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Our European Quest

Day 8: Roadblocks in Warsaw

By CNN's Richard Quest
Richard in Warsaw
• Day 1:  In search of a stamp
• Day 2:  Where am I?
• Day 3:  Bratislava to Prague
• Day 5:  What's in a name?
• Day 6:  Bad bug
• Day 7:  A bulging wallet
• Day 8:  Roadblocks in Warsaw
• Overview: Time of change
• Timeline: WWII to present
• Map: EU membership
Richard Quest

(CNN) -- I feel I have to return to the issue of Poland and the World Economic Forum.

The European Economic Summit has virtually shut down the city of Warsaw. Around 700 delegates are attending meetings discussing very worthy topics such as "Technology in the New Europe" and how to improve European infrastructure.

And all the while they are being guarded by 10,000 police with water cannons and armoured vehicles.

Warsaw is in three zones. You can only enter the central zone with a pass --- you can't walk inside it without one. In the middle zone, residents must carry their documents to prove they live there. Even the outer zone is empty. Most ordinary people have taken the enforced holiday and gone away. Shops are shut.

And it is not as if the people of Warsaw are taking part in the summit. There are no public sessions that I can see. It is the same group of politicians and professors who get together regularly to thrash out these sorts of issues.

It is less than 24 hours before the New Europe arrives and Warsaw is deserted. Where there should be celebrations there are roadblocks. Where there should be parties there are police.

Is this any way to greet a new era? Maybe the WEF should have held its conference somewhere suitably out of the way -- up a mountain, on a lake, down a river -- and let the good people of Warsaw get on with their new lives.


Tonight I have to give a talk at the Intercontinental Hotel in Warsaw about what I have seen and learned during my two weeks on the road. Local dignitaries, business leaders and such.

I will be drawing much on the e-mails you have sent me to give the feel for what I have seen and heard. Thank you for writing them. (Assuming the speech goes well, I will bore you will the text version tomorrow!)

Please keep your e-mail questions and comments coming.

A selection appear on the Web site (click here) along with my answers. The e-mail address is

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