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Monday, 16 June 2008

President of RP visits Lithuania

On 16 June 2008, President of the Republic of Poland Mr Lech Kaczyński went on a working visit to Lithuania. Upon his arrival, President Lech Kaczyński met with President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania. After the meeting, a joint press conference was held where the Presidents of Poland and Lithuania made press statements.

President of RP said the following:

“Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We made an assessment of the situation in connection with the Irish referendum. In issues that we were talking about the principle of unanimity is binding. What the Irish people have said must be taken with respect. A question must be asked about the reasons behind it. We are prepared to ask them this question and we are ready to accept with humbleness the answers that they provide. Nothing can be extorted in this regard since the European Union is a union of free nations and free people. It is a union of smaller nations, nations somewhat bigger and big nations. They all need to be respected and treated on a par. The success of the European Union consists therein that what originated 51 years ago has not failed and is a great success story, an unprecedented one. The Irish have the right to say what they said and we have the right to try to persuade them. Either we succeed or we do not. And this is the matter that was covered in the first part of our talks.

We were also speaking at length about Georgia. In this connection, our position is common: Georgia has the right to territorial integrity and this should not change. We have decided to go together for a GUAM conference to Tbilisi. I think that this is yet another step on the road to bringing our nations closer to each other. They will continue as separate nations since the Lithuanians are someone else than the Poles but they will also continue to uphold close historical ties. I cannot say for which time we are meeting together with your excellent President: I have lost the count of the meetings even if I was trying to keep track of them: it must be more than twentieth. Ant this is, indeed, the practise that should prevail among the nations which are separate, each of them being different, but which are bound together by history and by present day interests”.

Thereafter, the President of RP attended a ceremony of presenting the Polish Charter in the Embassy of RP in Vilnius. At the ceremony, President of RP said the following:

”Mr Ambassador, Ladies and Gentleman,

I will not hide the fact that I am very moved and very pleased. Over the last two years, I must have visited Vilnius for I do not know how many times: ten or fifteen? I feel here at home and I should feel so. In a way I am a man who comes from this part of the former Republic. I am man who is greatly attached to this tradition but I am also a man who looks on our history in very realistic terms. A powerful Republic existed in the past, so did the Polish-Lithuanian Union, called this very name. Nowadays there is a separate Lithuanian nation and a separate Lithuanian state which has its own ambitions and success to its credit. We wish to maintain possibly closest friendship with this state. That being said, there are thousands of Poles living in this state who did not appear here yesterday and did not come here to earn money. They have been here for centuries, they deserve particular respect and sympathy from the home country, from today’s Poland; the Third Republic. And this is why it is my great satisfaction that a year ago, I could sign a law on the Polish Charter and that I can symbolically present this Charter here in Vilnius. This is a great day. Not because we, the Poles, are nationalists: just the opposite because we are patriots of our own country and we realise that the others are patriots of their own respective countries. But research has shown that the Poles and the Lithuanians show no genetic differences whatsoever. It is obvious: so many generations mixed together, the languages are different but mutually understandable. Of course, these are two separate nations but the bonds between them are still very strong. Ever since by the will of God I became President of Poland we have been working together with the great President of Lithuania Mr Valdas Adamkus to uphold and strengthen these ties and to act together wherever possible on the international arena. In other words: to respect our respective distinctiveness accepting that the Lithuanians are one nation and the Poles are another one, and to preserve our bilateral ties. These ties, however, cannot disregard the fact that many inhabitants of Lithuania continue to be Poles, not Lithuanians. They must enjoy their rights and must be able to act in agreement with the principles cherished by our European civilisation which provide that a minority has its rights but also its obligations. I am not saying to anyone that they should be disloyal citizens of the Republic of Lithuania. You should be loyal citizens of this Republic but also you should be treated like other citizens are: you have been here for centuries after all.

This is my message. I am also satisfied, satisfied with the fact that today in this beautiful palace there is the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. This is to Ambassador’s credit: I can still recall days when it was worse. This is an excellent place for a Polish Embassy to Lithuania to be in, just the way it should be. Also Lithuania, very appropriately, has its Embassy in one of the most elegant quarters of Warsaw. It should be this way since it reflects our ties. But these ties cannot be a limit on your rights. This is why with satisfaction I am now going to present to you the Polish Charter, Ladies and Gentlemen. “

In the afternoon hours, the President of RP returned to Poland. 
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