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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Address of the President during the New Year’s meeting with the Diplomatic Corps

Address of the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński during the New Year’s meeting with the Diplomatic Corps (February 2nd, 2010)

Your Eminence Primate,
Your Excellency Archbishop Nuncio,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors,
Dear Spouses of Ambassadors and their Deputies,

The past year had many different faces. It brought misery and tension. In addition to the economic crisis, to which I will refer in a moment, we must also remember what happened in Haiti, even though it was at the beginning of this year. It was also an extremely important year in terms of the structures to which Poland belongs – firstly the European Union, and to a lesser extent, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, although significant changes also occurred there. Several fundamental issues, already mentioned by Reverend Nuncio, determined the situation in 2009. Certainly the economic crisis counts among them, a crisis whose origins were financial and against which the world has defended itself quite successfully. The defence was quite effective because doctrines were rejected – doctrines developed and proven in the 80s and 90s. In the world of economics, however, nothing is forever, and the new system based on strictly liberal principles, I think, was undermined by the events of recent years. An appropriate discussion of theorists has not yet taken place; the practitioners spoke, and indeed, above all, they took the decisions. These decisions, if risky, on principle should be regarded as legitimate, but also to a great extent determining not only the economic situation, but the political situation in the world as well.

The huge demand for credit and the great public support in the United States and the European Union have transformed many political visions. In some cases, this change might be for the good and stable; in others it would be better regarded only as temporary, associated with difficulties which will need to be overcome in the coming years. Obviously, nothing happens for free. Public support was huge, but debt also increased rapidly. My homeland, as Reverend Nuncio has mentioned, is not in a bad condition. We are the only country in Europe with positive economic growth. There are problems, but in this respect Poland still has better than average conditions. The problems we have when it comes to public finances can not be compared with problems of many other countries. These problems will be overcome, but they certainly limit what the world needs; namely, solidarity. Solidarity against these occurrences, which Reverend Nuncio spoke of: hunger, disease, violence, and fundamental inequalities. We must believe that in this respect the changes are only temporary, that within few years of reaching equilibrium, this solidarity will increase significantly – in the interests of those in need of help, but also in the interest of those who help. This is the only way to reach a relative balance in the world.

The world lacked this balance last year. Its absence is the second factor determining the situation in the world. One must refer to Afghanistan, where involvement, also Polish involvement, must be increased regardless of the financial situation. But not only, or even not primarily, Polish involvement. The involvement of the United States and other countries must increase, and will increase. This is necessary for an attempt – I repeat, an attempt, and I hope, a successful one – of achieving stability and peace in that region. I say in that region, because Afghanistan is only one of the problems. We also have the problem of Pakistan, more precisely of the Afghan-Pakistani border region. I would like to express the hope that the Pakistani authorities will take appropriately vigorous action to restore order, which is a prerequisite for restoring order also in Afghanistan. This, in turn, is the key to resolving many other issues – although not the only key.

The situation in the Middle East continues to be very tense. Let us hope that all issues with the Islamic Republic of Iran can be resolved in a peaceful manner. Poland is an advocate of such a resolution and we believe that a peaceful resolution is possible. This also applies to resolving other conflicts in the Middle East, in particular to the question of Palestine and Israel. We believe that the parties, despite their enormous problems, will soon sit down and talk. This is a problem of a global nature – it does not only affect this small territory, but also the balance on an incomparably greater scale. If a disaster threatens our world – although, fortunately, the probability of that is not great today – it may originate largely from that region. Let us all believe and make efforts. Poland is ready for these efforts, in order to restore peace in that region after many decades.

Your Eminence Primate,
Your Excellency Archbishop,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Poland has been a member of the European Union for almost six years. Very important changes took place in the EU in 2009. Firstly, the Lisbon Treaty came into force. I have already mentioned the crisis and the strong response to this crisis of the Union as a whole, but primarily of the individual national states. However, problems on the method of implementing the Lisbon Treaty remain, as do those that relate to the EU’s fundamental objectives for the coming decade, and, finally, to the issue of enlargement of the European Union.

Practice over the next two, perhaps three years will answer the question what the Lisbon Treaty really is. Poland’s consistent position is that this treaty, which is a result of a compromise, many years of negotiations, successes, but also failures of the so-called European Constitution, should constitute the basis for closer integration of sovereign states. The Union today is not a federation, and nothing indicates that it could become one in the foreseeable future. This does not mean, however, that in many instances the EU does not face a problem of deeper integration. This concerns the labour market, which is still not integrated. Integration in the sphere of services is still not full, nor in the sphere of knowledge and innovation; far from it, and the issue is indeed extremely important. If we ask about the basic directions of the European Union, we have to answer the question whether the great programme of European Union modernization will increase the differences within the European Union, or further increase its consistency. Not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of all the countries that recently joined the EU, I can say that progress in terms of innovation and modernization is extremely necessary. But consistency is also needed in Europe. It is needed in order to achieve balance and harmonious cooperation.

Legally and factually, the Union requires deepening of the internal democracy, understood also as the relationship between smaller, medium and larger states. Here, Poland, as the largest of the countries accepted during the past six years, has the right to say that certain changes should be made, changes in the internal, actual functioning of the Union, but also wider changes. On a global scale, in terms of the economy, the last years have brought about certain changes that ought to be considered beneficial. The G7 group, G8 in fact, though informally, has changed into the G20 group, whose importance is increasing. According to our calculations, the Polish economy is 18th in the world. As President of the Republic, I intend to put it simply: the place of my country is in the G20. This is a simple postulate, resulting firstly from the size of the Polish economy, secondly from the fact that Poland is the largest country in the region and the largest country with a history of transformation.

I would like to return to the issue of enlargement of the European Union. Naturally, the financial crisis is not a factor that accelerates the enlargement, but even if a certain hinderance has occurred in this respect, it must be temporary. We would prefer the soonest possible accession of Croatia and Iceland. European aspirations of other Balkan countries are equally justified. Justified also are the ambitions of Ukraine, which will soon define its goals again – I hope that this new definition will not be substantially different from the previous one. The same applies to even more distant countries, such as Georgia. Territorial integrity and safe development are very important conditions for peace and stability throughout the Caucasus region and beyond – in Central Asia. Poland should continue to seek cooperation and allies there. I want to particularly emphasize the cooperation with Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan, although in the Eastern Partnership, Poland wishes to work together with other countries as well. The Eastern Partnership is a good idea, it is an effective tool, but it should not ruin other plans related, for instance, to actual energetic solidarity and diversification of energy sources.

Let us move on to issues related to the North Atlantic Treaty. Here, the last year posed questions, possibly more sharply than before, on the nature of the Treaty. The mission in Afghanistan is vital. Poland appreciates this, and Poland puts as much effort into it as is possible at the moment. Please remember, however, that the North Atlantic Treaty must remain a defensive treaty; that the fifth Article of the Washington Treaty was, is, and remains valid. Only then will the Treaty fulfill its basic task of stabilization and peace – a task that I have already on many occasions, also in this hall, described as an export of peace and stability. The North Atlantic Treaty seen as a political agreement, possibly as an organizer of an expeditionary corps, is not able to perform this function, although it must undertake such actions as well, and that we do not deny.

We are in a very important discussion phase. To a certain extent this is also a result of the world’s economic situation. But this situation is ending more quickly than could have been foreseen a year ago and hopefully it will end. And the basic problems of this world will remain. Poland is, was, and will be an advocate of North Atlantic Treaty enlargement. There are the ambitions of the Balkan states, but I would also like to remind you of the still valid provisions of the summit in Bucharest in March 2008, relating to Ukraine and Georgia. It has been clearly stated there that these countries will become members of the North Atlantic Treaty. I repeat: it is very important that these provisions remain in force.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Poland, like any other country, maintains bilateral relations with its friends in the European Union, NATO, but also with countries that do not belong to either the EU or NATO. We want such relations with the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic – so far they are very good, with the Slovak Republic and Hungary – I am referring to the Visegrad Group. Poland wants to have the best relations with the Federal Republic of Germany. Here there are problems to solve, problems relating to issues of asymmetry in the treatment of minorities, associated with certain plans in relation to history. I do not want to elaborate on this today, but these problems must be solved as between partners, regardless of the role played by Germany in Europe as the largest country of the European Union – a fact no one denies.


Poland traditionally wishes to have the best relations with France and Great Britain. With the latter, in many respects, we share a similar vision of the present reality. It is of the utmost importance that this vision is present in both the North Atlantic Treaty and the European Union. The United States of America still remains the primary guarantor of stability, both as the largest power in the world and as the largest state of the North Atlantic Treaty. In the recent years U.S. politics has evolved significantly. I am convinced that this evolution, and its course, will firstly be associated with growing experience, and, secondly, will contribute to stability in the world, to ensure that peace prevails and extreme tendencies remain in retreat.


There are, however, other so-called global players in the world besides the United States. The Russian Federation was, is, and remains so. Increasingly, one such player is today the largest exporter in the world: People's Republic of China. The role of India and Brazil is also gaining in importance. Poland considers such a manifestation of globalization as the construction of powerful state and economic structures beyond the powerful Western world to be a good, natural occurrence, likely to produce very positive results – under certain conditions, which, anyway, in most cases are met; this mainly concerns the issues of democracy and civil rights. In essence, states which respect these rights exhibit less of a propensity for expansion and act as factors for global stability rather than global tension. We wish that all countries, to which we wish the best, and which play an increasingly important role in the world today, follow this path consistently.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Poland does not forget about the continent whose representatives are strongly represented in this room – the African continent. This is an important part of our world, with very diverse countries, a diversity which we pay heed to. We must consider each country separately, with its history, its context, its culture. These are the countries which often need help, but first and foremost need cooperation. And Poland is ready for this cooperation to an increasingly greater degree. Some places are in need of stabilization missions. Poland, as we know, has participated in such missions and intends to continue to do so. Other places, however, are in need of solidarity of economic partnership. No country in the world may be subject to exploitation. As regards the fight against certain threats, such as crime, but also disease, for instance AIDS, we have not yet achieved great success. I think, however, that this will change in a few years. African countries are increasingly better prepared to function; their organizations are increasingly more effective. We hope that those who foresee a grim future, especially for black Africa, are deeply mistaken. We must do everything in our power to ensure that, in the name of solidarity of all humanity, but also in the name of making our world more peaceful, providing safety to people, of ensuring that war, and the deadly arms trade, which the Nuncio Archbishop spoke of, become increasingly marginal occurrences, as we will probably not eliminate them entirely; but they must be limited, and time shows that they can be limited.


Reverend Primate, Reverend Archbishop,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassadors,


It so happens this year that we are meeting in February. In Poland wishes are extended in January, but February 2nd is Candlemas Day, the closing of Christmas, the period associated with the New Year. In the last hours of Christmas time, I would like to wish you all, ladies and gentlemen, great prosperity for you and your nations. May 2010 bring the most good and the least harm. Thank you very much.


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