Around 75% of the working population in Fjarðabyggð, eastern Iceland, are Polish. (This is probably due to the big aluminium smelter situated there. Also the population in Fjarðabyggð is 5 206 persons in total.) Polish citizens are also the largest minority on Iceland as a whole, making up 3% of the population.
Also, for some reason unknown to me, there’s also street signs bilingual in Icelandic and French.
The first section of the Polish capital’s second underground metro line has been completed and are now subject to final inspections and checks before opening. Originally intended to be completed in time for the Euro 2012 football world cup, delays changed the time plan and the seven stations spread over six kilometres of track are now to be operative in mid-November this year.
Current Polish prime minister Donald Tusk has been designated as the next president of the European Council and as such tasked with chairing the meetings of the council which consists of the heads of government of the European Union member states as well as being the figurehead of the EU, a role he will officially take over from current president Herman Van Rompuy on December 1.
The selection of Tusk, an influential and high-profile liberal-conservative politician from one of the newer EU member states of central Europe could be seen as an acknowledgement of the growing importance of central and eastern Europe in European affairs, with Poland emerging as the regional heavyweight.
Bronislaw Komorowski, currently acting president of Poland after the death of president Kaczynski in a tragic plane crash in May, has been elected as president after winning the second round of voting by getting 53 percent of the votes cast. his opponent, the twin brother of the deceased president and the current opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski got 47 percent of the votes.
Mr Komorowski was the candidate of the governing Civic Platform party and has been the parliament speaker.
A Polish government aircraft carrying among others president Lech Kaczyński crashed earlier today during a landing attempt in bad weather at Smolensk in Russia on their way to attend the 70th anniversary cermonies for the victims of the Katyn Forest massacre. The plane carried between 88 and 130 persons – the numbers given vary this far – and no one survived the crash. Among other victims are the president’s wife, Ryszard Kaczorowski who was the last non-communist president in exile of Poland, the army chief of staff, and relatives to the massacre victims of 1940.
In accordance with the Polish constitution, the speaker of the sejm (second chamber of the parliament) becomes acting president in case of the death of the incumbent president. In this instance, that post is currently held by Bronisław Komorowski, who is also the official opposition candidate for the scheduled presidential election later in the autumn this year. It is now however likely that the presidential election will be moved forward.
Sources: Le Monde, Euronews, ARD
Originally written in June 2005
With the death of pope Johannes Paulus II (John Paul II) the Roman Catholic church have lost one of their most important voices in a long time. Not because he was the pope, but because he was Johannes Paulus II, the Pope.
As one of the oldest institutions still functioning on this planet, the Roman Catholic chuch is not standing and falling with one man, but Johannes Paulus II came during his 27-year long pontificate to become closely related to the church as a whole, and with his charisma and affection on people, he became more than just another pope in the long line of ecclestical heads of the church.
When Karel Wojtyla in 1978 was elected the first non-Italian pope in almost 500 years, it was a small revolution already at that point, but the young – in papal terms – pope set out to get a place in history as more than that. As the “travelling pope” he became a diplomat of the grace of god.
The Vatican City State may be the smallest sovereign state in terms of physical territory, but is – when administered correctly – a veritable superpower, and one of a different kind than the others. And – as it would show during Johannes Paulus II’s pontificate – a superpower which could challenge even one of the most rigid political system and in the end win against it. When a Polish pope came home to his native Poland, not even the powerful communist rulers could do much to prevent it. Perhaps ironically, the deeds the late pope will be most remembered and revered of is not so much the religious ones, but the political ones, at least if you count the world as a whole. His funeral was in a way the final evidence that Karel Wojtyla had transcended even the church of which he was the leader. Johannes Paulus II wasn’t revered by everyone for his conservative stance as the leader of the Roman Catholic church, but as a political statesman few could argue his greatness, no matter their religious affiliation.
The election of Joseph cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy as Benedictus XVI is the election of another kind of man. After the charismatic, deeply popular and personal Johannes Paulus II the conclave have gone for what seems to be a more academic, and certainly less charismatic person to follow in his footsteps. Which maybe is just as well, since most likely no one would be able to measure up against the Polish pope who most likely will be remembered as a great spiritual leader, but also as a great statesman by people far beyond the natural realms of the Roman Catholic church.