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Polish report Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-09 11:29:46
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To oppose EU-wide shale gas policy?

The Polish Institute of International Affairs report, presented at the EP's energy committee this week, concludes that, "because of the complexity and breadth of this debate, it seems infeasible to consider introducing a comprehensive legal or regulatory framework [on shale gas] within the EU". Polish MEP (Civic Platform) Lena Kolarska-Bobinska told Polish Radio that shale gas is a huge opportunity for Poland to become more energy independent. “Above all, it's important for us that shale gas is treated as an alternative source of energy, as a real opportunity, and not as a fantasy,” she said.

Test drilling involving Poland's state gas company and multinationals for shale gas deposits began this summer. France, however, has been leading the campaign against shale gas 'fracking' – the process by which the gas is extracted from rock – and has revoked three production licences in the south of the country in fear that the process is environmentally dangerous. Jose Bove, the radical French Green MEP who briefly made international news in the 1990s by bulldozing a McDonald’s outlet, is leading the bid to gather signatures in the European Parliament calling for a ban on fracking.

“We have a lot of scientific information about how the hydraulic fracturing method, namely the application of water with chemicals into rocks, will have a negative effect on the environment,” Bove claimed in an interview with Polish Radio. However, to date, Bove has managed to gather less than 100 MEPs' signatures, well below the majority needed to push through the petition. Regardless of this week's debate, the EU has already announced that it is collecting its own specialist reports on the matter, and next year it will outline its proposed regulations on shale gas extraction.


Poland wants friendly ties With Russia

Poland wants friendly relations with Russia despite recent disagreements and a history of conflicts between the countries, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Friday. “Poland and Russia deserve to have friendly relations,” Mr. Tusk told reporters on the final day of this year’s parliamentary election campaign. “Both these great nations can live together in friendship…If I get the chance to govern another four years, I will be working for the best possible Polish-Russian relations, being aware, however, of all the difficulties that our history and some actions create.”

Relations between Poland and Russia were tense for much of Vladimir Putin’s two terms as president of Russia from 2000 to 2008, when the countries disagreed over economic and military issues, international relations in the eastern European neighbourhood between them, and the interpretation of historical conflicts. A rapprochement came after Mr. Tusk’s election victory in the 2007 election, when he replaced Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the conservative leader of the Law and Justice party. Mr. Kaczynski was dealing with a resurgent Russia that banned Polish meat from its market, made plans for a gas pipeline with Germany that now circumvents Poland, and threatened to direct warheads at Poland after Mr. Kaczynski signed up to participate in the Bush-era U.S. missile shield in Europe.

Mr. Kaczynski’s party is second in most public opinion polls ahead of the parliamentary election set for Sunday. Mr. Tusk’s Civic Platform is first in those polls, but, with an agrarian coalition partner, may fall short of majority in the Sejm, lower house of parliament. Despite the rapprochement, Poland and Russia continue to differ and “not everything is going as it should be,” Mr. Tusk said. Russia’s handling of the investigation into the Polish president’s plane crash in Russia last year was one of the obstacles that “didn’t facilitate a full reset” of relations, Mr. Tusk said. He also said Poland “won’t reset its memory” of wars, occupations and atrocities committed against Polish nationals at various times by Russia and the Soviet Union. Poland and Russia differ on the view of the reasons behind last year’s plane crash. Both sides have said a pilot error was the ultimate cause of the accident, but Poland insists Russia’s controllers and airport also played a role.


The pro-choice point of view in Poland

Wanda Nowicka of Poland’s federation for Women and Family Planning describes what she sees as some of the failures of the legislation and warns of the consequences if calls for a full ban on abortions are met.  “The anti-abortion law has been introduced in Poland as a result of the political transformation, because immediately since 89, when Poland went through the changes, immediately the Catholic Church started to push for a legal ban on abortion. And unfortunately they succeeded, and in 1993, the anti-abortion law has been passed. “The Polish allow abortion on very few conditions, which are medical grounds, criminal grounds and genetically grounds. But in practices you can not exercise those laws on those grounds. So, in practice, we have a full-ban abortion at the moment. The major problem is also such that there are some people pushing to try to restrict this law even further. We had already 2 attempts to introduce a full ban on abortion. The first was in 2006 and now in 2011. This is our big problem although that the law is already so restrictive, it could get restrictive even more.
“The consequences of a full ban of abortion – including a ban on abortion in case of putting at risk of women’s life - are outrageous: women may lose their lives. Because if in case of health problems, the doctors would choose between saving the foetus (and) saving the women’s life. Even now, as we don’t have this provision, there are women who suffered as a result of that; doctors are extremely anti-choice in Poland. They evoke the conscious clause very often. And in the case of conflict between the health of women and the life of a foetus, very often they choose the life of the foetus.  “The anti abortion law in Poland caused a lot of bad results: first of all, it did not stop abortions. It means that women are having abortions, but they are having them in the so-called “abortion underground”. It is usually provided by medical doctors who mean that they are relatively safe. “But some women are still victims of this abortion underground. We assess that abortion underground is quite huge and it could be from even 80,000 up to 200,000 abortions per year.

“The second result of this law is that women who are entitled to abortion are not able to exercise this right. That means that either they continue pregnancy against their will or against their health status and with all the consequences of that… Or they choose illegal abortion even though they are entitled to have a legal abortion. Or they go to other countries for abortion. So, this is the main problems with this law. “The Federation for Women and Family Planning is monitoring the situation and we are observing that the trend is growing. The trend of women going abroad is growing among those women deciding having abortion which is not legal. A majority, still, would contact a doctor here, in the Polish abortion underground, but more and more women would choose to go abroad.  “Additionally there is a new phenomenon that we observe, this is buying abortion pills by internet and this phenomenon is also growing. So, the situation is changing, that more and more women just prefer to go abroad, where they have legal abortion, costly, that’s true, but in Polish underground it is also costly, it is very expensive. But safety is the major argument for many women to go abroad.”

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