See also: Inauguration Address by the President at the opening of the Conference: “The Downfall of Communism. 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe” The conference, organised on April 4-5, is attended by historians, sociologists and political scientists from several countries.
The president, opening the conference, said that a part of the public recently took offence when he said that the Round Table Talks were necessary. "I repeated the words, which were uttered by the Late President Professor Lech Kaczyński, who participated in the talks as a member of the Solidarity trade union and as a lawyer," Duda added.
"Once again I'll repeat that yes, in my opinion, they (the Round Table talks - PAP) were of enormous importance," the president said adding that the talks "certainly led to one thing: to a bloodless revolution, to the political changes which led to the 1989 elections."
The head of state noted that it is about what happened later. "It is not about whether they (partly-free elections of June 4, 1989) were totally or partly free. It is all about what the Polish people showed at that time. They went and, in a spectacular way, overruled the communist elite and in effect broke the Round Table agreements," President Duda added.
He underscored that a consequence of the events of 1989 was Poland's subsequent accession to the EU and NATO and the fact that "we became members of the Western community, not only in a cultural and identity sense, but also in a political one."
The head of state noted that the Polish Round Table Talks and their effects have been variously assessed, and that it is easy for people who at the time did not have to make decisions, to evaluate the talks.
"I can allow myself to assess these events from a Polish point of view (...) I can say one thing: I felt immense and unlimited joy, great excitement, and had a wonderful feeling that we had moved closer to something which we dreamed of: towards freedom, in which we could live and progress," President Duda added.
In his speech, President Duda also expressed gratitude to the people who fought for the freedom, independence and sovereignty of Poland, which Poles enjoy today.
The Round Table talks, which started on February 6, 1989, were attended by representatives of the Polish People's Republic government, opposition and church representatives.
The most important decisions reached during the talks included the setting up of the second chamber of the Polish parliament - the Senate and the office of the president of Poland. Changes introduced to the existing election law offered semi-democratic elections. They were held on June 4 and 18, 1989. This was a one-off solution, after which successive elections were based on fully democratic rules. (PAP)