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Tuesday, 18 March 2003

President of the Republic of Poland sign a decision to use Polish troops outside Poland

On March 17th, 2003 Prime Minister Leszek Miller requested the President of the Republic of Poland to sign a decision to use a contingent of Polish troops as part of an international coalition to contribute to enforcing Iraq`s compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 8, 2002 and the related earlier resolutions of the UN Security Council. President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski signed the request submitted by the Prime Minister.and made the following statement: We have been discussing this issue for a number of weeks and months. I fully understand and approve today`s request submitted by Prime Minister Leszek Miller on behalf of the Cabinet. I would like to inform you that, a few minutes before this meeting, I signed a Presidential Decision pursuant to Article 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and Article 3, Section 1, Item 1 and Article 5, Section 1 of the Law of December 17, 1998 on Rules of Use or Stationing of Polish Troops Outside Poland. In the Decision, I consent to the participation of up to 200 Polish troops from March 19 to September 15, 2003 in the international coalition forces to enforce Iraq`s compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 8, 2002 and the related earlier resolutions of the UN Security Council. The planned area of operations covers the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, the Republic of Iraq, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean. The Decision was taken a few moments ago at the request of the Cabinet and Prime Minister Leszek Miller. As required by the rules and the Law, I have notified Speaker of the Sejm Marek Borowski and President of the Senate Longin Pastusiak. Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to make a few comments on this issue. For years, the international community has been trying to enforce Iraq`s compliance with international decisions on that country. We have emphasized on a number of occasions that our concerns follow from the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, a threat that comes from Iraq. We also believe that we should all take measures against terrorism. Steps taken in the last dozen or so years have not been effective. Regrettably, the results of UN Resolution 1441 have not met expectations either. The findings of the weapons inspectors, information flowing from the Iraqi authorities, and everything we have witnessed in the last weeks clearly demonstrate that the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi territory is a fact and that Iraq`s willingness to disarm will not materialize other than by force. The Iraqi authorities have never demonstrated a will to disarm. We are part of a grand anti-terrorist coalition formed in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001. I recall those events because the memory of not only people, but also states turns out to be short. We remember our pain and the shared tragedy, also associated with the death of our compatriots buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York City. We recall a deep conviction we all held at that time that war against terrorism had to be fought as consistently as possible until the very end. Today, many months later, I would like to repeat these words: War against terrorism must be fought as consistently as possible until the very end and until it brings positive effects to all of us. Poland has never been and will never be in favor of war. We are a nation and a state that cherishes peace because in the past we were too often victims of wars, partitions, misfortunes, violence, and terrorism in different forms. Of all nations, the Polish people should not be lectured about the meaning of peace. We know it very well. But we also know the meaning of failure to act. We know perfectly well the meaning of indifference. We have bitter experience of many wars. And we know the meaning of indifference at the time of threat, like the indifference Poland experienced in 1939. We remember those who, then, did not want to die for Gdańsk, and we remember the consequences of those decisions. Having been tried so severely in the past, today we appeal to the international community for peace, but not at the cost of accepting crime, violence, and terrorism. We say yes to peace if we can ensure it to all people across the world. We are strongly in favor of diplomatic solutions. Poland has supported all measures taken by the United Nations, the European Union, and NATO. Until the very end, Prime Minister Miller and I had talks with our partners to ensure as much room as possible for peaceful and diplomatic measures. Also today, the Prime Minister and I have been in touch with our counterparts. We believe that if tonight, tomorrow night, or later it is possible to find diplomatic solutions to the present conflict, Poland will strongly support such solutions. Poland offers its understanding, support, and engagement in this respect. But I also want to say that if that turns out to be impossible, we agree with Tony Blair`s words that there are moments in history when in order to preserve peace, one must be prepared to fight. We are at a very difficult juncture in our common history. I am convinced that the Cabinet`s request and my decision are right given the threats we must overcome, given the need to ensure global peace, and given commitments to our allies. I am convinced that, allowing for all the doubts and difficulties, as well as the public reaction in individual countries, those who take this difficult decision are right. We must demonstrate determination and strive for solidarity in action. We must ensure that we participate in the widest possible coalition of states and that we come to a point in an efficient manner and without unnecessary victims in the course of reasonably short military operations when it is possible to build mutual trust, peace, and cooperation, also engaging Iraq (which is very important to the contemporary world) and Arab states. I believe that every few hours or every dozen hours ahead of us offer an opportunity. And we intend to use this opportunity. But I want to make it clear, especially to the Polish people: If it turns out that this opportunity leads nowhere but to delaying crucial decisions, Poland has today taken an important decision. We are ready to use the contingent of Polish troops as part of the international coalition forces to contribute to enforcing compliance by Iraq with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 8, 2002 and the related earlier resolutions. Everyone of us would prefer not to go through the moments like today, but there are times in the life of responsible politicians when they have to confront such challenges. I would like to thank the government of the Republic of Poland for taking a very responsible decision. I would like to thank the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Defense Minister. I appreciate the effort that it required and the responsibility that we all bear. I trust that the Polish people will understand this difficult historic moment in which we should be together and act effectively and jointly to ensure peace and security in Poland, in Europe, and across the world.
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