FIRST OPEN LETTER CONCERNING RECENT CHANGES IN STATE ARABIAN STUDS
In the picture stallion Equator during decoration in Paris in 2014., Breeder: SK Michałów
photo: Sylwia Iłenda
1st OPEN LETTER
Warsaw, February 24, 2016
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, Professor Piotr Gliński
His Excellency Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Republic of Poland, Mr Krzysztof Jurgiel
Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage,
Your Excellency Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,
I am writing to Your Excellencies in connection with the recent events associated with the historical, unique Polish tradition of breeding pure-bred Arabian horses. I believe the gravity of the situation requires the attention and guidance of both of Your Excellencies, as it relates to a Polish national treasure, the 200 years old monument of our culture, miraculously saved from the devastation of the Second World War, and the last remnant of the heritage of the eastern borderland aristocracy. It is a priceless cultural asset, for which our country is admired all over the world. A treasure which should remain with us for at least another two hundred years and keep reminding us about our identity, the ability to survive in the most dire circumstances, and the ability to create great things. It is also a treasure that is exceptionally fragile, requiring top class professionalism, experience, heart and meticulous care. It is an asset about which we as a nation should learn and understand more in order to recognize the multi-dimensional advantages which Poland obtains, from the mere fact of possessing it. It was developed to perfection by the effort of generations of outstanding breeders, and is now appreciated the world over. It is generally acknowledged that over the past years this spectacular success was the result of the work of the Directors of the Studs in Janów and Michałów, Mr Marek Trela and Mr Jerzy Białobok.
It seems that after the breakthrough of 1989, after the fall of communism, which brought down the barrier created for ideological reasons by the communist authorities between this proud heritage of the First and Second Republic of Poland and the Polish society, breeding of Arabian horses remained in a niche that was too incomprehensible to most people for a discipline that ensured the exceptional position of Poland on the international scene. This was true despite the efforts of some outstanding representatives of this community, such as irreplaceable Mrs Izabella Pawelec Zawadzka, RIP, and relatively lively interest of the media.
It is extremely important that appropriate state authorities make an effort to secure the existence and development of Polish Arabian breeding in the future. In my opinion this process ought to begin with a deep reflection over the disputable decision of the management of the Agency of Agricultural Property concerning changes in the management of Polish studs. But it should not be limited to that.
There is no doubt that the dismissal of experienced, successful directors of the studs in Janów and Michalów, who enjoyed worldwide recognition and respect and gained undisputed achievements in terms of breeding as well as auction results, and replacing them with persons without comparable knowledge and experience, is a risky move in terms of preserving the quality and generally speaking the future existence of Polish Arabian horse breeding. It must be remembered that the experience of the Polish directors is unique the world over, as unique as the quality and size of the Polish state breeding institutions. It continues the experience of earlier generations of Polish breeders. I strongly believe that Poland, being a key country for the future of pure-bred Arabians worldwide, ought to put sufficient weight to the issue of continuity of generations in the state studs and preserving their elite international position.
However, in order to achieve this it seems that an appropriate legal as well as organizational and financial framework is required, which will secure the existence, preserve the quality and ensure further development of Polish Arabian studs. We need to readjust the decades-long approach to this magical, exceptional discipline, for which Poland gains so much admiration.
I would therefore like to call on H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage to consider a decision to initiate the procedure leading to placing state Arabian studs in Janów, Michałów and Białka, including the historical building complexes which house the studs, on the UNESCO’s list of World Cultural Heritage. There is a very high likelihood that these cultural and natural assets fulfill the requirements of both Art. 1 as well as Art. 2 of the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
At this point I would like to share my conviction that cultural and natural assets such as Polish pure-bred Arabian studs, within the meaning of the Convention, fulfill an exceptionally wide scope of criteria making them eligible for inclusion the UNESCO List of World Heritage, i.e. criteria I, III, IV, V, VI with regard to cultural assets and criteria VII and IX with regard to natural assets.
According to the UNESCO procedure applicable in such cases I would also like to request that a Management Plan be prepared in line with UNESCO directions for Polish Arabian studs as cultural and natural assets.
I would also like to request Your Excellencies to consider the possibility and grounds for including the rich subject matter associated with the history and tradition of breeding Arabian horses in Poland in the UNESCO “Euro-Arabian Dialogue” program.
On the other hand I would like to kindly request H.E. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to carefully consider the reasons for the decision of the Agency of Agricultural Property concerning changes in the management of state Arabian studs and possibly to take steps to correct these decisions. I am deeply convinced that the experienced stud directors of Janów and Michałów, as well as the Inspector who until now supervised these studs, ought to be given an opportunity to continue their work and the breeding programs they have implemented in the best interest of the Polish studs, unless there are some very good reasons to do otherwise. They should also become a part of an organized process of educating a new generation of Arabian breeding specialists, which ought to be treated as a critical element of a plan to preserve and secure the future existence and development of Polish Arabian studs.
I would also like to call upon both Your Excellencies Ministers to consider and possibly to take up inter-ministerial discussions with the view to transform the historical, unique pure-bred Arabian studs in Janów, Michalów and Białka into national cultural institutions. For many years these studs have been operating as capital companies of the State Treasury, under a legal framework which obviously requires them to seek profits and sources of self-financing instead of creating conditions and incentives for concentrating only on protecting and developing the cultural and natural heritage under their care. As a model I would like to propose the solution adopted in Qatar, where the royal, national Arabian stud, Al Shaqab, is a part of the Qatar Foundation – a national institution supporting the development and protection of culture and historical heritage..
I would like to call upon both Excellencies Ministers to use this moment of general concern in Poland and abroad with the fate of unique Polish studs, to save this invaluable national asset for future generations, and ensure the continued existence and development to these historical monuments. This will bring Poland permanent benefits in terms of image, cultural and even political prestige, associated with possessing this exceptional treasure.
You, Messrs Ministers, due to the authority and powers vested with you, are the only ones who can bring about a historical change in the approach of the Polish state to the priceless pure-bred Arabian bloodstock we have in our country.
No one in Poland, when thinking about the Polish Arabian studs, looks at them from the point of view of farms or capital companies. When we think about them we refer to our history, culture, to the heirloom of the eastern borderland aristocracy, and to the contemporary prestige and international success they have achieved. We see them as a priceless cultural and natural treasure, with a national as well as global dimension. I am sure that the time has now come to think very deeply whether this state of affairs ought to be reflected in the legal and organizational framework in which these centers operate. Obviously, due to the unique nature of this cultural and natural asset it is a prime necessity to appoint competent management of the studs and initiate a process of educating the next generation of breeders.
Once again I would like to request you both, Messrs Ministers, to examine this issue in depth, bearing in mind the responsibility for our common national heritage, and to do everything possible to secure the continued development of world class breeding of Polish Arabians in Janów, Michałów and Białka.
I am making this appeal public in the form of an open letter, hoping that the solutions I propose will deserve the attention and interest of all admirers of pure-bred Arabians. And that the dialogue which I hope to initiate around this pressing issue will assume a more constructive form, to the advantage of the cause, the Polish cause, with which I believe we are all deeply concerned.
Łukasz Łuniewski (Lucas Lunevsky)
chairman of the board
Arabian Horse Culture International Institute
Wspólna street 50A/35
We would like to thank the Law Firm DKK for their pro bono legal assistance in writing this letter:
Read also the 2nd Open Letter from March 31 2016: