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Wednesday, 16 April 2003

Poland has signed the Accession Treaty

On 16th April 2003, in Athens the leaders of 25 countries: 15 member states and 10 acceding countries signed the Treaty of Accession. The Treaty was signed - in the presence of President Aleksander Kwaśniewski - by Prime Minister Leszek Miller, Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Minister Danuta Hübner. The ceremony was also attended by Tadeusz Mazowiecki the first Prime Minister of the Third Republic of Poland and Józef Oleksy, Chairman of the European Commission of Sejm. In a speech made prior to the signature of the Treaty President Aleksander Kwaśniewski said: Prime Minister of Greece, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues Ladies and Gentlemen, Polish dreams are coming true. We know well from bitter experience of our history the meaning of freedom and the importance of having friends and partners. This day will bring development, prosperity and security to Poland. Today, Europe is celebrating its unity. Its success can be a signpost to the rest of the world. Despite the fact that not so long ago our continent witnessed the outbreak of two great wars and the birth of two totalitarian systems; despite the fact that we were divided by the Cold War and experienced the drama of displacement, we have managed to rebuild the spiritual identity of Europe. We have developed cooperation on an unprecedented scale. Poland considers itself a co-author of this success. For over one thousand years, we have been contributing to European culture. We have always treated Europe as our home. It was “Solidarity” that fought for a worthy place for Poland in Europe. The transformations initiated in 1989 at Poland’s Round Table spread through a wave of freedom across Central and Eastern Europe. Today, Poland is ready to take upon its shoulders joint responsibility for the fate of the European continent. On entering the Union, we feel we are partners. We bring with us the potential of a young, educated and dynamic society. By grasping opportunities for ourselves, we are also giving a new chance to Europe and we believe that we are bringing with us new opportunities. We thank the member states of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament and all the people that have supported our aspirations. I thank my compatriots: people who are determined, patient and attached to Polish tradition, people who have fought for Poland’s sovereignty and independence but at the same time remain so open to the idea of European integration. I wish to thank members of the former democratic opposition in Poland, people of arts and science, Polish church and all those who are entitled to feel great satisfaction on this very day. It is of special significance to us that the Accession Treaty is signed here in Greece, at the foot of the Acropolis, in the cradle of the European civilization. We are pleased that we are joining the European Union accompanied by our neighbors and close friends. And we are happy that the doors remain open to other countries. Together with other nations, we wish to build a community of solidarity, a prosperous and secure Europe; a Europe based on strong transatlantic ties; a Europe which will aim at strengthening the role of international organizations, in particular the United Nations. We are positive that we can build a Europe that will be able to face the most acute problems of the 21st century: poverty, injustice, terrorism, environmental threats. I wish to address my compatriots now. You are witnessing a breakthrough moment. Poland in the European Union is not only about financial assistance and development guarantees, it is a presence in the family of countries that are free and democratic, the countries that respect human rights and respect each other. I am certain that to say “Yes” to the European Union means to provide security to Poland, to every Polish city and village, to each Polish family. Since now we can believe that our dreams will be fulfilled, that we will build the future that will stand up to the expectations of our children and grandchildren. Today, here in Athens, in a moment we will sign the Accession Treaty. This decision means “Yes” to Poland, “Yes” to Europe, and “Yes” to all the people of good will on our continent as well as on the other ones. I am certain that we have a right to say: Welcome our common Europe! Welcome Europe rich with its past and strong with its diversity ! Welcome united Europe that is ready to face new challenges !
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