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Gathering of the Honorary Consuls in Warsaw, Poland, 14th and 15th October 1999

Meeting with the President of The Republic of Poland, Mr Alexander Kwasniewski

On 14th October 1999 I was privileged to meet the President of The Republic of Poland, Mr Alexander Kwasniewski.

I presented the President with a silver lapel pin of a kiwi and invited him and his family to visit New Zealand, in a private visit of course, after the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000.

The President was quite interested and I shall follow this up in the due course.

The President met with all of the Honorary Consuls attending this special gathering in Warsaw on the 14th and 15th of October 1999.

The meeting was well organised by Ministry of Foreign Affairs included a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Bronislaw Geremek, the Economics Minister, Mr Janusz Steinhoff, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr Andrzej Arendaraski and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Officials.

The topics ranged from economic growth in the last ten years; to information on Poland's place in NATO and of course the negotiations with the European Community for Poland's entry into UE, some time early in the next century.

Prior to the Second World War Poland had over 100 Honorary Consuls throughout the world. From 1945 until Poland regained independence Poland cancelled all appointments of Honorary Consuls. However since the independence the Polish Government has re established the Consulates throughout the world and now has 102.

The special gathering in Warsaw had 32 Honorary Consuls present covering countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, USA, Canada and Oceania. There were representatives from Zambia, Congo, Guinea, Uganda, Egypt, Garner, Djibouti, Gabon, Kenya, Republic of Kotonu, South Africa, three from Israel, Togo, Sierra, Cameroon, Philippines, Nepal, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Bangladesh, USA, Canada and New Zealand.

Some of the Consuls were asked to address the meeting. My address to the assembled company included a history of Polish Immigration to New Zealand, covering the original workers/settlers in Dunedin and Taranaki, the Pahiatua Children in 1944, immigration since 1945 to present. I requested help from various organisations and institutions in Poland for the Polish schools teaching polish children polish language and Polish language course at the Auckland University.

I raised difficulties that the Pahiatua children had with requests for passports and received confirmation both from the President's office and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that procedure will be simplified and passports will be granted to all who will request them.

All of my requests were favourably received by the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the whole I found the gathering to be well organised, informative and my wife Valerie and I enjoyed meeting my colleagues. We have already received several follow up letters from around the world.

J Roy-Wojciechowski

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