20 października 2001
On October 20, 2001, after giving an inaugural address at the opening of the Senate of the Republic of Poland of the fifth term and after leaving the Senate`s sitting, President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski met with journalists. At the start of the meeting with the press the President said: These two days, yesterday and today, are important as the top organs of the state are being formed. The process is very smooth and it is taking place in a very good atmosphere. Since the President is responsible for the continuity of power, I am pleased with the process. Poland is going not only through a test of democracy, but also through a test of political culture. I am talking about the process at the Sejm and the Senate, as well as the transfer of power to the new government. Polish Television: Mr. President, during the election campaign, the coalition of the Democractic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Labor Union (UP) advocated the dissolution of the Senate. What is your position on the Senate? President: My position is in favor of the Senate. I think that an upper chamber is needed in Poland. In the constitution, we decided that it was going to be the Senate. The Senate plays a special role in drafting and correcting legislation. I trust that this Senate will demonstrate its usefulness and indispensability in the democratic system in Poland. We need a place that gives us a chance to correct legislation and one that will be concerned about its quality. Not only Polish but also international practice shows that mistakes are made in the legislative process, and the President may either accept them or reject the entire piece of legislation. It depends on the Senators whether the Senate is perceived by the people as a body caring for the quality of legislation or as one preoccupied with foreign trips. If the Senators focus on the quality of legislation, I am convinced that the Senate`s perception by the general public will change for the better. IAR: Mr. President, in your speeches, you announced greater cooperation and active participation in the legislative process. What draft legislation are you about to submit? President: In the coming days, I will resubmit a modified draft law on states of emergency incorporating the latest experience in connection with, for example, the events in the US. I will resubmit draft laws on the reform of administrative courts, laws which were not considered by the previous Sejm. I will also propose to amend the verification law in order to define precisely what should be considered as secret cooperation with the Special Services of the People`s Republic of Poland (PRL). By the end of the year, I will propose to amend the Penal Code and the Code of Penal Procedure, which I have vetoed and which I consider necessary to ensure public law and order. IAR/RADIO ZET: Are you not afraid that the Parliament is becoming a haven for individuals fleeing justice and the law? President: We are talking about two different things. Andrzej Lepper told me that if the lifting of immunity were necessary for the courts to finalize their proceedings, he would cooperate. It is not possible to build the authority of the Sejm as a body that lays down the law without observing the law. Therefore, I appeal to all the Members of Parliament to adopt the principle of care for the law by beginning with themselves. I hope that what we observe in Parliament will serve to reinforce Polish democracy, rather than to compromise it. For years, we have claimed that the Parliament is necessary in order for issues to be settled not on the streets and by way of strikes, but by seeking best solutions in a civilized manner. We are beginning probably the most difficult term of the Polish Parliament since 1989. The scale of tasks ahead of us, difficulties, and uncertainty is as follows: In 1989, we witnessed the beginning of transformations. The Soviet Union collapsed. Germany reunited. And the new map of Europe was drawn. Today, we really do not know the outcome of the fight against terrorism or the shape of the world in a few years` time.