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Tuesday, 1 April 2008

President of RP addressed the Sejm on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty

On 1 April, 2008, in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, President of the Republic of Poland Mr Lech Kaczyński made an address seeking support of the Members of Parliament in the vote on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. 

Below you will find the text of the address delivered by President Lech Kaczyński:

“Mr Speaker, Mr Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

The Sejm of the Republic of Poland is about to consider today the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Its adoption will be good news for Poland and good news for Europe alike. The Poles are satisfied with our membership of the European Union. The high standing that the European Union has among our citizens is a positive factor conducive to the moulding of the European Union into such a shape that will be beneficial to the Republic of Poland and the entire Europe.

The Polish Nation is a community of generations: those living on our soil here and now, those who passed away and those to come. And it is this kind of perspective that we should adopt when looking on Poland’s membership of the European Union and its importance for our future. Among our compatriots, there are still people to be found who were born as subject of partition-time monarchs. People who remember the achievements but also the problems of the Second Republic of Poland. Many of them have the nightmarish experience of World War 2, the Stalinist terror and the repressions of the communist state thereafter imprinted in their memory for ever.

On the other hand, in last year’s elections, for the very first time the generation born in the memorable 1989 could go to the polls. The history of Poland remembered by the present generations from their first-hand experience but also the one known to us from history books teaches us what great values are independence, freedom and peace among nations.

The European Union is a community of values, democracy and, indeed peace among nations that has been lasting for more than 50 years now. This is the first ever project of replacing the balance of power and competition with the principle of solidarity, the principle that we hold so close to our hearts. It must be remembered, however, that being a member of the EU also implies a constant care to secure our own interests. Not only is there nothing wrong about it but it also desirable. Being a member of the EU one must also bear in mind that the most crucial condition for its existence has always been and continues to be the capability of reaching a compromise among nations and states, the capability to prudently and wisely weigh various arguments and to skilfully reconcile often diametrically opposed interests.

The Lisbon Treaty on whose adoption you will be voting today, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, is a fruit of such a wise compromise. The Treaty was crafted in the course of difficult but friendly negotiations among the leaders of European countries. They deserve acknowledgement today since in the course of this work they demonstrated respect and understanding for our Polish point of view. At this point, I would like to especially thank President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Valdas Adamkus, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Prime Minister Miroslav Topolanek. The same words of thanks are due to Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Junker and Prime Minister José Sokrates. Our joint effort would not end in success if it was not for the great commitment, openness and flexibility of the then President of the European Council Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Treaty has substituted the so called European Constitution, the latter being an extremely controversial document from our point of view. It contained a lot of provisions that Poland could not deem optimal. In the negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty, unlike in the proposed in the European Constitutional Treaty, we managed to maintain the so called Nice system of voting until 2017, as well as negotiate the Ioanina mechanism, to prevent the provision about primacy of the EU law over the national law, to strengthen the competences of a nation state vis a vis the EU, to introduce of the principle energy solidarity which is of key importance to Poland, to provide for nation state competence in internal security, and to secure for Poland a permanent position of an Advocate General in the European Court of Justice, the latter seemingly less important but of a symbolic value. This confirms Poland’s standing as one of the six largest EU countries. With Poland’s support all provisions giving the European Union the attributes of a state were deleted from the Lisbon legislation .The European Union is and must remain a strong union but exclusively a union of nation states.

What is extremely important for the interests of the Republic of Poland is our country’s accession to the so called “British protocol”. It safeguards that our country will never be forced against our own will to adopt solutions contrary to the national tradition, morals and interest. At the same time, we have pledged ourselves to comply with high socials standards and protection of labour in the spirit of solidarity, equally the one spelled with a small and with a capital letter. I am pleased that, as I understand, you have confirmed, Prime Minister, our position on the “British protocol”.

There was a political dispute unfolding in recent weeks on the subject of the Treaty. It did not pertain to the very wording of the Treaty but to the method of ratification which would be for Poland the best safeguard of the solutions I have just mentioned. What are at stake are the “British protocol” and the “Ioanina arrangement” and our accession to these arrangements. The dispute ended in compromise whose realisation, especially by way of enacting specific laws, will allow me to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, something that I will do with great pleasure.

Mr Speaker, Mr Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

Your vote should come as a celebration time of our national unity that is so needed. I trust that the support to the Treaty in this House will surmount partisan barriers. What Poland needs is national unity in the matters related to the European Union and also in defence of her own interests. Such a unity reinforces the Government and the President, who are in charge of our foreign Policy. Poland’s presence in the European Union is for our country a safeguard of good future and also in this stage of historical development is an accomplishment of our national mission and our message. It was our mission for centuries to be part of the political West, and our message is tolerance, freedom and remaining faithful to Europe’s Christian roots.

On very few occasions do I quote the greatest of the Poles: John Paul II but on this occasion please allow me to quote the words of the Polish Pope, the way Prime Minister did. In the face of Poland’s accession to the European Union he said:”I know there are many who are against this integration. I appreciate their concern to preserve the cultural and religious identity of our nation. I share their worries, as well as the economic arrangement of forces in which Poland - after years of unlimited exploitation by the former system - appears to be a country with great possibilities but also scarce means. I must stress, however, the Pope continued to say, that Poland has always been an important part of Europe and today cannot abandon this community which, it is true, is living through crises at various levels but constitutes a family of nations based on the common Christian tradition. Polands entry into the structures of the European Union, with equal rights to the other countries, is for our nation and for the neighbouring Slav nations an expression of historical justice and, on the other hand, can constitute enrichment for Europe.”

I appeal to you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. It strengthens our position in the European Union. The Treaty is a solid foundation on which we will build a good and safe future for Poland. This future cannot be imagined without the European Union, considering our geographical location, our recent history, our neighbourhood. And though it was rightly pointed out the European Treaty is only a work of man’s hands, and is therefore imperfect but at this point in time this is precisely what could be obtained for a country for which sovereignty is the greatest of values. And what was obtained is abundant. When I was leaving for Brussels last summer, I was not certain whether one could gain as much. Thank you very much.”
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