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Posts Tagged ‘poland

[LINK] “Romania Can Shine as Haven From Regional Politics, Minister Says”

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Bloomberg’s Andra Timu and Irina Vilcu note how Romania is trying to benefit from uncertainty in Poland.

Romania’s finance chief sees an opening for her nation to become eastern Europe’s go-to investment destination as nerves jangle over government policies in Poland, until recently the region’s top performer.

The second-poorest European Union member has been underestimated by investors and eclipsed by its neighbors for too long, said Finance Minister Anca Dragu, citing a calmer political backdrop and an economic expansion that’s set to surge more than 4 percent this year. Standard & Poor’s cut Poland’s credit rating on Jan. 15 on concern the new government is undermining the independence of institutions such as courts and media.

“There are certain developments in the region that have investors worried,” Dragu said Friday in an interview in Bucharest. “Compared with that, Romania’s economic growth is balanced and sustainable, we have an educated population and relative political stability that we need to appreciate more because we don’t have extremist parties that cause problems in other countries.”

Romania is no stranger to political drama itself: Dragu is part of a technocrat cabinet led by former European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, who took over in November after anti-corruption protests in the European Union and NATO member prompted his predecessor to quit. It also faces competition to lure cash fleeing Poland from other local peers, such as the Czech Republic, a regional haven whose 10-year borrowing costs are lower than every country in the world except for Japan, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:33 pm

[LINK] “Euroradio: from Warsaw for Belarus”

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Writing at Open Democracy, Lorenzo Berardi explores Poland’s role as a base for opposition radio broadcasting into Belarus.

It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon in December 2015 and many cars sporting Belarusian number plates are maneuvering their way in and out of the parking lot of Centrum Handlowy Marki, a shopping centre on the eastern outskirts of Warsaw. As there are only 200 kilometres separating the Polish capital from the border with Belarus this is hardly a surprising sight. The distance between Warsaw and Minsk is less than the one between the Polish capital and Berlin.

Both Poland and Belarus held presidential elections last year. In May 2015 Polish voters chose the then underdog candidate, Andrzej Duda, instead of backing the president in office, Bronisław Komorowski (an outcome confirmed by the following parliamentary elections). In October last year Belarusians voted en masse for their president running for his fifth term. Alexander Lukashenko has now been leading Belarus for twenty-one years in a row, winning the latest elections with a staggering 83.47% of the vote.

To the casual observer such a landslide victory may suggest that Belarus is a stable and united country, but in fact part of Lukashenko’s success lies in controlling the national media. So much so that today only the friendly voices of State-approved televisions, radios and newspapers can be read and heard in Belarus, with the only exceptions being a few independent websites and online newspapers.

No surprise then that neighbouring Poland hosts many independent Belarusian media organisations backed by international subjects and targeting the 9.5 million people living in Belarus as their main audience. A list of Belarusian ‘non-State’ media broadcasting from Poland includes the satellite television channel Belsat TV, the website of the Charter 97 organisation as well as radio stations such as Białystok based Radio Racyja and Warsaw based Eŭrapéjskaje Rádyjo dla Biełarúsi (European Radio for Belarus).

Written by Randy McDonald

January 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm

[LINK] “Russia and Ukraine Finally Break Up”

Leonid Bershidsky notes that Russia and Ukraine are finally breaking up, and that this should offer some hope for Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have spent most of their post-Soviet history as Siamese twins, but for the last two years they’ve been undergoing political and economic separation surgery. It will probably be more or less complete in 2016, and though both twins are in for a grim period, the weaker one, Ukraine, has the better prospects in some ways.

Ever since Ukraine declared independence in August 1991, it sought to establish an identity that would set it apart from Russia. Its second president, Leonid Kuchma, even published a book called “Ukraine Is Not Russia” in 2003. In practice, however, Ukraine kept following its bigger neighbor even through its failed Westernization period of 2005 to 2010. It inherited the same basis for its legal system and government — the Soviet bureaucracy — and even attempted reforms often imitated Moscow’s moves. When I moved from Moscow to Kiev in 2011, I felt no discomfort: Everything, from bureaucratic procedures to the pervasive corruption that made a mockery of them, was largely the same in the two countries.

Economically, Ukraine remained Russia’s colony. In 2013, its trade turnover with Russia, at $31.8 billion according to the official Ukrainian statistics agency, reached 28 percent of its total trade. For Moscow, Ukraine wasn’t as important, but it was still its fifth biggest trading partner with a 5 percent share of turnover. That last peaceful year, 6.1 million Ukrainians, out of a total population of 45.5 million, visited Russia, about two-thirds of them to work. Only Poland, Ukraine’s entry point to the EU, received slightly more visitors.

Russian rulers got used to this. Even this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin contended that “Russians and Ukrainians are one nation.” It’s no longer true: The last two years, since Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity,” the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine, have seen perhaps the biggest breakup between neighboring, closely interconnected countries in post-World War II history. In 2014, only 4.6 million Ukrainians traveled to Russia — less than two-thirds as many as to Poland. This year’s statistics are not in yet, but another drop in travel to Russia is highly likely, because Moscow has been tightening regulations to make it harder for Ukrainian migrant workers to stay indefinitely and because, as of last summer, there are no more direct flights between the two countries. Besides, starting in mid-2016, Ukrainians will be able to travel visa-free to the European Union, which will likely make travel to Europe vastly more popular.

As for bilateral trade, it has plummeted[.]

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:12 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that all TTC streetcars will support Presto by the end of the year.
  • Crooked Timber continues its examination of Piketty’s thoughts on inequality and social justice.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on German surveillance of Germany’s allies.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the support of the Pope for the anti-gay marriage movement in Slovenia.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the fundamental economic problems with law school.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that genetic testing may be coming to the business floor.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps population change in Poland over 2002-2011.
  • Strange Maps shares a map predicting the liklelihood of white Christmases in the continental United States.
  • Torontoist notes the need not to forget non-heterosexual Syrian refugees.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at continued Russian emigration from Tuva.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the non-existence of Alpha Centauri Bb.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the exciting new findings from Pluto, including news that it supports a subsurface ocean.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the power of student protests at the University of Missouri.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the promise of anti-viral injections in treating HIV.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to a historical student of slavery in the US urban south.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the slow pace at which US immigration records are being digitized.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that before 1960, contrary to the current trend, African-Americans with identifiably African-American names did better than average.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the size of Poland-Lithuania in 1635.
  • Towleroad notes how a photo of Justin Trudeau with the same-sex family of Scott Brison went viral.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the upcoming TTC open house on the 12th.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that North Caucasians have reason for protest apart from ethnicity and suggests Russian regionalism is not related to ethnicity.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Boston Globe‘s Big Picture reports on Olympics evictions in Brazil, compares school life in Boston and Haiti, and follows an elderly man climbing Mount Washington.
  • blogTO suggests jets will not be coming to the Toronto Island airport and argues the city is unlikely to legalize Uber.
  • The Broadside Blog examines the staggering level of income inequality in the United States.
  • Centauri Dreams considers, in real-life and science fiction, the problems with maintaining artificial economies and notes the complexities of the Pluto system.
  • Crooked Timber notes the problems of organized labour and Labour in the United Kingdom.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes how atmospheric oxygen may not automatically point to the sign of life.
  • The Dragon’s Tales maps volcanic heat flow on Io and wonders if that world has a subsurface magna ocean
  • Far Outliers notes a popular thief in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan and looks at the politicization of the German military after the 1944 coup.
  • Geocurrents calls for recognizing the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and Somaliland and looks at the geography of American poverty.
  • Language Log notes Sinified Japanese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the complexities of race and history in New Mexico.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that India unlike China cannot sustain global growth, approves of Snyder’s Black Earth, and notes poor economic outcomes for graduates of some American universities.
  • Otto Pohl is not optimistic about Ghana’s economic future.
  • The Planetary Society Blog evaluates the latest images from Mars.
  • pollotenchegg evaluates the 1931 Polish census in what is now western Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at why Syrian refugees will not be resettled in South America and observes that Mexico has birthright citizenship.
  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands describes the negative relationship for her between blogging and writing.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog examines rising mortality in Ukraine and notes changing ethnic compositions of Tajikistan’s populations.
  • Savage Minds talks about the importance of teaching climate change in anthropology.
  • Transit Toronto notes Toronto now has nine new streetcars.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi considers the situation of poor people who go to good schools.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the lack of Russian nationalism in the Donbas, observes the scale of the refugee problem in Ukraine, and looks at Russian alienation of Moldova.

[LINK] “EU law puts a dent in Scandinavian labor organizing”

Al Jazeera America’s Ned Resnikoff reports on the tension between the EU institution of posted workers–workers sent from one, low-wage, country to work in a high-wage country at the wages of the native countries–and the Nordic welfare state.

“The question is under what circumstances the services offered by a Latvian, Polish or German firm should be sold in Denmark and Sweden,” Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Al Jazeera. “There’s an ongoing struggle over whether they should be able to offer those services paying Polish or Latvian wages.”

The struggle concerns a particular category of workers, defined as “posted workers” under EU law. A posted worker is “sent by his employer on a temporary basis to carry out his work in another Member State” according to a fact sheet on the European Commission website.

Under the Posting of Workers Directive, approved by the European Parliament in 1996, workers who are posted to a particular member state get to enjoy that state’s labor protections. A Polish worker posted to Denmark must be paid Denmark’s minimum wage or more.

The problem is that Denmark doesn’t have a minimum wage, at least not legally speaking — nor does Sweden. (Norway, the third of three Scandinavian countries also does not have a legal minimum wage but it is not a member of the European Union.)

Instead of legislating their minimum wages, the Scandinavian countries have their unions bargain for them. Sweden and Denmark may not have minimum wage laws, but they do have effective wage minimums, defined by the collective bargaining agreements their unions negotiate.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2015 at 5:27 pm

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