Published 12 November 2014 in:

Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA

Zamość. Rzeszów. Mielec. Wrocław. Followed by Independence Day celebrations yesterday in Warsaw…

I have been travelling quite a lot these last two weeks. I am happy for that. It is to some extent exhausting, but I learn a lot about Poland all the time.


The trip to Zamość in Lubelskie region was a private one over the All Saint’s Day weekend. My former deputy Mikael Benthe strongly recommended us to go there, and he was right. The beauty of this renaissance city is just extraordinary.

The visit to Rzeszów and Mielec in Podkarpackie region had a totally different character. This was my first visit to this part of Poland, and for that reason it included the normal courtesy calls to the Wojewoda, the President of Rzeszów and to the Marshal. Very informative not least because it gave us a good overview over both the achievements and plans related to the EU funds and the key importance of the aviation industry – “Aviation valley” – for the whole region. This aspect was also very visible during our visit to the University, where new centers had been established closely related to this sector of the regional economy (and where I had the opportunity to give a lecture at the Department of Economy i.a. on growth, free trade and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now negotiated between the EU and the US).

I say we and us, because I travelled together with our Defence Attaché Claes Nilsson.

And the joint character of the journey made it natural to visit two of the aviation companies in the United Technologies Group – among them PZL in Mielec, owned by the Sikorsky company (producing i.a. the quite famous Black Hawk helicopter).

The links to Sweden in this south-eastern part of Poland are, for obvious geographical reasons, not as strong as they are closer to the Baltic Sea. But an IKEA factory is opened in Stalowa Wola. I noted that Skanska is very active and highly appreciated as construction company. Additionally, the Swedish defence bought Black Hawk helicopters some years ago. And the interest for Swedish green technology and sustainable urban planning solutions is clearly visible as well.

I am a bit sorry that I waited before travelling to Rzeszów. Podkarpackie is the sixteenth region I visit – out of the sixteen that are existing, and I enjoyed the city of Rzeszów a lot. Beautiful where we had a very informative guided tour. A bit different from other cities I have visited, perhaps because of the Austrian heritage? My wife Karin would have liked it, I know that for sure.

Finally Wrocław this last Sunday. Once again – for the third time – commemorating the Crystal night. First in the White Stork Synagogue followed by the Marsz Wzajemnego Szazunku to the place where the other big synagogue was burned down 9 November seventysix years ago. My speech can be found in Polish here.

The evening ended with a spectacular performance of songs written by the Polish Jewish poet Mordechai Gebirtig, ultimately killed in the Kraków ghetto 1942. His songs in jiddish had now been translated to Polish and were performed by some remarkable young Polish artists. So well done in all possible ways. And it is great to see how Bente Kahan and her foundation are developing the synagogue to a true centre of culture.

To commemorate the Crystal night is to honor the fundamental ideas of mutual respect, tolerance and human rights.

In the same spirit I look forward to our event tomorrow. organised together with ISP (Institute of Public Affairs) along the same lines: “Gra o tolerancję” – more in detail presented on our Facebook-site.

I am happy to see speakers like Maciej Zaremba and the Polish Minister of Equality Małgorzata Fuszara among the speakers.

Tolerance is a recurrent theme in our Embassy activities. I am really looking forward to this in-depth discussion about it in a Polish-Swedish setting. My next blog will certainly contain some reflections around the outcome.