Andrzej Duda sworn in as president
Andrzej Duda was sworn in as Poland's president in front of the National Assembly on Thursday. Addressing the joint sitting of the lower and upper houses of parliament the new president thanked his predecessors elected by Poles in democratic elections.
Andrzej Duda thanked especially Lech Kaczynski and stressed that working for the late president made him ready for participating in politics understood as a common good. See also: Address by the President of the Republic of Poland Mr Andrzej Duda before the National Assembly
"I will do everything not to fail expectations. I will keep my election promises," President Duda said, adding he was speaking about his declaration to file a draft raising the tax-free quota to at least PLN 8,000 and another one lowering the retirement age.
The new president appealed for mutual respect and stressed it was necessary to rebuild a sense of community.
Andrzej Duda said he was often told by Poles that they dreamed of a community. "People dream of a community like the one which existed in the times of Solidarity, in the 1980s," Andrzej Duda said.
The president said it was necessary to build mutual respect which was the foundation of a community. "And we will be able to repair Poland only when we are a community," the president said.
President Duda expressed hope for good cooperation with the government, Sejm and Senate as well as with the European Parliament and Poland's officials holding important posts in the EU.
NATO and EU membership were described by President Duda as Poland's greatest international successes of the last 26 years. President Duda stressed that "foreign policy should not be revolutionised as it does not like revolutions" but added that it needed adjustment. The president added that European cohesion and NATO's unity should be built taking into account Poland's affairs.
Speaking about security, the new president said building a strong and well-equipped army was a priority. "This is a fundamental guarantee of independence, sovereignty and safety of citizens," Duda said, declaring his readiness to cooperate with the defence minister and to actively take part in the process.
According to Andrzej Duda, the point now is to strengthen allied guarantees within NATO for Poland and other Central European countries. "We need stronger guarantees from NATO. Not only in Poland but in the present geopolitical situation also in Central and Eastern Europe," the president said, adding he wanted to win such guarantees during the NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016.
Speaking about international relations, the president declared his concern for good relations with Poland's neighbours. "We should talk with our partners here in Central and Eastern Europe, in the North, from the Baltic to the Adriatic. We should seek what is common and can unite. Poles are waiting for such things," Duda said, stressing that good international relations were also "an element of Poland's achievements in the EU that should be consolidated".
The president stressed the need to rebuild and animate the Visegrad Group, which in his opinion should attract new members. President Duda added that he wanted to reach this goal in cooperation with the PM and foreign minister.
Speaking about Poles living abroad the president said they needed more contacts with Poland. "That is why I decided to establish a bureau for Poles living abroad at the Presidential Chancellery," he announced.
The president said it was necessary to consolidate the economy, improve living standards and help businesspeople.
He also announced plans to set up a special institution to defend Poland's image abroad and explained it should operate under the auspices of the president, PM and foreign minister.
Present at the ceremony were parliamentarians, former presidents Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski, and diplomats. Duda is the sixth president after 1989.
After the swearing-in ceremony President Duda and his wife Agata met with his predecessor Bronislaw Komorowski and his wife Anna.
Later the president met with a delegation of senior parliamentarians led by Sejm and Senate Speakers Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska and Bogdan Borusewicz. Before the meeting the president laid flowers at the plaques honouring parliamentarians killed in the April 10, 2010 airplane crash and during World War Two. Later the presidential couple attended a mass at Warsaw's St. John's Cathedral. (PAP)