May this year prove more peaceful than the previous one
On 20 January 2009 in the Presidential Palace, Lech Kaczyński, the President of the Republic of Poland, together with his wife, met the Diplomatic Corps.
“May this year prove more peaceful than the previous one. May there be less war and more cooperation. May those that need help receive it and may there be less money spent on armaments. This is what the whole world needs today,” said the president to the assembled guests.
Partnership with the United States
Lech Kaczyński expressed his expectation that the administration of Barack Obama, the new President of the USA, will proceed with the National Missile Defence project.
The president emphasised that the leaders of important countries have changed recently, including Russia, where the power has been taken by Dmitry Medvedev, and the United States, which has had, since Tuesday, a new president. “Poland wants to perceive these changes with hope,” said Lech Kaczyński.
He noted that the United States remains our strategic ally. “We deeply hope, and the first speech of Barack Obama indicates so, that what has been agreed during the incumbency of George W. Bush will be continued,” he said, and paid his respects to the former President of the USA.
Lech Kaczyński emphasized that the agreement concerning the National Missile Defence project signed last year serves only as protection against terrorism. “There are, there can be, no other goals here," he stated.
The future of the Treaty of Lisbon
At the same time, the president assured that Poland would not be an obstacle in the Treaty of Lisbon’s coming into effect. He announced that he will sign the treaty if the supporters of the treaty win the referendum in Ireland.
“The Constitution of Ireland requires that there be a referendum and, in this referendum, the majority of the people were against the treaty. This is a sacred right of the people of Ireland,” he said, adding that the European Union is “a close group of countries that is based on closely observing the principles of democracy.”
Lech Kaczyński stressed that the failure of the Irish referendum was the main reason for his not signing the treaty. In spite of the fact that, according to the president, the negotiations concerning the treaty were successful, from the point of view of Poland it still remains, as he said: “a great new experiment.” Lech Kaczyński emphasized that the treaty “significantly reduces the importance of the rule of unanimity, replaced by the rule of the majority.”
If this experiment is to be accepted, he added, “the rule of unanimity, wherever it is retained, (…) should be solemnly respected.”
At the same time, the president proposed that the role of the European Union be extended. This role, he said, “should be connected with the ability to act decisively and with determination.”
What was 2008 like?
According to Lech Kaczyński, 2008 was not easy taking into consideration such matters as the economic crisis or the conflict in Georgia.
He pointed out that, even though numerous politicians took measures to resolve this conflict, “the role of the EU should indeed be greater.” “Determination is needed, and it was sometimes absent, even when we had a strong and influential partner,” he added.
He emphasized the fact that the conflict in Georgia was connected with “the sovereignty of those countries that gained their independence twenty years ago (…) and with their territorial unity,” and that Poland believes that such values should never be questioned.
The president hopes that the war in the Gaza Strip that began at the end of the previous year is coming to an end. He said that Poland understands the causes underlying the conflict in the Gaza Strip: “But we should ask ourselves the question of how long must the innocent suffer.” At the same time, he assured that Poland is and will remain a dedicated opponent of terrorism, adding that our country will fight terrorism.
“We have been waiting 41 years for peace in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “It requires good will on the part of all the parties in the conflict.”
Lech Kaczyński also hopes that in 2009 the EU will be able to take dynamic measures with regard to energy security. “The events connected with the economic crisis have once more evidenced that the problem is crucial. I think that this year the EU will be able to make very energetic decisions with regard to diversifying the gas supply and seeking alternative energy sources,” he said.
“Gas and oil are very important – modern civilisation cannot function without them.”
He emphasized that gas and oil should be important as fuel and not as a political tool. “Here both energetic action and courage are needed; our Polish politics unquestionably needs these as well,” he added.
Lech Kaczyński is convinced that the process of economic growth in our country has been only reduced, not stopped.
He emphasized that our country still hopes to help those people in the world who need it. While talking about the relations between Poland and the world, he mentioned matters such as a “renaissance” of Africa and the growing importance of Asian countries.
According to the president, Poland is very interested in establishing good relations with the countries of the Middle East; we want our relations with Israel to be good. He also stressed the fact that we are in friendly relations with Palestine, and that Poland is in favour of solving the conflict in the Middle East in a peaceful manner.
He said that even though our mission in Iraq has ended we remain interested in the situation in the region.
Lech Kaczyński also stated that Poland supports the idea of accepting the Balkan countries into the European Union. “Poland is interested in the Balkans, but we may not give up the idea of extending the Union and NATO in a different direction as well: in the direction of Ukraine, Georgia and, in the future – if such is the will of the people of Azerbaijan – also Azerbaijan. This is an important direction,” he said.
In his opinion, the successes concerning the Balkan countries joining the EU are important: “Croatia, I believe, will soon become a member of the EU.” He emphasized that we should not forget “the other nations of the Balkans.” “We must remember about Serbia and the difficult situation of its nation, which has lived through many tragic years. We must remember Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania,” he said.
What will 2009 be like?
Lech Kaczyński believes that 2009 will be a time of struggle with the current crisis and also a time in which an opportunity to close this difficult period will arise. “I believe that it will be a year in which consensus with regard to difficult matters concerning the climate will be reached,” he added.
According to Lech Kaczyński, 2009 will be a year of new dynamics for the greatest world power – the United States. The president also hopes that there will be much fewer victims of armed conflicts by the end of this year than there were in 2008.
Speaking on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps, the apostolic nuncio in Poland, Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk, said that 2008 had been a year of important events as it brought hope in connection with the “new generation taking over the responsibility for the fate of the world,” the token of this being the new presidents of Russia, the United States and France.
Józef Kowalczyk expressed his concern for the economic and political consequences of the financial crisis. In his opinion, the threat of terrorism is still present, as evidenced by the fact that that ships are still being hijacked.
Diplomats accredited in our country are invited to an annual meetings with the president in the Presidential Palace, where they often arrive in their national costumes. This year, clad in interesting outfits were diplomats from countries such as Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Morocco and Latvia. (PAP)
See the pictures documenting this event in our