Enthusiasm in Warsaw

Published 22 August 2011 in:

Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA

The day was highly symbolical: Poland taking over the EU Presidency exactly twenty years after the dissolution of the Warsaw pact.

I had arrived as new Swedish Ambassador to Poland only four days before, directly from my previous posting in Vietnam. And Friday July 1st certainly gave me some memories I will never forget.

The ceremonies for sure. First in Parliament, later on in the Opera house. But even more – the atmosphere. Enthusiasm coming out of a very conscious ambition by Poland to make its Presidency become a new injection of energy and progress into a Union, struggling not least with a significant amount of economic challenges.

And additionally enthusiasm coming out of the strong Polish commitment to European integration, a commitment built not least on so many tragical experiences of history – some of them still quite recent.

The struggle for freedom in Central and Eastern Europe was part of my political adolescence during the 70’s and 80’s.

Professionally the Swedish support to the transition process in former communist countries was my key responsbility in our development agency, Sida, from the mid 90’s.

With that background, it is an extremely exciting experience to arrive in Warsaw as Swedish Ambassador at this specific period in time.

I have a lot to learn. More about history. More about our joint ambitions – significantly energized by the recent State visit and the declaration of strengthened cooperation signed by our Foreign Ministers. And not least much more of the Polish language. I started with daily lessons before leaving for vacation. I’ll take it up again when I return to Poland at the end of this month.

This should of course have been a blog finalised in Warsaw rather than in Bovallstrand at the Swedish West Coast.

But I must admit vacation was badly needed. I spent six heavy months in Hanoi preparing for a closure of the Swedish Embassy there. However, just some days ago that decision was finally revoked.

I received that message a lovely Summer evening when the sun seemed very reluctant to stop shining. My former colleagues at the Embassy in Vietnam finally got something to celebrate after the many dark days that have passed. I join their celebration in cyberspace.

And look forward to the restart of my assignment in Warsaw in less than four weeks time.