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Friday, 26 March 2004

Press Conference of the President of Poland and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers

On 26th March 2004 at the Presidential Palace there was a press conference of President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Chairman of the Council of Ministers Leszek Miller. At the outset of the conference President of Poland and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers delivered statements. Statement by Mr Leszek Miller, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland Over the last several days at meetings with leaders of the European Union member states I talked about Poland’s place in Europe and about the strength of the Polish voice in the decision-making process in the European Union. Once again I had an opportunity to realize, with pride and satisfaction, how great is the appreciation and respect which Poland enjoys in Europe and the world. However, the situation in which we find ourselves makes us with doubled force look at the current state of affairs in our country. We must do so as the state of Polish affairs, on the one hand, has been determined by the level of economic progress unprecedented in the last several years, by the fact that as a country we have a well-developed programme of maintaining growth trends and of putting in order and stabilizing public finances, which will be reflected in the material conditions of many Polish families, and by fulfilling our strategic objectives with regard to Poland’s participation in the European Union and NATO. Yet, on the other hand, the present situation is characterized by very slow translating of the economic progress into the financial situation of individual citizens: A visible crisis of hope and confidence, difficulties on the Polish political stage to find abilities to rise above the divisions and backgrounds and to focus on the most important issues for Poland. In the recent time, besides the phenomena and processes which the government and I - as Chairman of the Council of Ministers - personally have to take into account, a major break-up of the left-wing political base of the Council of Ministers has occured. A group of MPs and senators from the Democratic Left Alliance have left the club and decided to set up their own political party. This creates an entirely new situation with important consequences. Democracy has its rights. Managing complicated public affairs, especially at the time of difficult choices and decisions, is possible only when one feels support of political groupings which have taken co-responsibility for governing; only when one is in necessary contact with the public opinion on the substance and implementation of the policy. In both of these areas in Poland today there is a considerable deficit and it constitutes a burden in solving the problems that Poland is faced with. Taking all this into account, I have informed Mr President that after having considered all the circumstances, while exercising the constitutional rights of the Prime Minister, on May 2nd this year, that is a day after Poland’s entry into the European Union, I will submit an official resignation of the Council of Ministers in connection with my resignation. The choice of this date is motivated by the conviction that we cannot allow even the slightest disturbance in the process of carrying out, in the coming days, very important tasks that are still to be done prior to Poland’s accession to the European Union. I am making already now a public announcement about handing in the resignation in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution in order to facilitate the process of creating a new Council of Ministers so as to enable the next government an early start in fulfilling its obligations. By the time the new government undertakes its mission, the Council of Ministers led by me will conscientiously perform its duties which these days are connected with, first and foremost, Poland’s preparation for its membership in the European Union, with implementation of the programme of repairing public finances, with preparing ground for indispensable solutions that would guarantee health security of the citizens and with taking advantage of the commonly appreciated economic growth to create new jobs. Poland is on the right path, we can achieve success. It will be possible if we start to believe in our abilities, if we launch all the reserves, if we rise above divisions, if we attempt to think in terms of the future. And one more thing - there is no problem of Leszek Miller. If this is to serve Poland, if this is to help the Polish left, I choose to resign from my post as head of government. Statement by Mr Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of the Republic of Poland I respect your decision, Sir. I also call on my Fellow Countrymen to respect the decision of Mr Prime Minister Leszek Miller. Its reasons and justification are legible and clear to me. I appreciate the fact that Mr Prime Minister wishes to hand over the government’s leadership into new hands on May 2nd, while being guided by the concerns about the state, the well-being of the people and the need to put an end to the crisis of public confidence and to continue those positive steps in the economy and foreign policy that have been beneficial to Poland recently. The next month will be difficult, but a very important one for many Polish affairs. I am convinced that together we will not overlook such a crucial moment in our history. That is why I address Mr Prime Minister and the government, and I expect that the Council of Ministers will successfully complete our journey to the European Union; that on Monday during the meeting of the Cabinet Council a reliable timetable of steps will be presented, aimed at preparing our state and its institutions for the membership at this last, very short stage; that we will find solutions to the matters that are delayed today. At the same time I wish to inform you that just before the arrival of the Prime Minister I signed the law on Value Added Tax (VAT), and hence the government can immediately take appropriate steps preparing the trade conditions for Polish companies with the Union partners. I expect that the work on the reform of public finances will be carried on – that successive necessary bills will be elaborated and saving measures will be executed. I expect that medical care issues will be put in order, particularly the ones in respect of registration of medical services and the National Health Fund. I expect that the government – as the Prime Minister rightly believes – will do everything to make good economic results translate more quickly into improvement of the situation of Polish families. Poland needs stabilization and predictability. I would like the change of the government to be well prepared and to be accomplished smoothly, in the way that does not endanger the most crucial interests of the country. My plan is as follows: On Monday I start consultations with political parties. They are to make it possible to accept the resignation of Leszek Miller’s Cabinet on May 2nd and to appoint a new Prime Minister as well as – upon his motion – the Council of Ministers. The new Council of Ministers and Prime Minister would have – in accordance with the Constitution – 14 days, that is until May 16th, to receive a vote of confidence in the Parliament. This plan ensures continuation of actions and indispensable stability. This plan will also allow us to get ready for elections to the European Parliament. This is the plan, which enables us, despite the problems we are experiencing, to assure Poland an adequate position in the European Union, whose membership we will acquire from May 1st. I assume, being fully convinced, that – as Prime Minister Miller has declared – all members of the Council of Ministers, all government offices will be working with full responsibility and engagement until May 2nd. It is not the posts, it is the interest of the state that counts. It is essential that we do everything to enable Poland to go through this difficult moment in the best possible style and with the best possible outcome. I call on political forces, I call on my Fellow Countrymen and I call on journalists, and on You, Ladies and Gentlemen, to approve this plan, to accept it and help in its execution. I do not want to and I ask you sincerely not to try to shorten it, to act in haste, and therefore also irresponsibly. I am convinced that the decision that was presented to you a moment ago, Ladies and Gentlemen, serves well the interests of Poland and the Poles. That we will continue to be patient and sensible. That we can make the best possible use of the coming weeks. This patience and effort will certainly pay off in the future.
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