Update on my open letter to Poland

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Diana Skye writes:

Note: this post is an update on my open letter to Poland. If you haven’t read that, I would encourage you to do so. You can find that here:

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https://toronto-businessphere.com/2017/03/04/poland-i-love-you-but-hate-your-government-an-open-letter-to-my-parents-home-country/

About six months ago, I published an open letter to Poland. It was about how I still love the country but am frustrated with their current government. They have been trying to implement backwards policy changes like a total ban on abortions. They are also supported by extremist Catholic radio station Radio Maryja. The event that inspired me to write the open letter was a ridiculous policy change that personally affected me. I have a Polish citizenship but my Polish passport expired over seven years ago. Therefore, I couldn’t travel there unless I wanted to risk getting stuck in the country for weeks. My only other options were a new passport or canceling my citizenship.

In this update, I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that things have not gotten any better in Poland. The government continues to make crappy decisions in spite of many protests. I keep hoping for some dramatic event that will cause a government change or at least put the country back on the right track. It’s highly unlikely, but a girl can dream. I know that major progress doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t expect marriage equality or widely available abortions anytime soon. However, I would like Poland to be moving into this century instead of back to the mid-1900’s. They were doing well just a few years ago before the current government came to power.

The good news is that my dilemma has been solved. In my open letter, I mentioned the only reason I was keeping my citizenship was to prevent inheritance issues. Since then, my dad has done some research. It turns out that Poland charges the same amount of inheritance tax regardless of citizenship or residency. Since that is not an issue for me, I am now completely fine with canceling my citizenship.

I am very relieved by this turn of events, even though it’s not without drawbacks. I still have to save money and go to the consulate, but I will be able to do it by the end of the year. The process can take up to two years and I still can’t go to Poland within that time. Silly government doesn’t care if you are in the process of cancellation. You are still a citizen until it’s official. Still I am happy that I have figured a way to get out of this weird limbo.

I will always wish nothing but great things for Poland. In the mean time, I will be glad to get my personal troubles resolved. I do want to visit my family in Poland in the future. Therefore I am very happy to have found a solution that does not involve hoping for the best, traveling to another Schengen country, or asking the Canadian embassy to rescue me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update.

Poland, I love you but hate your government: an open letter to my parents’ home country

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Dear Poland,

When I was younger, I spent several summers visiting you. Some of them were more difficult than others, but I had great moments. I always enjoyed walking through the Skwer Kościuszki and playing in the sand at the Sopot beaches. The best blueberries I ever had grew in my aunt’s garden. It’s safe to say you gave me some great memories.

Something that I always had an issue with was the religious extremists, particularly those who listen to Radio Maryja. This radio station was started by a priest and most of the listeners are old people in rural areas. It has been accused of homophobia and antisemitism among other things. Also the priest has given bad sex advice although he’s supposedly celibate. It claims to be “the Catholic voice in your home” but even the Vatican has said they are deeply concerned about Radio Maryja.

I know every country has amazing people as well as horrible ones. Even Canada has its prejudiced idiots. So I did what I do here: not take them seriously and laugh at some of the dumb crap they say. My close relatives all think these people are stupid. Surely most of Poland did too, right?

At least that’s what I thought until a government supported by Radio Maryja came into power. Since then, you have been slowly going backwards. The new government wanted to ban all abortions, even though the abortion law is already among the most restrictive in Europe. (Can only be performed in cases of rape, incest, deformed fetus, or when the mother’s life is in danger) Thankfully this new law did not pass. However there is a law that did pass and it negatively affects me.

Even though I was born in Canada, I am the daughter of a Polish citizen. Therefore I have had Polish citizenship since I came into this world. I used to have a Polish passport, but it expired when I was twenty. I did not bother to renew it since Poland does not require visas from Canadian citizens. The last time I visited was four years ago and I had no troubles. Now the idiots in power have decided to change this. If I go back, I cannot leave without a Polish passport. I would be stuck in the country for three months during the application process.

I think this is ridiculous. I have never lived with you and do not consider myself a citizen. I now have several choices and hate all of them. One is to get a Polish passport, which would be time consuming and cost money. Another would be to risk it and try to get out through Germany, hoping border controls are not in place. There is also getting stuck and hoping the Canadian Embassy can help me out somehow.

If it were not for potential inheritance, I would get rid of my citizenship. It would be $600 and require a long drive, but I would have no future concerns. I would be just another Canadian visitor once again. My dad lost his citizenship decades ago due to political reasons. At this point, I almost envy him.

I did not want it to come to this. I have several relatives in your country that I adore. I do not think you are a bad place. In fact, you came a long way after communism fell. However, the direction that you are going in makes me sad. I really want things to change for the better, preferably soon. Until then, you will not be seeing me for a while.

Lots of love,

Diana.