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Monday, 3 December 2007

Visit by the President of the Republic of Poland to Slovakia

On 3 December, 2007 President of the Republic of Poland Mr Lech Kaczynski and Mrs Kaczynska went on a working visit to Slovakia. The President was accompanied by ministers in the Chancellary of the President of RP: Deputy Head of the Chancellary of RP Mr Robert Draba and Secretary of State Mr Michal Kaminski.

The President of RP met with President of Slovakia Mr Ivan Gasparovič in the Hunters Castle in Jaworzyna Tatrzanska. The President also paid a visit to the Polish – Slovak Meeting Centre in Kezmarok where both Presidents took part in the meeting with the Mayor of Kezmarok and with the Heads of the Tatra Euroregion.

During the meeting the President gave the following speech:

” Mr President, Ladies and Gentleman, Mayor, Heads of the Tatra Euroregion,

I must say that our today’s meeting which started in Jaworzyna, or Jaworyna in the Slovak language, proves that gradually and steadily we strengthen our relations with Slovakia , and likewise, Poland’s relations with her other neighbouring countries are getting closer. I am referring to the countries situated to the east and south of the Polish boarders. For me, close relations with Slovakia are only natural. Lack of historic conflicts, similar languages, friendship which was sometimes disguised under, one could say, not entirely true costumes reflected in the saying: “Polish, Hungarian, two good friends”, essentially meant friendship between Polish and Slovak nobility. To put it briefly, all issues mentioned above provide splendid basis for good relations. Moreover, our common membership of NATO and the European Union lays excellent foundations for co-operation. If several years ago my approach towards euroregions was quite reserved, I did not mean by it Polish – Slovak euroregions. I was thinking about those laying elsewhere. Whereas when it comes to the Tatra Euroregion, then I must say it has always been a justified idea since the Tatra Mountains are located mostly in Slovakia and a smaller part of them belongs to Poland. In the geographical sense it is one single region. It affords to us a common opportunity as this is a highly attractive part of Europe. To be honest, such areas do not exist in their plenty throughout Europe. We are obviously aware of the fact that we are not going to win with the Alps but the Tatra Mountains are still very attractive, judging by high numbers of tourists currently visiting both the Polish and Slovak part of the region.

Obviously euroregions are important; Schengen plays a significant role with its idea of lifting boarder barriers. There are now 18 days left until we join the area. The feeling of common interest within the community which we are both members of is quite unique as well. So far no other enterprise has been more successful than the European Union, at least as far as our European civilization is concerned. This, however, does not mean that the European Union is a paradise where all fighting for one`s own rights is unnecessary. And only together is it possible to fight in the European Union. Hence the Vysegrád Group and its expansion to the east of our boarders play such a major role. To put it in a nutshell, it is pivotal to adopt common approach in many issues in order to achieve a common goal. Today we have discussed a number of issues with Mr President and Mrs Gasparovič but it is essential to follow the path of unity within the European Union. This shall not Apple to all matters but it can apply to many.

Ladies and Gentlemen, at the end of my speech I would like to thank you for inviting me to your city which, by the way, reflects special relations existing between our countries, for it so happens that close to Gdansk, hence in a completely different part of the region, there is a town bearing a similar name – the town of Kierzmark. It is not as big as yours, nevertheless, the name probably mirrors the same civilization processes. I would like to express my gratitude to the Head of the Euroregion, the Mayor, to President Gasparovič and Mrs Gasparovič for inviting me to Jaworyna. I hope that such ad hoc meetings will become a regular practice in the relations between the Presidents of Poland and Slovakia but I also hope that they will be transposed to the lower level”.

During the press conference the President made the following statement:

”We are now in one of the two capital cities of the Tatra Euroregion. My experience with this kind of institution has been quite extensive as it exceeds 10 years. I am very pleased with our co-operation. One can say that there are no problems existing between Poland and Slovakia and that euroregions were a good idea. Poland as well has entered a period of rapid growth following a difficult history of the 1990`s. Of course, 1990`s also witnessed a good period but it came about no sooner than after the first three years. I am deeply convinced that Poland is standing a chance for major investments, which has been the case in the last couple of years, but it is small and medium enterprise sector that represents a core mechanism and a huge driver of development in Poland. All research shows that this has been a major growth indicator not just today but for more than 10 years. To put it in other words, from this perspective economic activity in the Tatra Euroregion is of key importance as well. Also co-operation between Poland and Slovakia plays a significant role, irrespective of the size of both countries. I would like to suggest that we adopt the same principles of co-operation as the ones already binding in relations with our Lithuanian friends. I keep repeating to President Adamkus that although the joint population of our countries amounts to 42 million inhabitants from whom the share of Poland is more than 38 million and that of Lithuania less than 4 million, we treat each other as if our countries numbered 21 million inhabitants each. And this is the most effective principle of co-operation between a big country and a small one. It yields best results.

To sum up, I think that we are beginning to see co-operation in this part of Europe which spreads from the western Czech boarder to end at the eastern boarder of Estonia, though we are vividly interested in shifting it farther south – east to embrace Ukraine as well. We would like to see that everyone is treated on a par and that we arrive at joint conclusions within the framework of such co-operation. Since the European Union is a wonderful idea. It constitutes one of the greatest successes of our civilization; it does not mean a “paradise on earth”, though. It is a place where one must fight for one’s own interests and the countries I have just mentioned located at its eastern-most and southern-most boarders have a great opportunity to establish close co-operation. If this is achieved we will have huge chances in what is not so much an “EU battle” but rather an internal EU discussion. We will stand a huge chance as far as our economic interests are concerned where we must approach an average income level. In this respect, Slovakia is more advanced than Poland and the Czech Republic even more advanced but together we have not yet arrived at the so called “average western level”. And this is our main goal and challenge.

However, we have other tasks to fulfill as well. The European Union is increasingly developing its political character and political associations have their interests. We also have our common interests in the eastern part of the Union and they should be represented in an appropriate and energetic way. I would like to thank Mr President once again for organising such a splendid meeting. I hope that out next meeting will be held in the north of Poland, at the seaside. Thank you very much once again”.

In the evening President Kaczynski and Mrs Kaczynska returned to Poland. 

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