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Saturday, 31 December 2005

New Year’s Address of the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński

On 31 December 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, delivered his New Year’s Address
 
 
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
It is for the first time that I have the honour to meet you on New Year’s Eve as the President of the Republic of Poland. It is a special occasion on which to offer best wishes and at the same time to reflect together on the passing year and on what lies ahead.
 
With its remarkable events, the year 2005 has left a mark on our lives. The greatest of Poles, the most outstanding man of our time, Pope John Paul II, passed away. One cannot understand the most recent history of Poland, Europe and indeed the world; one cannot grasp the depth of the change that has occurred in human hearts without recalling the great work of his life. We are his grateful debtors, in the present generation as well as in the generations to come. Our farewell to the dying Holy Father was for us a religious retreat on a national scale. Like all the Polish people moved by this experience, I want to believe that the spiritual good of those days will not be squandered; that the seeds then sown will continue to yield a crop. It is up to us how we benefit from the message he left behind, to what degree he will continue to be present among us.
 
We are facing a great opportunity today. Our Nation has elected a new Parliament and a new President. These decisions showed the people’s desire for change, a desire to reform the state, to restore moral standards in public and social life to their proper place. This hope must not be shattered. Democracy and the rule of law do not make up a system that opposes justice, a system in which evil enjoys protection. With full determination, we must reject the belief that nothing can be done; that each measure aimed at ‘cleaning up’ our home is unfeasible. This home, a home called Poland, must become clean. I wish to assure you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I will do my very best to make it happen. Only a just and honest Poland founded on the principle of solidarity can further develop, only in such a Poland may we build upon all that we have gained by our own efforts, upon all that is already our success, an undeniable achievement of the living generations.
 
This year, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the great Solidarity movement. It was then, in that memorable month of August 1980, that the changes began that were to have a decisive impact on the destiny of Poland and the continent of Europe as a whole. Throughout the 20th century, there was no other development to show with equal strength how powerful ideas are. This remarkable experience of the Polish people should be constantly on our minds. It should serve to convince us that one’s deep belief that one’s objectives are right coupled with courageous efforts may lead to even the boldest visions being materialized. 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
In 2005, Poland and our Compatriots have shown on many occasions that they can stand up successfully to challenges and international competition.
 
We have strengthened our country’s standing in the European Union. During the negotiations in Brussels on the EU budget, Poland played a major, constructive role. We were able to staunchly defend our own interests, at the same time showing concern for Community solidarity, which must remain the most important foundation of the European Community. If we skilfully combine the results of these negotiations with our own efforts and with a renewal of public life, our state will become stronger, more efficient and more modern. Our economy, which has been looking up somewhat in recent years, provides a solid basis on which to implement bold plans.
 
I trust that government policy will promote investments and job creation. That it will lead to reducing unemployment, which today makes us stand out unfavourably among the other European Union member states. I will go to great lengths to make sure that Poland does not waste its opportunities; that we are appreciated and respected as a strong pillar in the European architecture.
 
The past year has brought major successes in a variety of fields, including in the very important area of culture and in sports. The special reason to feel pleased is that we have scored successes also in those fields where we had not noted any for a long time, for example in the Frederic Chopin Piano Competition, as well as in those areas where we had not enjoyed successes on such a scale ever before, e.g. in swimming contests. What makes us particularly hopeful is that these successes were scored by young people, often very young indeed, and thus they bode very well for the future.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
A few days ago I had the honour to take over the supreme command of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland. I feel under an obligation to ensure security for Poland and for the Polish people, in exercise of my constitutional powers. I will spare no effort to ensure that due importance and weight is attached to our nation’s defence policy. Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to thank officers, soldiers and civilians employed by the army for their good service. I extend my special gratitude to those who are participating in responsible peacekeeping and stabilisation missions in the Balkans, in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
 
As we are taking steps into the future, we are looking forward with hope. We are a full-fledged member of NATO and the European Union, great organisations of states that represent the greatest power in today’s world. As I have said before, our standing within the EU has consolidated, but we must continue our vigorous efforts to make our relations with other states better and more effective, both in the pan-European dimension and in our region, where the Visegrad Group and our relations with the Baltic Sea states are of special importance. Today’s Europe is not only the EU in its present shape. Our relations with the East are likewise a matter of great importance. There is every chance to further strengthen our ties with Ukraine, our strategic partnership. Also, I would like to express a hope that there will come a time for a major change in our relations with the Russian Federation.
We want the people of Belarus to enjoy freedom, democracy and respect for civil rights, including the rights of the local Polish minority.
 
Dear Compatriots,
 
Without commitment on the part of the citizens, without your involvement in efforts on behalf of our Country, that great change for the better that we desire cannot take place. We need to feel--even stronger than we have felt so far--that we make up a community. A community bound by ties of solidarity.
 
Our country needs to develop quickly and to do so without leaving anyone behind. We must not forget about the people, about whole communities and regions, that have not benefited very much from the recent transformations. It is hard for the unemployed, the poor, for those without prospects for the future to derive satisfaction from good economic indices. That is why our solidarity needs to be real; it needs to reach specific people. Also, it must be based on social dialogue, on a contract between various actors involved in political and economic life. I am convinced this is the best way to ensure that we more and more often think and speak about our state in terms of ‘us’ rather than ‘them’ in the years to come.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, Compatriots,
 
I send especially warm greetings to the ill and the lonely. Our thoughts are with you. We remember about those on duty on New Year’s Eve: in hospitals, at police stations, at the railways and at sea; wherever they are needed – by the Polish people and by Poland.
 
On behalf of the First Lady and on my own behalf let me extend the following wishes to all of us and to our Homeland: may 2006 be a year of true solidarity. May 2006 afford us the greatest joy possible to be derived from giving help, from sharing.
 
May this forthcoming year abound in satisfaction for each and every one of you, Ladies and Gentlemen, derived from the conviction that you have fully used the opportunities that have presented themselves, and that you have lived these days fruitfully.
 
Happy New Year!
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