Gabon, Qatar and the Polish James Bond – Polish Words of the Year 2009 – Part 2

What do you know about Gabon? Little or nothing, I suppose. In Poland this small African country became a center of attention for many politicians for a while in March 2010. Responsible for this unusual situation was the leader of one of the opposition parties and ex-Prime Minister (and twin brother of our president) who criticized the current Prime Minister for unnecessarily making the Poles afraid of euro-bonds that would destroy the Polish economy. He said that one might as well say that Gabon would attack Poland. Later he apologized to the people of Gabon if any of them felt offended and explained that it was just free usage of language and in his metaphor he could have used Martians instead.

Another country present in Polish politics last year was Qatar. The Polish Treasury Minister allegedly found a Qatar investor to save two Polish shipyards. The transaction didn’t take place in the end – officially due to law and organizational problems. The opposition claimed, however, that one of the shipyards was used for money laundering and that the Qatar investor never really existed and the only person interested in buying the shipyards was a Lebanese weapon dealer. At least the last accusation turned out to be false.

Then there was another phrase that rocked the Polish headlines – the so-called Gambling Scandal. As NYT puts it: ‘The allegations that public officials used their influence to reduce the burden of new gambling taxes on the casino industry in Poland have damaged the reputation of the government’. Seven ministers lost their jobs and an investigation commission has been called in to look into this scandal. They have until the end of February to resolve the situation.

My name is Bond, Tomek Bond. Wait a minute! Something’s wrong here, Bond’s name wasn’t Tomek, but James. Of course you’re right, but agent Tomek made it to the press in Poland last year by allegedly using seduction as an anti-corruption measure. reports: ‘The 33 year-old apparently drives a luxurious Porshe Cayenne but sometimes rides a Harley; he wears Armani and Prada clothes and lives in a luxurious apartment. His wallet bursts at the seams with cash and gold credit cards and his “Hollywood smile” melts women’s hearts’. He must quite successful because so far he has managed to reveal at least two major bribe scandals involving women.

Another important headline in the Polish media – parity – also has to do with women. These women, however, do not fall for seductive agents but fight for more power. The Congress of Polish Women collected 120,000 signatures and submitted the draft of the so-called parity bill to the Parliament. According to this bill at least 50% of candidates in local and European Parliament elections should be women. The parity is a highly controversial topic that leads to heated discussions between the supporters and opponents of this ‘positive discrimination’. Time will show how the parliamentarians will vote.

Funny how two out of ten words that were the talk of the Polish media last year are somehow connected with our neighbor in the west – Germany. The first news involves our Prime Minister wanting to change our political system to a federal one, modeled on a German system with a chancellor, where the president has less power and the parliament is smaller. Nothing has happened yet to implement those changes but the proposition itself is very controversial because some opponents of the PM suggest that he’s dreaming of becoming chancellor with (almost) absolute power.

The last phrase to be mentioned in the ranking is the so-called ‘Munich incident’ or ‘coat scandal’. It’s so odd and absurd that it makes it almost funny. It involves a prominent Polish politician (known for his weakness for extraordinary hats) placing his coat (and a hat!) in the wrong over-head compartment on a plane from Munich to Cracow. He allegedly started a row with the stewardess and was then ‘escorted off the plane and back to the airport in handcuffs’ ( He was later punished with a 3,000 euro fine which he refused to pay and, consequently, will be arrested, if he enters Germany again. His wife of course says that the police overreacted and treated her calm and polite husband in an unnecessarily violent way. I must say this all reminds of the film ‘Anger Management’ somehow, it’s just not as funny.

Check also the Top Polish Words of the Year 2009 (Part 1)


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