On the Importance of Good Friends

I am on my way from Australia to Poland for the UEFA Euro 2012 championships.  This trip half way around the world, is in memory of my father, a football player of some renown in Poland (in the 50s). 

My father was a wise man who often quoted traditional proverbs and one was:

“Z jakim przystajesz takim sie stajesz”  “You liken to your friends.”

Reflecting on friendships I read in a book picked up at the Changi Airport in Singapore “It is better to be alone than in bad company” George Washington.  At Helsinki airport a large billboard announced “Friendships connect people around the world.”

Some friendships survive the test of time and some are destroyed by self interest, struggle for power, influence, misunderstandings and miscommunication.  I am afraid the same goes for the international community.  Just look at the crumbling alliances, ineffective multilateral treaties, pacts and agreements falling apart.

My lifetime friend and business partner is German, I am Polish – we met in Australia at a university in Adelaide.  Guenter and I understand each other well and have much in common.   For a Pole and a German, the recent developments in the European Union are of particular interest. Our mother countries Germany and Poland had a turbulent past but it seems that our recent history is bringing them closer and closer together.

On 31 May 2012 Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Thursday picked up a German award for his efforts to deepen European integration during Poland’s turn at the presidency of the EU last year and for improving relations between Warsaw and Berlin. At a ceremony in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Tusk as a “far-sighted European.”

Poland is the only country which has come out of the recent financial crisis with positive levels of growth.  Poland’s increasing influence in Europe is due to its political stability and positive economic development. The Polish capital markets unlike other European markets remain stable due to the conservative lending policies espoused by Polish banks. Poland has a large internal market and any drop in exports is made up by domestic demand. The government’s monetary and currency policies were a success with no rush to join the eurozone.   The EU financial transfers and repatriation of large sums of money from Poles working abroad came in useful and helped Poland to modernise its outdated infrastructure and invest in SMEs.  The skilled and flexible labour market also helped react to changes.  Progress is being made in the pension and health system reforms.  For twenty years Poland has been immersed in an ongoing transformation process. The modernisation drive in Poland is in full swing.

In this context the political and trade relationships between Germany and Poland are especially important.  Since joining the EU in 2004 it has become Germany’s most important eastern trading partner.  Both economies and both nations can only benefit from a close, stable and strong relationship.

There is a growing likelihood that in the future Poland will play a more important role in the European Union.  German and Polish cooperation brings together two competent and resourceful countries only too mindful of the dangers of conflicts and the importance of peace and reconciliation.  The Polish Presidency of the EU was hailed a great success due to perseverance and high level of professionalism in fiscal discipline, economic coordination and negotiation.

Guenter and I are fortunate to have each other as friends and business partners.  And returning to football…. Germany’s best players are of Polish heritage!




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