28 października 2001
On October 15, 2001, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of the Republic of Poland, and Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation attended the opening of the joint session of the Presidia of the Polish and Russian Academies of Science inaugurating the Days of Polish Science in the Russian Federation. During the opening ceremony, the Russian President addressed scientists by telling them that they should work together in surveying the economy with an eye to cross-border cooperation and joint technical and investment projects. The Russian President is of the opinion that the Russian and Polish scientists should also work together on solving environmental problems. "We are meeting on a great day, one of the most important scientific and political events of the recent years in the Polish-Russian relations," said the President of the Republic of Poland addressing the audience. It is an event that cannot be overestimated, but it stems, after all, from long decades of wide-ranging cooperation between Polish and Russian scientists. As we heard from President Putin, we are now facing a special challenge. Science must help the development and modernization of our countries. In the modern world of the 21st century, it is knowledge that is becoming the most important tool. It is not only a way to bridge the development gap, but also the fundamental capital that may serve as the foundation of the power of states and their economies. Therefore, we need more ideas, new technologies, and comprehensive, modern, and up-to-date knowledge. We also need closer cooperation. We see a great opportunity in working together with the Russian Federation, an opportunity which should be exploited even further. We should bear in mind - and that is the most important message of this meeting - that science has no limits. While they belong to the countries of domicile of the scientists, scientific achievements are, in fact, part of the human heritage and the achievements of our civilization. This event has not only a scientific dimension but also political and social dimensions. Poland and Russia must reinvent their mutual relations. This event serves as the beginning of a very concrete contribution to political relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland. I am very grateful that President Putin has agreed to be the patron of the Days, thus starting the period of preparations and events leading to President Putin`s visit to Poland early next year. We have awaited the visit for a long time. The President of the Russian Federation has not visited Poland for the last eight years. I think it is now high time to welcome the President of the Russian Federation to Poland. And the Russian scientists who have ties with Poland know it well that when one boards the plane at 3 PM in Moscow, one lands at 3 PM in Warsaw. And if the wind is favorable, one may as well land at a quarter to three. This makes us believe that one does not lose anything by flying from Moscow to Warsaw. One may even benefit a great deal. Therefore, we look forward to the visit. I am convinced that this meeting and our scientific cooperation will be one of the founding blocks of our future Polish-Russian relations. I would also like to say that the task scientists and politicians are facing is absolutely exceptional. We are going through a period of enormous changes. The transition from a centralized economy, a non-democratic system, and a totalitarian state to democracy, market economy, and a civic society is an experiment that we are conducting day after day at a considerable cost to both countries. We are writing this history with our own efforts, sometimes suffering, but, fortunately, without blood. We are engaged in a historic and, I think, very fortunate and positive exercise. Therefore, I think that there are excellent prospects of cooperation between the Russian and Polish scientists in connection with the phenomenon of transition, social and political changes, human attitudes, and the economy. I fully support President Putin`s observation that there is a need for cooperation in studying the experience of transformation, for cooperation between countries undergoing transformation, for cooperation between border regions, and for environmental cooperation. Many of these specific issues may contribute to common thinking at this extraordinary moment of transition from the times that are definitely behind us to the times that are not yet fully understood. Scientists can help politicians a great deal in this process. There is also a new factor that we must consider. We celebrated the coming of the 21st century believing that the tragic, bloody, and dramatic times of the 20th century had finally come to an end and that everything that was going to follow may only be better. We started the 21st century convinced that the worst was over. The events of September 11 and the series of events that are unfolding show us that perhaps the most difficult times (I do not want to say the worst times) are still ahead of us: fight against terrorism, fight against threats stemming from different fundamentalisms, and violations of universal principles that are the basis of today`s civilization. We must respond to the situation in our region. And we must not rely solely on political intuition. Our response must also follow from knowledge, which should serve to understand the present and the future. I would like to say that the role of science and scientists in the 21st century will not be shrinking. It is growing and it is becoming dramatically more important at the present moment. And while I am aware that we are spending too little on science and its development and on technology, I deeply trust that scientists should not only take a practical attitude, but also have a mission to fulfill. The mission is to grasp what is happening and what is yet to happen and to propose solutions that will serve well the people and humanity. I am convinced that the Russian and Polish scientists can still contribute a great deal and that they can use the vast heritage of the past. Cooperation between the Polish and Russian scientists can only help. It will never stand in the way of developing science in our countries. It will serve as a solid foundation for the development of our societies. It will contribute to addressing the issues and diffusing the threats that are so evident and so close that one need not even mention them here. I wish all the best to the Russian and Polish scientists. I also thank the host of this event, the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation, for hospitality. I do not know how many times two presidents have met here, but I am convinced that we are witnessing a historic moment. In the course of the ceremony, the President of Poland and the President of the Russian Federation decorated Polish and Russian scientists. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, decorated: Mirosław Mossakowski (President of the Polish Academy of Sciences), Jerzy Kołodziejczyk (Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences) and Zbigniew Kłosa (Director at the Center for Aeronautic Research) with the Order of Friendship and Janusz Tazbir (Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences) and Henryk Markiewicz (Editor-in-Chief of the Polish Biographic Dictionary) with the Pushkin Medal. The President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, decorated: Yuri Osipov (President of the Russian Academy of Sciences) with the Commander`s Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; Aleksandr Andreyev (Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences), Nikolai Plata (Chief Scientific Secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences), and Oleg Krohin (Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences) with the Commander`s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; Vladimir Valkov (Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences) with the Officer`s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland; and Lev Nikifirov (Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences) with the Cavalier`s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. Following the opening ceremony, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and President Vladimir Putin met at the Kremlin. The meeting lasted over two hours. The President of the Republic of Poland told Polish and Russian journalists about the outcome of the meeting at a press conference held at the ITAR-TASS Press Center. Talking to the journalists, Aleksander Kwaśniewski said among other things: This visit is first of all connected with the opening of the Days of Polish Science in the Russian Federation. I attach great importance to this event because it demonstrates the quality of Polish-Russian relations and it augurs well for these relations. I am pleased that President Putin agreed to be the patron of the event. I am glad that President Putin also sees it as a very valuable initiative. We have also confirmed that President Putin will come to Poland on an official visit in mid January. It will be an extremely important event: the first visit to Poland by the Russian President in the last eight years. We would like to do everything to make this visit rich in substance. We have a good chance of making it happen as we are developing our bilateral economic relations and scientific cooperation at an important moment in the history of our countries. The changes resulting from the transformation are evident, and both Poland and Russia are important players in international processes, such as European integration and fight against terrorism. I would like to say that we very often share opinions and our thinking is close on all these issues. In fact, there are very few differences. Before President Putin`s official visit, there will also be meetings between our governments with the participation of the new Polish government to be formed on October 19. Close cooperation between our presidential institutions, such as the National Security Council, will also be continued. We used the time to discuss thoroughly the international situation. We note our common position, especially with respect to determination in the fight against global terrorism. We think that the world is facing challenges that it may have to deal with at any time. We will be able to deal with these challenges if we act together: Russia, the United States, Poland (now a member of NATO), and other countries, including Muslim countries (...). During the press conference, the President of the Republic of Poland was asked, among other things, to address the following issues: * Assessment of present Polish-Russian relations We are at a moment of breakthrough in the Polish-Russian relations. We share a history of several hundred years, of which some years were very positive and some were tragic. The generation that is in power both in Russia and in Poland has the duty to remember the history, but, at the same time, it has the duty to build the best possible cooperation in the future. I greatly respect the decisions of the Russian authorities that made it possible to uncover the truth about Katyn and to build cemeteries-monuments in the memory of the murdered Poles (...). I would like to say that we, representing the young generation, think that we must remember the past because it forms part of the foundations on which we are all building our new relations. And it is our task to ensure that they are the best relations possible. For this purpose, we need to maintain close, frequent, and direct political cooperation at all levels, from the President to local government. Secondly, we must develop economic cooperation, which looks good, but needs to be broadened, especially with respect to the presence of Polish companies in the Russian market. We must also develop cooperation in areas that have been slightly neglected over the years, that is scientific and cultural cooperation and cooperation between institutions of higher learning and between cities. Poland and Russia must not be closed to each other. We must, therefore, develop such rules for tourists and simplify the visa regime so that it is not an obstacle. Moreover, we must make sure that it eliminates people of bad will and helps people of good will. Last but not least, comes the issue of the Kaliningrad District. Our border with the Russian Federation is the border with the Kaliningrad District. I would like to assure you that Poland fully understands, fully respects, and is vitally interested in the protection of the Russian status quo that evolved in the aftermath of the Second World War. We treat the Kaliningrad District as part of the Russian Federation and this should not be subject to any discussion. The fundamental question, however, is what to do to involve the District in European cooperation. I am pleased that the positions taken by President Putin and myself are similar. We want the Kaliningrad District to participate both in the Baltic cooperation and in European integration in the field of economic relations and in tourism, which we all need. (...) * Impact of events of September 11 on NATO enlargement Following September 11, the world has changed. And I am afraid it has changed for the worse. We must simply quickly cope with the problem. No doubt, the American-Russian relations are becoming extremely important. I think that today it would be completely incomprehensible, or even a mistake to treat enlargement as a problem. Secondly, NATO and Russia are coming closer. I think, and I would especially like to say to the general public in Russia, that it is a very positive development. I know that the Russian general public often treats NATO as an old enemy, that is the institution that represents the enemy from the cold war of the past. I think that time has come to look at NATO differently, as one of the guarantors of global security and effective fight against terrorism. From this point of view, the cooperation between Russia and NATO is truly a breakthrough because it dismantles old stereotypes and builds new foundations. I believe that today there are no reasons to question the concept of enlargement. I think that only in the recent years NATO has demonstrated that it serves the purpose of guaranteeing security and is not directed against anyone. If today someone ponders why it is the United States and Great Britain that are participating in the anti-terrorist campaign, one needs to remember not only about the political support provided by other NATO members, but also the fact that they ensure security in their region. In other words, in line with the war doctrine, some are on the frontline, while others ensure security at the home front. For example, today, it is not only NATO membership, but also efforts to join NATO (that is willingness to adopt the NATO rules) that minimize tensions connected with, for example, the situation of national minorities. Examples include the situation of Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, or Slovenia where Hungarian minorities are a problem. Upon the adoption of the NATO rules, the problem was solved by civilized (that is safe) means. I am convinced that if the Baltic states join NATO, and I believe that it is going to happen soon, this will contribute to proper treatment of the Russian minorities in these countries and proper relations with Russia. For 50 years, the North Atlantic Alliance has developed a certain positive way of thinking and values. I know that I am saying these words in Moscow. I know that the general public in this country harbors stereotypes, which makes me want to say it even more: I would not be surprised if one day Russia also becomes a member of NATO. I know that I have said something that may cause a great deal of controversy, but I think that one needs to look at the world today with an open mind. Sooner or later, you should be prepared. * Possible participation of Polish troops in anti-terrorist campaign As a member of NATO, Poland has pledged troops that will be available subject to our capability. We will be discussing this with our partners. I think that the most realistic move would be to reinforce the Polish participation in the peacemaking troops in the Balkans. As a result, some American or