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Saturday, 10 May 2003

President of Poland paid a visit to Sweden

10th May 2003, the President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski paid a short visit to Kalmar in the south-eastern Sweden. President Kwaśniewski and the king Carl XIV Gustaf held talks. Next Polish President and Swedish King participated in the opening of the “Three Crowns and the Polish Eagle” exhibition, which shows Polish-Swedish relations in the XVIth and XVIIth century, Polish Jagellonians and Swedish Vasas dynasties’ relations and the history of Polish-Swedish wars. Similar exhibition was presented in the Warsaw Royal Castle last year. Address by President of the Republic of Poland at an opening ceremony of the exhibition "The Three Crowns and the Polish Eagle Your Majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen, There is a growing sense of urgency in the present day world about the need to pursue dialogue designed to draw individuals and nations closer together. The Polish people are perfectly aware of that need. And our get-together here at Kalmar on the coast of a sea, which acts as a link between Swedes and Poles, is a practical manifestation of that approach. I am delighted to stress at this point that Poland and Sweden look back on a proud record of successful endeavours serving the promotion of our two countries` friendship. Our political relations have never been so good. We are held together by common concern about global security. The practical support lent by Sweden both to the reform process in Poland and to our EU membership aspirations is a further demonstrable evidence of how close and trustful international relations can get. Poland and Sweden have an excellent track record of co-operation both in the Baltic region and within many international organisations. We have been developing vigorously our mutual economic and trade contacts. Poland sets a great value on Swedish investments and the partnership of our local government bodies. A very indicative and successful example of such an innovative bilateral co-operation at the self government level is that in the field of health-medical care. It is worth recalling that it has been here in Kalmar, and thanks to its entrepreneurial County Council, that the Polish - Swedish dialogue and co-operation in health and medical care have taken root. Let´s hope it will spread successfully for the rest of Sweden. Your Majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Poles regard Sweden as a close friend and neighbour. We are aware of our old historic ties symbolised today by a monument raised in the heart of Warsaw to the Polish King Sigismund III of the Vasa dynasty. And we like to visit your country which is only a few hours of ferry ride away. We are impressed by your country`s inhabitants - the architects of both a powerful national economy and of a remarkable social system, who have given the world dynamite and the Volvo, Bergman and the ABBA and the Nobel Prize. Today the words "Poland" and "Poles" sound familiar to an average Swede. Much credit for this goes to our mutual social and cultural initiatives. I expect that the forthcoming membership of our two countries in the European Union will further strengthen and deepen this already very close relationship. The Poles are happy with this prospect. Speaking about friendship-promoting initiatives: we have drawn up a programme of presentation of Poland in Sweden for the year 2003. The programme, officially known as The Polish Year in Sweden, highlights my country`s culture and traditions. We, Poles, have always been proud of our heritage, and have let it inspire us to this day. And we are desirous of putting it on display here at Kalmar in the belief that making our Swedish friends familiar with it, in the run-up to our integration within the EU, will offer them insights into the mind and soul of Poland. The exhibition we have brought over to Kalmar, which will be opened in a moment, plays up our contacts across the Baltic in the 16th to the 18th century. The title of the exhibition, "The Three Crowns and the Polish Eagle", gives symbolic prominence to a century-long history of a shared dynasty when a succession of three Vasas sat on the Polish throne. The common dynasty cemented the destinies of our states and nations, and its impact upon the social, political and cultural lives of Poles and Swedes survived the monarchs who had given rise to it. The exhibition, made up of works on loan from Polish and Swedish museums, is well known in Poland where its first - almost identical - edition created by the leading lights of the Royal Castle of Warsaw was a great success last year. The exhibition is very well known to His Majesty King Karl XVI Gustav, who graciously agreed to join me as its patron, and to His Queen, the Queen Silvia. The King and the Queen of Sweden greatly honoured us last year by opening the exhibition in Warsaw. I am aware of the Royal Couple`s sincere interest in the exhibits, which rank among works of the highest order. Predictably, the Poles gave an enthusiastic reception to the exhibition, because the school, literature and the arts had etched deeply in their minds the reality of the epoch illustrated by "The Eagle and the Three Crowns". The exhibits, handed down to us by the previous generations, excited the imagination of the Polish people and fuelled their interest in present-day Sweden. The Polish press responded with a series of articles featuring both the exhibition and past developments connected with it, while a number of publicly-held events helped disseminate more information on contemporary Sweden. Swedes living in Poland were interviewed by the media and the cinema-going public were treated to a number of films. The vigorous promotion of Sweden further included meetings with the Swedish cuisine and the Swedish table, helping to cement the Polish-Swedish "comradeship-in-the-herring". The country`s IKEA shops reported roaring trade. Encouraged by the immense popularity of the exhibition in Poland, and hoping for a similar success of the venture in Sweden, we decided to take it across the Baltic to our neighbours. What we shall see in a moment almost exactly replicates the Warsaw exhibition. We do hope that the Swedish public will react to it with an equal display of interest. While touring it, some visitors might actually stumble upon some previously unknown, exciting evidence of Polish-Swedish historical links and learn something new about their Southern neighbours. A series of integration-promoting events, which the Polish Institute in Stockholm is preparing for this coming summer within the framework of "The Polish Week", will also help to disseminate information about Poland and the Poles, and invigorate our mutual relations. The neighbourhood of Poles and Swedes is a truly attractive story which our two nations have been writing together since the days predating the developments illustrated by this exhibition. Coming to know the past does help to handle present-day issues, while a shared history, complete with its ups and downs, must not put a distance between nations. The Polish-Swedish relations, so friendly today, offer ample evidence to the effect that the past can actually be a powerful binding force. The Poles and the Swedes have now arrived at an idea of good neighbourhood. And that makes me very happy. I wish "The Three Crowns and the Polish Eagle" - so very well remembered in Poland - success with our Swedish friends, partners and good neighbours, as well.
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