"We want a Union of free nations and equal states"
Speech by the President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Andrzej Duda on the occasion of the New Year’s Meeting with the Diplomatic Corps
Your Excellency, Most Reverend Sir,
Madam Prime Minister,
Mr Deputy Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for the wishes expressed. It is a true pleasure for me to receive you and to welcome you to our first joint New Yearns Diplomatic Meeting. We are all entering 2016, aware of the multitude of difficult issues present in the international environment, issues which call for our deepened and intensive co-operation and dialogue. In spite of the above, I still believe that this year will turn out to be extremely constructive for our common efforts.
When it comes to the position of Poland in international relations, 2016 marks three crucial events which we are honoured to host: NATO Summit in Warsaw, World Youth Days in Krakow, the occasion which will be graced by the presence of the Holy Father Francis, and the celebration of the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland.
Allow me to voice the conviction that a successful organization of each of them will contribute not merely to the promotion of Poland, but first and foremost, of the values with which the above-mentioned events are connected, and which we, Poles, hold so dear: security, solidarity, dignity of every human being and the spiritual dimension of life.
One of the main functions of the diplomatic missions is their work aimed at ensuring friendly relations between states. Diplomacy has two basic tools at its disposal in this area. The first of these is international law. The other, which might seem less obvious perhaps, but, as I believe, features equally importantly, is sensitivity and openness which enable to understand the country in which the diplomatic mission is hosted.
During my speech delivered last year at the UN General Assembly in New York, I quoted the words of my great compatriot, Saint John Paul II, who observed that peace and international law are closely linked to each other because law favours peace. Today we should give more attention to this message than we did before. Equality of sovereign states, non-interference in their internal affairs and their territorial integrity, ban on the use of force for aggressive purposes, peaceful resolution of international disputes or the right of nations to self-determination: these are the fundamental principles, the violation of which inevitably puts an end to peaceful relations between states. Poland will always stick to the primacy of international law, because it is precisely this very law which guarantees peace. Peace through law, the force of law above the law of force: this is the motto of my presidency.
On the other hand, what is of essence in order to build friendly relations between states is the sensitivity which enables to understand one's partner. An important element of such sensitivity is the avoidance of unfair stereotypes and prejudices, as well as ideologies which oversimplify the reality. In this context, it is of key importance to provide reliable and unbiased information to the state which one represents as well as to follow closely the arguments of the other side, including those which touch upon historical issues of particular sensitivity. Let us bear in mind that best relations thrive between those who are able to respect and understand each other. Understanding is a guarantee of friendly relations.
Poland is committed to such a model of international co-operation which puts precisely those two elements high on the agenda: the primacy of international law and diplomacy, both of which constitute most secure mechanisms for peaceful coexistence and resolution of disputes between states, should such disputes emerge.
Unfortunately, the international order seems to lack permanent safeguards today. Even though, the vast majority of states wish to live in peace, there happen to be countries which put force above law, the countries which ignore normative constraints and strive to achieve their goals through military conflicts. This situation requires active involvement in actions aimed at defending international order. The basic task of diplomacy is to ensure security to our people. Security is the basic social expectation which should be the supreme reason for our actions.
In 2016, the main task facing Poland in the area of international security will be the striving to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance with a view to NATO Summit in Warsaw. The Alliance should take decisions, including the ones on its military presence in the territories of the Eastern-flank states, and on its capability to respond to hybrid threats.
Attempts to destabilize the European order, which is based on democratic values and institutions, have most regrettably moved security threats directly to NATO's borders. The ease with which some violate generally acknowledged principles regulating peaceful relations between states has to alarm us.
Poland and other states in the region count on the Warsaw Summit to go beyond the Newport decisions by increasing NATO's defense capabilities and ensuring their even distribution. Since the security of NATO allies is indivisible: this is a crucially important principle.
At the same time, we understand perfectly well that also relieving tensions is the precondition for permanent peace. Nevertheless, it is going to be feasible only when all member states of the Alliance receive stronger security guarantees. The shortest way to achieve that is to increase NATO's defense potential, especially in those parts of the Alliance which today are exposed to the biggest threat.
It is in Poland's interest to strengthen the transatlantic bond between Europe and the United States, who remains to be our most important ally. Notwithstanding the above, we are aware of the fact that our own capabilities constitute the other pillar and, by the same token, the guarantee of the regional security. Therefore, Poland, just like in other areas, does not shy away from its responsibility and stands ready to co-shape security in its neighbourhood. We believe that consistent consolidation of Central-European countries around the idea of stabilization and security of the entire region will bring effects soon. An important step made in that direction was the meeting of NATO leaders from Central Europe, which has recently taken place in Bucharest, on the initiative of Poland and Romania.
Due to Poland's specific geopolitical place, no realistic European policy, especially in its Eastern dimension, is or can be conducted in the contemporary security environment with the omission of our country.
Just like its allies and friends across the globe, Poland considers the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, pursuant to the principles of international law, to be the vital and strategic interest of the entire international community.
History teaches us that peace achieved at the cost of sovereignty of other states is rarely permanent. And never is it just.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Poland is a beneficiary of the European unity. We are committed to Europe's unity because whenever the continent was divided, Poles experienced the painful consequences thereof. Hence, in 2016 Poland will continue to be an active and responsible member of the European Union. Of the Union which takes care of the freedoms enshrined in the Treaties, which accords equal treatment to each and every country and which does not, once again, build borders between countries.
I strongly believe that Europe will emerge reformed from the crises which have plagued it over the last years, and will be able to face up to the global competition. We will support all actions aimed at boosting its internal solidarity and responsibility. But we will also be advocates of taking decisions as close to the member states and their people as possible, in line with the subsidiarity principle.
We want a flexible, solidarity-based and economically competitive Union, creating favourable conditions for individual development of its member states.
We want a Union which respects in equal measure the will of all its members.
Hence, we want a Union of free nations and equal states.
The thing which, in my opinion, made it possible for the European Community to be established and to develop, was the ability of European states and institutions to find creative solutions to emerging problems and contradictions. It was possible thanks to the principles stipulated in the acquis communautaire, but also thanks to the appropriate approach of its members: thanks to respect for diversity, avoiding ideological blindness, constant readiness to talk and find a compromise, which are all features so much needed in diplomacy.
The motto of the European Union is: "united in diversity". Accepting differences between states and nations of Europe, respect for their freedom and sovereignty is, in my opinion, an inevitable precondition for further prosperous development of the European Union.
2015 will go down in history as the year of the migration crisis which has become a huge challenge for Europe. The root causes of the crisis lie outside EU borders, and efforts to overcome it should focus precisely there. Strengthening of the EU borders should go hand in hand with more intensive co-operation with the states which are struggling with internal conflicts, political instability and terrorism.
In the field of migration policy, Poland can see three fundamental tasks to be accomplished. Number one is to protect the more than 1000-kilometer-long external border of the European Union, which is also the border of Poland. We are fulfilling this task in a responsible and effective way, and European Union's Eastern border is secure today. Number two is an active asylum policy. We are returning nobody from our borders and every person who qualifies for the asylum procedure can take advantage of it. And last but not least is the task of providing humanitarian assistance to countries engulfed in conflicts which are the source of the migration crisis. Poland will be actively involved in bringing humanitarian assistance to every region of the globe torn by war. We will act both directly, as well as a part of initiatives undertaken by the European Union and the UN Agendas.
The way in which Europe tackles the internal crisis will define the scope of its action in the international arena. Since the challenges which are facing EU member states today go beyond their direct neighbourhood. They are global in their nature.
In case of Poland, we also need to take into account the fact that so many of our compatriots live abroad, but are still subjected to the care of Polish authorities. I wish to stress that as the President of the Republic of Poland, I consider it my special duty to take care of all Polish people, no matter in which country they happen to live and work. Active co-operation with Polish community and Poles abroad is part and parcel of my presidency.
Poland is pursuing its interests all across the globe. To ensure the development of Poland, our country needs global partners in investment, innovation and rebuilding of industry. During my time in office I will be actively searching for partners in co-operation, also in those parts of the globe which are distant from Poland. Having said that, I want to visit all continents within five years.
The Asia and Pacific region is playing an ever bigger role in our foreign policy. Currently, it is the most dynamically developing region of the world, both economically as well as politically. Among the partners with whom we have signed documents on strategic partnership there are already three Asian countries: the People's Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. I count on intensive relations with each of them. Moreover, I am very hopeful about co-operation with India and the ASEAN.
A major aspect of Poland's global engagement is our policy towards Latin American countries. Our relations with Latin American and the Caribbean countries remain to be traditionally good. One of the visible signs of that fact was conferring upon Poland in 2014 the status of an observer-country in the Pacific Alliance, a regional organization of states which wish to take advantage of the economic opportunities resulting from globalization. We want to further tighten co-operation with countries in that region.
Relations between Poland and the African countries are acquiring particular importance in the context of the fast economic development experienced by many countries on the region. New opportunities and possibilities for co-operation are emerging, especially in the realm of trade. Also contacts with regional organizations, e.g. with the African Union play an important role in Polish foreign policy vis-a-vis the African countries.
However, coming back closer to home, I wish to underline that the concept of forging close relations and building a living community based on concrete projects, spanning from the Baltic Sea, through the Black Sea all the way down to the Adriatic Sea, is of particular importance to me. A community which remains open also for the Scandinavian countries. I am convinced that within this group we are capable of jointly supporting the development of our own potential for the benefit of all of us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Organization. Ambitious guidelines enshrined in its founding act, the UN Charter, constituted yet another effort to base international relations on the principles of law and justice. We must not forget that the UN is an organization which brings together countries with frequently discrepant interests. Precisely because of that, all successful initiatives, success projects of multi-lateral diplomacy, such as adopting the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, should fill us with pride.
At the last year's UN Summit in New York I had an honour to speak on behalf of Poland. I want to stress that my country, which along with other EU member states, took an active part in negotiating the Agenda, will be consistent in implementing its decisions, in line with its development priorities.
During the negotiations Poland made a special effort to adopt an ambitious text of Sustainable Development Goal No 16, which covers the area of good governance, rule-of-law, efficient institutions and human rights. In our assessment, the implementation of that Goal will contribute to better quality of governance as well as to limitation of inequalities and exclusion in the world. Most contemporary conflicts originate from the bad domestic situation in individual states. Therefore, international community should develop an effective mechanism for the protection of victims of violation of human rights and civil liberties, and for the protection of those whose sovereign right to decide about the directions of the national policy has been violated.
Poland stands ready to actively participate in the further reform process of the UN, improvement of the Organization and its adaptation to the contemporary challenges. I am referring inter alia to participation in the discussions on amendments concerning the veto right in response to the most drastic violations of global security, such as the crime of genocide. Poland is a candidate for the non-permanent member of the Security Council in the years 2018-2019. We count on the effective use of our possible presence in the Council.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to wish you a lot of success in your work for the sake of developing friendly relations in Europe and across the world. And to your Countries and People: I wish peace and stable development throughout 2016 and in the years to come.
All the best in the New Year!