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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • NEWS

  • 24 June 2014

    "We support our diaspora, but we also count on its support. We ask not only what Poland can do for the Polish community; we also ask what the Polish community can give Poland," said Minister Radosław Sikorski when opening the Polish Consulate General in Manchester.

    The chief of Polish diplomacy recalled that this year marks 80 years since Poland's first honorary consulate in Manchester was put into operation by Minister Józef Beck in December 1933.

    Minister Sikorski thanked the local authorities for the hospitality extended to Poles and the consulate, something that has allowed the Polish diplomatic post to function at Portland Street, in downtown Manchester. The connection of Poland and Poles to Manchester goes back to the late 19th century. The first Polish Club was set up here in 1910. It was at the local airfield that members of Gen. Sosabowski's 1st Independent Parachute Brigade did training jumps ahead of Operation Market Garden, WWII's biggest deployment of airborne forces. Unable to return to communist-ruled Poland, large groups of Polish infantrymen, pilots, seamen and paratroopers would settle here with their families after the war. This way Manchester became second only to London as a major centre of the pro-independence Polish diaspora in the UK.

    "I wish to thank the pro-independence Polish community of Manchester for your work and keeping Polish tradition alive," said Minister Sikorski. "I'm glad that our compatriots who arrived in the UK after 2004 are a valuable part of the local community today. You all deserve to have at your disposal a modern and efficient diplomatic post. For this reason, today in Manchester we're opening one of the most modern Polish consulates worldwide."

    Last year alone, the consulate in Manchester received close to fifty thousand Poles and issued nearly twenty-two thousand passports. The air-conditioned premises of the new consulate can accommodate up to 150 people at a time. Thanks to modern offices and the implementation of the ONESTOP system, it now takes on average only 30 minutes to deal with a customer, a marked improvement on the 2 hours it took before. A visit to the consulate is made more pleasant by a multimedia play room for children and a parent and child area.

    Minister Sikorski referred to his last week's address on the MFA policy towards the Polish diaspora delivered in the Senate: "We support our diaspora, but we also count on its support. We ask not only what Poland can do for the Polish community; we also ask what the Polish community can give Poland."

    The minister emphasized that being part of diaspora should not mean severing one's ties with Poland, but rather representing her abroad. He urged Poles in Manchester to remain active in their local communities. Poland's top diplomat called on parents to send their children to Polish Saturday schools, something only 10 per cent of them do at the moment. "We should do everything to set a fashion for learning Polish and for using Polish schools," said Minister Sikorski. He concluded by sharing his personal observations: "I know from my own experience how difficult it is to live abroad, having spent myself nine years in Great Britain. But I also know that all those who strive to keep Polish identity and take pride in being Polish have a special sense of self-worth and prove to be more successful both abroad and at home."

    The minister reminded local Poles about the possibility of returning to the country. "I continue to encourage the Polish diaspora to come back home. Poland is the best place in which to invest the capital and knowledge gained abroad."

     

    Marcin Wojciechowski
    MFA Press Spokesman

     

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