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Old 04-26-2004, 11:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
A boy and his dog
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Location: EU!
World Economic Forum in Warsaw

Warsaw is hosting the European Economic Forum, or whatever it’s called. Local heads of state, big business, antiglobalists. You name, they’ll all be here. One of the reason is Poland’s accession into the European Union. Everyone’s preparing for a showdown. Around 15.000 antiglobalists from around Europe are scheduled to come to Warsaw in the next few days. The government is preparing for a battle, with over 10.000 police and military guarding the downtown area, which is mostly closed off to the public for the reminder of the week.

Now, I’m not with any of the sides on this one. One the one hand, there are the antiglobalists, who want peace and happiness for the world, but go on wild rampages through cities, destroying private, hard earned property, and then you have the inexperienced, scared government controlled policemen, who are just as eager to get into a fight. It might turn in Prague, or Seattle, or nothing at all.

I’m going to spend a few days downtown. I’d like to see which side of the conflict will start the battle, if at all. I’ve just been downtown. Most of the stores are boarded up, so are their logos. There’s police on every street corner. I’ve been passed by a column of military jeeps with loudspeakers on their roofs. Not pretty. I’ll bring you the gory details from the streets in this thread .

Oh, and here’s an article on the whole thing. They’re saying that nothing’s going to happen, because the forum is insignificant, and I guess they might be kinda right. Oh well, we’ll see.

[if this doesn’t fit into Tilted Politics, then sorry]


Warsaw Business Journal


Not exactly Davos

by Aleksander Nowacki

Warsaw, the capital of a country that accounts for half of the combined population of the ten new entrants, was a natural choice of venue for an event to celebrate EU enlargement, say the organizers of the European Economic Summit.

What the WEF officials face
But a glance at the ranking of the world's most popular business tourism destinations gives quite an opposite impression, as the city is ranked down at 66th worldwide, lagging behind more than 20 other European cities. Even within Poland, Poznań is the place more commonly thought of as venue for trade fairs. Can the summit, taking place this week, effectively spur the growth of Warsaw as a business tourism center?

The event, organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF), will be the biggest of its kind in the city's history, attracting 700 participants, including some 15 heads of state and dozens of ministers from across Europe. This, say some hopeful observers, could help realize the potential of Warsaw, which sits at the crossroads of some of the continent's chief transport links. So far, however, it has been Prague, which in recent years hosted World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund meetings, and Budapest that have attracted the most lucrative conference business in the region.

"There is a lot of money out there for the taking," says Irena Sokołowska, conference director at the EXPO XXI center, referring to Warsaw's potential as an organizer of trade fairs and conferences. A number of businesses could benefit from such a development, starting with the many four-star hotels, which were built in overabundance in the more optimistic days of the mid-1990s, and which have barely broken the 50 percent barrier in occupancy ratios in recent years. They have contributed financially to the Warsaw Destination Alliance, an umbrella group for businesses interested in promoting the city abroad. But the municipal authorities have shown little enthusiasm for the initiative, with Mayor Lech Kaczyński saying that "letting them spend their own money" on the promotion of the city was the authorities' contribution.

Even if the summit proves a success, there can be little progress on Warsaw's position as a business tourism destination without a significant improvement in the city's infrastructure. There is a long history of failure in this respect, as in the case of the project to build a conference center in Park Żerański. In the late 1990s, the cornerstone was laid for the construction of this center for 2,200 people in the north-eastern part of the capital, but the project was torpedoed after city hall backed out of co-financing it.

Agnieszka Białczyk, president of Robexpo Targi Duesseldorf, describes the failure of another attempt to build a trade fair and hotel facility, this time in Mokotów in the south of the city. The project, initiated by Duesseldorf Fairs International, came to nothing after the investor was unable to sort out the ownership issues of the selected spot.

"There was no one to negotiate with, despite the fact that Warsaw and Duesseldorf are partner cities," Białczyk explains. Only investors in EXPO XXI managed to overcome such obstacles, though the site still remains blighted by poor surrounding infrastructure and a terrible approach road.

According to the Polish Tourism Organization (POT), Warsaw has the lowest number of conference facility seats, in proportion to population, of all the 25 capitals of the enlarged EU. Unless that is changed, the summit will have no follow-up acts.

But apart from the opportunity to promote the city as a whole, the summit offers a chance for international promotion for many of the country's leading companies. More than 200 businesses are taking part in the event, with some of the largest (Polkomtel, KGHM, Eurobank, PZU, Orlen and Citibank) sponsoring the event.

Veterans of similar events stress the opportunities for networking and the work-like atmosphere at the WEF summits. The Sofitel Victoria Hotel, which will host the summit, says its catering department received specific orders to provide "modest and comfortable" fare to participants.

"We were told that the participants come here to work, so fancy food would be a distraction," says one hotel manager. Although the event is not a place to do business, it is public knowledge that some of the most spectacular mergers in history were conceived at the Davos meet.

Some companies, however, remain unconvinced. One manager said that, after attending the Davos global event, which he found "a lot less useful than trade fairs where I meet people in my industry," he is not planning to attend the less-prestigious regional summit.

"Bill Gates won't even be there," he says, adding, "What's the fun in that?"
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Old 04-26-2004, 12:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
Getting it.
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Super Moderator
Location: Lion City
The good news is that I don't think a riot would do anything to make Warsaw any uglier than it already is...
"My hands are on fire. Hands are on fire. Ain't got no more time for all you charlatans and liars."
- Old Man Luedecke
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Old 04-26-2004, 01:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Beeeeeautiful Bel Air, MD
If they riot, kill them all. They deserve it for ignoring their own hypocrisy.
"Final thought: I just rented Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. Frankly, it was the worst sports movie I've ever seen."
--Peter Schmuck, The (Baltimore) Sun
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
The fact that these Economic Forums are fiercely guarded, closed, undemocratic meetings of multinational corporations and heads-of-state should tell you something about who stands to benefit most and who doesn't...

More on the anti-globalization movement here:
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Old 04-30-2004, 03:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
A boy and his dog
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Location: EU!
The protest was very peaceful, although slightly sill at times. For the 3.500 protesters, there was 13.000 policemen in the city. They were everywhere, on every street corner, in every side road. Police choppers kept flying overhead. The only thing that was thrown at them were rolls of toilet paper. The only cases of violence I saw, or heard about, were soccer hooligans, who tried to start a fight with the police, but where separated by the antiglobalists themselfes from the rest of the protest, and journalist, who got into a fist fight for some reason, when they waited for the demonstration to come to the American embassy. It was funny to see the expression of the riot policemen’s faces, when a group of photo reporters, with large cameras hanging from their necks, started fighting right in front of them.

As far as ideology is concerned, there was a lot of different stuff there. There were some antiwar protesters, anarchists, anti globalists, who think that money should be abolished, laid off miners from poor regions of the country, a leftist political party. The whole thing looked more like the love parade in Berlin, with huge platforms towed by trucks, music blasting from the speakers all the way through the city. Every store front was boarded up. The demonstration took over six hours to get from one end of the city to the other, so you can only imagine the scale of things. People expected a huge fight, but in the end the whole thing turned out to be a huge, city wide picnic, with over 10.000 local citizens coming out to take a walk on the closed main city streets, with numerous bikers and rollerbladers taking advantage of the whole situation.

Summing up, the city was prepared for a war. They had snipers on roof tops, military special forces hiding in ambulances (I saw this when I took a turn into a side street from the demonstartion), and so on. Instead, the city got a picnic, and, with the great weather we have here over the last few days, the people made the best of it. Did anti globalists win me over with their ideas? No, not really. It’s a colorful youth movement, with some radical ideas, but as long as it’s this way, I don’t have anything against them, and I’ll go to the next demonstration, because it was fun.

Want pictures and movies? Here are some URLs for you:
http://banery.zw.com.pl/esg/ (gotta admire the fake logo, which has nothing to do with what happened)
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