A toast by the President during the official dinner in honour of the Belgian Royal Couple
A toast by the President of the Republic of Poland Mr Andrzej Duda during the official visit paid by His Majesty the King of the Belgians and Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians
Official dinner hosted by the President of the Republic of Poland and the First Lady
It is my great honour to be able to host His Majesty the King of the Belgians and Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians, Minister-Presidentsand esteemed members of the Belgian delegation in Poland. I consider this visit to be the confirmation of very good bilateral relations between our states which we have managed to successively deepen over the last years.
The best proof of how close our relations are, also from personal perspective, is the fact that His Majesty is not a new guest to Poland. I know that His Majesty paid his first visit to our country during the transformation period, which was followed by a number of subsequent visits, including the last one, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Therefore, His Majesty knows well how much effort is made by the Polish people to rebuild Poland, both politically and economically to make sure that our ambitions and dreams are fulfilled. I also had a chance to get myself acquainted with the Home Country of His Majesty. For several months I served as Member of the European Parliament, living and working in Brussels. I have also visited other cities. My memories of that time are very positive. That period however was “interrupted” by my compatriots who elected me to the office of the President of the Republic of Poland.
The history of the Republic of Poland and the Kingdom of Belgium coincided at a number of crucial moments. When young Poles are taught about the November Uprising during their history classes, an important episode in the freedom struggle of the Polish Nation in the 19th century, they learn that at the same time, on the territory of contemporary Belgium a similar fight for independence was taking place, which in that case turned out to be a success. Among many Poles, who due to historical developments landed on Belgian soil, was Ignacy Kruszewski, a participant of the November Uprising, the commander of the 5th Regiment of the Polish Uhlans, who had his part in the formation of the Belgian Cavalry, and who later became an aide-de-camp to King Leopold I.
Our common history features more similar episodes. More than 70 years ago our nations stood up in fight against the Third Reich. We take pride in the heroic soldiers of the Polish 1st Armoured Division commanded by General Stanisław Maczek, who together with the Belgian people liberated the Flanders from the Nazi occupiers. Those soldiers experienced cordiality and gratitude from the Belgians, many of them settled down in Belgium and started families there. They were treated as heroes for the rest of their lives. Also today the memory about them is cherished. For our societies are joined by common respect for the ones who fight for our freedom and yours.
We are close also in other areas. I am very pleased that Belgium is a significant trade partner of Poland and that recent years have seen an intensification of trade exchange. We appreciate the fact that our Belgian friends regard Poland as an attractive place to invest in. But I am particularly satisfied to see that more and more Polish companies are ready to enter the Belgian market. It is a very good sign which strengthens Polish-Belgian partnership. I remain convinced that the meetings scheduled to take place during the course of this visit will bring tangible results for our economic relations.
The real closeness of people is not possible without intensive contacts at the level of culture and science. Preserving common historical memory is of particular importance. Therefore, I am deeply satisfied with the initiative of joint scientific conferences organized in Brussels by Polish and Belgian institutions. Moreover, I am very fond of the active involvement of my compatriots in Belgium`s cultural life. I wish to point out in particular the joint theatre projects as well as the outstanding composition by Krzysztof Penderecki performed during the Flanders Festival in Brussels. Until recently a splendid exhibition entitled Ottomania was on display in my home city of Krakow. It was dedicated to the influences of the Ottoman Empire on the art of the Renaissance. The exhibition came into being as a result of cooperation between the National Museum in Krakow and the Brussels Bozar Centre for Fine Arts.
Fruitful results are visible also in the area which holds a special potential for bringing people closer together. I am referring to sport. Poles love football. We are happy with each and every success of Polish players. The name of one of the most outstanding of them cannot remain unmentioned: Mr Włodzimierz Lubański, who for many seasons played for KSC Lokeren. Other Polish athletes followed in his footsteps achieving huge successes together with their Belgian clubs.
We hope for further strengthening of bonds between our nations and for fruitful fostering of mutual closeness. Economic co-operation has a special place in this respect. All of us understand well enough that in order for Europe to develop and to ensure welfare to its inhabitants, it needs to improve the competitiveness of its economy. Ensuring better development requires support for the construction of modern, innovative industry in co-operation with universities. The European Union has at its disposal excellent instruments which we should jointly apply on a broader scale. Well-functioning economic co-operation is indispensable not only for the sake of human development but also to improve our security which is faced with serious challenges today. We should overcome them together, taking care of your freedom and ours.
So let me propose a toast
- to health and well-being of His Majesty the King of the Belgians and Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians, Messrs. Minister Presidents and all our Belgian friends and partners,
- to favourable development of Polish-Belgian relations,
- to our successful co-operation in Europe,
- to secure future of our countries.