Katyn, Mednoye, Kharkiv,
Bucha, Hostomel, Mariupol.
Over eighty years ago and today.
They murdered innocent people back then and today,
They covered up the traces back then and today,
They were lying back then and today.
They have not changed an inch.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On April 10, 2010, the Polish delegation headed by President Lech Kaczynski set off for Smolensk to bear witness to the truth. Poland has never come to terms with the Katyn Massacre and its aftermath.
In 1940, by the order of Joseph Stalin, almost 22 thousand of our compatriots were brutally murdered: soldiers of the Polish Army, policemen, border guards, but also many civilians – representatives of the elites of the Second Polish Republic. This was a crime of genocide committed by the Soviets on completely defenceless victims. It was never punished.
Instead, we encountered the Katyn lie. Telling the world that it was not Soviet Russia who was responsible for this horrific crime, but Nazi Germany. Against facts, against logic. With full premeditation. And so on for several dozen years.
In the logic of the Katyn lie, there was also no place for Soviet aggression against Poland on September 17, 1939, for the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet–German brotherhood and other crimes against Poles. We had only the narrative of the great Russian victory over fascism.
With a brief episode in the early 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin, when it was finally admitted that the „Stalinist authorities” were responsible for the Katyn crime. However, no further actions would follow. The investigation of Katyn was dropped, no perpetrator was ever punished. Whereas Putin's Russia has been glorifying Stalin and the Soviet Union again for years. The Katyn lie has again got the upper hand.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Forgotten, unpunished war crimes, crimes against humanity, are fuelling the sense of impunity among the perpetrators. They are like a green light to their successors and followers who go in their footsteps and commit similar crimes in their pursuit of domination, as they aspire to the right to decide about the fate of other countries and nations. We can see this today in full scale as the brutal aggression from Russia against independent and democratic Ukraine unfolds.
We can see how a lie is employed to justify Russian crimes on civilian population. We can see how facts are bald–facedly denied. In Poland, it does not come as a surprise to any of us, but many representatives of the western world have only now come to discover the scale of Russian manipulation and hypocrisy.
We must draw a lesson from this. We must fight decisively against the distortion of history, the reversal of the roles of executioner and victim. Evil must be called evil; crime must be called crime. The international community's inability to settle the case of the Katyn massacre has borne poisoned fruit.
For 80 years the victims and their families have never seen justice meted out for the Katyn crime. Genocide has no statute of limitations. Therefore, I will demand that this case be settled before international courts. We will submit appropriate motions in the nearest future. This crime must be finally judged, and perpetrators named.
I will also take all possible diplomatic steps to ensure that the world does not forget about the Katyn crime and consistently condemns its perpetrators. We owe it to those who died, but we also owe it to those who fought for years for the truth and memory of Katyn.
As Poland, we will also lend support to Ukraine in all legal and diplomatic efforts to punish the perpetrators of the crimes which are now being committed by Russians. We will do our utmost to make sure that the Ukrainian victims do not have to wait for justice to be meted out for as much as 80 years!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Katyn Massacre has come to be inextricably associated with the Smolensk Air Disaster whose 12th anniversary we commemorate today. The greatest tragedy in the post–war history of Poland.
Very much like in Katyn, in Smolensk the Polish elites lost their lives. President of the Republic of Poland together with His Spouse, the last President of the Republic of Poland in Exile, Speakers of the Two Houses, Ministers, Members of Parliament and Senators, Senior Clergy representatives of many confessions, heads of numerous central agencies, representatives of the Katyn Families Federation, generals, close protection officers, pilots and the entire crew.
Often they were different–minded, they came from different backgrounds, but what brought them together was their love of Poland and their wish to commemorate our compatriots murdered in Katyn. Looking back at that great tragedy I always reiterate: in Smolensk perished the best of us. Had they not lost their lives, Poland would have been today different and better! Of that I am certain.
I do not hide my very personal attitude to the Smolensk disaster. In Smolensk lost his life my teacher, mentor, President Professor Lech Kaczynski with whom I had an honour of working together in my capacity of a minister in the Chancellery of the President. I lost a number of colleagues with whom we used to work here in the Presidential Palace every day.
We all suffered a loss. Because representatives of the entire political class died in the catastrophe. To remember them is a great obligation for all of us, as it is our obligation to work hard for Poland. Every day. We owe it to all those wonderful people we lost on April 10, 2010.
Back in those days, as Poles we demonstrated that in difficult moments we can be a great community, we can be united and act in solidarity. Today we still need this sense of community in the face of completely different challenges arising from the war in Ukraine.
And once again, as a nation, we are passing with flying colours the test of our solidarity – we do so as we offer aid to millions of refugees from Ukraine. I am extremely proud of Poland and of my compatriots, the Poles!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
President Lech Kaczyński said in his historic speech in Tbilisi that „Central Europe has courageous leaders”. As usual, he was right.
We can see this clearly today in the person of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenski, who fights day in day out with extraordinary dedication for the independence of his Home Country and appeals to the whole world to oppose Russian aggression. To defy evil.
But President Lech Kaczyński himself was also such a brave and far–sighted leader. A leader who as early as a dozen years ago tried to awaken the conscience of the western world, to appeal to politicians, warn against the imperial policy of Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Let me recall his extremely important words spoken during the war in Georgia: „For the first time in a long stretch, the neighbours to the north, for us also to the east, have shown the face that has been known to us for hundreds of years. These neighbours believe that the nations around them should be subordinated to them. We say: no!
This country is Russia. This country believes that the old days of the empire that collapsed less than twenty years ago are coming back; that domination will again be a feature of this region. Well, it will not. Those days are over once and for all!”
We, as Poland, are doing everything in our power to make the latter happen. Today, it is incumbent on us to carry on the legacy of President Lech Kaczynski – by supporting Ukraine in every possible way, by helping refugees, by strengthening our own security, by playing an important role in international politics.
I strongly believe that together we will stop the „evil empire”.
That Russia, crime and lies will not prevail!
That goodness, truth and freedom will overcome!
Long live independent Ukraine! Long live Poland!