I wrote this article for The Wrocław International, but unfortunately it will be printed in the April-edition, since this edition has 'discrimination & racism' as main theme.
A big group of Poles living in the Netherlands are outraged about an web portal where people can report complaints about disturbance from Poles and other central- and eastern Europeans. The website is created by politician Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom. The following questions are stated on the website: 'Do you have problems with people from central and eastern Europe? Have you lost your job to a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other eastern European? We want to know.'
According to Ino van de Besselaar from the Party of Freedom (PVV) the site is not to discriminate, but to develop proper insight into “problems caused by central and eastern Europeans in terms of crime, alcoholism, drug use, dumping household waste and prostitution,” so he said in Dutch newspaper AD. Although it officially may not be discriminating, the website generates a lot of controversy, not only amongst Poles but also amongst Dutch people. They cannot comprehend how PVV can be so harsh on minorities. The political party is known for their anti-Islamic ideas for years now, but apparently they are not so enthusiastic about other minorities as Poles either.
At the beginning of March, Dutch Minister of Immigration, Gerd Leers, went to Warsaw to talk to Minister of Internal Affairs Cichocki, as well as to Minister of Labour Kosiniak-Kamysz and Secretary of State for European Affairs Dowgielewicz. He explained to them that it's not a government website, but only from the political party PVV. On the same day that Leers visited Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk made the following statement: “The Netherlands is presenting an increasingly un-European face. There is no problem of Poles in Holland: it is Holland that has a problem, because it's the only EU country that is behaving controversially regarding immigrants and the enlargement of the Schengen zone.”
The opinions in Wrocław about this web portal are very diverse. Bartek, a 23-year-old student of the Wrocław University is not to worried about it: “It doesn't bother me too much, we are all living in a democracy so even the biggest idiot has his right to speak whatever he wants to, but luckily we don't have to listen to him.” Wrocław resident Piotr (29) also expresses his opinion: “It's a political issue, some politicians just want to gain voters, of course some of the complaints are well-grounded, but clearly exaggerated. Some misbehaviour of Polish emigrants is very embarrassing for many of us Poles staying in Poland.”
International Dutch companies and some politicians are afraid this might harm the image of the country abroad. Bartek: “I think it could make Holland look bad in Poland, because I think that Poles, comparing to the residents of many other nations act quite good, they are working hard and they're taking the jobs that the Dutch people don't want to do.” Agnieszka, a 26-year-old Polish woman who lives and works in Holland doesn't agree: “I don't think it would change the image of the Netherlands in the eyes of Polish people as I believe the Dutch society knows that not all Polish people are the same, as well as not all Dutch people are - there are also Dutch criminals and drug users, for instance. I believe that Poles know that this website is an idea of only a few people that apparently had some bad experience with some Poles, and it's not an opinion of all the Dutch.”
There are also a lot of Dutch persons who are really fond of Poles and other residents from central and eastern Europe. They organised an eastern European disturbance party in Utrecht to make people aware of how many good things Poles and all the others brought to Holland. The party was really successful, there was a crowd of more than 500 persons who enjoyed a night full of Polish vodka, balkan-beats and polka's. Also the Ambassador of Poland, Janusz Stanczyk wanted to do something to turn the tides and he helped to set up a website where you can leave all your positive experiences with Poles: www.propolen.nl
|Eastern European Disturbance party|
Picture by Renate Klinkenberg