US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BACKGROUND NOTES: POLAND
PUBLISHED BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Official Name: Republic of Poland
Area: 312,680 sq. km. (120,725 sq. mi.); about the size of New Mexico.
Cities (1992): Capital--Warsaw (pop. 1.6 million). Other cities--Lodz
(838,000), Krakow (744,000), Wroclaw (641,000), Poznan (583,000), Gdansk
Terrain: Flat plain, except mountains along southern border.
Climate: Temperate continental.
Nationality: Noun--Pole(s). Adjective--Polish.
Population: 38.5 million.
Annual growth rate: Negligible.
Ethnic groups: Polish 97%, German, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Lithuanian.
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Eastern Orthodox, Uniate, Protestant.
Health (1989): Infant mortality rate--14/1,000. Life expectancy--males
66 yrs., females 75 yrs.
Work force: 15.4 million. Industry and construction--32%.
Agriculture--29%. Government and other--21%. Trade and business--18%.
Constitution: Poland operates under a temporary constitution (the
"Little Constitution") adopted on October 17, 1992, pending the passage
of a more permanent document. The constitution allows for limited
checks and balances among the president, prime minister, and parliament.
Judicial review is strictly limited.
Branches: Executive--head of state (president), head of government
(prime minister). Legislative--bicameral National Assembly (lower
house--Sejm, upper house--Senate). Judicial--Supreme Court, provincial
and local courts, constitutional tribunal.
Administrative subdivisions: 49 provinces (voivodships).
Political parties: Democratic Left Alliance, Polish Peasant Party,
Democratic Union, Union of Freedom, Union of Labor, Confederation for an
Independent Poland, and Non-partisan Bloc in Support of Reform.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
Flag: Upper half white; lower red.
GDP (1993): $87 billion.
Per capita GDP (1993): $2,250.
Growth rate (1993 est.): 4%.
Natural resources: Coal, copper, sulfur, natural gas, silver, lead,
Agriculture: Products--grains, livestock, potatoes, sugar beets,
Industry: Types--machine building, iron and steel, mining,
shipbuilding, automobiles, textiles and apparel, chemicals, food
processing, glass, beverages.
Trade (1993): Exports--$15 billion: ships, coal, textiles and apparel,
copper, steel. Imports--$17 billion: oil and gas, pharmaceuticals,
paper products, textiles and textile fibers, machinery.
Poland today is ethnically almost homogeneous (98% Polish), in contrast
with the pre-World War II period, when there were significant ethnic
minorities--4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million
Belorussians, and 800,000 Germans. The majority of the Jews were
murdered during the German occupation in World War II, and many others
emigrated in the succeeding years. Most Germans left Poland at the end
of the war, while many Ukrainians and Belorussians lived in territories
incorporated into the U.S.S.R. Small Ukrainian, Belorussian, Slovakian,
and Lithuanian minorities reside along the borders, and a German
minority is concentrated near the southwest city of Opole.
Poland's written history begins with the reign of Mieszko I, who
accepted Christianity for himself and his kingdom in AD 966. The Polish
state reached its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years
following the union with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of
the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410. The monarchy survived many
upheavals but eventually went into a decline which ended with the final
partition of Poland by Prussia, Russia, and Austria in 1795.
Independence for Poland was one of the 14 points enunciated by President
Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Many Polish-Americans enlisted in
the military services to further this aim, and the United States worked
at the postwar conference to ensure its implementation.
However, the Poles were largely responsible for achieving their own
independence in 1918. Authoritarian rule predominated for most of the
period before World War II.
On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Ribbentrop-
Molotov non-aggression pact, which secretly provided for the
dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Soviet-controlled zones. On
September 1, 1939, Hitler ordered his troops into Poland. On September
17, Soviet troops invaded and then occupied eastern Poland under the
terms of this agreement. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June
1941, Poland was completely occupied by German troops.
The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a government-in-
exile, first in Paris and later in London, which was recognized by the
Soviet Union. During World War II, 400,000 Poles fought under Soviet
command, and 200,000 went into combat on western fronts in units loyal
to the Polish government-in-exile.
In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish
government-in-exile, after the German military announced that they had
discovered mass graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn, in the
U.S.S.R. (The Soviets claimed that the Poles had insulted them by
requesting that the Red Cross investigate these reports.) In July 1944,
the Soviet Red Army entered Poland and established a communist-
controlled "Polish Committee of National Liberation" at Lublin.
Resistance against the Nazis in Warsaw, including uprisings by Jews in
the Warsaw ghetto and by the Polish underground, was brutally
suppressed. As the Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled the
During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were
deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but
about 100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in death camps like
those at Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Treblinka, and Majdanek.
Following the Yalta Conference of early 1945, a Polish Provisional
Government of National Unity was formed in June 1945; the U.S.
recognized it the next month. Although the Yalta agreement called for
free elections, those held in January 1947 were controlled by the
Communist Party. The communists then established a regime entirely
under their domination.
Communist Party Domination
In October 1956, after the 20th ("de-Stalinization") Soviet Party
Congress at Moscow and riots by workers in Poznan, there was a shake-up
in the communist regime. While retaining most traditional communist
economic and social aims, the regime of First Secretary Wladyslaw
Gomulka liberalized Polish internal life.
In 1968, a reverse trend set in when student demonstrations were sup-
pressed and an "anti-Zionist" campaign initially directed against
Gomulka supporters within the party eventually led to the emigration of
much of Poland's remaining Jewish population.
In December 1970, disturbances and strikes in the port cities of Gdansk,
Gdynia, and Szczecin, triggered by a price increase for essential
consumer goods, reflected deep dissatisfaction with living and working
conditions in the country. Edward Gierek replaced Gomulka as first
Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth
rate was one of the world's highest during the first half of the 1970s.
But much of the borrowed capital was misspent, and the centrally planned
economy was unable to use the new resources effectively. The growing
debt burden became insupportable in the late 1970s, and economic growth
had become negative by 1979.
In October 1978, the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became
Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics
rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June
1979 visit to Poland with an outpouring of emotion.
In July 1980, with the Polish foreign debt at more than $20 billion, the
government made another attempt to increase meat prices. A chain
reaction of strikes virtually paralyzed the Baltic coast by the end of
August and, for the first time, closed most coal mines in Silesia.
Poland was entering into an extended crisis which would change the
course of its future development.
The Solidarity Movement
On August 31, 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an
electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21-point agreement with the
government which ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at
Szczecin and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the
guarantee of the workers' right to form independent trade unions and the
right to strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national
union movement--"Solidarity"--swept Poland.
The discontent underlying the strikes was intensified by revelations of
wide-spread corruption and mismanagement within the Polish state and
party leadership. In September 1980, Gierek was replaced by Stanislaw
Kania as first secretary.
Alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the PZPR's authority following the
Gdansk agreement, the Soviet Union proceeded with a massive military
buildup along Poland's border in December 1980. In February 1981,
Defense Minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of Prime
Minister as well, and in October 1981, he also was named party first
secretary. At the first Solidarity national congress in September-
October 1981, Lech Walesa was elected national chairman of the union.
On December 12-13, the regime declared martial law, under which the army
and special riot police were used to crush the union. Virtually all
Solidarity leaders and many affiliated intellectuals were arrested or
The United States and other Western countries responded to martial law
by imposing economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the
Soviet Union. Unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter.
In a series of slow, uneven steps, the Polish regime rescinded martial
law. In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of
political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended
in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred
political prisoners remained in jail.
In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and 2 years later,
the government had released nearly all political prisoners. The
authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity
activists. Solidarity remained proscribed and its publications banned.
Independent publications were censored.
Roundtable Talks and Elections
The government's inability to forestall Poland's economic decline led to
waves of strikes across the country in April, May, and August 1988. In
an attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de
facto recognition to Solidarity, and Interior Minister Kiszczak began
talks with Lech Walesa on August 31. These talks broke off in October,
but a new series--the "roundtable" talks-- began in February 1989.
These talks produced an agreement in April for partly open National
Assembly elections. The June election produced a Sejm (lower house),
in which one-third of the seats went to communists and one-third went to
the two parties which had hitherto been their coalition partners. The
remaining one-third of the seats in the Sejm and all those in the Senate
were freely contested; virtually all of these were won by candidates
supported by Solidarity.
The failure of the communists at the polls produced a political crisis.
The roundtable agreement called for a communist president, but on July
19, the National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies,
elected Gen. Jaruzelski to that office. Two attempts by the communists
to form governments failed, however.
On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist
Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government; on September 12, the Sejm voted
approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first
time in more than 40 years, Poland had a government led and dominated by
In December 1989, the Sejm considered the government's reform program to
rapidly transform the Polish economy from centrally planned to free
market, amended the constitution to eliminate references to the "leading
role" of the Communist Party, and renamed the country the "Republic of
The Polish United Workers' (Communist) Party dissolved itself in January
1990, creating in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the
Republic of Poland. Most of the property of the former Communist Party
was turned over to the state.
The May 1990 local elections were entirely free. Candidates supported
by Solidarity's Citizens Committees won most of the races they
contested, although voter turnout was little over 40%. The cabinet was
reshuffled in July 1990; the national defense and interior affairs
ministers--hold-overs from the previous communist government--were among
In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of
President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Walesa became the first
popularly elected President of Poland.
Poland in the 1990s
Poland in the early 1990s made great progress toward achieving a fully
democratic government and a market economy. Free and fair elections
were held for the presidency in November 1990 and for parliament in
October 1991 and September 1993. Freedom of speech, religion, assembly,
and the press were instituted. A wide range of political parties
representing the full spectrum of political views were established.
In November 1990, Lech Walesa was elected President for a five-year
term. From 1991 to 1993, three parliamentary coalitions of post-
Solidarity origin parties governed in quick succession, none longer than
14 months. Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, at Walesa's request, formed a
government and served as its Prime Minister until October 1991. His
government continued the Mazowiecki Government's "Big Bang" package of
economic reform, which introduced world prices and greatly expanded the
scope of private enterprise.
Poland held its first free and fair parliamentary elections in October
1991. More than 100 parties participated. No single party received
more than 13% of the total vote. President Walesa then asked first
Bronslaw Geremek--a leader of the Democratic Union--and then Jan
Olszewski--the candidate of a minority coalition of five parties--to
attempt to form a government. Olszewski succeeded in putting together a
coalition government that was ratified by parliament. After a vote of
no-confidence in June 1992, however, Olszewski and his cabinet were
forced to resign over their efforts to purge alleged former secret
police informers from political life.
Five weeks later, a new minority coalition government, led by Prime
Minister Hanna Suchocka of the Democratic Union, was voted into office.
Deep ideological differences caused tension among the coalition
partners, however, especially when a controversial anti-abortion law was
passed in the Sejm. The Solidarity Union's decision to withdraw support
for the Suchocka Government fatally weakened it. President Walesa
dissolved the parliament on May 28, 1993, after a vote of no-confidence.
The Suchocka Government continued to govern until parliamentary
elections in September 1993. These elections took place under a new
electoral law designed to limit the number of small parties in
parliament by requiring them to receive at least 5% of the total vote to
enter the Sejm. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) received the most
votes, with 21%, and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), came in second with
15%. The largest post-Solidarity party, the Democratic Union, came in
third with 11% of the vote. Most of the small center and right parties
failed to enter the parliament, as did the Solidarity Union.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led
by a prime minister, typically chosen from a majority coalition in the
bicameral legislature's lower house. Under the constitution, the
president must be formally consulted in the appointment of the ministers
of foreign affairs, internal affairs, and defense and may technically
reject any proposed minister. The president--elected every five years--
is head of state. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decision-
The parliament, consisting of 460 members of the Sejm and 100 members of
the Senate, was elected on September 19, 1993, in free and fair
elections in which 19 political parties participated. A 1993 electoral
law stipulated that only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote
could enter parliament; under this law, six parties gained
In October 1993, SLD and PSL formed a government coalition with a
parliamentary majority under Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak. The Pawlak
Government has maintained generally pro-market economic policies and
made clear its commitment to a democratic political system.
Tensions between the parliament and President Walesa were evident early
in 1994, as both sides took advantage of legal ambiguities to enhance
the power of their respective branches of government. In April 1994,
the two sides called a truce, agreeing to work to resolve their
differences during the constitution-drafting process scheduled to begin
The parliament's term of office ends in 1997, unless dissolved earlier.
Poland's next presidential election is scheduled for December 1995.
Along with the parties of Prime Minister Pawlak's ruling coalition, four
other parties are represented in parliament: the Union of Freedom
(formerly the Democratic Union), the Union of Labor (UP), the
Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN), and the Non-partisan Bloc
in Support of Reform (BBWR).
Poland's armed forces number 250,000. Career soldiers make up about
one-third of the army. All males are required to serve a 12-month
period of basic military service.
Poland is reducing armaments to levels agreed upon in the Treaty on
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), signed in Paris in November
1990. Warsaw Pact members met early in 1991 and disbanded the
organization on March 31. Polish officials have begun to restructure
the military to increase civilian control and de-politicize its ranks.
There are no Russian troops remaining on Polish territory, with the
exception of a small contingent at Legnica, which is tasked to
facilitate the transit of Russian troops from the former German
Democratic Republic through Poland. The remaining Russian contingent is
scheduled to leave by the end of 1994.
The Polish military is in the process of modernizing, restructuring, and
relocating. It is looking to the West for technology and co-production
to upgrade its armaments and procedures, hoping to minimize its former
dependence on the states of the former Soviet Union. The military is
restructuring on the Western corps-brigade model and relocating its
forces (primarily from west to east) to give it a more balanced defense
capability. A high priority for Poland is to integrate its military
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Waldemar Pawlak
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Andrzej Olechowski
Ambassador to the U.S.--Jerzy Kozminski
Poland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2640 16th St. NW,
Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-234-3800/3801/3802); the consular annex
is at 2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-234-3800).
Poland has consulates in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.
Poland underwent a profound transformation as the government introduced
a free market system to replace the centrally planned economy. The eco-
nomic reform program introduced in 1990 stopped hyperinflation,
stabilized the currency, and brought an end to chronic shortages of
consumer goods. However, the economy also suffered a recession, with
sharp declines in industrial production and real incomes, and steadily
increasing unemployment rates. In May 1992, industrial production ended
its decline and began a steady recovery, but unemployment has continued
to rise as state-owned enterprises are restructured and privatized to
adapt to the new free-market economy.
The U.S. and other Western countries have been supporting the growth of
a free enterprise economy by providing direct economic aid,
restructuring Poland's foreign debt, and encouraging private foreign
Polish agriculture employs one-third of the work force but contributes
only 8% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Unlike the industrial
sector, Poland's agricultural sector remained largely in private hands
during the decades of communist rule. Private farms occupy three-
fourths of the land and account for about four-fifths of agricultural
employ-ment and production. These 2.8 million private farms, however,
are small and often fragmented. In contrast, the roughly 5,000 state
farms, established under communist rule, average nearly 900 hectares
each. The government is currently privatizing state farms.
Production of wheat, feed-grains, vegetable oils, and protein meals is
insufficient to meet domestic demand. However, Poland is the leading
producer in Eastern Europe of potatoes, rapeseed, sugar beets, grains,
hogs, and cattle. Attempts to increase domestic feed grain production
are hampered by the short growing season, poor soil, and the small size
While the government's economic reform has generally resulted in sharp
price increases to the consumer, the costs to farmers for their inputs
have risen faster than the prices they can demand for their products.
State monopolies still control agricultural procurement, processing, and
distribution. In 1992, Polish agriculture was hit by the worst drought
of the century.
Implementation of the government's privatization program in the
agricultual sector--specifically the breakup of the state monopolies in
procurement and distribution--will help bring the costs of inputs and
production into balance, but the small size and often fragmented nature
of land holdings and the large portion of the population engaged in
farming will continue to limit profit-ability.
Before World War II, Poland's industrial base was concentrated in the
coal, textile, chemical, machinery, iron, and steel sectors. Today it
extends to fertilizers, petrochemicals, machine tools, electrical
machinery, electronics, and shipbuilding.
Poland's industrial base suffered greatly during World War II, and many
resources were directed toward reconstruction. The communist economic
system imposed on Poland in the late 1940s created large and unwieldy
economic structures operated under tight central command. In part,
because of this systemic rigidity, the economy performed poorly even in
comparison with other economies in Eastern Europe.
In 1989, the Mazowiecki Government began a comprehensive reform program
to replace the centralized command economy with a free market system.
Economic Reform Program
Four years into its transition to a market economy, Poland has become
the first former centrally planned economy in Central and Eastern Europe
to end its recession and return to growth. Poland's transition-induced
recession bottomed out in the second quarter of 1991, and for the last
two years the Polish economy has enjoyed an accelerated recovery.
However, incomes remain low and unemployment high (nearly 16% as of
April 1994) which has strained the political consensus for continued
reform. The private sector now accounts for more than half of gross
domestic product and employs some 60% of the work force.
The sweeping economic reforms introduced in 1989 removed price controls,
eliminated subsidies to industry, opened Poland's markets to
international competition, and imposed strict budgetary and monetary
discipline. These reforms have achieved impressive results in reducing
inflation--from almost 600% in 1990 to 35% in 1993--and in bringing
budget deficits under control. Poland's GDP grew 2.6% in 1992 and more
than 4% in 1993, making Poland one of the fastest growing economies in
Europe. Four years of successful macroeconomic stabilization policies
have greatly improved Poland's standing in the international financial
In March 1994, Poland successfully completed a standby arrangement with
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which required complying with
quarterly performance criteria in five key areas of fiscal and monetary
policy. Foreign investment flows also are increasing. However, the
restructuring of industry to adapt to the new conditions of a market
economy, a necessary accompaniment to macroeconomic stabilization, has
proceeded more slowly than expected. Many state-owned enterprises
continue to operate at a loss. Efforts to privatize them have
encountered numerous snags, including worker apprehensions about large
job losses and management fears of bankruptcy. Government budget
deficits have been brought under control, but only by means of painful
spending cuts in sensitive areas such as education, health care, and
public safety. Meanwhile, the burden on the budget for government debt
servicing and for subsidies to the Social Insurance Fund has mushroomed.
The government's 1994 budget received a favorable evaluation by the IMF
and bolstered international confidence in Poland's long-term economic
prospects. It was criticized as unnecessarily austere by opposition
groups--including the Solidarity Trade Union--and by some supporters of
the government parties. The government's economic reform programs are
likely to face continued criticism from groups in society who feel they
have not received their fair share of the benefits of the transition to
a market economy.
Poland's current account was in surplus in 1990 but fell to a deficit of
$1.4 billion in 1991, due largely to the collapse of trade with the
Soviet Union. The current account recovered in 1992 to a deficit of
only $269 million, as exporters found new Western markets, but slipped
again in 1993 to a deficit of $2.3 billion, as the recovering Polish
economy created stronger demand for imports while recession in Western
Europe weakened demand for Polish exports.
Poland's external debt is about $45 billion, and its debt service ratio
(the ratio of hard debt service obligations to hard currency earnings)
is one of the world's highest. In 1991, most of Poland's creditor
governments agreed to reduce Poland's official debt by 50%. More than
$13 billion is owed to commercial banks. In March 1994, a preliminary
agreement was reached with major banks to reduce Poland's commercial
debt by a similar 40%-50%.
Poland's primary foreign policy goal is integration into Western
security and economic institutions, above all NATO and the European
Union (EU). Poland seeks, through active engagement in the Partnership
for Peace, to work toward full NATO membership. An association
agreement which Poland signed in 1991 with the EU came into effect in
February 1994 and provides a framework for increasing integration.
Poland applied for full EU membership in April 1994; it hopes to achieve
membership before the year 2000. In May 1994, Poland became an
"Associate Partner" in the EU's defense structure, the Western European
Developments since 1989 have radically altered regional political
boundaries. Poland has been active in regional diplomacy, as its
leaders from across the political spectrum stress the need for equality
in relations and Poland's independence and non-association with any
other state. Poland has signed friendship treaties with all of its
neighbors. The last was concluded with Lithuania in May 1994.
The United States established diplomatic relations with the newly formed
Polish Republic in April 1919.
After Gomulka came to power in 1956, Poland appeared ready to follow
policies of increased internal liberalization and greater autonomy in
foreign affairs. Consequently, relations with the United States began
to improve. However, during the 1960s, erosion of internal
liberalization and reversion to a policy of full and unquestioning
support for Soviet foreign policy objectives caused those relations to
stagnate. In 1968-69, an anti-Semitic campaign in Poland contributed to
a further deterioration.
The atmosphere for U.S.-Polish relations improved significantly after
Gierek succeeded Gomulka as First Secretary of the Communist Party, and
the new Polish leadership expressed its interest in improving relations
with the United States. President Nixon visited Warsaw in 1972 and
signed a consular agreement. Visits to the United States later that
year by the Polish Foreign Minister and the Minister of Foreign Trade
led to the Polish Government's decision to settle the question of
defaulted pre-World War II bonds with American bondholders.
Edward Gierek visited the United States in October 1974. This visit,
the first by a Polish leader, signaled significant improvements in U.S.-
Polish relations. During this period, several important agreements were
concluded to promote cooperation in science and technology, health
research, commerce, and other areas. Further improvements were
reflected in visits to Poland by President Ford (1975) and President
The birth of Solidarity in 1980 raised the hope that progress would be
made in Poland's external relations as well as in its domestic
development. U.S. policy throughout the Solidarity period had two
goals: to encourage greater respect for human rights and individual
freedom, while carefully avoiding interference in Poland's internal
affairs. Toward this end, for example, the U.S. Government provided a
total of $765 million in agricultural assistance during 1981.
In response to the 1981 imposition of martial law, President Reagan
introduced a number of sanctions against the Polish regime, including
suspending trade credits and food aid, refusing to negotiate the
rescheduling of Poland's debt, and restricting the export of advanced
technology to Poland. In October 1982, the U.S. suspended most-favored-
nation (MFN) status for Poland in response to the Polish Government's
decision to ban Solidarity.
The United States responded to the gradual human rights improvements in
1983-84 by easing the sanctions and opening a dialogue with Poland.
After the amnesty for political prisoners was declared in September
1986, the United States began a re-engagement with Poland which led to
the lifting of sanctions in February 1987, as President Reagan restored
Poland's MFN tariff status. In June 1987, the United States renewed
participation in the Poznan International Fair. In 1988, the U.S. and
Poland agreed to upgrade their diplomatic relations, and ambassadors
President Bush, who had visited Poland as Vice President in 1987, paid a
state visit to Poland in July 1989, shortly after the parliamentary
elections in which Solidarity candidates scored an overwhelming victory.
With the formation in September 1989 of a government dominated by
Solidarity, relations between the U.S. and Poland entered a new phase.
Following Solidarity leader Lech Walesa's visit to the United States in
November 1989, the Congress passed the Support for East European
Democracy (SEED) Act, which authorized a $928 million assistance program
for Poland and Hungary. Key provisions of the act were a $200 million
contribution to the $1 billion international fund to stabilize Poland's
currency and a $240 million grant to create an enterprise fund. These
and other SEED programs were designed to support the Polish Government's
economic reform program and the country's rapid transition to a free
Numerous high-level visits since 1989 reflect a deepening of bilateral
relations. President Bush visited Poland again in 1992; Vice President
Gore attended the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw
Ghetto uprising in 1993 and of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw
uprising in August 1994. President Clinton visited Warsaw in July 1994
for meetings with President Walesa and Prime Minister Pawlak. While in
Poland, the President announced a package of incentives designed to
promote continued economic growth, trade, and investment; and to help
Poland cope with the human and social problems arising from systematic
transformation. The package included a $65 million Poland Partners
capital investment fund; a $75 million privatization initiative to
support Poland's Mass Privatization Program; a Polish Re-employment
Fund; new law enforcement training; assistance in social sector
restructuring; assistance to stimulate housing construction; and a
micro-lending program. President Walesa visited the United States in
1991 and 1993.
Poland continues to be the largest recipient of U.S. assistance to
Central and Eastern Europe. The U.S. has contributed over $4.6 billion
in debt relief. The U.S. also has an active, broad-based, military-to-
military security assistance and contact program with Poland.
Commercial ties are as vibrant as political ties. American firms are
the most active foreign investors in Poland. The American Chamber of
Commerce in Warsaw has grown rapidly, as American businesses are
attracted by Poland's economic growth and improving business climate.
Post-communist political parties, which won the September 1993
parliamentary elections, have continued free market reforms and support
Poland's integration into NATO and the European Union. A smooth
transition after the 1993 elections dominated by post-communists
demonstrated a commitment to democratic norms by all sides, which bodes
will for continued close cooperation between Poland and the United
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Nicholas A. Rey
Deputy Chief of Mission--James Hooper
Political Counselor--Stephen D. Mull
Economic Counselor--J. Aubrey Hooks
Commercial Counselor--Joan Edwards
Press and Cultural Affairs Counselor--Richard Virden
Consul General--David Hopper
Principal Officer, Poznan--Janet Weber
Principal Officer, Krakow--Mary Marshall
The U.S. embassy in Poland is located at Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, Warsaw
(tel. 628-3041-9). The consulate at Poznan is at Ulica Chopina 4 (tel.
595-86, 595-87); at Krakow, Ulica Stolarska 9 (tel. 577-93, 597-64).
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens do not need visas for visits of 90
days or fewer.
Tourist Attractions: Poland's major tourist attractions include the
winter resort area of Zakopane in the southeastern mountains; the
medieval city of Krakow, including Wawel Castle; the Nazi death camp at
Oswiecim (Auschwitz; the magnificently restored Teutonic fortress of
Malbork; and the reconstructed portions of Gdansk and Szczecin (two
Hanseatic port cities) in the north. Attractions in Warsaw area include
Chopin's birthplace at Zelazowa Wola, the Wilanow and Lazienki palaces,
and the "Old Town" and Royal Castle.
Polish National Tourist Office Information Center: 333 N. Michigan
Ave., Chicago, IL 60601, Tel.: (312) 236-9013, Fax: (312) 236-1125.
Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public
Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC --
Managing Editor: Peter A. Knecht Editor: Anita Stockman
August 1994 -- Department of State Publication 8020 -- Background
Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be
reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated.
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington, DC 20402.
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