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Dynamic Poland shaping Europe’s future

May 30, 2009

Dynamic Poland shaping Europe’s future

Posted: 957 GMT

BERLIN, Germany — I travel to Poland a lot. My wife is from Szeczcin, and we visit our in laws every few months. So from the beginning I was very excited to be given the task of reporting from all over the country for our special, “The New Poland.”

We traveled more than 2,000 miles though the country and visited Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Lodz, Wroclaw, Legnica, and Lubin.

What I learned was that most people around the world don’t appreciate enough the transformation that has been going on and the extent of the progress that has been made in Poland in the past 20 years.

In Gdansk, after finishing and interview with Archibishop Tadeusz Goclowski, we visited Galeria Baltyka — one of the biggest and most modern shopping malls in Europe.

Inside we could see first hand that Polish consumer confidence remains robust, even in the face of the international financial crisis. The shops and food court were full of people having a good time when in other countries retailers are struggling to make ends meet.

In Krakow, the picture was much the same. We were impressed by the Polish youth, with most young people perfectly fluent in English, well traveled, and ready and willing to explore and learn.

All of this was mixed with the hospitality and pride Poles are so well known for.

We got a tour of the town from a young photographer who showed us the sights that make Krakow so famous and the hip places not so many tourists see.

Culinary expert Robert Maklowicz agreed to give us a course in Polish cooking even though he had just returned from a long trip to Iceland the night before and we had not even given him any notice that we were coming.

I have never seen anyone who knows more about food than Robert, who gave us a virtual culinary tour of the world and gave us advice on where to eat in places like Italy, Thailand and of course Poland.

I am German, and I think many of us Western Europeans still see Poland as a country on its way to becoming “fully” European. That is wrong. The truth is that Poland is as Western and as European as any other country on this continent.

Poland is shaping the future of Europe and especially the young people we met showed us that it will play a leading role in European affairs and development.

Of course you cannot shake off the effects of 40 years of communist rule overnight. Poland still has quite a way to go to improve its infrastructure (anyone who has traveled the roads extensively will know what I mean). But that will be overcome, have no doubt.

Posted by: CNN Correspondent, Frederick Pleitgen
Filed under: Poland

Re: Dynamic Poland shaping Europe’s future

Don't get too happy though - pride before a fall. In this case, the coming Depression.