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Friday, 29 September 2006

Our voice should matter

On 29th September 2006 in the afternoon the Presidents: of the Lithuanian Republic Mr Valdas Adamkus and of the Republic of Poland Mr Lech Kaczyński symbolically cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony of the new seat of the Lithuanian Embassy at Aleje Ujazdowskie 12 in Warsaw.

Below is the text of the address delivered during the ceremony by President Lech Kaczyński:

”Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, President of the Republic of Lithuania, Ministers, Ambassadors, distinguished audience!

I am indeed satisfied that here, at Trzech Krzyży square, at the most representative street of Warsaw – at Aleje Ujazdowskie – the embassy will stand of a country we have so many bonds with. Have and had in the past.

But let us speak about the present day. Today we work together to defend our interests in places where Lithuania and Poland are present i.e. in NATO and the European Union. We share common interest in matters of countries, which have historical bonds with Lithuania and Poland; I am referring to Belarus and Ukraine; it is about our common focus on those parts of the world where we have common interests as well as strong historical ties (I am speaking about the Baltic countries, among which Lithuania is the biggest – but there also Latvia and Estonia, with which Poland would also wish to have the best possible relations). In other words: it is about a plethora of political bonds, increasingly I trust also economic ones and – notably – cultural ones. The latter bonds have to be brought deeper down.

We need to remember about the need to know each other well. Things are too unilateral in this respect at present because in Vilnius one can communicate quite easily in Polish while in Warsaw communicating in Lithuanian is far more difficult. There is a lot we must do here and we shall strive to do it. If we are wise then we will focus on it much more than we have so far.

All of this put together builds a certain infrastructure. Cultural, economic and political bonds, which in our case are so very important, are something, which should build such an infrastructure that will preserve the unique character of each country – because I hope that all of us, not only Lithuania and Poland but all twenty five, or actually twenty seven member states, will be able to maintain this approach. Nevertheless we shall remain bound together in a very firm, lasting and durable way. This is what I wish to you Mr president, to the whole Lithuanian nation but actually also to my own nation as well.

This is necessary for us to be heard in the mighty structures that we are members of. In fact we have common interests there; because we simply are there – we the Poles and Lithuanians – and our voice should be heard. This should be a voice that matters; naturally not deciding about each and every matter, because it lies in the very nature of the EU and NATO that compromise is sought, interests are taken into account. There are some, whose interests do matter, but then there are others who find their interests neglected. Poland belongs to the former and we find it must easier to act jointly in many matters.

Once again I would like to express my great satisfaction at having the opportunity to take part today in this ceremony. Admittedly I am glad that this event is occurring when I am already President. After all it could have taken place some other day, say – a year ago – President Adamkus was already the President, I not yet. But again I am very pleased that things are as they are. And I think that the future will develop only for the better and that this future will bring to the Lithuanians, to us and our neighbours, be it from the south or the west, from the north or the east, a great deal of common satisfaction – satisfaction resulting from cooperation and the feeling that we do matter."

Having opened the Embassy building, both Presidents attended an exhibition in the newly opened Lithuanian Embassy Centre of Lithuanian Culture. The author of the works displayed was Stasys Eidrigevičius, an eminent Lithuanian artist, living for twenty-six years now in Poland.

In the evening the President of the Republic of Poland and Ms Kaczyńska hosted a dinner in honour of the President of the Lithuanian Republic Mr Valdas Adamkus.

Offering a toast the President of Poland said:

”Distinguished Mr President, distinguished Marshal, Ministers, distinguished Ladies and gentlemen!

I would like to begin by expressing my great satisfaction that here in Warsaw, in the Namiestnikowski Palace I have the honour of welcoming the President of free Lithuania. I know that for 17 years now – for little is the difference in timing of our proclamations of regained independence – we have had free Lithuania and Poland again. Seventeen years is a considerable in one’s lifetime. It is sometimes quite long from the point of view of history; it is more than two thirds of the period between the two world wars. However in the history of such nations as the Lithuanians and Poles it is quite a short period. This is why I would like to come back to the thought that I dreamt of many things as the citizen of a country, which was not free – but I never thought that here in this Palace I (actually, me or someone else, no matter), the President of free Poland will be able to welcome the President of free Lithuania.

Already 17 years of independence have passed. We have been very successful. The Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland are in the European Union and NATO; we live in a world, which would appear to have been unimaginable. And in this world we are bonded naturally by history but also many common issues that we must successively take care of in our common interest. The world has changed. Today it is not possible in Europe, at least in its EU and NATO part, for a war to break out. Cooperation as a principle has superseded competition and balance of power. However this does not mean that interests have disappeared, that there are no separate nations anymore, that the contradictions between these interests are there no longer. Indeed, in our common uniting Europe there conflicting interests and even conflicting trends. There are those who had created united Europe close to 50 years ago. In fact next year we shall be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. And there are those like us Lithuanians and Poles, who joined this Community two years and five months ago. Today I have the impression that we have been there for a long time. And within the framework of this cooperation, this solidarity of European nations, one needs to know how to defend one’s interests. This skill is needed, well mastered, it must be applied in a way, which demonstrates that solidarity is a superior principle to that of competition, to show that there are no enemies, opponents, if anything, in a specific matter. But we need to do it. And in this Europe it is much easier done jointly than single-handed.

There are matters we need to resolve. We must connect our energy systems; we need to greatly improve roads and railways. We must come closer to each other in cultural terms. All of this is extremely important and moving in the right direction, even if we differ somewhat about some matters. In fact this goes for merely a few questions. However above all we must act together as two states, possibly accompanies by others, especially the Baltic States, standing in defence of our interests, about which there is no controversy.

I am deeply convinced that this may bring results. And this I wish wholeheartedly to you Mr President, your Government, that is to say the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, to the entire Lithuanian nation. But I have the same wishes for myself, my Government and the Polish nation. I raise this glass to our friendship, but I also raise it to our common success in the European Union and in NATO”.


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