The property of land versus the Polish raison d'etat

Dominik Cywiński

Speaking about the raison d'etat, we mean the parent interest of the country, interest of the nation, common welfare of most citizens and organizations acting in the country (or outside it, but for its sake). Important issues of so understood raison d'etat are issues of sovereignty of the country, its strong economic position and the position in economic and political alliances.

People following raisons d'etat are defined as statesmen. Surely, the statesman for us in the second half of the XX century was the Primate of the Millenium Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. In the situation when state offices at that time were filled with people who were supposed to take care of not the Polish raison d'etat but the neighbouring powerful country, the person of the Primate becomes a statesman of great format. His statements, pastoral letters and sermons are a proof that the Polish raison d'etat was extremely important to him.

He often spoke about the significance of land which God had given to our nation. In 1970 in Łowicz, during the Harvest Festival, the Primate said to farmers: 'Poland, although it would get industrialized (…), must still be related to land. It must love home land and cannot get separated from it. (…) If the nation wants to maintain its national and state existence, its independence and freedom, it must be related to land. Like grass keep quicksand, so that they would not be blown away by storms, the Polish nation must keep itself with the whole spirit and whole heart, so that by getting related to land and not allowing for disinherited itself from it, could secure its freedom and place on the card of Europe'.

Before thirty years - in 1980 in the Warsaw arch-cathedral the Primate warned: 'We are worried by how decisions about land are easily made, without any historical vision towards the future, without proper reflection, how it will be in next century, after the year 2000, on the Polish land. For, when there is no historical vision of the future of the nation, whole human estates are going under an axe…'These words sound prophetic after years, and I recall them, being influenced by events which I am witnessing at present as a resident of Szczecin. Since 5 December 2012 in the city the protest of farmers has been noticeable. They arrived with their tractors (often they are the property of banks than their real property) and stood at Szczerbcowa Street and Wały Chrobrego Street. The place of the picket is connected with the fact that in one of the wings of the building of the Province Office there is the branch of the Agricultural Real Estate Agency of Szczecin. The agency founded in 2003 realizes tasks resulting from the policy of the country. It is supposed to create and improve, among the others, the area structures of family households, rationally use agricultural real estates of the State Treasury, administer and sell them. In the opinion of protesting farmers, the Agricultural Real Estate Agency of Szczecin did not do these tasks properly. They demand demission of the management of Szczecin of the branch of the Agricultural Real Estate Agency of Szczecin.

- In fact, these protests started much earlier, on 29 February 2012, with a march of farmers from a gate of the bankrupted Shipyard of Szczecin to the Province Office, to the headquarters of governing parties of the Civic Platform and the Polish People's Alliance - said Edward Kosmal, the chairman of the Inter-union Protest Committee of Farmers from the Province of West - in order to submit their postulates and, first of all, to oppose to the policy of the Agricultural Real Estate Agency of Szczecin. Our petitions remained unanswered, later talks in the Agriculture Ministry and signed agreements were not realized. On 14 June we met again at the gate of the shipyard, we were occupying the Province Office for 4 days, had talks and negotiations (decisions from 18 June and 4 July), but without any effect, most of them were not realized. Therefore, on 5 December,in the act of desperation, farmers arrived by tractors to the headquarter of the Agricultural Real Estate Agency and they have still been there till today. We feel bitter that despite our requests and submitted suggestions, the government is not solving our problems.

The Inter-union Protest Committee of Farmers from the Province of West started a protest action, demanding the realization of the postulates. Among them, in the first place there is care about the sale of land in the protection period till 2016. The present temporary time (we have negotiated its length for 12 years) was supposed to serve to our farmers in enlarging their households. However, at this time, farm land in Poland got expensive. Its too high price did not allow Polish farmers to enlarge their households. Big areas of Polish land got into the hands of speculators, foreign land owners. In order of the protesters a big part of land gets into the hands of foreign owners through substituted people, the so-called columns. The scale of this phenomenon will be revealed in 2016. The protesters maintain their opinion that according to their calculations, we have already got rid of an area equalling to one province.

The protesters demand complex actions of the government of the Polish Republic in the issue of balancing the conditions of the competition between Polish farmers and farmers from countries of the old 'Fifteen', through balancing the level of direct surcharges and providing proper financial means in the new financial perspective. Moreover, they do not accept the idea of introducing income tax in agriculture. They are definitely against the attempts of legalizing cultivation of genetically modified organisms in Poland.

Despite the difficulties of transport, downturn of traffic because of tractors passing through the city, the attitude of residents in Szczecin towards the protesters is very positive. Asked in surveys, they show understanding of the opinion of farmers and they are in solidarity with them, showing them their approval.

From the beginning of the protest Fr. Waldemar Gasztowski is with them, the diocesan priest of farmers. The priest of the diocese of Szczecin, archbishop Andrzej Dzięga arrived at the headquarter of the Agricultural Real Estate Agency on the special day - on the eve of Christmas and said to farmers: - I know a lot about you, pray for you and listen. And I also want to thank you and congratulate you on the system which you have worked out; in which you are trying to save the city to maximum, so that there would be as few difficulties as possible, and also you are standing patiently on guard, on duty. Archbishop Dzięga referred to the protest during special wishes addressed to farmers at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated by him at Christmas midnight in the arch-diocesan basilica in Szczecin. All believers were informed about the problem in the text of the wishes of the Priest addressed to them which were read out in the churches of the arch-diocese.

'I understand this protest as a loud cry of ordinary Polish citizens to the authorities of the Polish Republic to consider the problem of the land property as the Polish raison d'etat at Oder river and Baltic sea' - wrote archbishop Dzięga. - It is really an important issue. After all, it goes about the property of over half of the whole area of farm lands of our province. Farmers often reminded that the sale of the Polish land is an act happening once and irreversible. Whereas the land should serve to the security of food effectively, also for other generations. It is also important for residents of Polish towns and cities. The land should serve to not only its private owners but also to the Polish country as a whole. The fact is that foreigners are as good owners as Poles, but there is also a fact that these households should, first of all, strengthen Polish economic life. For this reason also Polish economy should protect polish ownership in a proper way. It is strange that it is understood by ordinary farmers and they are courageous to speak about it, whereas it seems not to be understood by statesmen responsible for it'.

Archbishop thanked Polish farmers that they have been willing to speak about it with the government representatives for years. I feel personally sorry that their voice is still being hindered or muted.

When after a month from the beginning of the protest I visited Wały Chrobrego street, at that time farmers started debates in the hall of the Province Office with the representatives of Agriculture Ministry. There are plans to set up a common team which would work out specific legal solutions of the raised problems. Let it happen. This is the polish raison d'etat here, at Oder river and Baltic sea.


"Niedziela" 3/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: