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Saturday, 24 March 2007

Berlin celebration of 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome

On 24th March 2007 the President of the Republic of Poland and Mrs Kaczyńska went on a two-day visit to Berlin, where he took part in a meeting of Heads of State and Government of the European Union on the 50th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.

On Saturday in the afternoon President Kaczyński listened to a concert performed by the Berlin Philharmonics and then attended a dinner hosted by President Horst Köhler.

On 25 March 2007 President Lech Kaczyński took part in the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome and the adoption of the Berlin Declaration.

Also on Sunday a press conference was held, during which the President said i.a.:

”We have had the “Berlin Summit”. It was an informal summit devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, which established not actually the European Union, for it emerged only many years later, but the European Economic Community comprising six states – Italy, Germany, France and the Benelux i.e. Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg. For many years the EEC existed with such membership and only in 1973 was it joined by the United Kingdom and Ireland and later by many more countries. Finally in 2004 it was joined by Poland and nine other countries. We have the Berlin Declaration, which concerns both history as well as goals. It is a declaration, which we have accepted. Poland wants to be an active member of the European Union. We share the view that in many matters Europe must stand jointly because in the contemporary world, whether we want it or not, each European state, even the most powerful one, is helpless alone. Let me mention climate issues, combating crime, issues connected with our relations with emerging world powers. There we can naturally talk separately, however a joint discussion is by far more effective. In our internal matters there is the issue of jointly combating organised crime. When there are no borders criminals take this opportunity eagerly. All of this requires close cooperation; it necessitates transferring some competencies to the European Union. Poland does not question this principle, however Poland’s position is that the national state still has reason to exist. In fact if we look at the content of the Berlin Declaration, it contains the wording that the Union stands guard of the sovereignty of its members i.e. the individual member states of the European Union. We consider this part of the Declaration to be extremely important. The Declaration also formulates the goals regarding the future Treaty. I am deliberately not calling it the Constitutional Treaty because it is not known yet what it will be called. There is a goal there, which is interpreted by some as we do, realistically in my opinion. Namely that before the 2009 elections to the European Parliament the text of the Treaty will be ready. Ready and accepted by all states, but not yet ratified. Then there are states, such I understand is the aim of Chancellor Merkel and the German Presidency that in June 2009 the text is already ratified. Beautiful this goal may be, no question about it, but I do not think it is feasible. The very fact that within the next two years the Treaty gets universally accepted in its new form of course, would be Europe’s great success. Please remember that the Netherlands and France rejected the current form of the Treaty in nationwide referendums. In France this was with a convincing majority of votes, while in the Netherlands with a considerable majority. It must also be remembered that the present draft of the Treaty would stand no chance in the Polish Parliament, as elected in 2005. In other words, a solution must be adopted, which would be realistic, which would simplify various EU procedures, making a strong distinction between what belongs to the state and what is for the European Union. We are in favour, as is the Netherlands, of an intergovernmental conference as regards the final content of the treaty i.e. not coming back to the concept of a convent, this concept not having quite proved its worth. However all these doubts, which I spoke about, does nothing to eradicate the fact that we have had a great festive day, celebrating an enormous success. A success we were not part of 50 years ago for obvious reasons. At that time Poland was also experiencing a breakthrough or rather the conclusion of a breakthrough, which greatly changed the country. From a country of widespread and daily terror Poland turned into a communist country, with some terror indeed, but the everyday fear of the state on part of the citizens disappeared. This was a great change, though it did not change the nature of the system. The system remained totalitarian and communist, as it was before. It is clear that we hadn’t the slightest chance to take part at the time in the creation of the EEC. Today Madam Chancellor gave the example of one of the negotiators of the Treaties of Rome who allegedly spoke quite sceptically about the power of treaties, especially one like this. She said that history did not confirm this. Indeed – history did not confirm this, however this does not change the fact that treaties are extremely important and that we must have such a treaty, which will be realistic and where 27 states are involved, a realistic treaty is one, which is agreed by all the 27 states.

We also spoke about the EU-Africa meeting and the upcoming EU-USA and EU-Russia meetings. One in the end of April and the other in May. I must admit that as regards the future of the treaty as well as EU-US and EU-Russia relations, which matters I addressed, I spoke frankly as usual, because in my opinion this is the only way to speak during EU summits. I said that Poland realises that it is one of 27 states and it can for instance warn against something, but this is not to say that Poland intends to eliminate it. However, Poland will speak very clearly and for the record that European countries are mistaken about some matter or other and they will learn it themselves. Meanwhile in general the exchange of opinions was very candid.

Finally we bade farewell to an eminent European politician, present on the political scene since 1972 if I recall i.e. for 35 years. At that time he became Minister of Agriculture, and then the Interior Minister of France, then twice served as Prime Minister, for many years the Mayor of Paris and during the last 12 years the President of the French Republic. Naturally I am referring to Mr Jacques Chirac, who is not parting with his office yet, but attended the European summit for the last time. I think this is a very important moment, for Mr Chirac has been very important in Europe and in France. There is no other politician in a democratic country that would be remaining for so long on the political arena as he is. I gave him my respect. I hope he will visit us in Poland after his term-of-office is over. I will always be his most amicable host, because he has played an enormous role in Europe and in a way he is part of the history of the last several decades of our continent and knows many things unknown to many, including persons in the forefront today."

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