Poland’s sweet protest

  • Eva Krafczyk
  • India
  • Oct 03, 2014

 

 

Never did a conflict between Russia and Poland have a sweeter taste - on the face of it, at least. Apples have become the latest subject of dispute between the two countries. Ever since Russia imposed an embargo on fruit and vegetables from Poland, some Polish people have gone out of their way to demonstratively munch apples - a tongue-in-cheek protest, which is also a display of vitamin-filled patriotism. Business journal Puls Biznesu was the first to appeal to the hearts and stomachs of the Poles - more renowned for their liking of pork sausages and vodka than healthy snacks. “Stand up against Putin - eat apples, drink cider”, Deputy Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Nawacki wrote in a editorial last week. The power of the consumer should help Poland to deal with the financial losses of the embargo, he argued. Nawacki’s appeal found a broad echo in the social media in Poland and beyond. Selfies of apple-eating Poles are all over Facebook and Twitter. Commercials on Warsaw’s city buses are urging people to eat more apples. And the chancellery of Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski posted a photo of a smiling President with a basket full of apples. “Don’t ask what Poland can do for you. Buy apples,” tweeted Marcin Wojciechowski, spokesman for the Polish Foreign ministry. “The whole world needs to know: Polish apples are the best!” said Stanislaw Koziej, National Security Advisor to the President. Marek Sawicki, Minister for Agriculture, started to negotiate with the EU institutions on whether Poland might get compensation, and international solidarity trickled in via social media. “So, where can I buy Polish apples in Brussels?” asked Andrew Stroehlein, European media director of Human Rights Watch, on Twitter. NATO headquarters seems to have gathered some fruity intelligence as well. “We also hear that Polish apples are delicious,” the US NATO mission said on Twitter. There is little doubt in Poland that the import ban on Polish apples and other fruit is Russia’s response to Poland’s criticism of Russia’s stance on Ukraine. For months Polish politicians and media have called for stronger EU sanctions against Russia. The daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, calculated how many apples the Poles and their friends will have to eat to soften the impact of the embargo. Annually, 667 000 tons of apples were exported to Russia, while 600,000 were bought by consumers in Poland. Thus, the average Pole should eat 30 kilograms of apples per year instead of 15, the newspaper argued. Sounds like a lot - but after all, the Poles manage to eat more than 85 kilograms of meat, according to officials. “Let’s eat three to four apples a day”, Sawicki appealed on Polish radio on Monday. “An apple a day keeps Putin away” is a popular Facebook message in Poland these days.


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