Source: Republic of Poland in English
Your Excellency Reverend Archbishop,
Today`s New Year`s meeting, organized already for the fifth time, is also, by nature of things, the last meeting of this kind in my present term in office.
The five-year-long perspective induces me to reflect more broadly on things we have managed to achieve over this time and on the new challenges which the contemporary world presents the Republic of Poland with. In a nutshell – what awaits us.
Right from the start of my presidency I have argued that my basic task as President is to guarantee security to the Poles and to Poland.
This very goal was and remains to be feasible thanks to prudent, patient and targeted policy. For this is not about achieving a one-time success or media resonance but about permament construction of solid foundations for Poland`s international standing, its authority and the well-being of its citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Poland bases its foreign policy on the fundamental principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in other international treaties which provide the framework for peace and global stability.
We unremittingly stress the necessity to respect the principles of international law in relations among states, as well as in multilateral formats of co-operation. This is a basic element which is the guarantee of global peace.
Poland wishes to develop close and partnership-based relations with all countries. It stems from the firm conviction that jointly we are able to solve the problems which by far exceed the capacities of individual states, and by doing so, contribute to an increased security and welfare of our citizens.
This is especially important in the world of growing interdependencies, bigger and faster flows of people, goods and capital as well as the development of new digital technologies. We are open to co-operation as exemplified by the formats of which we make part, and in the establishment of which we have invested effort in recent years or which we initiated directly.
Almost 5 years in the office of the President of the Republic of Poland, my participation in numerous meetings and discussions, including with nearly all the most important world leaders, all these projects which have been implemented have consolidated precisely this conviction of mine that the key to Poland`s political security, and more broadly of the entire international community, is the stability of relations among states which is most comprehensively guaranteed through abiding by international law.
Security in the military sense requires further action for the sake of enhancing Polish defence capabilities and the strength of alliances in which Poland functions.
Whereas security in the economic sense entails further dynamic development of Polish economy, enterprise within the European Union, diversification of directions of our trade and economic co-operation, but first and foremost, it entails diversifying sources of supply of raw materials which are indispensable for our economy.
A new challenge is that of social security which I construe both as care for the social cohesion in the economic dimension, elimination of acute income discrepancies, ensuring equal opportunities and sustainable territorial development and also care for the preservation of natural environment against negative changes and distortions as well as loss of natural resources.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
we undertake actions for the sake of stability of international relations founded on international law predominantly within the UN system. “Peace through law” was the motto of our recently concluded 2-year-long membership of the UN Security Council and it eloquently summarizes our way of thinking about international politics.
Let me remind you that during our tenure in this body- the most important one regarding the maintenance of the world peace – we were implementing initiatives regarding the promotion of respect for international law, protection of civilian population and prevention of conflicts. We also made efforts to ensure that the issues concerning Ukraine and Georgia, especially their territorial integrity, are more explicitly present on the Council`s agenda.
The undeniable successes of the Polish membership have been our two month-long Presidencies of the Security Council when we stood at the helm of its works and had an impact upon its program of action.
The fact that it was upon the initiative of Poland that the United Nations adopted a resolution declaring 22 August as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief gives us a reason to be satisfied. Furthermore, a resolution on persons with disabilities in armed conflicts was adopted. Abiding by international law, especially human rights, will define our presence in another important UN body – the Human Rights Council.
Last autumn the United Nations General Assembly elected Poland for the third time as member of this group, for a 3-year-long term in the years 2020-2022. Our successful bid, following directly the membership of the Security Council will ensure Poland`s further active engagement in solving global problems with a special focus on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Throughout the works in the Council we want to continue the actions we initiated during our term as members of the UN Security Council.
Last year Poland was also entrusted with a year-long presidency in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will commence in 2022. I thank all the OSCE member states for their unanimous support of our candidacy.
All the above-listed successes we attained in international fora prove that Poland enjoys respect and trust on part of the international community and that we are considered a reliable partner and an advocate of common good in international relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
the last 5 years have brought a fundamental break-through in terms of increasing Poland`s security and that of other countries in our region. Not only have we obtained strong, treaty-based guarantees of our security, but also its real enhancement as exemplified by the presence in our territory of a few thousand allied soldiers ready for immediate action.
Recent NATO Summits have proven that the Alliance has the will and the capabilities to implement its core mission of collective defence of its member states. Poland has made an undeniable contribution towards attaining that goal. There is no doubt that the enduring and enhanced presence of US troops in Poland is going to strengthen the security of not just my country but that it also constitutes an important step towards increasing NATO defence potential.
These actions are complemented by close cooperation of NATO countries which responds to the real need for developing deterrence capabilities on the Eastern flank of the Alliance against the backdrop of challenges and threats for the region and the entire Euro-Atlantic area. In this context, we have grounds for particular satisfaction due to the well-developing cooperation with the Baltic States. I am happy that it is precisely Vilnius that will host the next meeting of the so called Bucharest Nine, in two months` time. This initiative allows the countries in our region to effectively articulate common interests in the NATO forum.
I feel personal satisfaction with the fact that in this respect we are able to efficiently achieve objectives which I set for myself and my team, as well as the Polish diplomacy. Hence, Poland is no more a mere recipient of security but also its provider. We pursue the policy of co-responsibility, be it in Romania where 230 Polish soldiers are deployed, or in Latvia with 200 Polish members of the military on duty. In the realm of security, we adhere to the principle of 360 degrees, in other words: co-responsibility for providing security in different parts of the world. Our military contingents already stationed in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Kuwait as well as serving as part of the EU mission in the Mediterranean have lately been joined by the UN-led mission in Lebanon. My decision to return to the blue-helmet operations means that the Polish Armed Forces operate as part of all three most crucial organizations of which Poland is a member, i.e. the UN, NATO and the EU.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
a significant element on the agenda of my visits paid to your countries is a strong economic component, such as missions and economic meetings which result in numerous contracts signed by Polish companies.
On the other hand, in order to develop economic and investment co-operation which accommodates the needs of the region, in parallel to the previously established formats, such as the Visegrad Group or 17+1, the Three Seas Initiative was set up in 2015. It creates opportunities for even more dynamic economic contacts, development of infrastructure and energy connections as well as diversification of export markets. In a nutshell, it helps to consolidate the already very good economic performance of the states in our part of the European Union. The Three Seas Initiative is undergoing rapid development. We have compiled a list of key investment projects, we have launched the Three Seas Investment Fund whereas the Initiative itself evokes vivid interest among partners from all over the world, both business and political ones.
I wish to use this opportunity and ensure our Estonian colleagues of our full support during their preparation for the next summit of the Initiative which will be held in Tallinn. We will strive together to achieve further development and operationalize co-operation of the countries involved in the project.
Ladies and Gentemen,
very good results recorded by the Polish economy over the last 5 years were possible thanks to the efforts, entrepreneurship and hard work of my compatriots, as well as an active foreign policy and the right political and economic decisions taken domestically. As a result, Poland today is one of the most important engines of economic growth in Europe. We are making good use of the opportunity to catch up with the best-developed countries in order to anchor even deeper in the centre.
All the listed examples of my actions and the successes of the Polish foreign policy over the last 5 years clearly demonstrate that an effective policy is conducive to bolstering Poland`s position in the international arena and, as a result, it gives Poles new opportunities to use the possibilities offered by the contemporary world, the global market as well as the scientific and educational cooperation. I am pleased that also my efforts have contributed to signing a number of agreements on scientific collaboration, joint economic projects, and that we have managed to lift one of the last barriers to Poles freely developing their international co-operation by including Poland in the US Visa Waver Program. Such actions will result in the further strengthening of relations between my compatriots and other societies both in the field of economy, science and education but predominantly in the people-to-people sphere.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I envisage 3 main tasks facing Polish authorities in the next couple of years.
Firstly, more active involvement in co-operation aimed at preventing the scenario of negative development of the global economic situation.
I would construe the emergence of an economic recession, combined with division of the world into competing geopolitical and economic blocs, as such negative economic situation. As well as violation of international law and lifting sanctions imposed on countries which violate it. Disintegration of the community of the West, both the European and the Euro-Atlantic one.
And, last but not least, the emergence of military threats in our immediate neighbourhood and further deterioration of the condition of the natural environment.
Poland will go to all lengths to prevent the above-mentioned phenomena from happening and becoming consolidated.
We are ready to take our share of co-responsibility for international processes.
Thanks to pursuing prudent economic policy we want to be the pole of economic growth and growing affluence. We also wish to give an example of fair distribution of the generated welfare so as to eliminate possible conflicts arising against that backdrop.
We will continue to advocate peaceful co-operation and the necessity to respect international law. Our task consists in not allowing our partners to come back to business as usual in the face of situations where the principles and rules generally accepted in international relations are violated. The resolute policy of the democratic states should be upheld. I am glad that this is the case also thanks to Your actions, Excellencies.
Rest assured that we will continue in our efforts to fight the effects of climate change in the spirit of a solidarity-based and just transition, taking into account the social and econmic facets of the necessary changes. We construe the policy of just transition as the one adhering to the spirit of the decisions taken at the successful COP24 climate conference in Katowice.
Poland is and will remain to be an advocate and champion of the transatlantic unity as our strength stems from the unity of our policies and civilizations.
Having said that, I wish to appeal, on behalf of Poland, to all parties to the contemporary conflicts, especially those which still harbour the danger of a large-scale confrontation taking place, to start actions aimed at deesclation and dialogue.
May diplomacy and co-operation not fear, confrontation and violence prevail in the next decade of the 21st cetury.
Furthermore, I urge that sovereignity and territorial integrity of states be respected, that the tools of hybrid warfare and exerting influence on politcal processes in free states be refrained from. Let us build a space of trust, not of distrust, among ourselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
the second task I consider important for Polish foreign policy is to look for global partners for Poland while preserving our active role in Europe. We will continue to treat Europe and the Euro-Atlantic Western world as our natural, closest political environment. We share common European values and the Euro-Atlantic vision of security for the Western civilization.
Therefore, as I have said, we want to be an active participant of the discussions about the future of Europe and the Trans-Atlantic world. We will act for the sake of their cohesion. At the same time, I believe that this should not exhaust the horizons of our policy. Hence, Polish foreign policy will open up for new directions, especially in terms of economic co-operation and political co-operation likewise. Positive experiences gathered in recent years, among others during our membership of the UN Security Council, and the trust we have been given, indicate that Poland today has the international capital which we want to make the most of in international policy. The policy of Poland`s international opening encompasses also the important notion we adhere to, i.e. maintaining the “open-door” policy to the European Union and to the North Atlantic Alliance. Poland is an advocate of the further enlargement of both these organizations.
The third urgent task facing Polish foreign policy is the development of the Polish soft power. The point is to boost the positive image of the Republic of Poland across the world and to fight resolutely against actions which distort Polish history. We were able to see an effective implementation of that goal during last year`s commemorative celebrations marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII participated by almost 40 delegations gathered in Warsaw. The international character of the commemorations and a big interest of the largest media outlets allowed us to remind the world public opinion the truth about the events from more than 80 years ago and about their background.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
this year is going to be the one of special narratives about the Republic of Poland and the history of Poles. The sequence of this year`s anniversaries symbolically shows the Polish fate where glorious moments are intertwined with the tragic ones. On the one hand, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Pope, Saint John Paul II and the centenary of the victorious battle with Bolsheviks on the outskirts of Warsaw, which saved Europe from the communist conquest. We are also going to celebrate the 40th anniversary of signing of the August Agreements and the establishment of Solidarity, the largest social democratic movement in Europe`s history which gave an impulse to overcome the Cold War division and allowed for the renewed triumph of freedom and democracy over communist dictatorships in our part of the continent. Furthermore, this year we will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Katyń massacre and the 10th anniversary of the Smoleńsk tragedy as well as the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, with that day having a particular dimension for a group of states including Poland.
Unfortunately, the victory over German totalitarianism did not mean, either for us Poles, or for the other nations of Central-Eastern Europe the regaining of freedom, while in case of the Baltic States it resulted in the loss of their pre-war independence.
Hence, I am firmly convinced that one is not able to fully comprehend the history of Europe and the world without learning the history of Poland and of our part of the continent. Distorting Poland`s history always leads, at the end of the day, to an instrumental treatment of the truth about the history of the world. For throughout the history of Europe, Poland has always served as a unique barometer of freedom: whenever Poland would slide into bondage, also Europe would be enslaved and unable to fully develop its potential. This is the universal lesson one can learn from Polish history.
Given the context of the current international situation, I would like to convey today, through You, an appeal to Your capitals to make a joint effort to refer to the recent world history with honesty and respect. Together we must make sure that nobody tries to rewrite history anew in a false way. Fora such as international organizations must not be used to distort history. And such an attempt with respect to the Council of Europe is now being announced by one of the capitals.
Through respect for each other and for the truth, we should not allow this kind of abuse. For I am sure that we are all united by our care for historical truth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
in this spirit I wish to thank you very much for yet another year of working together. I hope you derive satisfaction from the missions you perform in my country. Please, convey my best New Year`s wishes to your capitals. I wish You, your families and your teams all the best and good health in the new year.