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Monday, 10 January 2005

The President of Poland with Spouse met the Diplomatic Corps

On 10th January 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski together with his Spouse held the traditional meeting with the Diplomatic Corps on the occasion of the New Year.

The Prime Minister Marek Belka, the Speaker of the Sejm Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, the Speaker of the Senate Longin Pastusiak, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk, and the members of the government were also present.

The President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski together with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed the diplomats accredited to Poland.

The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk spoke on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps:

Mister President,
Mister Speaker of the Sejm, Mister Speaker of the Senate,
Mister Prime Minister,
Mister Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Recognition by all of the need for tolerance and mutual understanding is the fundamental condition of vanquishing the plague of terrorism, and of the efficacy of efforts for peace and justice. Those words, spoken in the context of an international meeting, held in November 2003 under the theme of “ Democracy Assistance Dialogue”, may not only serve as a rational synthesis of the ruminations and actions that marked the past year, but simultaneously constitute a challenge to all people of good will from all continents, as well as socio-political, ethnic, cultural and religious groups, whom we could conventionally call a Forum for the future.

In a sense, also we, who are present here today – representing different continents, peoples, states, and also the governments of the Republic of Poland – constitute such a Forum. We thank the President for this New Year’s meeting, which offers us an opportunity to look back over the achievements, successes and setbacks, over the fulfilled and unfulfilled hopes, that we expressed during a similar meeting last year. The year 2004 is already a closed chapter of the history that we created together, inspired by the sincerest will of building world peace with respect for the autonomy, independence and identity of each continent, each country and nation, as well as the rights, dignity and just aspirations of every one of them.

Mister President,

The world, Europe, Poland have moved forward. Many problems have been resolved; others still await satisfactory solution. It is gratifying that the power of dialog and argumentation in solving difficult human problems is extending its reach, replacing the logic of violence, war and force. The instilment of such attitudes is an arduous and protracted process. It requires great toil for those attitudes to become evident in all aspects of people’s lives across the world. The resolving of problems by way of dialog may at times cause weariness and impatience. And weariness induces one to resort to an easier, summary method – namely solution by force. Accurate assessment of reality alone makes the matter exceptionally important and complicated. After all, the risk of error is considerable.
The dilemma of whether to have more or to be more is still a live issue in the contemporary world. In this context, it is worth noting certain adverse practical consequences of the dominance of the posture of having more over being more. Official FAO statistics published in December 2004 show that 175 million people in today’s world live outside their homeland. Every year, 9 million children die of hunger and malnutrition, while 850 million suffer chronic hunger. As compared to the Nineties of the last century, the number of the hungry has risen by 18 million. It is a painful phenomenon that the numbers of street children are growing into millions, and that juveniles are exploited in armed conflicts. It is enough to quote official reports that almost half of the 3.5 million people killed in armed conflicts since the beginning of the Nineties of the last century were children.

Certain progress has been made in solving the problem of malnutrition (hunger has been reduced by 25 per cent in more than 30 countries) and that is powerful evidence of the fact that the human community is capable of solving the existent problems by way of dialogue and solidary cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year, Europe experienced profound developments, which may be described as milestones on the path to building unity of this continent. These were the admission of ten new states to the European Union and the signing of the Constitutional Treaty. The Republic of Poland was also among the newly-admitted countries.

The road of this country to full independence, sovereignty and self-determination was long. And great, too, was the price that the people paid for taking that road. We are reminded of that by the yearly ceremonies marking Independence Day on November 11, and the sixtieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, commemorated last year. And then, there is the period of post-war struggle and toil, symbolized by the movement of solidarity, and the whole period of transformations and cultivation of freedom.

You, Mister President, gave expression to that in your address at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11 2004:
“ If winning independence is a great thing, it is no lesser an achievement to nurture it well. And on this Independence Day our country has special reason for pride. (…) Our Homeland has scored a success. It is a success of the whole society! (…) It goes to the credit of all the governments, political forces and perhaps most of all – the civil society. I am committed to ensuring that Poland retains and develops that position, so nothing is lost of our achievements and they are competently multiplied. (…) The Republic of Poland has linked its fate to Europe. I am confident that we are capable of building a strong position of our country in the Community. A strong Poland in a strong Europe, a strong Poland in a strong, solidary Europe – that is one of the most important tasks for the coming decades.” (11.11.2004)

Those great achievements must not be lost through idle discussions, and the arousing of concerns or fears over certain flaws in the accession agreement or the Constitutional Treaty itself. After all, too much time has already been lost in the past. It is necessary to make up for that retardation with great, arduous and consistent work, as well as an openness to a creative dialog and cooperation with the countries of the European Union and all neighbours, so that - while overcoming the crisis of public morals and civil society - one accelerates economic growth, with simultaneous respecting of the values that constitute the spiritual heritage and foundation determining the identity of nations.

At this point, it is worth recalling the words of John Paul II, spoken on various occasions in connection with Poland’s accession to the European Union. John Paul II also raised the matter in a letter to you, Mister President. Last October, during a meeting with the Prime Minister of the RP, after the signing of the Constitutional Treaty, he said:
“ I trust that this structure, which in essence is a community of free nations, will not only make every effort not to deprive them of their spiritual heritage, but will also guard it as a foundation of unity. (…) As pope, I am grateful to Polish Governments and Parliament for their understanding, and for taking up this challenge. (…) I wish that the dedicated service of all those to whom you have entrusted tasks in the Government of the Republic of Poland, as well as those who hold legislative and judicial power, along with the involvement of the whole society, may bear rich fruit as quickly as possible, for the benefit of all Poles.” (30.10.2004)

Mister President,

The Diplomatic Corps accredited in Poland has followed with interest the developments connected with the systemic changes, particularly during the past year, when Poland entered the structures of the European Union. Diverse thoughts and questions come to mind, which one could summarize in the following way: is the period of academic discussions about Poland’s accession to the community of 25 countries over? Has the period already begun of competent, arduous and wise endeavour to make use of the chance that Poland has gained?

In this context, one recalls the words of Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, from the turn of the 18th century. In a way, his reflections express our own sincerest feelings and wishes for Europe and all Polish society:

What joy there is for all nations
When the leaders of their choice
In governance and in vocation,
Excel by wisdom of their voice.
Hence, when you look around you
Prosperity shall surround you
All is good and none is tainted,
Behold, the folk so contented!

Mister President,

May those words become the daily reality of Europe and the Republic of Poland. While cleansing itself of all kinds of abuse, neglect and social injustice, let it make an effective contribution to building its own society and the European Union, based on respect for the rights and dignity of every person, and on the timeless values of justice, freedom and peace.

These are the wishes that we convey to you, Mister President, for the whole society, as well as the legislature and judiciary, the government, state, public and self-government institutions, for everyone.

Happy New Year. God Bless You!

Addressing the Diplomatic Corps the President of Poland said:

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the Presidential Palace. It is my great pleasure to host at the outset of the New Year the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Their Spouses. I wish to thank the Most Reverend Apostolic Nuncio for his bracing words and wishes. On my Spouse’s and my own behalf, I wish to convey to Your Excellencies and all the assembled guests our very best wishes. I also wish to extend my warm greetings to your countries and the international organisations represented here.

The previous year brought many good tidings. Most regrettably, there were also painful events. The entire international community is shocked by the horrible tragedy which befell some of the countries of South-East Asia. Almost one hundred and fifty thousand people lost their lives in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami, the number of those injured is even higher, and the scale of material losses is enormous. Among the casualties, there were also citizens of our country. On behalf of the Republic of Poland I wish to offer our sincerest condolences to the families of all casualties and to the states which have suffered from this cataclysm. The whole world has hastened to the aid of those afflicted and so have we. Let me take this opportunity to renew my appeal for even greater solidarity and generosity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2004 brought further consolidation of Poland‘s international position, which can be attributed to the fact that we are a politically and economically stable country, a trustworthy country which enjoys good relations with all its neighbours. Our economy is in good shape: we can claim one of Europe’s highest GDP growth rates approaching 5.5 percent. Polish products and services are getting more and more attractive, the fact which is corroborated with more than 30% growth of the volume of Polish exports in the first ten months of 2004. A vast majority of Polish goods: as much as 85 percent, goes to the demanding markets of the most developed countries. One of expressions of the recognition given to our achievements was the convening in Warsaw in 2004 of a European Economic Summit, which attracted heads of states and eminent politicians and businesspeople.

May 1, 2004, was the day when the clock of history struck our fine hour. The enlargement of the European Union came to be a celebration time of unity. The post-Yalta division on our continent was consigned to the past once and for all. The enlarged European Union offers a tremendous opportunity to strengthen European openness, security and stability, it is tantamount to greater potential and new development perspectives for all EU countries.

To us, the Poles, this also has a great symbolic dimension. It is like homecoming, like returning to the community of values whose part and parcel we have been for one thousand years. By now, the EU has become part of our everyday life. Again, we can participate in the shaping of Europe’s political and economic face. Within a short time, we have managed to find our place in the European Community, to face up to competition and to join in the EU foreign policy.

Poland wishes to see in the European Union, enriched by its new members, a strong and efficient body which is guided by solidarity and plays an increasingly important role in the world. We welcome a successful completion of negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania which paves the way for their accession to the community in 2007. The road is open to Croatia, whose membership prospects are not distant.

The European Union is also faced with new challenges. The ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty has begun. This will be naturally accompanied by a debate on Europe’s condition and future. This debate will be further fuelled by the opening of membership negotiations with Turkey which enjoys the support of a number of countries, including Poland. This historical decision prompts a question about the final shape of European integration. Another related question is how the EU should respond to the European aspirations of the people of Ukraine and the Balkan states.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in a world which still cannot shake off looming threats. Today, terrorist attacks are the most pressing one. We do remember the tragedies of Madrid and Beslan. Among other high risk factors of the present-day there is also the unstable situation in Iraq, in African countries, and in other regions torn by internal conflicts which jeopardise human rights and collective security. Serious tensions continue to exist, resulting from the disparities between the North and the South, which are further exacerbated by the negative aspects of globalisation. To respond to these challenges, those states which are able to counteract this phenomenon should come up with their own initiatives. Especially, the European Union rightly assumed to be one of the main global players should take on an ever greater share of responsibility for the destinies of the global community. International co-operation should be enhanced both in tackling crisis situations and threats, and in the provision of long-term aid.

The United Nations remains the only global forum where joint political decisions are made to shape the international order and the fate of humankind. The 60th anniversary of the United Nations provides a particular opportunity to look deeper into the output and perspectives in store for the UN system. In consultation with the EU partners we will seek to translate the Polish initiative of a New Political Act into reality. The reform of the UN has fundamental bearing on the global order and our capacity to effectively counter emerging threats. This is why the reform should go beyond purely institutional changes.

This year brings to Poland particular responsibilities in the domain of international co-operation. They are related to our Chairmanship in the Council of Europe and to the fact that the 3rd Summit of the Council is to be hosted in Warsaw. Poland’s intention is to make this meeting further consolidate the continent’s unity, so that long-festering historical problems can be overcome, so that dialogue among cultures can be further expanded, so that democracy can develop and respect of human rights can be secured.

The main pillar of Poland’s security policy is NATO as a system of collective defence. The Alliance is likewise an important forum of transatlantic dialogue. NATO’s usefulness stands the test in Afghanistan or in projects such as training of Iraqi security forces. In the future, the Alliance should be used on an even broader scale to fight new types of threats and to preserve peace in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2005 will abound in anniversaries important to the Poles. It will also bring significant political decisions. In the summer, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the events of August 1980 and thus of Solidarity. From the historical perspective it is more evident than ever how profoundly these events weighted on the unification of the continent which had once been divided by the iron curtain. This is why we want to make the Jubilee of the Polish August a celebration time for all Europeans, not only to be commemorated in Poland but also in other countries.

In store for us are parliamentary elections, presidential elections and possibly also a referendum on the Constitution for Europe. I am convinced that regardless of their outcome, the main priorities of our foreign policy will be preserved. This pertains to our bilateral relations with individual states, and to multilateral relations alike.

We set great store by the deepening of our relations of partnership with the United States. Following an invitation from President George W. Bush, I will be visiting Washington DC in one month’s time. Next to political consultations, I think that the time will be opportune to send an impulse for co-operation in the economy, science and high-tech sector.

Polish-American military co-operation and co-operation within the international mission in Iraq are crucially important for us. We hope that Iraqi elections will go forward as scheduled and will come as an important step in the stability process paving the way for handing over full control over the state to the Iraqi people. Polish soldiers are present in Iraq to facilitate the process. Polish men and women in uniforms also serve the cause of peace in Afghanistan, Lebanon, in the Golan Heights, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in Kosovo.

In the European Union fold, Poland will seek the best possible relations with all its members. Polish-German partnership is particularly important in this respect, also in its European dimension. We have a track record of many imposing achievements: in reconciliation endeavours, in development of good neighbourhood, in economic and political co-operation. We are striving to come to grips with problems arising from the painful past, in the spirit of frankness and with due respect to mutual sensitivities. To this end co-operation of Polish and German legal experts on claims has been initiated, and also our joint initiative together with the President of Germany has been launched to make the memory of all forced resettlements a subject of pan-European reflection. It is necessary to engage political elites and a broad spectrum of the public in dialogue and to work perseveringly to deepen mutual confidence. One of the milestones in this dialogue was the presence of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and his keynote speech. While working to resolve the difficult problems of the past, we also need a new opening into the future and a long-term vision for Polish-German relations.

In our relations with France, the year 2005 should bring further mutual understanding and a follow-up on good co-operation between us. A Polish-French summit will be organised to this end. Noteworthy is that France is the largest foreign investor in Poland, and an important partner in other areas of co-operation. This was corroborated by the “Polish Year” project launched last year on the Seine.

Together with France and Germany, we should work to better tap the opportunities afforded by the Weimar Triangle. First and foremost, it should be used as an important forum for debate on the future of the European Union, on the Community’s Eastern policy and on EU-NATO co-operation.

We set great store by our partnership with the United Kingdom. My official visit to London at the invitation of HM Queen Elisabeth II testifies to this fact. We do hope that the British presidency of the European Union in the 2nd half of 2005 will be conducive to further integration of the continent and to the promotion of transatlantic dialogue. We will uphold our intense contacts with the friends from the Visegrad Group: with the Czech Republic which I have recently had a pleasure to visit, and also with Slovakia and Hungary. We are developing a close and comprehensive co-operation with Lithuania, and our relations with Latvia and Estonia are also gaining momentum.

Also Italy, Spain and Portugal occupy a very important position in the group of our EU partners and my last year’s visit to the latter country corroborates the fact. Poland listens attentively and carefully to the voices of all EU states. We believe that a close multilateral partnership promotes further sustainable growth of the EU. We will seek to maintain lively relations with Belgium and the Netherlands, the countries to which I paid important state visits last year. We attach great importance to our relations with Austria and Luxembourg which assumed the presidency of the European Union at the outset of 2005. We will promote a broad dialogue with the Nordic states: Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway: our close partners on the Baltic Sea. We will work to enhance our relations with the Balkan states, and in particular with Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Greece, as well as Slovenia and Turkey, which are all important constituents of security and stability in Europe.

Very special and exceptionally close bonds exist between Poland and the Vatican. We reflect with sincerest gratitude on the great contribution made by Pope John Paul II to the transformation of our country and to the unification of the continent. We thank His Holiness for the support lent to us on our way to the European Union. We look forward with great joy to the forthcoming tenth Pilgrimage of the Holy Father to Poland.

As a country whose Eastern border is at the same time the EU external border, we turn attentively and amiably towards our Eastern neighbours. We see good prospects for the development of our relations with the Russian Federation. We approach this opportunity with great openness and commitment. Russia is and will continue to be one of our most important partners. We appreciate the significance of the dialogue and co-operation between the EU and Russia, and NATO and Russia, for the continent and for international stability and security. We view the visit of President Vladimir Putin to Poland and his attendance of the forthcoming ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as an event of great import.

We realise the historic significance of the developments which have recently taken place in Ukraine. The awakening of the civil society there, the strength of their hope and responsibility rank them among the most remarkable events in Europe. We are pleased to see that the Ukrainian transformation proceeds peacefully, with due respect for the principles of democracy and constitutional legal order. We wish success to the new President Viktor Yushchenko who is facing immense challenges. Poland will continue to lend its support to Ukraine’s pro-European aspirations. We will be happy to welcome President Viktor Yushchenko to Poland.

Likewise, we are interested in furthering our co-operation with Moldova and in promoting good-neighbourly contacts with Belarus.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the global world where distances have shrunk and interdependence is growing we want to promote good relations with countries on all continents. China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea continue to be our major partners in Asia. For the very first time in the 55-year history of our diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, we received in our country its Chairman. The first ever visit by the President of the Republic of Korea was likewise an important development. We trust that those two visits will produce tangible political and economic results. We intend to significantly mark Poland’s presence at the EXPO exhibition organised in Aichi in Japan. We would like to further promote our co-operation with the ASEAN states. My last year’s state visits to Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand importantly contributed to the strengthening of mutual bonds. Poland has engaged in the EU-ASEM dialogue with great expectations. We attach great importance to our relations with Australia and the states of Oceania.

In South America we have very advanced partnership with Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile. I was pleased to attend the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit in Guadalajara which I followed with interest. We will further develop our contacts with the countries of the Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, and also with Central Asia: Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. We wish to see enhanced co-operation between the EU and the African Union, we would also like to promote direct bilateral contacts with the states of the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa.

For years now, Poland has been following with great interest the developments in the Middle East. Most recently, Poland’s contacts with many Arab states of the region as well as with Persian Gulf countries have been very intense. Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Israel ranks among our most important partners in the Middle East. Many ties exist between us and we are engaged in mutually beneficial co-operation.

Membership of the European Union opens up for us new opportunities but also brings new challenges and new obligations vis a vis this important region of the world. I trust that this year we will see a chance to break from the impasse in the Middle East peace process with the support of the international community.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have just started the tenth year of my term in office. This is the last time I am meeting the Diplomatic Corps. In a year’s time, you will be entertained by a newly elected President of the Republic of Poland. These two terms in office make a whole epoch in my political biography and an epoch in the modern history of Poland. Our country has reasons to be proud and satisfied. Poland today is stronger, safer, and has a better development potential. We are in the European Union and NATO, in a circle of friends and allies. Excellent perspectives open up for us. I wish to wholeheartedly thank all our partners and Your Excellencies in person for your friendliness, dialogue, co-operation. At the same time, may I ask you to make these contacts close and fruitful also in the last year of my presidency.

On behalf of all my compatriots and of the authorities of the Republic of Poland, I wish to extend to Your Excellencies, Your nearest and dearest, and all the countries that you represent our best New Year’s wishes. May the year 2005 bring peace, stability and better development opportunities to all peoples on Earth. I wish Your Excellencies a lot of success and satisfaction to be derived from your diplomatic mission which is carried out here: in a hospitable Poland, open to the world. All the best!

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