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Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2015-10-05 10:13:51
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Poland starting to build large coal-energy group

poland00_400Poland has started to build a large fuel-energy group with its decision to transfer the European Union's largest coal miner to a state-controlled fund to avoid the miner's bankruptcy, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said. With just three weeks until a parliamentary election, government efforts to save to country's coal sector, which has been hurt by low prices, are in the spotlight. Trying to comply with European Union rules on unwarranted state subsidies to ailing companies and at the same time save the loss-making Kompania from bankruptcy, the government decided to transfer Kompania to the TF Silesia fund. "Kompania Weglowa safely enters ... TF Silesia, which provides financial guarantees for years," Kopacz told Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.  "This is the start of building a large fuel-energy concern, which will be created by combining our power plants, energy groups and coal, which is their fuel," Kopacz said.

The European Commission, EU's executive arm, said on Thursday it had not been informed about the details of the transfer of Kompania and had not taken any decisions.  Poland has proposed a "single energy union" for the EU to reduce the bloc's reliance on Russian gas and a potential clash with the Commission on coal could make it harder for Warsaw to garner support for the union. Poland's treasury minister told TVP Info broadcaster on Saturday the government's plan for Kompania minimises the risk the miner would have to return the state support. That would most likely lead to its bankruptcy, leaving Kompania's 40,000 workers in the lurch.

Trade union Solidarity, the biggest in Poland, has said the government plan for Kompania made a "mockery" of miners, arguing it would most likely be opposed by the EU Commission.  Analyst warned this week that Poland's plan for tying up state-run utilities and coal mines risks damaging the utilities' profits, their minority shareholders and Poland's reputation among investors. State-controlled mines have lost more than $850 million since the start of 2014 as coal prices fell to decade lows. The government, in power since 2007, has avoided a deep restructuring of the coal sector for fear of strikes.


No unsafe objects over site of alleged Nazi train in Poland

Poland's defines minister says army experts have found no dangerous objects or substances on the surface of the site of an alleged World War II Nazi train. A recent claim by two explorers that they have located a Nazi train with armaments and precious substances hidden in a secret tunnel has provoked a gold rush in the region of Walbrzych, in south-western Poland. Local authorities asked the military to check the terrain for safety.

Sappers in full gear with earth-penetrating radars and chemicals experts checked the ground this week, going one meter deep.

Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said Friday they have found no dangerous materials. But they have not reported any trace of the train, either. It was not clear if deeper checks will be undertaken.


Poland-based foreigners shocked by hate speech

A wave of racial slurs in Poland triggered by the mass migration of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East has left many long-time residents fearing for their safety. Based in the country for nearly two decades, Elmi Abdi, member of the Somali Community in Poland, is now considering pulling up his roots. The Polish African is afraid of becoming a target of aggression from people associating his skin colour and Muslim religion with rape risk, terrorism or a threat on the labour market. "I'm simply scared. Being linked [with these stereotypes], I'm frightened of walking in the street as I might be attacked for being a migrant," Abdi told Polish Radio's news agency IAR.

Heightened tension over several thousand asylum-seekers to be relocated to Poland has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiments, Zuzanna Rejmer, from the Polish Migration Forum says. Oriental studies expert Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska points to radically hostile views seeping into the media and the internet as chief factors contributing to a distorted image of refugees in Poland, shifting the nationwide debate to threats allegedly posed by Muslim foreigners seeking refuge in a predominantly Catholic Poland.

Such a rhetoric side-lines the key challenges posed by the migration, chiefly integration into Polish society, experts point out. The warped portrayal of refugees falls on particularly fertile ground in Poland, where no more than 12 percent of citizens have met a Muslim face to face.


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