President of Poland, Mr Andrzej Duda, speaks at the congress Poland, the Great Project, to markthe occasion of conferring the Courage and Credibility awardon Sir Roger Scruton
Dear Sir Roger, ladies and gentlemen,
thank you so much for greeting me so cordially. I thank the organisers of this year’s congress for giving me the opportunity to be its honorary patron. To be able to do this is a continuation of a dream come true: of our winning the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015 and of all that we have been able to achieve politically so far. I would like to stress here that in those elections it was not an ideology that won, it was an idea – precisely what Roger Scruton has written about in his works on conservative thought. An idea, not an ideology. An idea of building a strong state based on tradition and societal potential, based on what we call, in the best meaning of the word, a civic attitude. Our state takes its strength from the strength of the nation, from its tradition that is over a thousand years old, from its culture, from all those things of utmost importance that stem from our Christian roots. We have always had an inner conviction of belonging to the Judeo-Christian world and to the West, and this conviction did not vanish even when we didn’t have our own state, when we struggled to regain our independence and our freedom. When we found ourselves behind the Iron Curtain we felt a great injustice and a sense of wrong. For we do not belong to the East, but to the West.
Why am I saying all this? Because it is Poland, the Great Project congress, which had its first meeting in 2011,that from the very beginning has been promoting conservative political thought based on ideas I have just mentioned. Many of its members are now in government or in other public bodies. It is they who are responsible for what our country will become. They have been building up a reservoir of Polish political conservatism over the years and now they have the opportunity to use it. This great success is due to all those people associated with the bi-monthly Arkana, with the Centre for Political Thought, with the Jagiellonian Club, with the Sobieski Institute, with the many other organisations that never in those past difficult years ceased to discuss and debate. They persisted in preparing foundations for a strong Poland, a country which will rely on its traditions, on its proper institutions and on people who will put the common good first.
I thank all of you for all those years of toil and I ask you to do more. For it will be Poland, the Great Project congress that will judge our work, that will comment on the political state of the country and on how well we put our ideas into practice. I do hope you will continue to carry on your discussions, so vital to a proper functioning of any country.
I also wish to express my gratitude to the congress for conferring the Courage and Credibility award on Professor Sir Roger Scruton.Sir Roger is not just a Knight of the Realm in the United Kingdom, but one of the greatest contemporary thinkers and philosophers. Wasn’t his 1979 essay ‘ What is Conservatism” that gave rise to the modern British conservative thought and most certainly affected conservative political ideas the world over? It was there that we encountered a simple but most perfect essence of that thought, namely that a state should not push people into an ideology but that it should offer them an idea, a living idea stemming organically from their culture and tradition. An idea that is understood instinctively as a common good. To understand it is to know that a country is for the people and not for just the elites.
Sir Roger, please accept once again my sincere congratulations. This award is not just a medal, it is an expression of gratitude from us Poles to a great philosopher and a great thinker. Thank you so much.