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Saturday, 13 December 2003

Statement by Aleksander Kwaśniewski

On December 13th, 2003 during the press conference after the Brussels Summit President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski pronounced a statement: The Intergovernmental Conference that presided in Brussels, did not decide on accepting the Treaty establishing the European Constitution. I want to say, that this is not a failure of the enlarging Europe. There is legal basis that enables the unprecedented enlargement from 15 to 25 countries. Existing institutional framework set by the European Union provides the basis for the further enlargement, up to 27 countries in the next few years. 1st of May 2004 will be the day of the enlargement and the day when the Cold-War divisions on the continent will be ultimately overcome. Until then, here in Poland we need to work on adapting Polish law and economy to commitments we accepted in the Accession Treaty decided in Copenhagen and signed in Athens. I am deeply convinced, that this accession will not only strengthen Poland, but also accessing Poland will strengthen European Union. Intergovernmental Conference revealed that the discussion on the further integration within the European Union still did not end up with conclusions acceptable for everybody. I want to stress here, that no single country can bear the responsibility for the failure in reaching the agreement. Many parties were dissatisfied and differed in opinions on several issues. The conclusion is: we need to continue talks, get to know our intentions and positions, we need, probably, to look for the new ideas to reach the compromise, we need to trust each other more. Poland will be active in this process. We expect a good cooperation with Germany, France and the Great Britain, which play such a significant role in the European Union. We would like to thank our Spanish partners for their solidarity. We want to cooperate with the Central and Eastern European countries. We believe that we shall be able to cooperate with all concerned parties on the conclusions of the Constitutional Treaty acceptable for all. Our keynote and philosophy in this discussion is that the enlarged Community develops commonly, with the same speed within the whole EU area and not only within the selected ones. That we do not integrate Europe by disintegration, that we do not create new divisions. I am convinced the European Union can reach such solutions, but today, in December 2003, we are not ready for them yet. In the history of the European Union there were prolonged disputes, long-lasting conferences, differences in opinions difficult to overcome. There were also treaties, that were signed thanks to the compromise and stubbornness of politicians, but were hardly accepted by nations in referenda. The main conclusion is: there is no point in panicking. It is pointless to underscore the lack of results of the Brussels Conference. I shall repeat once more – I am certain that this what happened in Brussels is neither the whole history of the European Union, nor even the chapter in history, but the mere episode in the over 50 years’ long history of the European Union and European integration. The works of the Intergovernmental Conference continue. The decision of prolonging the constitutional debate by the Irish presidency proves the will to cooperate and reach the compromise. This decision does not mean that the previous outcome of the works of the Convent, in which also Poland had her word, will be wasted. Most of the propositions included in the draft European constitution have been accepted by all countries from the beginning. Poland appreciates the outcomes of the Convent’s works. Let us not begin the discussion from scratch, but just let us give ourselves more time to discuss the difficult issues. Let us also give more time for public debate in our countries, so that the decisions we shall make in the future are more based on the public understanding among our nations. We should also keep in mind, that the present Intergovernmental Conference began its work on 4th October 2003. It worked only for 3 months. None of the previous conferences lasted that short. It is also an explanation, why reaching the agreement at this stage was impossible. We do not want this conference to be too long, but at the same time we are convinced, that during the Irish presidency we can look for solutions acceptable for us all. Poles believe in Europe. We want enlarged European Union to be strong, efficient and competitive partner in global politics. Europe of 450 mln citizens must base on solidarity, democracy, diversity treated as our common asset and not a problem. Us, Poles, have to realize that from the 1st of May 2004 we shall also be responsible not only for the Europe of our dreams, but also for the activities of the European Union. Therefore I am asking you for respect for our partners. The difference of opinions cannot be treated as hostility. We cannot feel offended when criticized and we should abandon language based on confrontation when thinking of Europe. We are in the united Europe not to fight and die just out of spite, but to persuade Polish needs and aspirations to others, so that one day we can proudly say – this is strong Poland in strong Europe, because this is our common business. During the last months before the Brussels conference I noticed, that there still exist myths in our public debate, that there still exist stereotypes. In the oncoming months I intend to organize a national debate about Poland, our place in united Europe and our vision of Europe. I wish to invite politicians, intellectuals, non governmental organizations, local authorities, young people, in other words everybody who might be concerned. I would like to popularize the idea of Reflective Group – presidential advisory centre for the European concept. I believe that in such broad discussion we can work out Polish stance towards the enlarged European Union and that this stance will be more mature than up till now. Let me express my gratitude to all participants of this uneasy negotiation process and the conference.. First of all I would like to thank the leader of Polish delegation to the Conference, Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who presented our stance despite his personal problems. I would like to thank cordially Minister of Foreign Affairs Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Minister of European Affairs Danuta Huebner, Jan Truszczyński and all Polish participants of the Intergovernmental Conference, Ambassador Grela and all the others for their consequence and competence. Tonight they surely feel disappointed as we wanted the Brussels meeting to end in a conclusive manner. On the other hand they are certain that Poland acted in accordance with our national interest and presented our position openly from the beginning. The Conference is over, the problems remain. I believe that starting from tomorrow we shall be able to discuss about the future of Europe in a reasonable manner. Poland will be full member of this Europe on the 1st of May 2004.
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