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Monday, 15 May 2000

Visit in France

On May 15th, 2000, President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski with Spouse went on a three-day official visit to the French Republic. The President`s talk with President Jacques Chirac lasted one and a half hours. "I am happy to entertain President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a true friend, on this official visit", said President Chirac after the meeting. "The contacts between Poland and France are very intense in political area. They assume a particular weight, as France assumes EU presidency in the second half, and when Poland is making very big efforts to adjust its norms to the European standards. France faces a big task of carrying out institutional reforms during its presidency. I assured, President Chirac continued, that France would lend support, without any reservation, to Poland reaching its objective". "The bilateral relations are excellent, said President Kwasniewski. A rich political dialogue is on. France is the third largest investment partner in Poland, which testifies that economic contacts are also very good". President Kwasniewski also said that the determination with which President Chirac spoke of the tasks facing France during its presidency indicates that it is going to be a good time for enlarging the European Union. "After the talk held today, I do believe that the two processes: big institutional reforms to prepare the European Union for enlargement and our reforms may end in 2003", President Kwasniewski said. The second day of the official visit started with a luncheon given by MEDEF-International. Twenty biggest French investors in Poland attended it. Before afternoon, the President was hosted by Mayor of Paris J. Tiberi. Next, President Kwasniewski met with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. After the meeting, he told reporters: "I think that the French want to treat their presidency, which begins in over a dozen weeks, very actively and with engagement and to complete the internal processes within the European Union, which will really provide grounds for enlargement. Both yesterday`s talk with President Chirac and today`s conversation with Prime Minister Jospin indicate that France has a sense of responsibility and continuity of the idea which 50 years ago was expressed by Robert Schumann". Asked about the course and outcome of the talks, the President said: "From the statements which we have just heard one may infer with trust that the French will make all efforts to have decisions taken in Nice towards the end of 2000. What will come out of it, we will see. The French are not alone, they have got partners, but what is equally important they invite us to debate on the future of Europe, and on the changes which are taking place, because Poland is being treated as a future partner within the EU, as well as a country which should have a chance of expressing its opinion on the processes which are taking place within the Union. Such encouragements are coming from the French side". After the talks with France`s Prime Minister, President Kwasniewski met with the Speaker of the National Assembly and paid a visit to the Senate. Taking the floor at the National Assembly, President Kwasniewski said: "A year ago, Poland joined NATO together with the Czech Republic and Hungary. That was a momentous event testifying to the annulment of the Yalta divisions in Europe. The gaining of the membership of the European Union represents yet another stage on the path towards full integration of Poland with the community of the democratic states in Western Europe. Striving for a EU membership as it is, Poland has made an enormous effort to adapt its law to the Union requirements, to comply with all the criteria, as set forth in Copenhagen and Essen in order to participate on equal-rights in the construction of a more prosperous and stronger Europe. We are well aware that the accession negotiations and the process of adjusting Poland`s state and economic structures to the Union`s standards are difficult and complex, but this does not weaken our determination. All the meaningful political forces in our country wish Poland`s entry to the European Union. The government and parliament have jointly worked out a programme of legislative actions, drawing up a programme guaranteeing the fulfilment of our commitments in the integration process. The achievement of readiness to accede to the Union at the end of 2002 is ambitious, but feasible. Poland`s does not seek any special treatment. From the very start, we have desired to become a Union member with all duties, but rights as well. We will go on striving to join the Economic and Monetary Union as a member state. Poland needs the European Union, but we are convinced that the European Union also needs Poland. Being the largest country in our region and one of the largest in Europe, we will chip in our capacity of generating and exporting stability and peace, our heritage of good-neighbourly and regional cooperation, as well as a meaningful contribution to the consolidation of international security. We offer a 40-million strong market, the know-how and skills of Polish specialists, the favourable and encouraging economic results, the trust of the Polish society in a common Europe. We are closely following France`s preparations for taking up the European Union`s leadership. It will fall on a particularly significant period for united Europe. French presidency`s priorities include, among other things: conclusion of the Inter-Governmental Conference of institutional reforms, bringing the Union closer to the public, consolidation of the Union role on international arena. But the Union`s enlargement remains to be the key issue. We express a profound hope that France will succeed in reaching these ambitious goals. When the process of integrating Europe was initiated in the fifties, such countries as France or Germany were still remembering the cataclysm of human history. The political elites demonstrated an unprecedented courage and resolve. They were able to convince their own nations and citizens that was the only road, which would lead Europe to peace and a new position in the developing world. Such a vision and such a return to the roots of unification process are needed today. I rest convinced that the idea of common Europe would lose sense, if we reduced the enlargement discussion only to the technical aspects of EU market". On May 17th, 2000, the third day of the visit, President Aleksander Kwasniewski went to Bordeaux, the chief city of the agricultural region of Acquitaine, where he met businessmen at the Industrial-Commercial Chamber in Bordeaux. Addressing next the audience at the Political Science Institute and the National School of Farming Engineering in Bordeaux and social and economic representatives of the region, the President said: "You were not in the wrong 50 years ago, dear French. You won`t be wrong this time around either, if the enlargement process is ended once and for all. Europe was split right into two ideological systems. This division is on the wane now. This division is out of place now. In a political sense, there has never been a better moment for Europe to build cooperation and dialogue between individual states on the back of the same values and political system, which unites, and the same political conceptions. This is a cardinal moment we are living at. In my opinion, it is tremendously important to seize this historical moment, not to let it slip. It goes beyond doubt that three civilisational centres, three development centres so to say, are shaping up in the 21st century: North America, Canada, Mexico, then Asia, primarily China, Japan, Far-Eastern countries and just Europe. Europe needs strength, it needs France`s energy. Europe must face compromise. Europe, incorporating Central European countries, will be a more competitive organism, in my opinion, a more dynamic with a greater potential. EU exports to Poland provide more than a million jobs. Today, Central Europe is naturally a reservoir of development possibilities for the European Union. I am convinced that the tide will quickly turn and the European Union will take full advantage of the intellectual and human potential, of the might that inheres in the Central European countries, in Poland, which are hungry for success, development and presence with you. That is a reservoir of strength which Europe possesses. And this will by, in my view, the crucial argument in building up a competitive Europe".
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