- February 1, 2013
End of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ competition – “Cooperation with Polish Diaspora”
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allocated funds dedicated to supporting the Polish Diaspora in 2013. Since the last year, basing on the decision of the Polish parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages the social initiatives of Polish Community Abroad, and coordinates its actions. Before, since 1990, the Polish Senate was responsible for this.
As the official note says, the Ministry’s contest aims at supporting Poles living abroad in the fields such as education, promotion of Poland and Polish identity, actions of Polish communities, protection of the rights of minorities and involvement of the Poles abroad in economic cooperation with the states they live in. For this year, the ministry has 52 million PLN to be distributed.
After the end of the contest, the Ministry has decided that the money will be dedicated to supporting 97 applications.
There were 418 applications submitted, and the total sum was 240 million PLN. It is twice more than in the previous year and the total sum was also two times higher than it was the year before. Eventually, 323 applications were assessed form the point of view or their content and form, and 97 were chosen to receive funds.
Janusz Cisek, the undersecretary of consular cases and the Polish Community Abroad in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the chosen projects are mainly educational ones, aiming at activating the Polish youth abroad and supporting the rights of the Polish national minority.
The undersecretary has emphasized that this year the priority was given to the projects that support return of Poles to their home country; 5 million PLN were dedicated to these applications. In the undersecretary’s opinion, Poland’s responsibility is to encourage all Poles, including those who succeeded in business and finances, to return to Poland and promote the country in places, where they live– it is another option of supporting the Polish Diaspora.
The biggest amount of money – over 20.8 million, which is 40% of the whole fund – was dedicated to projects connected with education and improving the intellectual potential of Poles abroad. The next part was given to projects aiming at encouraging the Poles to be active in all areas of national life in the countries in which they live (11.4 million PLN). One of the actions supported by the Ministry promotes the participation of Poles in public, political and economic life in the USA. It is about creating a strong Polish lobby in the USA – said Janusz Cisek.
Projects focusing on another priority – supporting Polish communities and minorities’ rights – were given 10.4 million PLN in total, and the projects concerned with introducing the cooperation between Poland and the countries in which Poles abroad live were given 1.5 million PLN.
The Ministry’s declarations about the need to change the way of delivering help to Poles living in the West, made the Eastern communities uneasy. Last year the majority of cultural projects, until now supported by the Senate, was rejected by the Ministry. The media had similar problems. The problems arose, partially, from the decisions about the results of the competition being taken too late. The contest took place in May, funds were given to the winners in summer, and the work of some editorial officer was unsafe. The Ministry was explaining that it was the first year of its cooperation with the Polish Diaspora, the fight about the funds being transferred from the Senate to the Ministry took much time, and because of that the Ministry could announce the competition as late as after approving the 2012 budget (March). “We understand that this year the president may sign the budget bill any moment, so I think that at the beginning of February we shall start signing agreements and dividing the funds.” – said the undersecretary.
There are also other new elements, mentioned by the Ministry. These include better access for the beneficiaries in the process of applying for the financial means. This year the participation of the main partners on the Polish side (“Polish Society” association, “Aid for Poles in the East” Association, “Semper Polonia” Foundation) was much less prominent. It is a change of programme policy – until now, the three organisations had the function of the basic transmitter of means, and the mediator in the dialogue between the Senate and the Poles abroad with their initiatives. “Once, these foundations were given almost 100% of the means, last year they received 82% and this year it will be even smaller sum. The percentage is smaller, because the attractiveness of projects submitted by universities, local governments, smaller foundations and associations was prominent enough to make the distribution of the funds better” – explained the undersecretary.
The current competition has decided about bailouts for activity of Poles abroad, which will be included in the 2013 Polish budget. The competition was open for non-governmental organisations, but only the ones which are registered in Poland and whose actions are concerned with the Poles abroad.
Based on PAP, msz.gov,pl, own information.
Tłumaczenie Emilia Zawieracz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emilia Zawieracz the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.