POLcast has always been politics free but now… it’s impossible to stick to this rule. So much is happening in Poland with daily protests on the streets, both in big cities and in small towns. Referred to as STRAJK KOBIET (Women’s strike), it did start as a protest against making already very strict abortion law in Poland even stricter, but has since developed into a lot more than that – it’s an unprecedented movement for human rights, respect for the rule of law, and against the populist Polish government.
In this Episode 77 you will meet two experts who will talk about Poland and help you understand what is going on there and why.
The Conference of Polish Ambassadors is an exclusive group whose members are former ambassadors of the Republic of Poland to many countries all over the world. Imagine how many years of diplomatic experience this group collectively has – how much knowledge, invaluable connections, great ideas… As many as four of the members are former ambassadors to Canada, whom we remember fondly here.
The Conference of Polish Ambassadors issued two statements lately, which we published in Gazeta, of course – one supporting Strajk Kobiet, Polish women’s struggle for their rights, and the other one strongly criticizing the current Polish government’s threat to veto The European Union’s 7-year budget in response to the EU’s decision to link its funding to their member countries’ respect for rule of law (“Veto against Poland” Statement).
To learn more about the group but also to talk about the current situation in Poland and its position in the world – now, under the populist government of the ruling Law and Justice party – I am speaking to Pawel Dobrowolski, a historian, an academic and university lecturer at Collegium Civitas (chair of the Dept. of International Relations), author of over 40 books and articles in the field of history, an accomplished diplomat – Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Canada 2000-2004, Deputy Director in the Department of America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Cyprus.
For many years in my professional life I kept bumping into people saying: “You guys have the same name…”
Malgorzata Bonikowska was everywhere and we share not only the first and last names but a number of elements in our biographies are the same: we are both come from Warsaw, we both are graduates of Warsaw University, both studied in foreign language departments (I – English, she – Italian), both have PhDs, both have been university lecturers, academics, and journalists… and we have numerous common friends.
Then she and I made friends on Facebook and finally this February, when I was in Warsaw, we met for the very first time. The location was also quite special for me – Chopin Salon just across the building where I grew up and lived until the age of 19, on Smolna Street in Warsaw. We talked and talked and talked…
Dr. Malgorzata Bonikowska is a renowned political scientist, an EU expert, a government consultant, an academic, the president of the Centre for International Relations, one of the oldest Polish think tanks specializing in foreign affairs, a co-founder and a president of the THINKTANK centre. She has worked for the Polish Television as a journalist, is an author of more than 150 works and has commented on international affairs in the Polish and foreign media.
This is a photo of both Malgorzata Bonikowska and Malgorzata P. Bonikowska in Warsaw, Poland, when we first met: