On December 23 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, took the oath of office before the National Assembly and assumed the post of President of the RP for a five-year term.
The swearing-in ceremony of the President of the RP was attended by, among others, the Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Jurek, the Speaker of the Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz, former presidents of the RP, Lech Wałęsa and Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former speakers of the Sejm and Senate, including Wiesław Chrzanowski, Józef Oleksy, Andrzej Stelmachowski and Alicja Grześkowiak, representatives of constitutional bodies, representatives of churches and religious communities, and diplomats accredited in Poland.
The meeting of the National Assembly was opened by the Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Jurek. After the singing of the national anthem by the deputies, senators and invited guests, the President of the RP, Lech Kaczyński, took the oath of office, as provided by Article 130 of the Constitution:
Next, President of the RP Lech Kaczyński delivered an address.
Mister President! Speakers of the Sejm and Senate! Members of the Assembly! Your Eminence! Your Excellencies! Distinguished representatives of other denominations! Distinguished guests!
I stand before the National Assembly conscious of the great responsibility placed upon me by the oath I have just taken. I know that the decision made by the Nation in the presidential elections, and also in the parliamentary elections, is rooted in an expectation of a profound, positive change in public and social life.
The task that confronts me, but also all those who hold power in Poland today, consists in fulfilling that expectation, of not failing that hope, of taking up the construction of a new shape of our life. I believe that the essence of that hope , so deeply imbued in the minds of Poles, can be expressed with the words
“ justice, solidarity, honesty”. The sense of these words, as related to social life, to inter-human relations, is interconnected. There can be no justice without solidarity. There is no mechanism that would make it possible to implement the principle of solidarity without honesty, especially honesty of those who make decisions that affect others. That also applies to those who run the state and other institutions – primarily economic ones.
Where the state is concerned, honesty is closely connected with a willingness to treat the holding of office as a public service, which should be related to the common good and unceasing endeavors for its implementation. When we speak of the state as a whole, that common good is the good of Poland, the good of the people. When we refer to the non-state sphere, honesty is connected with a willingness to display solidary conduct, it is connected with solidarity itself, which is the fundamental bond of social life. When one looks back over the events of the last sixteen years, then without detracting from the authors of our successes – and there were quite a few of them – one has to state clearly: there has been too little solidarity, there has been too little justice, and often enough there has been a shortage of honesty as well.
In many instances there was no willingness to treat government as a public service, there was no commitment and energy to strive for the common good. It is in this sphere that a deep change, perceptible to the society, has to be achieved. For it is obvious that a good public order cannot be built without people who are guided in their actions by fundamental values, who strive for the common good, which to them is a value in itself.
Only on the basis of such motivations, on the basis of striving to ensure Poland’s propitious development, I’ll say more – its greatness, can we seek the amelioration of the Republic. That amelioration is a concrete task. It involves purging various pathologies from our life, most prominently including crime that today has assumed great proportions, particularly criminal corruption – that entire, great rush to obtain unjust enrichment, a rush that is poisoning society, deforming its structure, creating broad and totally unjustified social gaps, degenerating market institutions, and worst of all – degenerating the state apparatus and preventing proper fulfillment by the state of its elementary tasks. These tasks consist in ensuring national security, personal security of the citizens, elementary social security, health security, basic conditions for the development of the family, and finally security of commerce and the basic conditions for economic development.
Speakers of the Sejm and Senate! Members of the Assembly! I wish to emphasize with particular force that the obligations of the state concerning individuals and families must be fulfilled with equal effect in towns and the countryside. There is one Poland and all communities must enjoy the possibility of advancement and development.
The great inequities that persist today must be systematically leveled. This also applies to the inequities between regions.
Speakers of the Sejm and Senate! Members of the Assembly! Honorable Senators and Deputies! The threat to the energy security of Poland and the related events, the high crime rate, the enormous unemployment, the acute crisis of the health service, the sorely inadequate state of housing construction affecting families and their development, the uncertainty of commercial relations threatening small and medium-sized companies, the sorry state of our roads and the years-long inability to build highways – these are facts that cannot be challenged, that cannot be denied. The state is discharging its tasks erratically and for that reason it has to be purged and reconstructed.
Along with moral change and a new attitude by the people in power, that is the fundamental condition for meeting the fully justified l expectations of society. There is urgent need for an economic policy that will combine measures designed to achieve rapid development with measures to resolve social problems, unemployment in particular.
Honorable Deputies! Honorable Senators! The events of the last three years, the growing resistance to evil, the mobilization and great moral tension in the memorable moments after the death of our Pope, the unforgettable John Paul II, all this creates hope. Let us protect and nurture it. When I emphasize the significance of the moral sphere, I cannot omit yet one more truth. A nation as a community is also built around tradition. Tradition must not be opposed to the necessary changes, the necessary modernization of Poland. That is a fictitious contradiction. It is a harmful way of reasoning. Those who were able to combine modernization with good tradition have scored the greatest successes in Europe.
Our state should enter that path in all its practical activity, in its legislation, in the sphere of school education and other areas.
Speakers of the Houses! Members of the Assembly! As president of the Republic of Poland I will do everything possible not to disappoint the longing for a great, positive change.
I will apply all the prerogatives given me by the Constitution and the laws, including those that have been rarely invoked, to induce the government to introduce the essential changes, to condemn those who are undermining and rejecting the common good, who are acting in the name of narrow interests, or even their own interests. In these matters I will not be guided by loyalty to anyone, except loyalty to Poland.
I will also launch efforts to consolidate the social foundations of the whole process of change, with particular emphasis on a new economic policy. Poland needs a kind of a social contract that will lay down the rules for dividing our common attainments for years to come. Poles must know what they can expect from the state as consumers, employees and employers. We must begin debating this, we must tackle the difficult, very difficult job of reaching an agreement.
I am deeply convinced that Poland needs a new constitution that will be better attuned to the requirements of our time, that will eradicate the areas removed from public control, that will reduce the threat of corruption of state institutions, that will eliminate irresponsibility. I realize that it will be exceptionally difficult to adopt it in the present parliament. Still, I will strive for this, appealing to the sense of responsibility of all the present parliamentary factions.
The adoption of a new constitution would greatly facilitate the amelioration of the state and it would also crown the construction of what we call the 4th Republic.
Speakers of the Sejm and Senate! Members of the Assembly! Poland is part of the world order. The President of the Republic has the constitutional duty of safeguarding our sovereignty, he bears high responsibility for defense and foreign policies. The fulfillment of these tasks always takes place in specific circumstances. Today, it is my job to do everything to ensure security and favorable political and economic conditions for the great reconstruction that we should launch in Poland. What’s more, it is my duty to turn our relations with other states into a factor that accelerates transformations, that boosts our self-esteem and attachment to the Homeland.
The path to achieving this leads through the rejection of our national complexes, the incessant invocations of our weaknesses, the unhealthy tendency to emulate others, even when that involves phenomena and attitudes that are dubious or outright harmful. In order to be treated as a large European nation we must want to be such a nation. If you want the respect of others, you must start by respecting yourself.
The foreign policy that I wish to conduct together with the government must be vigorous, geared to the continuation of what is its undeniable achievement, that is the Euroatlantic relations, relations with the United States, which should be further tightened in our best national interest and maintained in difficult times, though with our postulates being firmly advanced, and also our relations inside the European Union, where we must not restrict ourselves to a defense of current interests. We have recently scored some great successes there, and the improvement of relations with Germany and France is a favorable development, which does not mean that we do not have any remaining, very serious problems – particularly with the former state, Germany. But we must commit ourselves to longer-term actions. An active role in preparing a new project for the Union, after the collapse of the constitutional treaty, should become a key part of our foreign policy.
Our goal is a Union that is an organization building the foundations of consistent, close and institutionalized cooperation of European states, based on the principle of solidarity. I will attempt to convince our partners that that is the most appropriate shape of the European Union, best suited to the realities of our time.
We must also lend a new quality to everything that is connected to our relations with the countries to the east of our borders. The strategic alliance with Ukraine should be given a more concrete shape. Close cooperation with Lithuania, and also Latvia and Estonia, the other Baltic countries - and striving to give it a durable character – is another of our goals. Great significance should be attached to the defense of civic rights in Belarus, particularly - defense of the rights of the Polish minority.
We should revive the Visegrad agreement and our relations with the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary. Much indicates that we are not making adequate use of the possibilities of cooperation with the Scandinavian states, especially with reference to the situation in the Baltic Sea.
Our relations with Russia are an important matter; despite its changing fates, Russia has for centuries remained our great neighbor. We approach these relations mindful, first of all, of the historical perspective. We remain patient and convinced that there are no objective reasons why these relations should not be good.
Poland and its president must never forget about our compatriots living beyond the borders of our country. There is an urgent need for far-reaching changes and intensification of our relations with Polish expatriates. It is our national duty to support and strengthen them.
Speakers of the Sejm and Senate! Members of the Assembly! A Poland that is secure, that develops and solves its social problems, that is successful, being rooted in tradition and simultaneously modern - that is a goal that can unite Poles today. I will repeat the words I have spoken before: our country needs
a settlement of historical accounts, because without this there can be no moral order. It also needs accord and unity on the most important issues. I am sure that this can be achieved. My entire experience affirms that good work, conscientious fulfillment of one’s duties, and just treatment of people can unite persons with different outlooks and biographies. Other experiences, those dating back twenty and thirty years, have demonstrated that history is made by those who have the courage to act. Before my very eyes, small groups of oppositionists, a free trade union numbering a few dozen people, evolved into the powerful national movement of Solidarity which triumphed despite the blows it suffered.
Faith can move mountains. These words, though they may have seemed reckless, were with us in those difficult yet beautiful times. They also accompanied the fathers of our independence at the time of the 2nd Republic.
I ask you, my Fellow Countrymen, to have faith yet once again, despite all the disappointments. We have to change Poland, but we cannot change it without you. And changing it is essential. Thank you.
After the National Assembly concluded its session, President Lech Kaczyński and Mrs Kaczyński laid flowers at a plaque commemorating members of the Sejm of the RP who died during World War II. Later, the President met with the leaders of the two Houses and parliamentary factions.