Honourable Madam Speaker of the Sejm,
Honourable Speaker of the Senate,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Most Reverend Cardinal,
Excellencies, Reverend Archbishops and Bishops,
Honourable Members of the Sejm,
Presidents of central and supreme state administration bodies,
Generals, Officers, NCOs, Soldiers,
All Distinguished Guests, and especially War Veterans,
How familiar is the picture we see today, one we can often see in photographs or archival film footage, especially from recent decades: the authorities of the Republic of Poland together with the country’s prominent citizens standing right here, in this place, with the Royal Castle in Warsaw overlooking the scene. And everyone unmistakably associates it with the date of 3 May, the anniversary of the glorious May Constitution, with the finest achievement of our ancestors 231 years ago.
It is this edifice – the Royal Castle in Warsaw, a symbol of the splendour and power of the First Republic of Poland, a witness and place of the adoption of the Constitution of May 3rd, but also a witness of the collapse of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth thereafter; the edifice which continued to be a witness of our history as it unfolded henceforth, and of the rebirth of the Republic of Poland; the edifice that was set on flames, bombed by the Nazi Germans and practically completely demolished, and then rebuilt with the great effort of Polish society, as a genuine token of the resolve, vitality, unyielding and unrelenting nature of the Polish nation; a symbol of our history – that is looking on us today. One year ago, this edifice saw something which, with the benefit of hindsight, from years’ or centuries’ perspective, could be called a sign of Providence.
On the 230th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the 3rd of May, the chosen representatives of the nations of the former Commonwealth: the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine – stood together here, in the shadows of the Castle, surrounded by its walls, adopting a joint declaration, invoking the brotherhood of their nations, freedom, the right to self–determination, to the existence of our nations and states; and denouncing imperialism, the suppression of our rights, interference in the sovereign affairs of our states and peoples; opposing the Russian occupation then of Crimea, Donbass and Luhansk.
How meaningful was it all back then, especially if viewed from today's perspective. How important it was when we look at it today with the hindsight of those 231 years, when an attempt was made to save the First Republic – that Republic, which was called the Commonwealth of the Two Nations, but in fact, consisted of many nations, and which reached the peak of its might supported by that very community: they were together and together they defended the state and society; all the nations of the great Commonwealth.
Then, when it collapsed and its nations fell apart, no longer being part of great community, the country was wiped off the map for over a century. Then it was reborn, but not as strong as it had been in the finest years of the Jagiellonian era. It had achieved its status of a European power precisely because of the community and unity of the constituent nations that were able to resist all potent forces of the time – Teutonic, Muscovite and others.
How poignant the meeting of the Presidents was, as they spoke again of the community of nations in our part of Europe. How poignant is the most recent photo – it will probably go down in history – the photo showing us standing together, in Kyiv, amongst the rumble of exploding Russian missiles; Kyiv fortified, suffering the despair of its suburbs, devastated, demolished, full of death, pain and anguish, such as Bucha, Irpin, Borodianka and hundreds of other places in Ukraine today, where people are devastated in the aftermath of the Russian assault, as a result of the brutal aggression of the Russian power against an independent, sovereign state, against an independent and sovereign nation.
Today, one of the nations of that Commonwealth is defending its state tenaciously, albeit weaker than the mighty Russia, albeit not being such a power on a face of it, in purely military terms – but it is certainly a great power in terms of spirit. Today we are together again. I firmly believe that this photograph of hands held together by the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in Kyiv during the Russian aggression will go down in history; and will serve to forge a new history.
Today, on the 231st anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of that Commonwealth – adoption of the May Constitution, in circumstances so utterly changed – as compared to what we have seen so far, what we have seen since 1989 when we regained full sovereignty and independence, in the face of this great war which is raging right beyond our borders, I stand here full of emotion wishing to thank you, My Dear Beloved Compatriots, from the bottom of my heart. I wish to thank you for something that is a living pledge of Commonwealth – for what you have done in recent times.
You did this without being prompted by any politicians, any clergymen, by anyone. You did it only and exclusively prompted by your own hearts, your own sense of responsibility and, most importantly, your own extraordinary wisdom, the wisdom of the nation: opening your homes, your families and your hearts to receive our neighbours from Ukraine and, more specifically, to receive the ones who are most precious to them: their children, their wives, their mothers, their sisters, their grandparents, the people seeking refuge from the war, the people who put their trust in us and came here.
Something has happened that the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenski described recently, literally a few days ago saying : „In view of what the Poles have done, all history is unimportant”.
In a way, it can be put like that: looking at the vicissitudes of our history, troubled as it was in recent centuries, where it happened so often that on the table between Poles and Ukrainians there was laid a rifle, an axe, a weapon – and now somebody has put a loaf of bread. Bread! A hand was laid on a hand.
Thank you for this. It is an act which, I firmly believe, builds a completely new path in our history, in the history of our two nations, but also of other peoples. It is the path you have paved for the rebuilding of a true community in our part of Europe. A community who will be in future able to fend off any attack, even by the greatest powers, drawing on its own strength. Praise be to you for achieving this! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I thank all my compatriots. This is a fine – perhaps the finest – hour in our recent history, the works of the whole nation as a great community, of all taken together and each as an individual. These thousands of people who have opened up!
But I also want to thank those who, by their own personal decision, have been making special sacrifices for the Polish state, often for many years or decades, and whose service in recent times has been so immensely important; their service builds our security and, I firmly believe, will create a secure future for us.
I thank the Command of the Polish Army and all Polish soldiers of all formations, including the Territorial Defence Forces, including Special Forces, Operational Forces formations – all those who in recent times, not just the two recent months, but for much longer time, have served the Republic of Poland with dedication, not sparing their time or health. I thank their families. I wholeheartedly thank you for the service to Poland.
I wish to thank all police officers, to thank border guards, and thank those whose endeavours are often vaguely seen by the public at large: my thanks go out to officers of all special services: I thank the Military Intelligence Service, the Military Counterintelligence Service, the Intelligence Agency, the Internal Security Agency, the State Protection Service – all of them who serve Poland.
Words of thanks are due to our firefighters – both State Fire Brigade and voluntary fire brigades – who are always ready on call. My thanks go out to the scouts and all others who have recently given their time and dedicated themselves to serve others. My thanks go out to all volunteers. I wish to express my thanks to doctors and all the medical staff, so tired in the wake of the pandemic, but still ready to serve a fellow human being. Thank you wholeheartedly. You have shown what it means to restore a community. Thank you for what you have done in an extremely difficult time as we witness Russia’s brutal aggression on Ukraine.
I thankfully acknowledge all decisions about support for Ukraine which have been taken by the authorities of the Republic of Poland. I would like to thank the Prime Minister, I would like to thank the Ministers, and I would like to thank everyone who supports Ukraine and our Ukrainian neighbours in the institutional sense. I would also like to thank the representatives of local authorities who work hard, day in day out, to receive our neighbours in Poland.
I am thankful for all the decisions concerning support for Ukraine – humanitarian and military – which the Republic of Poland is providing – so that Ukrainians can fight and repel the enemy who wants to take away their country, who wants to destroy their nation. They need support. We call on the entire international community for this support to be granted.
I would like to thank the entire Polish political scene. It takes more than to hold meetings of the country’s highest authorities , those who, by democratic mandate, hold executive power in the Republic. Also, meetings of the National Security Council are held, where – and I am grateful for this – representatives of all the political groups in our country unfailingly come to speak with one voice in unwavering support of Ukraine. Thank you for this extremely responsible policy, which is building our community; a policy which is changing our history – I deeply believe that for the better.
Challenging times that have begun are by no means over. I am persuaded that there are still many hardships ahead of us, regrettably, that there are perhaps still very many worries in store for us. For what is happening today in Ukraine, and the policy which must be pursued accordingly, not only in our country, but in the whole world – including the policy aimed at forcing Russia to stop its aggression, the policy of sanctions, economic sanctions included – is costly.
Obviously, as a result there come economic downturn, volatilities in the energy market, in the fuel market, it leads to economic problems, to inflation, which is weighing heavily on our wallets, which makes our lives more difficult. We must prevail, we must conduct a responsible policy, we must cope with it. This is the challenge of the present day, and it is particularly incumbent on those who wield power.
Yet it is also a great responsibility for the future of our contemporary neighbourhood. This entails further responsibility for building neighbourly ties and brotherhood between our peoples. I firmly believe that we will prevail. Just as we were able to welcome our neighbours, I believe we will be able to offer them a safe haven, so that when the war is over, they will be able to return home and we will be able to help them rebuild a free, sovereign and independent Ukraine.
I hope that for decades to come, and God willing, for centuries to come, Ukraine will be a brotherly state to the Republic of Poland, the country where – as I hope President Volodymyr Zelenski prophetically said – there will be no border between them and ourselves; that there will be no border; that we will live together on this soil, rebuilding and restoring our shared happiness and strength, something that will enable us to withstand every danger, and that will deter any attack or threat in the future.
I have no doubt that the enormous potential lies primarily in people – both in Poles and Ukrainians, as well as in our neighbours: Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians. I firmly believe that we are capable of building here, in our part of Europe, a great community of nations – a strong community, as it should be, as our history has taught us.
Long live the nations of the former Commonwealth! May God protect them all and bring them happiness and prosperity! Long live Poland!
May be of interest to you Celebration of the National Day of the Third of May