President for joint preparations for Poland's independence centenary
President Andrzej Duda appealed for joint preparations for the centenary of Poland's independence. He made the appeal after a ceremonious changing of the guard and a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Poland's Independence Day on Friday.
"I believe that maybe in 2017, but above all in 2018, we could go together in a single march to honour independent Poland," the president stressed, appealing for commitment of all political forces. See also: "Poland's independence an achievement of generations"
"I believe that (...) in 2018 we will be able not only to take part in a single ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of Poland's independence but also to attend a single march. A single march in honour of an independent, sovereign and free Poland," the president stressed.
"Poland's independence was an achievement of generations of Poles. It was an achievement of people who opposed the attitude (...) of those who were called traitors (...)," the president said.
"The heroes, the architects of Poland's independence would surely want us to be united as far as fundamental matters are concerned," the president stressed.
"And it is an independent and sovereign Poland, one Poland for all of us, which is a foundation," the president said.
Earlier in the morning the president, PM Beata Szydlo, and Sejm and Senate Speakers Marek Kuchcinski and Stanislaw Karczewski attended a mass at the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw's district of Wilanow. The mass, attended by a few thousand people, was described by Warsaw Metropolitan Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz as a historic event.
Two hundred and twenty-five years after the resolution taken by the Four-Year Sejm (parliament) to build a Temple of Divine Providence, the church officially opened on Friday. It was to be built as an expression of thanksgiving for the adoption of the May 3, 1791 Constitution.
Also on Friday morning President Duda together with other state officials laid a wreath at the monument to Jozef Pilsudski at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw.
President Duda then presented state distinctions to a group of Poles for their meritorious service to the state and society, including transplant surgeon Marek Krawczyk, Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk and businessman Roman Kluska.
"Poles never ceased to exist as a nation. Poles are a nation which has never surrendered," President Duda said during the ceremony.
He also posthumously promoted Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski to the rank of general. The head of state presented the promotion documents to the director of the Kuklinski Museum in Warsaw.
Kuklinski, a Polish Army colonel, worked for the CIA during the Cold War and passed on documents about the Polish communist government's secret plans to impose martial law in the country in 1981.
In a letter on Poland's Independence Day published on the President's Office website the president wrote that "independence is not a good which is won once and for all. It is a task and a challenge."
The president stressed that one should learn from the determination and enthusiasm of the architects of an independent Poland.
"Today we are celebrating Poland's National Independence Day. It is a national holiday since it belongs to all Poles. We are all united by the idea of independence and a common state which is its best safeguard," the president wrote.
In the afternoon at the Presidential Palace, President Duda hosted members of the diplomatic corps, politicians as well as representatives of NGOs, war veteran and youth organisations and local government.
Observances marking Poland's Independence Day were also held outside Poland, including Vilnius, Budapest and Kiev.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite extended her wishes to the Polish president and the Polish people, underlining that "Lithuania's and Poland's striving for freedom, courage and determination of people to live in freedom, in countries defending the interests of their citizens, led the two countries along the same historical path".
In Budapest, flowers were laid at a plaque commemorating Pilsudski. (PAP)