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Thursday, 19 May 2005

Participation of the President of the Republic of Poland in a Weimar Triangle Summit

On 19 May 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, took part in a Weimar Triangle Summit at Nancy, France.
After an official welcome ceremony, the Polish President held talks with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. At a joint press conference, the President of the Republic of Poland said:
First of all, I wish to express my thanks for the invitation and hospitality. I wish to say how happy I am to meet you again at Nancy, a town that Poland feels close to because of the figure of King Stanisław Leszczyński. I am very pleased to see that the town has turned more beautiful over these years, that it is really magnificent. I am also glad to know that Polish experts, Polish conservators could make their modest contribution to this cause.
To Poland, this Weimar Triangle Summit is special insofar as we participate in this forum for the first time as an EU member state. Accordingly, it is a good occasion to thank our partners from France and the Federal Republic of Germany for the support lent both to the idea of EU enlargement and to all the specific issues, the support thanks to which on 1 May 2004 Poland could reunite with the European family, European structures, and so now we can discuss both the present day and the future of our continent together. The first year of Poland’s membership of the EU is a success story and I am telling you this, Ladies and Gentlemen, with deep satisfaction. In fact, none of the warnings formulated by EU opponents or sceptics have been proven correct. Our economy is growing. Investments by foreign companies in Poland have been increasing. It has turned out that there are no excessive flows of labour, that is as far as emigration of workers from Poland is concerned: the difference between our first year in the EU and the preceding years was a mere 18%, some 100, 000 people. Neither do we feel any brain drain, out-migration of professionals with the highest qualifications, nothing to hamper our country’s economic growth. The information that Poland and Polish central and local administrative structures would be unprepared for accession, unprepared to accommodate EU funding, has been proven wrong. Poland is the country with the highest level of absorption of these funds, much needed by Polish agriculture, Polish rural areas and regions in need of economic support. These resources are also used for investing in infrastructure. I could extend this list, but I want to be as brief as possible and just say that the first year of Poland’s membership of the EU is a success story, and I am convinced that the EU, too, can say with satisfaction today that the idea of EU enlargement and its consequences have been positive for Europe as a whole. The fact of operating on a large market of nearly 450 million people creates important and interesting development prospects for Europe as a whole, too. Against this background, I would like to say that it is absolutely crucial that the European Constitutional Treaty be adopted. I am convinced of this as the President of Poland, but I am also speaking on behalf of most of the Polish people, for this is what the polls show: most Poles agree that it is necessary to adopt the Constitutional Treaty. We do need this instrument at this particular stage of EU evolution, with an EU of 25 member states, soon to become an EU of 27 or 28 member states. It is an instrument that streamlines the EU’s internal structure as well as its capacity for action, that strengthens the citizens’ position in EU structures, thus providing a response to the frequent arguments concerning the democratic deficit in Community action. I believe that this Constitutional Treaty lays down an important framework for Europe at the outset of the 21st century. This framework follows from the experiences of the past, but it also follows from the very wise adoption of an open attitude towards challenges, towards the new developments that we are now experiencing in Europe, and that we will face in the future. Therefore, I very deeply believe that the Constitutional Treaty will be ratified in France. In Poland, we have been following closely the debate that has been going on here in France. It is an important debate to us as well, since some of the arguments advanced in France are very similar to those raised in our country. I wish myself, I wish France and indeed all of us an adoption of the Constitutional Treaty. The 29 of May will also be a very important indication for the Polish referendum which, I hope, will be held in the autumn of 2005. Another thing I would like to say is that Poland is interested in the adoption of the financial plan, known as the financial perspective, as early as possible. We have exchanged a lot of arguments on the subject today. To Poland it is essential that the principle of solidarity be maintained, in addition to the principle of budget discipline, naturally. We are convinced that for the new EU members this solidarity principle is absolutely fundamental. For it is a guarantee of bridging the development gap, the gap in standards of civilisation that now divides the new EU states from the EU Fifteen. We hope, therefore, that from these debates, a financial plan will emerge that will fully guarantee this principle of solidarity, of support for the new member states, of support for the less developed regions.
Poland is very much interested in building the EU’s eastern policy. We hope that the EU will actively develop its relations with the Russian Federation, with Ukraine and with Moldova, that it will have its common policy vis-a-vis Belarus. Each of the above-mentioned countries is at a different point in its history, but I am very glad indeed that the EU has decided to adopt an action plan vis-a-vis Ukraine, which is now being implemented by the two sides. I also wish to say that Poland welcomes with great satisfaction the fact of signing of the 4 road maps between the Russian Federation and the EU at the most recent summit in Moscow on 10 May. I voiced my concern over the developments in Belarus, hoping that the EU would use its authority and capacity to curb those developments that pose a threat to national minorities in Belarus, and that constitute a major violation of democratic principles in that country. We are concerned over the incidents that are taking place and that also affect the Polish national minority in Belarus. I hope that the EU will show greater determination in its policy so as to help in resolving the problem of Transnistria. I am glad that an active dialogue has started between Moldova and Ukraine. I am convinced that this dialogue, strengthened by EU support, and by an open and positive attitude of the Russian Federation, may lead to extinguishing this conflict, which already has a 13-year-long history. We have tolerated a division of a state for so long, a situation where there is a kind of black hole on the map of Europe, a place of operation of organised criminal groups, of trafficking in arms, drugs and people. I think it is high time that we showed greater determination in resolving this problem.
President Chirac has kindly discussed the other issues. In this connection, I want to say that I am very glad indeed that this 6th Polish-German-French Weimar Triangle Summit is taking place. From our Polish perspective, this institution had played a major role in our progress both towards the EU and towards NATO. As it happens that this year is my final year in office, may I express the hope that this initiative will be continued, that further meetings will be held, ones that I will be able watch from a slightly different perspective, but with personal satisfaction that I can claim some of the credit for it. To me, Nancy will always be a place symbolic both of Polish-French relations, of Stanisław Leszczyński’s great heritage, and of the great achievements of the Weimar Triangle. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Next, the President took part in a ceremony of unveiling a memorial plaque and made a speech. Addressing the guests and the residents of Nancy present at the ceremony, the President of the Republic of Poland said:
Standing here in Nancy, in beautiful Stanislaw Square, I feel gratitude and I am overcome with emotion.
For it is in this place that various threads of history meet: of common Polish-French history and of the history of a common Europe.
This square was created 250 years ago by an Enlightenment ruler of the duchy of Lorraine, a former king of Poland, our compatriot Stanisław Leszczyński.
It is in Lorraine that many thousands of job-seeking Poles who came to the local coalmines and steelworks years ago have found their place. I wish to thank the people of your region for the warm welcome accorded to Polish emigrants and for your neighbourly assistance, thanks to which my compatriots could begin a new life here. I am ever so glad that Lorraine cooperates with an eastern region of Poland, the Lublin region. Nancy is linked with Lublin by a partnership. I know that Lublin residents, representatives of this city, are among us today. At the university of Nancy, there is a flourishing Institute of Polish and Bohemian Studies. This land remembers with respect the Polish war effort during the Second World War: the heroic fighting of the First Division under General Duch, at Dieuze, Lagarde and Sarrebourg.
The particular strength of Polish-French ties, to be felt so forcefully in Lorraine, links our two countries across Germany, forming a kind of route that has become a natural channel of cooperation for our countries within the Weimar Triangle.
Our original goal, cooperation with a view to European Union enlargement, has been attained. On 1 May 2004, the family of EU states was enlarged from fifteen to 25 members. To us who had lived on the other side of the Iron Curtain for years, it meant the actual and final overcoming of the consequences of World War II. For the European Union, the enlargement was an invigorating and strengthening experience due to the fact that, as our great compatriot Pope John Paul II said, Europe can at last breathe with two lungs, the Eastern one and the Western one.
Mr President, Mr Federal Chancellor,
Thank you once again on behalf of Poland for the support and goodwill which France and the Federal Republic of Germany showed to Poland on our road to the European Union.
I want to say here at Nancy that this first year of our EU membership is a success story, a story of taking advantage of that great opportunity presented by our membership in European structures. We are glad that we can share this good news with you. We are facing new, common challenges. The EU wants to be and must be stronger economically, better organised; it must become a more important player in world politics. I am convinced that our good cooperation within the Weimar Triangle strengthens the EU as a whole, lends dynamism to the necessary changes. We are meeting here a few days before an important event, important not only to France, but to Europe as a whole. For you will be deciding on Europe’s Constitutional Treaty. Poland believes that France will say ‘yes’ to this Treaty. Europe needs France. Poland trusts that France, a co-architect of European integration, a driving force behind great transformations, a co-architect of EU enlargement, will say ‘yes’ to a good future of a common, strong Europe guided by the principle of solidarity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The wise philosopher King Stanisław left behind works that survived longer than his reign and benefited the following generations, with their influence extending far beyond the borders of his duchy. It is a good message to us living in the third millennium.
Vive Nancy, vive la France, vive L’Allemange, vive la Pologne, vive L’Europe.
In the afternoon, the President of the Republic of Poland visited the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours and the crypt with Stanisław Leszczyński’s tomb. 
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