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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Address by the President at the New Year’s meeting with the Diplomatic Corps

Excellency, Most Reverend Sir,

Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The bygone year was a year of important anniversaries, the fact which is worth remembering, but also the year of dramatic developments when new threats emerged to international security and peace.
In 2014, we commemorated anniversaries of outbreaks of two world wars: the 100th anniversary of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II. Both world wars broke out in Europe and both came as a result of wrong politics and of ideologies hostile to other nations and hostile to man. They caused unimaginable human suffering and immense material losses. They brought with them genocide, ethnic cleansing, border shifting, collapse of old and birth of new social orders, on many occasion much worse than the preceding ones. They were inhuman enough, and sufficiently paralyzing with the scale of destruction, to urge an imperative: “war no more”. The lessons of the two great wars are particularly important to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to diplomats. For the task of maintaining peace, and of keeping up friendly relations among states, free of any prejudice, rests on diplomats. Diplomacy should perceptively analyse the situation, should send warning signals and identify the right arguments, should apply methods already known for the preservation of peace and to look for the new ones. At times, diplomacy fails, and it also happens that politicians do not give diplomats a chance.
Last year, the optimistic occasion to celebrate last year was the 25th anniversary of the end of Cold War, of the downfall of communism, the end of division in Europe, and eventually of regaining freedom by nations in our part of Europe. The Polish “Solidarity” played a pivotal role in the process. The events unfolding here in 1989 have had a beneficial effects, felt globally. I am grateful to the leaders of many states for their willingness to come Warsaw in June last year to celebrate together with us the anniversary of free elections in Poland, the victorious elections which paved the way for the historical transformation which has been progressing until now. Poland knew how to wisely use the quartercentennial of its freedom, the fact which you hopefully have witnessed and readily taken note of. Today we live in a country which is altogether different, incomparably better, and in a different Europe, an incomparably better one.
We are all the more saddened and concerned with the developments we have been witnessing for several months now, both in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East. Due to the events in those regions, the year 2014 will go down as a bad year. Researchers and commentators are of one mind in this respect, I think. The use of armed force, annexation of a part of territory of a sovereign state, support given to separatism and accompanying fighting, victims, humanitarian crises, bring back associations with the worst pages of the history of 20th century Europe.
We in Poland, who were the first victim of World War II, are particularly sensitive to such situations and dramas. The attempts to deprive nations of their right to self-determination and to deprive their states of sovereignty always ultimately lead to destabilization, threats to peace and to conflicts. Ukraine, just like other states of the region, has the right to freely determine is internal system and its external relations. This has been the main tenet of the European international order starting from the Helsinki Final Act until more recent agreements. It is incumbent on all of us to guard them so as not to find ourselves in a point of no return where there is little left to be done for even best diplomats ever. That being said, we continue to believe that each important country in Europe, each important country in the world, will find enough of strength to return to a constructive dialogue and cooperation, for the sake of a peaceful order in Europe and in its immediate environment, the order friendly to all nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A spectre of terror has haunted Europe. The attacks in France, the country so close to the Polish people, which we always looked up to as a homeland of human rights and civil liberties, have come as a profound shock to us. We condemn them with all our might. We wish to renew our assurances of solidarity with the French People.
The news coming from the zone which is called by its conquerors   ‘the Islamic State’ inspire universal fear and understandable sense of terror; not only among the states of the region but also on a broader scale, and especially in Europe, more than any other place. After all, may jihadists come from countries located on our continent. Fortunately, the states of the region, affected by the operations of ‘the Islamic State’, may count on international support. In the effort to put an end to this conflict it is important to act in such a way so as not to allow the situation in the countries concerned develop into another pretext for fighting, or into a source of humanitarian tragedies. Mistakes committed in the past can emerge again in an unexpected and deplorable way. It is not only the case in the Middle East and in Africa. We must be able to learn a lesson from the past experiences. In this connection, we are very saddened by the deadlock, or even a regression seen in the so called Middle East Peace Process.
Honourable Guests,
In our part of the world we pin our hopes on the “renewed” European Union; “renewed” meaning new authorities of the main Community institutions. This is an opportunity for a new beginning. Here in Poland we cannot fail to mention the appointment of Prime Minister Donald Tusk to the office of the President of the European Council. To all newly elected Members of the European Parliament, of the new European Commission, including the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, we wish success, our shared success. We do not underestimate problems that the EU needs to face, nor the crisis which affects the economy, security issues and other problems. We believe that they can be overcome, can be surmounted. We are keenly interested in developing intense cooperation among states of the Old Continent.
In Poland, we would like to see continued positive contribution that is made in our part of the world by the North Atlantic Alliance. The proceedings of the most recent Newport Summit and the decisions made there give us grounds to be hopeful.  Close relations with the United States, close transatlantic relations are a substantial part of it. We trust that the success of negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will open up a new chapter in these relations, a new chapter not only in the history of the Community of the West, but also a new chapter in the history of the world.
As President of Poland I am happy to see my country develop lively and comprehensive contacts with other regions of the world.
In particular, this applies to the states of Asia which due to their vast and constantly growing potential may play an important and positive role equally in their own region and also globally. Also the development of Latin American countries and their growing presence in the international arena gives rise to similar expectations. We attach great hopes to developing economic cooperation with countries of Africa. Poland can see the enormous potential that the continent represents. We strive to deepen our political, economic and social relations with those states.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Also this year has a number of important anniversaries in store. Among them, there is the 70th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations. Ten years ago, the international community was capable of a reformist action and of launching some useful innovations in the operations of our common Organization. This time, most regrettably, it does not seem to be feasible. Let us at least do anything we can to secure its operational capabilities in the key areas of its functioning: in international peace and security, sustainable growth development and humanitarian aid, and its preoccupation with human rights. It is in particular essential to restore the Security Council’s operational capability, and the Security Council’s ability to fill its mandate. In Poland, we assign equally great importance to the United Nations’ capacities defined in the norm adopted back in 2005 of ‘responsibility to protect’. The tragedies which unfold before our very eyes will not leave us indifferent in such circumstances.       
I wish to assure all of you assembled here, Distinguished Representatives of states of the world, and through your offices, your authorities and societies, that Poland will continue to be a friendly and open country, an active participant of international life, engaged in developing contacts with nations representing various continents, cultures and systems but a similar value system. To the best we can, we wish to participate in the building of a peaceful international order, friendly to people and societies. This is also the way how I understand my own mission, and driven by this consideration I also propose it to the Polish Government.
To you, your families, your countries I wish peace, I wish you all the best. May your stay in Poland be professionally and privately satisfying.  
In line with the Polish custom, I wish you ‘do siego roku’ – ‘May we see another new year coming!’    
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