I was finishing a report behind my computer yesterday afternoon when the news reached me: The Prime Minister has announced that at the end of December, the Government intends to take a decision on extraordinary elections to the Riksdag, planned for 22 March 2015.
The background is that the Riksdag yesterday voted and to a decision on the economic framework for expenditures and revenue in the budget in accordance with the proposal of the Alliance parties.
New experience for all of us in my age. The last time this happened I was three years old. But it will be democracy at work once again. (More information on our Government website here.)
In parallell our Embassy is definitely at work at more than full speed – as usual during this time of the year. I ended my last blog with a reference to the upcoming Warsaw Security Forum, which became an impressive two day event – and attracted significant attention from Stockholm. Hence, we were happy to host Swedish participants both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence. Once again a confirmation of the ever closer cooperation between our countries in these areas. More interaction of that kind is definitely coming.
Monday 24 November took me to Gdańsk together with my colleagues Józef Neterowicz from the Embassy and Daniel Larsson from Business Sweden and more specficially to a breakfast meeting with representatives with companies related to Sweden in the beautiful Olivia Business Centre with a view over the Baltic Sea.
We try to organize these kinds of meetings from time to time also outside Warsaw. Not for any specific reason but simply to stay in touch and compare notes with the Swedish business community, which of course is very well represented in the Tricity area. The visit also gave me an opportunity to visit the new Solidarity museum, which I warmly recommend to everybody wanting to understand modern Polish – and world – history. A musuem devoted to the dream of freedom that came true.
One of the most interesting November afternoons I experienced took place at a demos Europa seminar on globalisation comparing Spanish, Swedish and Polish experiences, with participation from i.a. deputy Minister Katarzyna Kacperczyk and a Swedish thinktank “Global utmaning (Global challenge)” and its director Johan Hassel. An excellent initiative which made me recall some of my lessons learned from my years in our Development Agency, Sida, as well as in Africa and Asia. Free trade, immigration and development cooperation were three sources of positive influence in this sense on our society that I highlighted in the discussion.
An experience of a totally different kind had for a long time been scheduled to Sunday 30 November – the Christmas Charity Bazaar at Marriott Hotel organized by SHOM, Spouses of Heads of Mission, in Warsaw (link here), where my wife Karin is President. She has been working full time with this for weeks and months together with her colleagues (both female and male spouses) and I am just stunned by the energetic, lively, international atmosphere. Most important however is of course the simple fact that funds in this way are raised for some very good causes addressing serious social problems like poverty and gender based violence.
We were there, quite a few of us, constituting a Team Sweden – in close cooperation with our Nordic colleagues. I was really fascinated to see how fast the Swedish herring became sold out, in less than two hours. We could probably have sold several additional kilos…
The bazaar was barely over before I had to leave for two days in Stockholm and meetings in different ministries about the prospects for an intensified Polish-Swedish cooperation. In general very positive response.
The upcoming election campaign will of course consume some energy, but I still believe there are a lot of initiatives we can add to the close cooperation that is already on track. Elderly care is e.g. one of many areas where the interest is obvious on both sides – an example that shows the increasingly broad character of our partnership.
But now Christmas is coming closer. And closely linked to Christmas in a Swedish context is obviously the Lucia celebration. This year we will make a public event tomorrow evening Friday December 5th 19.00 in the Kościół Świętej Trójcy at Plac Małachowskiego 1, with a choir from Uppsala. Zapraszamy serdecznie.