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Warsaw Street Party Eases Ethnic Tensions

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Published on Sep 6, 2011

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And now we go to Warsaw, Poland, where an annual multicultural festival transforms one of the city's oldest districts into a booming global village. The festival is a welcome relief from the rising ethnic tensions between Poles and Lithuanians along Poland's eastern border.

Ethnic tensions may be on the rise along Poland's eastern border, but the city of Warsaw is throwing a huge street party to show its ethnic minorities that they're a welcome part of the cultural landscape.

And while the Polish prime minister is on a diplomatic mission in Lithuania to ease tensions between Poles and Lithuanians, the deputy mayor of the Praga district of Warsaw is organizing a festival to show Poles and ethnic minorities can and do live in harmony.

[Katarzyna Legiewicz, Deputy Mayor, Praga District of Warsaw]:
"The multicultural aspect is driven by the fact that Praga is already very multicultural. Vietnamese live here, East Indians, Chechens...Praga is very ethnically diverse."

She adds that Praga has always been open to ethnic minorities and that festivals like this one help build mutual understanding between cultures.

[Katarzyna Legiewicz, Deputy Mayor, Praga District of Warsaw]:
"This festival gives ethnic minorities living in Praga a chance to present themselves and gives all of us an opportunity to get to know each other better. It definitely has the effect of fostering mutual understanding."

The annual Kulmixtura festival transforms one of Warsaw's oldest and often neglected districts into a multienthic global village, giving it a much-needed facelift.

[Mahmoud, Egyptian Gallery Owner]:
"It was neglected for some time, so maybe the administration of Praga decided to make a festival, a yearly festival, to revive the culture of Praga."

This artist from Georgia is convinced the with political goodwill, tensions across Poland's eastern border will eventually smooth out.

[Nanuli Burduli, Georgian Artist]:
"In time it will all work out. Everyone just needs to be patient and trust each other."

She adds that minorities thinking of settling in Poland will find it a welcoming place.

[Nanuli Burduli, Georgian Artist]:
"Poles are very nice, very hospitable and very open."

And judging by the crowds flocking to sample the music, the food and the atmosphere, ethnic diversity around these parts is being welcomed with open arms.

NTD News, Warsaw

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