.
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Eastern Orthodox, Uniate, Protestant.
Health (1995): Infant mortality rate15/1,000. Life expectancymales 66 yrs., females 75 yrs
Work force: 15.4 million. Industry and construction32%. Agriculture25%. Government and other21%. Trade and business18%.
Constitution: A new constitution, approved by the nation referendum on May 25, 1997, will take effect later this year. In the meantime, Poland operates under a temporary constitution (the "Little Constitution") adopted on October 17, 1992. The constitution codifies Poland's democratic norms and establishes checks and balances among the president, prime minister, and parliament.
Branches: Executivehead of state (president), head of government (prime minister). Legislativebicameral National Assembly (lower houseSejm, upper houseSenate). JudicialSupreme Court, provincial and local courts, constitutional tribunal.
Administrative subdivisions: 49 provinces (voivodships).
Political parties in Parliament: Democratic Left Alliance, Polish Peasant Party, Union of Freedom, Union of Labor, Confederation for an Independent Poland, and Nonpartisan Bloc in Support of Reform.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
Flag: Upper half white; lower red.
GDP (1995): $115 billion.
Per capita GDP (1995): $3,057.
Growth rate (1995): 7%.
Rate of Inflation (1995): 21%.
Natural resources: Coal, copper, sulfur, natural gas, silver, lead, salt.
Agriculture: Productsgrains, hogs, dairy, potatoes, horticulture, sugar beets, oilseed.
Industry: Typesmachine building, iron and steel, mining, shipbuilding, automobiles, textiles and apparel, chemicals, food processing, glass, beverages.
Trade (1995): Exports$22.9 billion: ships, coal, textiles and apparel, copper, steel. Imports$29.1 billion: oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, paper products, textiles and textile fibers, machinery.
Work force: 17.5 million. Industry and construction30.4%. Agriculture26.9%. Government and other17.6%. Trade and business25.1%.
Poland today is ethnically almost homogeneous (98% Polish), in contrast with the preWorld War II period, when there were significant ethnic minorities4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belorussians, and 800,000 Germans. The majority of the Jews were murdered during the German occupation in World War II, and many others emigrated in the succeeding years.
Most Germans left Poland at the end of the war, while many Ukrainians and Belorussians lived in territories incorporated into the U.S.S.R. Small Ukrainian, Belorussian, Slovakian, and Lithuanian minorities reside along the borders, and a German minority is concentrated near the southwest city of Opole.
Poland's written history begins with the reign of Mieszko I, who accepted Christianity for himself and his kingdom in AD 966. The Polish state reached its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years following the union with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410. The monarchy survived many upheavals but eventually went into a decline which ended with the final partition of Poland by Prussia, Russia, and Austria in 1795.
Independence for Poland was one of the 14 points enunciated by President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Many PolishAmericans enlisted in the military services to further this aim, and the United States worked at the postwar conference to ensure its implementation.
However, the Poles were largely responsible for achieving their own independence in 1918. Authoritarian rule predominated for most of the period before World War II.
On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the RibbentropMolotov nonaggression pact, which secretly provided for the dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Sovietcontrolled zones. On September 1, 1939, Hitler ordered his troops into Poland. On September 17, Soviet troops invaded and then occupied eastern Poland under the terms of this agreement. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Poland was completely occupied by German troops.
The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a governmentinexile, first in Paris and later in London, which was recognized by the Soviet Union. During World War II, 400,000 Poles fought under Soviet command, and 200,000 went into combat on western fronts in units loyal to the Polish governmentinexile.
In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish governmentinexile, after the German military announced that they had discovered mass graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn, in the U.S.S.R. (The Soviets claimed that the Poles had insulted them by requesting that the Red Cross investigate these reports.) In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered Poland and established a communistcontrolled "Polish Committee of National Liberation" at Lublin.
Resistance against the Nazis in Warsaw, including uprisings by Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and by the Polish underground, was brutally suppressed. As the Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled the city.
During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but about 100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in death camps like those at Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Treblinka, and Majdanek.
Following the Yalta Conference in February 1945, a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in June 1945; the U.S. recognized it the next month. Although the Yalta agreement called for free elections, those held in January 1947 were controlled by the Communist Party. The communists then established a regime entirely under their domination.
Communist Party Domination
In October 1956, after the 20th ("deStalinization") Soviet Party Congress at Moscow and riots by workers in Poznan, there was a shakeup in the communist regime. While retaining most traditional communist economic and social aims, the regime of First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka liberalized Polish internal life.
In 1968, the trend reversed when student demonstrations were suppressed and an "antiZionist" campaign initially directed against Gomulka supporters within the party eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland's remaining Jewish population.
In December 1970, disturbances and strikes in the port cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin, triggered by a price increase for essential consumer goods, reflected deep dissatisfaction with living and working conditions in the country. Edward Gierek replaced Gomulka as First Secretary.
Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth rate was one of the world's highest during the first half of the 1970s. But much of the borrowed capital was misspent, and the centrally planned economy was unable to use the new resources effectively. The growing debt burden became insupportable in the late 1970s, and economic growth had become negative by 1979.
In October 1978, the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to Poland with an outpouring of emotion.
In July 1980, with the Polish foreign debt at more than $20 billion, the government made another attempt to increase meat prices. A chain reaction of strikes virtually paralyzed the Baltic coast by the end of August and, for the first time, closed most coal mines in Silesia. Poland was entering into an extended crisis which would change the course of its future development.
The Solidarity Movement
On August 31, 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21point agreement with the government which ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at Szczecin and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the guarantee of the workers' right to form independent trade unions and the right to strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national union movement"Solidarity"swept Poland.
The discontent underlying the strikes was intensified by revelations of widespread corruption and mismanagement within the Polish state and party leadership. In September 1980, Gierek was replaced by Stanislaw Kania as First Secretary.
Alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the PZPR's authority following the Gdansk agreement, the Soviet Union proceeded with a massive military buildup along Poland's border in December 1980. In February 1981, Defense Minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of Prime Minister as well, and in October 1981, he also was named party First Secretary. At the first Solidarity national congress in SeptemberOctober 1981, Lech Walesa was elected national chairman of the union.
On December 1213, the regime declared martial law, under which the army and special riot police were used to crush the union. Virtually all Solidarity leaders and many affiliated intellectuals were arrested or detained.
The United States and other Western countries responded to martial law by imposing economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet Union. Unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter.
In a series of slow, uneven steps, the Polish regime rescinded martial law. In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail.
In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and 2 years later, the government had released nearly all political prisoners. The authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity remained proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications were censored.
Roundtable Talks and Elections
The government's inability to forestall Poland's economic decline led to waves of strikes across the country in April, May, and August 1988. In an attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de facto recognition to Solidarity, and Interior Minister Kiszczak began talks with Lech Walesa on August 31. These talks broke off in October, but a new seriesthe "roundtable" talksbegan in February 1989.
These talks produced an agreement in April for partly open National Assembly elections. The June election produced a Sejm (lower house), in which onethird of the seats went to communists and onethird went to the two parties which had hitherto been their coalition partners. The remaining onethird of the seats in the Sejm and all those in the Senate were freely contested; virtually all of these were won by candidates supported by Solidarity.
The failure of the communists at the polls produced a political crisis. The roundtable agreement called for a communist president, and on July 19, the National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies, elected Gen. Jaruzelski to that office. Two attempts by the communists to form governments failed, however.
On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government; on September 12, the Sejm voted approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first time in more than 40 years, Poland had a government led by noncommunists.
In December 1989, the Sejm approved the government's reform program to transform the Polish economy rapidly from centrally planned to freemarket, amended the constitution to eliminate references to the "leading role" of the Communist Party, and renamed the country the "Republic of Poland."
The Polish United Workers'(Communist) Party dissolved itself in January 1990 creating in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. Most of the property of the former Communist Party was turned over to the state.
The May 1990 local elections were entirely free. Candidates supported by Solidarity's Citizens Committees won most of the races they contested, although voter turnout was only a little over 40%. The cabinet was reshuffled in July 1990; the national defense and interior affairs ministersholdovers from the previous communist governmentwere among those replaced.
In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected President of Poland.
Poland in the 1990s
Poland in the early 1990s made great progress toward achieving a fully democratic government and a market economy. Free and fair elections were held for the presidency in November 1990 and for parliament in October 1991 and September 1993. Freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and the press were instituted. A wide range of political parties representing the full spectrum of political views were established.
In November 1990, Lech Walesa was elected President for a fiveyear term. From 1991 to 1993, three parliamentary coalitions of postSolidarity origin parties governed in quick succession, none longer than 14 months. Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, at Walesa's request, formed a government and served as its Prime Minister until October 1991. His government continued the Mazowiecki government's "Big Bang" package of economic reform, which introduced world prices and greatly expanded the scope of private enterprise.
Poland held its first free parliamentary elections in October 1991. More than 100 parties participated. No single party received more than 13% of the total vote. President Walesa then asked first Bronislaw Geremeka leader of the Democratic Unionand then Jan Olszewskithe candidate of a minority coalition of five partiesto attempt to form a government. Olszewski succeeded in putting together a coalition government that was ratified by parliament. After a vote of noconfidence in June 1992, however, Olszewski and his cabinet were forced to resign over their efforts to purge alleged former secret police informers from political life.
Five weeks later, a new minority coalition government, led by Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka of the Democratic Union, was voted into office. Deep ideological differences created tension among the coalition partners, however, especially when a controversial antiabortion law was passed in the Sejm. The Solidarity Union's decision to withdraw support for the Suchocka government led President Walesa to dissolve the parliament on May 28, 1993, after a vote of noconfidence.
The Suchocka government continued to govern until parliamentary elections in September 1993. These elections took place under a new electoral law designed to limit the number of small parties in parliament by requiring them to receive at least 5% of the total vote to enter the Sejm . The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), comprised of the SDRP and more than two dozen parties loyal to it, received the most votes, with 21%, and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) with 15% came in second. The largest postSolidarity party, the Democratic Union, came in third with 11% of the vote. Most of the small center and right parties failed to enter the parliament, as did the Solidarity Union.
After the election, the SLD and PSL formed a governing coalition. Waldemar Pawlak, leader of the junior partner PSL, became Prime Minister. Relations between President Walesa and the Prime Minister remained poor throughout the Pawlak government, with President Walesa charging Pawlak with furthering personal and party interests while neglecting matters of state importance.
Following a number of scandals implicating Pawlak and increasing political tension over control of the armed forces, President Walesa demanded Pawlak's resignation in January 1995. In the ensuing political crisis, the coalition removed Pawlak from office and replaced him with the SLD's Jozef Oleksy as the new Prime Minister.
In November 1995, Poland held its second postwar free presidential elections. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski defeated Walesa by a narrow margin--51.7% to 48.3%. Soon after Walesa's defeat, Interior Minister Andrzej Milczanowski accused Oleksy of longtime collaboration with Soviet and later Russian intelligence. In the ensuing political crisis, Oleksy resigned. For his successor, The SLDPSL coalition turned to deputy Sejm speaker Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz--who is linked to, but not a member of the SLD. Polish prosecutors subsequently decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge Oleksy, and a parliamentary commission decided in November 1996 that the Polish intelligence services may have violated rules of procedure in gathering evidence in the Oleksy case.
The Cimoszewicz government's main legislative accomplishments included reform of the central government structure and strengthened civilian control of the military. However, during this period the governing coalition engaged in bitter disputes over tax law, abortion, and the redistribution of several key ministerial posts. Much of the SLDPSL infighting was conducted with an eye toward the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for no later than autumn 1997.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led by a prime minister, typically chosen from a majority coalition in the bicameral legislature's lower house. Under the constitution, the president must be formally consulted in the appointment of the ministers of foreign affairs, internal affairs, and defense, and may technically reject any proposed minister. The presidentelected every five yearsis head of state. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decisionmaking.
The parliament, consisting of 460 members of the Sejm and 100 members of the Senate, was elected in September 1993 in free and fair elections in which 19 political parties participated. A 1993 electoral law stipulated that with the exception of guaranteed seats for small German and Ukrainian ethnic parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter parliament; under this law, six parties gained representation.
The current government is a coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) under the leadership of Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. The coalition has maintained generally promarket economic policies and made clear its commitment to a democratic political system. Programmatic differences between the PSL and SLD have caused significant tension within the coalition many times since its founding in 1993.
Former SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski was elected President in November 1995. President Kwasniewski has supported Polish membership in NATO and the EU, and backed the SLD's legislative agenda on issues such as central administration reform, redrafting of the constitution, and abortion liberalization.
General parliamentary elections are scheduled for September 21, 1997. Poland's next presidential election is scheduled for the year 2000.
Along with the parties of the ruling coalition, other parties represented in parliament are: the Union of Freedom (UW), the Union of Labor (UP), the Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN), and the Nonpartisan Bloc in Support of Reform (BBWR). Both KPN and BBWR have undergone internal splits since the 1993 elections. The two most significant political groupings outside of parliament are: Solidarity's Electoral Action (AWS), a centerright coalition anchored by the Solidarity Trade Union; and the Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland (ROP), a rightist/nationalist bloc led by former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski.
Poland's top national security goal is to pursue integration with NATO and other Western European defense, economic and political institutions. Polish military doctrine has been revised and reflects the same defensive nature as its NATO neighbors.
Poland maintains a sizable Armed Force currently numbering 234,000 troops divided among an Army of 165,000, an Air and Air Defense Force of 52,000 and a Navy of 17,000. This total represents a reduction of over 50 percent from the pre1989 period. Future reductions in size are expected. Poland relies on military conscription for approximately 60 percent of its personnel strength. All males are subject to a 15month term of military service. The term of conscription is expected to drop to 12 months.
Poland met all of the CFE-mandated equipment reductions as required by November 1995 and completed its first multiyear defense plan in 1996. The Polish military is in the process of modernizing its equipment and operational planning techniques. In addition, restructuring programs are underway in the Army, Air and Air Defense Forces and Navy to implement a corpsbrigade model better suited to operate with NATO and other Western militaries. Lean defense budgets continue to make this a significant challenge as Poland seeks to replace aging fighters, upgrade communications structures to meet NATO standards, maintain a robust military educational and training regime and to form wellequipped units available for future rapid response missions in defense of Poland or for use in UNmandated or NATO Peace Support Operations. The country is actively seeking Western equipment and technology which can be adapted into the Polish defense industrial base.
Poland has been a regional leader in support and participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has actively engaged each of its neighbors and other regional actors to build stable foundations for future European security arrangements. Poland continued its long record of strong support for UN Peacekeeping Operations by maintaining a battalion in Southern Lebanon and by being among the first to contribute a combat battalion to NATO's Bosnia Implementation Force (IFOR).
Principal Government Officials
Prime MinisterWlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
Minister of Foreign AffairsDariusz Rosati
Minister of DefenseStanislaw Dobrzanski
Ambassador to the U.S.Jerzy Kozminski
Poland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2640 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 2022343800/3801/3802); the consular annex is at 2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 2022343800). Poland has consulates in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.
Poland underwent a profound transformation as the government introduced a free market system to replace over 40 years of centrally planned economy. The "shock therapy" economic reform program introduced in 1990 liberalized prices, stabilized the currency, and privatized most small enterprises, which brought an end to chronic shortages of consumer goods. The reform program could not spare Poland from a severe recession in the early 1990s, with sharp declines in industrial production and increases in unemployment rates. In 1992, the economy began a strong recovery. Inflation and unemployment rates have now stabilized and are decreasing steadily, while growth rates are in the 56 percent range. Poland was admitted into the OECD in 1996 and expects to join the European Union sometime after the year 2000.
The United States and other Western countries have supported the growth of a free enterprise economy by reducing Poland's enormous foreign debt burden, providing economic aid, and lowering trade barriers.
Primary agriculture employs onefourth of the work force but contributes only 6% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reflecting a relatively low level of productivity compared to other sectors of the economy. Food processing accounts for roughly an additional 6 percent of GDP. Unlike the industrial sector, Poland's primary agricultural sector remained largely in private hands during the decades of communist rule. A large share of the former state farms are now being leased to farmer tenants. Lack of credit is hampering efforts to sell former state farm land. Currently, Poland's two million private farms occupy 90% of all farmland and account for roughly the same percentage of total agricultural production. These farms are small (8 hectares on average) and often fragmented.
Privatization within the food processing sector is the most advanced in the food concentrate, brewery, and confectionery industries and the weakest in the grain milling, sugar refining, and potato processing industries. Processors often rely on imports to supplement domestic supplies of wheat, feed grains, vegetable oils, and protein meals, which are generally insufficient to meet domestic demand. However, Poland is the leading producer in Europe of potatoes and rye and is one of the ten largest producers of sugar beets. Poland is also a significant producer of rapeseed, grains, hogs, and cattle. Attempts to increase domestic feed grain production are hampered by the short growing season, poor soil, and the small size of farms.
Membership in the European Union is among the main priorities of the government. Efforts to modernize and transform the agricultural and food sectors are being implemented to enhance Poland's future competitiveness as a full member of the Union.
Implementation of the government's privatization program in the agricultural sectorspecifically the breakup of the state monopolies in procurement and distributionhas helped bring the costs of inputs and production into balance, but the small size and often fragmented nature of land holdings and the large portion of the population engaged in farming will continue to limit profitability.
Before World War II, Poland's industrial base was concentrated in the coal, textile, chemical, machinery, iron, and steel sectors. Today it extends to fertilizers, petrochemicals, machine tools, electrical machinery, electronics, and shipbuilding.
Poland's industrial base suffered greatly during World War II, and many resources were directed toward reconstruction. The communist economic system imposed in the late 1940s created large and unwieldy economic structures operated under a tight central command. In part, because of this systemic rigidity, the economy performed poorly even in comparison with other economies in Central Europe.
In 1989, the Mazowiecki government began a comprehensive reform program to replace the centralized command economy with a marketoriented system. Many large scale stateowned industrial enterprises, particularly in the mining and steel sectors, have remained resistant to the change and downsizing required to survive in an open market economy.
Economic Reform Program
Poland was the first former centrally planned economy in Central Europe to end its recession and return to growth after a deep recession in the late 80's and early 90's. Since 1992, the Polish economy has enjoyed an accelerated recovery. The private sector now accounts for nearly twothirds of gross domestic product and employs some 60% of the work force. However, unemployment remains relatively high (11.7% as of May 1997), especially in rural areas.
The sweeping economic reforms introduced in 1989 removed price controls, eliminated most subsidies to industry, opened markets to international competition, and imposed strict budgetary and monetary discipline. These reforms have achieved positive results in reducing inflationfrom almost 600% in 1990 to an estimated 19% in 1996and in bringing budget deficits under control. Poland's GDP grew by 7% in 1995, and is estimated to grow by over 5% in 1996, making Poland one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.
As a result of Poland's growth and investmentfriendly climate, foreign investment flows are now increasing at record levels. However, the restructuring of industry to adapt to the new conditions of a market economy, a necessary accompaniment to macroeconomic stabilization, has often proceeded more slowly than expected. In certain sectors, such as coal and steel, stateowned enterprises continue to operate at a loss. Efforts to privatize them have encountered many snags, including worker apprehensions about large job losses and management fears of bankruptcy. Government budget deficits have been brought under control, but spending cuts in areas such as education, health care, infrastructure, and public safety were necessary to reduce the deficit. Meanwhile, the burden on the budget for subsidies to the Social Insurance Fund has mushroomed, especially due to the massive number of workers retiring early since 1989.
Seven years of successful macroeconomic stabilization policies have greatly improved Poland's standing in the international financial community. External debt stood at about $44 billion at the end of 1996, and the debt service/GDP ratio has dropped to 2%. In 1991, most of Poland's creditor governments agreed to reduce Poland's official debt by 50%. In March 1994, a preliminary agreement was reached with major commercial banks to reduce Poland's commercial debt by about 50%. In November 1996, Poland joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
With the collapse of the rublebased COMECON trading bloc in 1990, Poland scrambled to reorient its trade. By 1996, 70 percent of its trade was with European Union (EU) members, with Germany alone accounting for more than 30 percent. While membership in the EU is Poland's primary goal, it has fostered regional integration and trade through the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), which includes Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Slovenia. Most industrial tariffs will disappear by 1997, while agricultural tariffs are expected to fall in 1998. Polish trade with CEFTA countries increased dramatically in 1996 as the entire region experienced growth.
Poland faced a growing trade and current account deficit in 1996, despite nearly $7 billion in unrecorded crossborder exports (mostly to Germany, but also to the Ukraine, Belarus, and the Czech Republic). Much of this trade consists of imports of capital goods needed for industrial retooling and for manufacturing inputs, rather than imports for consumption. Therefore, a deficit is expected, and even positive at this point. Poland, a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), plans to eliminate its import surcharge in 1997, and is steadily lowering tariffs in line with its WTO and EU commitments.
Poland's primary foreign policy goal is full integration into Western security and economic structures, principally NATO and the European Union (EU). Poland has promoted its NATO candidacy through energetic participation in the Partnership for Peace (PFP) program and through intensified individual dialogue between Poland and NATO. Poland expects to be invited in the first wave of NATO Enlargement at the July 1997 NATO Summit in Madrid.
Poland has also forged ahead on its economic integration with the West. Poland became an associate member of the European Union (EU) and its defensive arm, the Western European Union (WEU) in 1994.In 1996 Poland achieved full OECD membership and submitted preliminary documentation for full EU membership. Poland expects to join the European Union soon after the turn of the century.
Changes since 1989 have redrawn the map of Central Europe and Poland has had to forge relationships with seven new neighbors. Poland has actively pursued good relations with all its neighbors, signing friendship treaties replacing links severed by the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. In expectation of NATO membership, the Poles are developing close partnerships with the Czech Republic and Hungary, two other likely NATO members, and has forged special relationships with Lithuania and particularly Ukraine in an effort to firmly anchor these states to the West.
The United States established diplomatic relations with the newly formed Polish Republic in April 1919.
After Gomulka came to power in 1956, Poland appeared ready to follow policies of increased internal liberalization and greater autonomy in foreign affairs. Consequently, relations with the United States began to improve. However, during the 1960s, erosion of internal liberalization and reversion to a policy of full and unquestioning support for Soviet foreign policy objectives caused those relations to stagnate. In 196869, an antiSemitic campaign in Poland contributed to a further deterioration.
The atmosphere for U.S.Polish relations improved significantly after Gierek succeeded Gomulka as First Secretary of the Communist Party, and the new Polish leadership expressed its interest in improving relations with the United States. President Nixon visited Warsaw in 1972 and signed a consular agreement. Visits to the United States later that year by the Polish Foreign Minister and the Minister of Foreign Trade led to the Polish Government's decision to settle the question of defaulted preWorld War II bonds with American bondholders.
Edward Gierek visited the United States in October 1974. This visit, the first by a Polish leader, signaled significant improvements in U.S.Polish relations. During this period, several important agreements were concluded to promote cooperation in science and technology, health research, commerce, and other areas. Further improvements were reflected in visits to Poland by President Ford (1975) and President Carter (1977).
The birth of Solidarity in 1980 raised the hope that progress would be made in Poland's external relations as well as in its domestic development. U.S. policy throughout the Solidarity period had two goals: to encourage greater respect for human rights and individual freedom, while carefully avoiding interference in Poland's internal affairs. Toward this end, for example, the U.S. Government provided a total of $765 million in agricultural assistance during 1981.
In response to the 1981 imposition of martial law, President Reagan introduced a number of sanctions against the Polish regime, including suspending trade credits and food aid, refusing to negotiate the rescheduling of Poland's debt, and restricting the export of advanced technology to Poland. In October 1982, the United States suspended mostfavorednation (MFN) status for Poland in response to the Polish Government's decision to ban Solidarity.
The United States responded to the gradual human rights improvements in 198384 by easing the sanctions and opening a dialogue with Poland. After the amnesty for political prisoners was declared in September 1986, the United States began a reengagement with Poland which led to the lifting of sanctions in February 1987, as President Reagan restored Poland's MFN tariff status. In June 1987, the United States renewed participation in the Poznan International Fair. In 1988, the United States and Poland agreed to upgrade their diplomatic relations, and ambassadors were exchanged.
President Bush paid a state visit to Poland in July 1989, shortly after parliamentary elections in which the overwhelming victory of Solidarity candidates underscored the rebirth of Polish democracy. Since then the United States and Poland have enjoyed warm bilateral relations despite Poland's often tempestuous political scene and a rapid succession of ideologically diverse governments.
Every post1989 Polish government has been a strong supporter of continued American military and economic presence in Europe, and has identified membership in NATO, the European Union and other Western security and economic structures as Poland's principal foreign policy priority. Poland became a member of the OECD in November 1996. Poland has done a superb job as the formal protector of American interests in Iraq since the Gulf War, and cooperates closely with American diplomacy on such issues as nuclear proliferation, human rights, regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe, and United Nations reform.
Poland is by far the largest recipient of U.S. assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, with more than $4.6 billion committed since 1989 to such areas as debt reduction, privatization, financial stabilization, financial institutionbuilding, entrepreneurial training, support for a free press and other democratic institutions, and environmental protection. One of the Peace Corps largest programs in the world is in Poland. The United States also has an active, broadbased, militarytomilitary security assistance and contact program with Poland.
A graphic illustration of Poland's close cooperation with the United States has been the large number of high level visits exchanged between the two countries in recent years. In 1996 President Kwasniewski and Foreign Minister Rosati visited the United States. Highranking U.S. visitors to Poland in 199596 included President Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then-UN Ambassador Albright, former Secretary of Defense Perry, and General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Commercial ties are as vibrant as political ties. American firms are the most active foreign investors in Poland. The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland has grown rapidly, as American businesses are attracted by Poland's economic growth and improving business climate.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
AmbassadorNicholas A. Rey
Deputy Chief of MissionJohn A. Cloud, Jr.
Press and Cultural Affairs CounselorRichard A. Virden
Counselor for International Development--William Frej
Political CounselorStephen D. Mull/after 8/97-Jeff Goldstein
Consul GeneralLaura A. Clerici
Administrative CounselorRobert Weisberg
Agricultural CounselorRoger A. Wentzel
Defense Attaché-Col. Jon L. Lentz/after 8/97-Col. James H. Fox
Principal Officer, KrakowMary B. Marshall/after 8/97-Francis Scanlan
The street address and international mailing address of the U.S. embassy in Poland is Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, 00540 Warsaw, Poland; tel: 48-22-628-3041; fax 48-22-628-8298. The Consulate General in Krakow is at Ulica Stolarska 9, 31043 Krakow, Poland; tel: 48-12-211-400, 216-767, 226-040 or 229-764; fax: 48-12-218292; and a Consular Agency in Poznan is at Ulica Paderewskiego 8, 61708 Poznan, Poland; tel: 48-61-518516; fax: 48-61-518966.
Entry Requirements: Visas are not required for U.S. citizens visiting Poland for 90 days or less.
Tourist Attractions: Poland's major tourist attractions include the winter resort area of Zakopane in the southeastern mountains; the medieval city of Krakow, including Wawel Castle; the magnificently restored Teutonic fortress of Malbork; and the reconstructed portions of Gdansk and Szczecin (two Hanseatic port cities) in the north. Many Americans visit the site of the Nazi labor and death camp of Auschwitz/Birkenau as well as other Jewish historic sites, including the Kazimierz quarter of Krakow and the site of the former Warsaw ghetto. Attractions in the Warsaw area include Chopin's birthplace at Zelazowa Wola, the Wilanow and Lazienki palaces, the "Old Town" and Royal Castle.
Polish National Tourist Office Information Center: 333 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60601, Tel.: (312) 2369013, Fax: (312) 2361125.
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