[private] Like many other European countries, Poland has a relatively small presence and few historical ties with Honduras. In the Bay Islands it is the Americans, Canadians and British that still have the highest representation and strongest historical ties. Still there is a growing population of the non Anglo-Saxon, European expatriates in the archipelago. Along with four Polish nationals in the Bay Islands there are around 40 Italians, many Germans, French, Czechs, Spanish, Dutch, Belgians, Swiss, Portuguese, and Romanians.
Poland and Honduras established diplomatic relations in 1933 and today there are two honorary councils in the country: one in Tegucigalpa, the other in San Pedro Sula. The Polish embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, represents Polish interests in Honduras.
Honduras has 16 registered Polish citizens. The Polish Embassy in Costa Rica estimates there are 100-200 Hondurans with Polish heritage in the country. Although the exchange between the two countries is low, around $40-$50 million a year, the Polish embassy sees the potential of growth between the two countries, especially in tourism and ‘dive tourism’ in the Bay Islands.
Poland, in conjunction with EU policies, focuses its aid in Honduras on three areas: regional growth, education, and government strengthening. Poland is actively lobbying several Central American counties for their vote and support to pick Poland as the host of Expo 2012.
Bay Islands VOICE talked with Piotr Pnielnia-Olszynski, secretary and consul of Polish Embassy in Costa Rica about Polish-Honduran ties. Recently, Pnielnia-Olszynski made two visits to Bay Islands and Honduras and plans events to raise the profile of the European country in Central America.
Pnielnia-Olszynski, 38, was born in Warsaw and studied at an Administration School there. For Pnielnia-Olszynski, this is his first diplomatic posting that begun in 2004.
Bay Islands VOICE: Does Poland have a budget for development aid for Honduras, as part of European Union (EU) or by itself?
Council Piotr Pnielnia-Olszynski: Poland is a contributor to EU foreign aid budget. In Honduras EU contributes to education and fighting illiteracy. Especially increasing access to education in the country.
B.I.V.: A growing number of Costa Ricans are applying for Polish citizenship. Are there Hondurans applying for Polish citizenship?
P.P-O.: We estimate that the greatest number of Polish citizens in Central America after Costa Rica live in Guatemala. The Jewish Diaspora in Central America often traces its roots to Poland. In the recent years they felt compelled to claim their rights to Polish citizenships. Every year, 20-30 Polish citizenships are granted to Central Americans, 90% of them to Costa Ricans. The situation changed after Poland joined EU. Now, having a Polish passport allows them to study in any EU country and gives them discounts in travel, museums, etc. Many people see this as a good investment, a kind of a gift for their grandchildren. It’s also a way for visa-less travel around the world.
B.I.V.: What is the Polish Embassy doing to increase, create the presence of Poland in the conscience of Hondurans?
P.P-O.: We are trying to use our two honorary councils to promote Poland through [music] concerts and student exchange programs. The Polish council in Tegucigalpa, Mr. Marinakis, is looking for a place to display a sculpture of Fredric Chopin. In March-April 2007, we will have a concert of a Polish pianist Rafal Luszczewski in San Pedro Sula who will play compositions by Polish composers. This concert is sponsored by the Polish Embassy in San Jose. Our trip here is to establish a greater presence of Poland in the mind of Hondurans. Even thou the presence of Polish emigrants and their children here is much smaller then in Brazil, or Argentina we [still] want to have a presence here.
B.I.V.: What is the potential in growing Polish-Honduran business opportunities?
P.P-O.: We see great potential in Honduras of attracting tourists from Poland. Poland has a fast growing community of divers. With the right publicity and marketing they can definitely attract tourist. [/private]