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Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-05-31 07:58:40
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Poland not satisfied with White House "regret" over "death camp" comment

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk remains unsatisfied with the White House response to a comment President Obama made Tuesday regarding a Holocaust-era "Polish death camp," and suggested the administration offer a more "explicit reaction" to the incident." "We expect that America, in connection with this very statement, will join our efforts and help us eradicate such false and unjust phrases once and for all," said Tusk of the characterization, according to the Polish government's website. "We always react in the same way to ignorance, lack of knowledge and ill will which lead to the distortion of history. Such phrases are especially painful for Poland - Europe's most affected country by World War II."

On Tuesday, President Obama awarded a posthumous Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter during World War II. In his remarks honoring Karski, who died in 2000, Mr. Obama described an incident in which Karski was smuggled "into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp" to witness atrocities taking place there. Karski subsequently reported what he saw to Franklin Roosevelt, in what Mr. Obama called "one of the first accounts of the Holocaust." Mr. Obama's characterization of the incident drew immediate criticism from Polish officials, who argued that he should have referred to the camp as a "German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland," rather than a "Polish death camp." Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski accused the president of reflecting a perspective of "ignorance and incompetence," and Tusk suggested that Obama's words reflected a "distortion of history." The White House subsequently said the president had misspoken and expressed its regrets.

But Tusk, on Wednesday, made it clear he wasn't satisfied with that reaction. "I am certain that our American friends are capable of a more explicit reaction than issuing a correction and the spokesperson of the White House expressing regret, and that maybe they will once and for all eliminate such errors," he said. "It is an issue to which we cannot be indifferent, for the sake of Poland, our country and our fellow countrymen. We cannot accept such words, even if they are uttered by the head of an ally superpower." Tusk argued that referring to the camps as "Polish," was akin to suggesting "there had been no Nazis, no German responsibility, no Hitler." In his daily press briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated that the president had misspoken, and that "he was referring to the Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland." "As we've made clear, we regret the misstatement," Carney said, highlighting the president's efforts to honour the Polish losses during World War II. He added that the error "should not detract from the clear intention to honour Mr. Karski" and other Polish citizens "who fought against the terrible tyranny of the Nazis." Carney said he was not aware of any plans for the president or anyone else in the administration to call the Prime Minister.


Polish government hits out at Campbell and insists country is safe for fans

Poland have guaranteed the safety of fans at Euro 2012 and criticised Sol Campbell for telling supporters not to travel to the tournament. The former England defender made his remarks after BBC Panorama visited Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine and Poland and filmed Nazi salutes on the terraces, black players being taunted with monkey chants, and an assault on a group of Asian students. But Malgorzata Wozniak, a spokeswoman for the Polish ministry of interior, expressed surprise at the statement and said hundreds of thousands of police would ensure fans’ safety. She said: 'The ministry of interior and the Polish security services are ready to ensure the safety of all football fans and players who come to Euro 2012 in Poland. 'The Polish police force has been preparing the security procedures for many years, taking into account various possible scenarios.'

She added: 'In response to the statement of the former England captain, Sol Campbell, the Polish Government is surprised that the report contains the opinion of one person only and failed to include the views of international security experts.' She said there had been lengthy co-operation between the Polish and British police. 'Liaison officers from the British police are coming to Poland during the tournament to assist and cooperate with the Polish police based on previous exchanges of information and consultation,' she said. Of the 16 teams taking part, 13 including England have opted to stay in Polish cities. Meanwhile, Football Association chairman David Bernstein is positive there will not be any trouble for England’s players or fans at Euro 2012. The families of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already indicated they will not make the journey amid fears of racial abuse. But Bernstein believes as long as supporters take the recommended advice, there is no reason why they cannot have an enjoyable trip.

“People are planning carefully and have had advice and our supporters have from the government about the situation out there,' Bernstein told Sky Sports News.’But hopefully things will go well.’We’re going into this tournament in every way very positively.' Bernstein also revealed he has not briefed the England players on what to do should they suffer racial abuse, saying they will deal with the situation should it arise. 'We’ll take things as they come,' he added. 'We don’t stop just start looking for problems - that’s easy to do. 'You get some sensational stuff as well around this. 'We know there are some underlying issues but hopefully it will stay underlying and we won’t be faced with these things. 'We have planned very carefully for what might happen but we sincerely hope it won’t.'


Poland squeezes cash out of state firms

Poland pushed through higher dividends on Wednesday at two of its largest listed companies - utility PGE and insurer PZU - and may squeeze additional cash from copper miner KGHM among others to bolster the state budget. The country is seeking to get its budget deficit below the EU-mandated level of 3 percent of gross domestic product this year, and aims to raise 8 billion zlotys ($2.3 billion) from dividends. However, recent moves indicate it may be shooting for more. At the PGE annual meeting, the state muscled through a dividend of 3.42 billion zlotys, or nearly 40 percent more than the company planned. At PZU, it won a dividend of 1.9 billion zlotys, or a tenth more than it proposed.

PGE Chief Executive Krzysztof Kilian said the higher dividend meant it could no longer pursue a 7.5-billion zlotys takeover of smaller state-owned peer Energa. A court backed a decision by the competition watchdog to block the long unconsummated deal, but PGE can still appeal. "With this move, the (treasury) ministry decided for us what we should do," Kilian said, calling the transaction "undoable" after PGE hands back 75 percent of last year's earnings to shareholders. A newspaper reported on Wednesday the treasury ministry, which oversees state assets, wants copper miner KGHM to hand over 4.8 billion zlotys to shareholders from its record net profit of 11.3 billion.

The company, which benefited last year from strong metal prices and the sale of its telecoms assets, is seeking to hand 3.4 billion zlotys to investors. "At such stormy times, it's good to have open sources of financing," said Grzegorz Ogonek, economist at ING Bank Slaski. ($1 = 3.4686 Polish zlotys) (Reporting by Anieszka Barteczko, Pawel Florkiewicz, Dagmara Leszkowicz and Chris Borowski; Editing by David Hulmes)

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