By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

THERE are at least 114'000 European Union citizens from the 27 member states resident in the Balearics and the President of the association Ciudadanos Europeos (European citizens), Joachim Wagner, said yesterday that the aim for this year, with Spain holding the presidency of the European Union, is to bring as many of the EU residents closer together with their European and Majorcan neighbours as possible in the region.

The association has been well established for a number of years and Wagner said that a third of its members are Majorcans, but he feels that many European residents are not active enough and need to be encouraged to make a greater effort to get together. “There are 8'000 Bulgarians resident in the Balearics, 2'500 Romanians, but where are they? They all tend to stick together, so this year we want to get them to integrate more with the European and Majorcan community,” Wagner explained. “We organise a host of cultural events but especially concerts because every one understands music, whatever their language, and it helps to break down barriers. “On the first Sunday of every new season, for example, we hold a concert and this year much is being done as part of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Chopin,” he added.

Obviously, the Polish community are very involved with the Chopin celebrations and Waldemar Kondratowski, a Cuidadanos Europeos board member and head of the Polish community, said yesterday that there are at least 5'000 Poles resident in the Balearics. “Some have come to retire, others to work and many to invest,” he explained. “Poland is the only EU country not hit by recession and the economy is growing by 2.5 percent. “But, while daily living costs are relatively low, property is really expensive - apartments in Warsaw cost the same or more than here in Palma - so many wealthy Poles and business people are coming here to invest,” he explained.

CHOPIN “The Poles love Majorca. They love the sun, the food, the culture and now the wine. Spain is exporting wine to Poland, although it's very costly. “And every Pole knows about Majorca because Chopin spent a period of his life in Valldemossa. Polish children learn about the island and Chopin as part of their history at school,” Kondratowksi, who works in public relations and marketing said. “We're working very hard on promoting Majorca in Poland and Poland in Majorca and the number of Poles coming to the Balearics on holiday is rising by about 10'000 per year. “The only hurdle preventing any faster growth is the lack of any proper, direct flight connections,” he added. “The Polish community here is often holding cultural events which are open to all our fellow Europeans on the island and a number, for example, also play for the Balearic philharmonic orchestra,” he added.

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