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Donald Tusk: A warm Polish welcome awaits you at Euro 2012

IN a week from now, the National Stadium in Warsaw will resound to the first whistle of the first match of Euro 2012.

Europe's best football teams will compete against each other. My heart, like the hearts of most of my compatriots, will cheer for the Polish squad.

Nevertheless, I expect deep sporting emotions at every match and I hope to share them with you -- fans of football from all over Europe.

Whether you drive to Poland, fly or come by rail, we are waiting to welcome each one of you here. We have spared no effort to guarantee you an unforgettable football festival, to be enjoyed in a fantastic atmosphere and the most comfortable of conditions.

For the last five years, like the rest of the world, we have been coping with the economic crisis. Despite this challenge, we have invested billions of euro in modernising our infrastructure. New stadiums are waiting for you in Warsaw, Poznan, Gdansk and Wroclaw.

Maybe it is not for us to boast, but many people have said that the new facilities are some of the most modern in the world.

Poland has made tremendous progress in her development. Two decades ago, we were a poor post-communist country on Europe's eastern frontier.

Today, we are the country that has averted recession during the turmoil and become the biggest construction site in the European Union.

I invite you to see for yourselves the scale of change which our country has undergone.

And there are many more reasons to visit Poland. Apart from our legendary Polish hospitality, you can discover many attractions which are still off the beaten tourist track: the Great Masurian Lake District; the Bialowierza Primeval Forest, unique in the EU; Wroclaw, with its bridges and canals; vibrant and modern Warsaw; the 1,000-year-old Cathedral Island and the Renaissance City Hall in Poznan; and Gdansk -- a pearl of Hanseatic architecture. These are just a few examples of many places worth seeing.

Most football teams competing in the European Championship have chosen Poland for their base camps. This is no accident. We have prepared an internet site to help you find your way around our country. At www.polishguide2012.pl, with just a few clicks you can create your own travel itinerary for your stay in Poland. This online guide will also be available as an application for downloading on your mobile phone.

I am aware that many of you may be concerned with the situation in Ukraine, which co-hosts the Euro 2012 Football Championship together with us. So let me recall something: Julia Tymoszenko went to great lengths to enable Ukraine and Poland to co-host the 2012 European Football Championship. I am confident that despite all the current problems, she would not want her great efforts to go to waste. Euro 2012 is organised for football fans, not for politicians whose presence in stadiums is unnecessary.

However, politicians should use their best efforts to ensure that ordinary Ukrainians are not punished for the difficult situation, which the former prime minister of Ukraine now faces.

After all, Euro 2012 is also their celebration.

With this in mind, do not think twice about coming over to support your team and enjoying Euro 2012 to the full.

We are waiting for your arrival!

Donald Tusk is Prime Minister of Poland

Irish Independent