Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA
They have been admitted to the Swedish one year training programme for young diplomats, and the visit to Poland is one of the final elements. Yesterday my wife Karin and I hosted a reception for them (and their rector Louise Bergholm) together with their “counterparts” from the Polish Institute of Diplomacy (headed by Ambassador Katarzyna Skórzyńska), and I could honestly say to both groups that I envy them to some extent. I never attended that programme myself (and who knows if I had been admitted if I had tried…). It seems to be so rewarding as a preparation for the kind of work we are responsible for in our Embassy.
Just these five days in Poland – very well prepared by my co-workers Vanda Czifra, Elenor Hansson-Lundström and Teresa Baran-Kaczmarczyk – are filled with interesting meetings covering almost all possible aspects of diplomatic work. Apart from the briefings I was responsible for myself, I participated yesterday in an excellent meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Henryka Mościcka-Dendys who spent more than an hour with the Group (during a very busy day of hers) – a clear illustration to the close partnership now so firmly established between our countries.
I described my impressions from the introductory part of the Scandinavian Days in Szczecin in my Polish blog last Friday. I am still quite moved by the decision of the City, especially Mayor Piotr Krzystek, to name a Square in the City centre after Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest 1944.
My speech is available in Polish here and included the following as one of the key messages: “We are rightly and constantly saying never again, nigdy więcej. Still we have had Srebrenica and Rwanda and Cambodia obviously should be added to that dark list. What can we learn from the experiences of these decades following the Holocaust? Konstanty Gebert gave one answer during a ceremony in Warsaw some years ago. Keeping the memory of people like Raoul Wallenberg alive is a way of preventing and resisting new cases of genocide and other crimes against humanity. People like him are the ones that stand between the killers and the victims. And I would like to add – not only that. Keeping the memory of Raoul Wallenberg alive is also a way of constantly reminding ourselves of our duty to protect human rights – and to protect all those brave individuals who protect human rights.”
I had to go back to Warsaw later Thursday evening, but luckily my Deputy Ulrik Tideström could replace me the second day, which seems to have included a lot of various inspiring activities involving i.a. both business and schools – and not least a couple of panels where our college Józef Neterowicz could share Swedish experiences in the area of green technology.
Saturday took me to Konin and the local Women’s Congress (the third in the city), where I participated in a panel about feminism and i.a. stressed the importance of the women’s movement for the progress in terms of gender equality we have seen in Sweden during my life time. I also had the opportunity to present some of our experiences related to education about sexuality (including gender equality) which became mandatory already 1955 and now according to the curriculum is integrated in several different relevant subjects.
The second half of the day the Mayor Józef Nowicki had initiated a presentation of the City’s close collaboration with the civil society including a house, Centrum Organizacji Pozarządowych, in the city centre reserved for that kind of activities. Zuzanna Janaszek-Maciaszek from the Fundacja PodajDalej, supporting integration of disabled people in the society, was guding me and gave me a possibility to meet some of the young people they work with suporting the process of preparing them for independent living. Extremely encouraging.
Next on my programme: Inauguration of the new Embassy of Senegal this afternoon. The National Day of Israel tonight. And Swedish Language Days in Kraków tomorrow.
While the spring sunshine is pouring down over Warsaw.