Poland is important to many Chicago-area residents, but what does Chicago mean to Poland? Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski stayed a day past the official NATO summit to visit Polish-Americans and the Chicago Tribune editorial board Tuesday. During the visit here, he said Chicago held "a special place on the map of Polish emotions."
Much of the official meeting had to do with questions about NATO's missile defense plans and Russia's reaction to them (Poland supports phases 1-3 of 4, and notes Phase 4 is what gives Russia fits), the Polish economy (it's growing, but U.S. investment there lags other countries) and Afghanistan (their 2,500 troops will stay to the end in 2014).
Earlier, Komorowski visited with Chicago-area Polish-Americans to talk about investing in Poland, and with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk to discuss pending legislation to lay a path for Polish participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
My colleague Dahleen Glanton wrote about those stories. Locally, Komorowski's political affiliation makes him a controversial figure for many Polish immigrants of older generations -- though many younger American Poles are interested in Poland's economic dynamism. Dahleen's story dwells more on those elements.
What struck me -- despite the global stage on which Poland also was negotiating -- was how much Chicago and the Chicago area's Polish Americans meant to the Polish government.
Why did Komorowski extend his stay in Chicago? "It would be weird not to," he told the editorial board.
-- James Janega
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