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Sunday, 11 June 2000

President attends SLD Convention

On June 11th, 2000, President of the Republic of Poland took part in the National Convention of the Left-Wing Alliance (SLD) in Warsaw. During the debates, delegates passed a resolution on SLD`s support for Aleksander Kwasniewski`s candidacy in the presidential election this year. Addressing the gathered delegates, President Kwasniewski said i.a.: Five years ago, by your recommendation and will, I took up the most difficult challenge in my life. The office I am holding is supra-political. Always, when it was difficult, I have felt your support and sympathy. Thank you for that and I would like to say that together we have achieved many a success and that we will jointly win this time around, too. In 1995, we said that joint effort was needful to ensure a good future to Poland. We were saying then that no state was doomed beforehand for the lack of hope and poverty, but that there were states which were only badly organised, entangled in internal conflicts, devoid of faith for the future. We were saying then Poland needed a president who would not divide, but unite, one who would strengthen the state and its structures. We also said that all of us needed a president who would want and be able to collaborate with each government, who would be a spokesman for social sensitivity and solidarity. I feel to be an advocate of a civic society. Support the economic growth and strive for Poland`s international position and its security - these were and will remain to be the most important goals of my work (...) The just passing five years were full of important events, fraught with dangers. In keeping with the Constitution as the President of the Republic of Poland, I have concentrated on the basic issues: strengthening the foundations of our statehood, independence and security. On standing guard to the principles of a democratic state of the law. I would like to say with pride that jointly we have achieved much. The Polish state has become stronger. We have got a new democratic constitution. It exists owing to the support which you lent, to the effort made by many of you, present in this hall, which fathered the modern and good Constitution of the third Republic. By creating consecutive rungs of local government, we have made an important stride on the road towards a civic society. Today, Poland is secure. We have joined NATO and strengthened bonds with neighbours and other countries in Central Europe. Never in the past few centuries has Poland possessed such guarantees. Never have we been together in one and the same political-military alliance with Germany. It was just during my term of office and with the participation of governments hailing from the SLD that we achieved that goal. The goal whose importance can hardly be overestimated. We are in talks on joining the European Union and I believe that with our active participation and effort, by our work, we will also attain this purpose. I wish that to all fellow Poles, and you in this hall, with all of my heart. Poland`s economy keeps expanding and modernising. We chalked up economic growth over several years, the highest one in the years 1995-1997. We do remember who was ruling then. Today, the economic situation is more difficult. Due to negligence and errors committed by the ruling government. All the greater then is our responsibility not to allow negating the effort and sacrifice of millions of Poles in the past decade. Already now the Left-Wing Alliance, as a responsible opposition group, must take an active part in the feat of strengthening Poland`s economy. I expect those in power will be ready for such a dialogue. But we cannot be self-complacent. In a letter to you and all of my compatriots, I wrote there were phenomena and events that constituted a painful prick of conscience. Mine, but also of all those who bore responsibility for the state, for the public and our destiny over the past five years. We must bend over poverty and destitution, which are present in so many, too many Polish families. We have not done everything for the regions and cities which are not enjoying the benefits of reforms, which are falling behind those who are getting along, who hail each day with a smile. We must utter words of apology, as well as of great commitment for the future to inhabitants of thousands of Polish villages, who so often begged for understanding and support. I, as a president who has been in office for nearly five years, must utter words of apology, as well as promising that we will do everything in our power in order not to see those seeking jobs, those fit to work, knocking on the door behind which lie bad news and hopelessness. We must direct our interest and actions to hundreds of thousands of Polish youths from poor families, small towns, to youths who like Leszek Miller or Aleksander Kwasniewski once wanted to leave their townships to do something more for Poland. Those young people, girls and boys, deserve our assistance and support. Be it like my wife says: Let no David Copperfield be deprived of education, of Internet, of good upbringing. We have no right to bar anybody from having his future in the third Republic. Let`s remember we have not done everything to cover sick people with appropriate medical care, to provide them with due care by state and local administration, and to protect them duly on the streets of their towns. This is not a matter of this or another political party. These are Polish issues for which I, as the president, and you, the SLD, are and will remain being responsible. But we can be trusted. We will make a meaningful change in this matter. The challenge which we have been facing since the very start of our activity is this one: how to match economic effectiveness, how to reconcile economic growth, how to reconcile tough market rules which are binding in global economy of the present day with social sensitivity, with approach to people, who by no fault of theirs found themselves in a difficult situation. What to do lest global economy mean only good bourse indices? What to do to make global economy mean chances for everyone, to make it mean prosperity to Polish families, to young people? What to do to make the effects of changes be felt by all, or nearly by all? This is a dilemma, which we face, and I believe that both the presidential campaign and later on the parliamentary election will allow to find a good answer. Where is the equilibrium point between the necessity of economic development and assistance for people in need. How to reconcile pragmatism, aspiration to success, with social sensitivity, with human heart. This is a question which politicians are still unable to answer. I would like, as the president, to seek this answer and answer it. I believe that you, too, the Polish Social Democracy, people of the left, also would like to find a point of balance between what is necessary in economy and what people need. We are at the threshold of the 21st century. But there is still a long way ahead of us to realising national goals, to fulfilling human dreams. Two questions should define our thinking about the future: What does the state need? What is needed by its citizens? If we want a prosperous Poland and a prosperous society, we must, as I`ve already said, care for economic growth, for macroeconomic security, for a modern infrastructure. The just emerging demographic boom must be welcomed by us with vigorous actions to create new jobs. If we want to live according to the standards existing in the highly developed nations, we must prepare ourselves to open to Europe, to join the EU, with all possible determination. But if we also want an equitable Poland, and I really do, we must better divide the earned profit. Without social solidarity, without fighting off poverty, wherever it exists, never we will be a state capable to develop. We must not allow poverty to be inherited. The upcoming times should be used to improve human life. I do believe we are going forth along this path. If we want to have an effective state, we should strengthen respect of the Constitution and the law, and develop civic society. The deficit of justice and security is nowadays exceptionally painful. If we want to change that, we must improve the effectiveness of courts of law, prosecutor`s offices and the police. I believe such is the will of both the youngest and the oldest generations of Poles. I we want to modernise Poland, we must stake on knowledge, on equality of chances. The new century will be an age of computerised societies. It should be the time for education of Poles, as it is the primary condition for advacement for individuals and whole social groups alike. Education provides chances to entire nations. Foreign policy is always a function of national interest. If we want a secure Poland, respected in the world, we should consolidate our presence in NATO and simultaneously build partner-like and friendly relations with our closest environment. We need political stability. It is not easy to achieve, as we see around. That`s why I appeal for dialogue, for cooperation, for compromise. People, citizens, must profit from politicians` activities. That`s why Poland must not wage any wars at the top. That`s why we should not have any dispute over the division of posts. We should eliminate private interests, corruption and incompetence. This is our duty towards the millions of those who by ballot put their trust in us. I would like to believe that the debate on public affairs would be held on merits, that there would be no politicising the state, public administration and economy. Politics in Poland is too much ideologised, and those in power lack critical self-reflection. I speak of that because I signed the acts ushering reforms. I asked then representatives of the ruling AWS-Freedom Union coalition about the degree of their preparation, about financial resources at their disposal. I also asked about social acceptance and possibilities to expand their political base. They answered then that everything had been taken care of, calculated, measured up, that everything had been OK. When I look on the reforms now, I know those estimations were incorrect. Many errors have been made, too many. Pity, because they were made in reforms which, I am convinced, are necessary to Poland. Pity, because these reforms will have to be corrected.
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