Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Poland and Spain

Office of the Press Secretary

The President will travel to Warsaw, Poland, and Spain July 7-11. From July 7-9, the President will attend the 2016 NATO Summit, his fifth and final Summit with NATO leaders. The meeting will afford an opportunity to underscore Alliance solidarity, to advance efforts to bolster security to NATO’s east and south, and to project stability through new partnerships beyond the North Atlantic area. The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the Polish President to discuss U.S.-Polish relations, reaffirm the American commitment to Poland’s security, and exchange views on the broader security environment in Europe. While in Warsaw, the President will also meet with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation across a range of shared priorities, including countering terrorism, fostering economic growth and prosperity, and addressing the global refugee crisis. Following the visit to Poland, the President will travel to Spain from July 9-11. The visit to Spain, an important NATO Ally, will highlight robust security cooperation, a strong political and economic relationship, and longstanding people-to-people ties. The President’s agenda in Spain will include meetings with His Majesty the King of Spain and the Acting President of Spain.


1,050 Years of Poland’s Christianity Celebration on the Campus of the Orchard Lake Schools

This year marks the 1,050th anniversary of Poland’s Christianity. It began in 966 with the baptism of Mieszko I, Poland’s first historically known king. At that time, Christianity was accepted as the religion of the Polish nation. This faith helped the Poles endure years of war, totalitarian oppression and martial law. Even in the last 50 years, Poland has experienced monumental change. “The gift of faith has been passed from one generation to the next and we, by God’s grace and providence, are the recipients of that 1,050-year faith tradition,” said Monsignor Thomas C. Machalski, Jr., Chancellor-Rector, Orchard Lake Schools.

On June 22, 2016, the anniversary celebration will commence on the grounds of the Orchard Lake Schools. Invited guests include the Papal Nuncio and Primate of Poland; all the Polish-American Bishops; the President, Vice President, Secretary-General and Episcopal Delegate for Poles in the Diaspora of the Polish Episcopal Conference and all members of Polonia throughout the United States. Plans are also underway for Archbishop Allen Vigneron, by official decree, to name the Orchard Lake Schools the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. John Paul II.

This historical and spiritual event, cosponsored by the National Polish Apostolate, the Orchard Lake Schools and the Polish American Priests’ Association, will begin with a Mass and General Procession for all. Guests are invited to come in their native costume with their society’s banner as a celebration of national pride.

Elizabeth Furiga: How to Navigate a Milk Bar

The milk bar or “bar mleczny” is a culinary holdover from communist times. These no-frills establishments feature homemade Polish meals at little cost. In the Communist Era, the milk bars were subsidized so that all Polish workers could afford a meal. Then and now, the restaurants serve mostly dairy and flour-based vegetarian dishes. If you don’t eat meat and are traveling in Poland, a milk bar is a great place for you to eat, however, navigating one can be a little tricky.

Milk bars are usually run by lunch ladies in aprons that look like stern Polish grandmothers and don’t speak a lick of English. This makes for an interesting experience ordering at a milk bar if you know little to no Polish. It’s a good idea to learn the names of a few basic Polish dishes before you go to a milk bar. That way, you can recognize the item on the menu and point and say “Proszę” (pronounced Prosh-eh), and the name of the item (if you can muster that or just point if you can’t).

Because the government subsidizes milk bars and many of the ingredients they use, you can still to this day get soup, an entree and a drink for about $4 USD, making milk bars a favorite among seniors, university students and the working class.

Milk bars have reached a mythical status in Polish pop culture. Films have depicted communist era milk bars as having dishes and silverware bolted to the table. While this may have been true (although I highly doubt it) milk bars now use cheap generic plates, which customers clean off the tables themselves. Despite the shabby presentation, the taste of the potato pancakes with mushroom sauce, strawberry Polish style crepes or tomato soup far outweighs the picnic style tableware.

Milk bars are not the place to come and linger after a meal. Most patrons eat quickly and quietly with their heads down, absorbed in their meal. Conversation is verboten.

If you ever get a chance to go to Poland, especially Warsaw or Kraków, make sure to look for a milk bar. It might seem intimidating to order somewhere where no English is spoken, but the reward of delicious, cheap Polish food is worth the hassle.

Poles Abroad

By Robert Strybel, Warsaw Correspondent

An estimated 2.3 million Poles are now working abroad as migrants. As a result, Poland’s true population has dropped from over 38 million at the start of the century to around 36 million at present. Numbers show the most working abroad in Britain (685,000), Germany (614,000), Ireland (113,000), Norway (79,000), France (63,000) and Sweden (43,000). Large-scale emigration began after Poland joined the European Union and successive countries opened their job markets to Central East European newcomers. It remains unknown how many of the Polish migrants have put down permanent roots abroad and how many intend to return to Poland.

Poles are top 10 in English

By Robert Strybel, Warsaw Correspondent

According to the Swedish-based EF (Education First) Language School, Poles rank in the top 10 of the world’s most proficient speakers of English as a Foreign Language. Poland scored 62.95 in the study, ranking it in ninth place worldwide. Sweden captured first place with a score of 70.94, followed closely by the Netherlands (70.58) and Denmark (70.05). It’s obvious that Germanic-speaking countries usually fare the best, so it may come as a surprise that Poland came in a tad above both Germany and Austria.