Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA
This morning my wife Karin and I packed our last bags. The moving firm will now start to remove our furniture. The last two nights in Poland we will spend in a hotel nearby the Embassy. At 17.00 this Wednesday we will be on the LOT flight to Stockholm. My deputy Ulrik Tideström will then be in charge until my successor arrives, probably early September.
I am leaving Poland to become Ambassador in another country after summer. Which one, I will be able to reveal on Facebook and Twitter when everything is formalised.
Almost 1500 days have passed since I arrived to Warsaw June 27th 2011.
At that time my future in Poland seemed like an eternity. So much was lying ahead. Now there are only two more days to go.
One of my last assignments was to organise the Swedish-Polish Innovation Forum together with Business Sweden and the Polish Ministry of Economy just after our National Day one month ago. This was a special pleasure because it brought the Strategic Partnership between our countries another huge step forward i.a. through the signing of a declaration of intent to cooperate in the area of innovation by our two Ministers in charge: Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechociński from Poland and Mikael Damberg from Sweden.
The forum itself was a great success – as was the film festival with a similar profile that took place at Luna during the following days. In a way you could also say that our Innovation Days are continuing the whole summer, since our exhibition is available to the public walking along Ulica Bagatela Close to our Embassy. Concrete examples of innovativeness with its origin in our country. If you haven’t seen it already, pass by sometime!
My wife Karin and I have experienced a long farewell these last weeks. There has of course for us been a significant element of melancholy present in all these goodbye’s. But also a huge amount of happiness and gratitude for everything we have experienced in this great country. And above all, for all the warmth and friendship we have been met with. Just unforgettable.
What could I say about these four years that has not already been said in my previous blogs? Or tweets, or facebook-posts, or letter to Swedes in Poland?
This was my answer at our farewell reception:
“These 1500 days cannot easily be summarized – and if I tried you would be bored beyond imagination. Just a few reflections.
I am the son of a teacher in history. Actually they both were. Still, I have learned more about the realities of history here in Poland than I have ever done before. It is almost unavoidable.
And these have been useful lessons.
We Swedes might have a tendency of taking things for granted. Like independence and peace and freedom and democracy.
Here history has been all around us. Including prominent individuals that made history. Some have passed away during my tenure, most recently professor Bartoszewski.
I have learned a lot about history. I have learned a lot about the future and how it is shaped as well.
Nothing simplistic – like “we have our destiny in our own hands”.
But perhaps the power of endurance. Poles never gave up in spite of all odds. And I have seen the benefits from that emerging clearly during these four years in Warsaw.
Poland is a success story in Europe, no doubt about that. I am happy to have seen it happening. And I am happy to have seen it developing all over Poland during my journies. I have visited all 16 regions.
And I take so many memorable moments with me from these four years. Like:
- Events together with Swedish companies. Stena Recycling and Ecostacja. Scania buses in Słupsk. Elekta and the innovative Gamma Knife in Katowice.
- Women’s Congresses – both the national ones and the four regional ones I have attended. The amazing energy coming out of them.
- Our Open House in the Embassy with 700 Poles two years ago.
- The visit of the Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer 2012.
- The 25th Anniversary of Polish democracy in June last year including the speech by President Obama at Plac Zamkowy.
- The visit of PM Stefan Löfven confirming the Strategic Partnership between our countries three months ago.
But on a personal level first and foremost: The inauguration of the POLIN Museum and the unforgettable speech by Marian Turski. It represents both history and future. Because the message in his speech is also the message coming out of the museum: We are here.
History did not come to an end. There is a future. ‘We are here.'”
This is my last blog from Ulica Bagatela, an address that has meant home to my wife and me for more than four years. Where we have spent four Christmas eves together with our daughters, who simply love coming to Warsaw especially that time of the year. Where we have hosted many hundreds of guests with fantastic help from our excellent staff members, our housekeeper Dorota Kluczek and our chef Michał Godyń – and with key tasks in the preparations performed by our eminent Social Secretary Iwona Skrobot.
It is also an address that has meant day after day of inspiring professional experiences together with our “Team Sweden” at the Embassy, such a fantastic group of committed human beings.
First and foremost, it is an address that for me has come to symbolize friendship. Between our countries and citizens for sure – but also so much friendship on a personal level for Karin and myself. We have made more friends here than I could ever have dreamed of.
We are sad to leave – but extremely happy that we got the opportunity to meet you. We have many, many good reasons to come back. And we will, be sure of that.
Polsko, do widzenia – i dziękujemy bardzo za wszystko!