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Wednesday, 3 May 2000

Festive change of guard of honour

On May 3rd, 2000, President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski took part in the solemn change of guard of honour and laid down a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During the celebration of the May the 3rd, the President said: "We are celebrating the 209th anniversary of passing the Constitution of the 3rd of May at a special moment. The year 2000 is the time of millennium celebrations. This moment makes us reflect upon the past. The entire Europe, the entire world linked with our cultural heritage is pondering over the road covered by humanity over the past two thousand years, the prospects and challenges facing us in the upcoming century and millennium. We festively mark the anniversary of the Gniezno Congress in Poland. That was an extremely weighty event for our nation, as well as for our neighbours. One thousand years ago Emperor Otton III and the papal legate representing Pope Silvester II came to Gniezno at the invitation of Boleslaw the Brave. The Congress actually recognized Poland`s independence and its full incorporation into the family of Christian nations. The joint plans of its participants were aimed at providing unity and peace for Europe. One thousand years later, in the old Gniezno, the first capital city of the Polish state, the presidents and then the prime ministers of the Central European countries met to mark the millennium of the Gniezno Congress. The Sejm (lower house of parliament) also gathered for an unprecedented meeting in Gniezno. Thus, we not only invoked to celebrate that great historical event and far-sighted projects, but we also paid tribute to the great visionaries from before one thousand years ago. Above all, together with our neighbours and partners from the region, we looked forward to the future. We defined our duties for ourselves and others, for the present-day challenges. We have once again confirmed our ties, the profound attachment to the common roots of western civilization and the Christian tradition of European identity. Today, these values stand for democracy, the rule of law and human liberties, tolerance, dialogue, peace and international cooperation. These values cannot be questioned. When endangered, they must be solidarily protected. At the threshold of the third millennium, Europe has a historical possibility of secure development and endurable integration. Poland`s participation in this process is our great chance. We cannot waste it. And that`s why we are strongly and constantly calling on nations, on political and cultural elites, in particular on representatives of younger generation, to expand all-round contacts. We oppose all signs of hatred, xenophobia, racism. We do our best to overcome all divisions and barriers. We are striving to build a free, secure, stable, prosperous and indivisible Europe. Shaping good neighbourliness and partner-like cooperation we contribute to the consolidation of the climate of trust in our nearest neighbourhood. By striving to expand the European and Euro-Atlantic structures by Central and East European countries, we contribute to the expansion of area of stability and prosperity. The states and nations represented in our part of the continent are united by the many-century tradition of mutual contacts. The bad and dramatic charters of common history may be overcome, if we do not lack the will to reconciliate and hold a dialogue. Poland takes an active part in this difficult and needful conversation of Central European nations. Conscious of our exceptional experiences, we are resolved to remove disadvantageous burdens, adverse prejudice and stereotypes. Here is how we read lessons of history, those distant and latest alike. It is just how they should inspire to facing up great challenges. Entering the structures of united Europe, we have many grounds for being proud. Our history, culture, art, science, the steadfastness and energy of many generations are trump cards of ours. Not to be played down are our constitutional and parliamentary traditions, the Polish love for freedom and democracy. Two hundred and nine years ago, owing to the common consent of the elites, the Government Act was passed. It was the first modern basic law on our continent, the second one in the world, after the American Constitution. The May Constitution remains to be our pride. In a dramatic situation, its authors made an atempt to improve the Republic and although they suffered a defeat, they left to the next generations a political testament that reminded Poles for many decades of the highest values, patriotic duties and the destructive power of individual and collective forbearance".
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