Piątek, 27 października 2006

Łańcut Declaration

On 27 October 2006, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, visited Łańcut, where he took part in an international conference ‘One Road – Four Countries’. At the conference the Polish, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Slovak transport ministers signed a ‘Łańcut Declaration’ in the presence of the President.

Addressing the conference, President Lech Kaczyński said:

‘There are a number of issues of a regional character within the European Union. Every EU meeting that I take part in—no matter if it is a highest-level meeting, like the recent one in Finland, or my meetings with foreign ministers, or ministers in charge of particular industries—shows one thing: even now, the Union is a very extensive and complex organisation of states, involving various interests, various historical and geographical approaches. There are Mediterranean issues and there are issues characteristic for those countries oriented particularly towards the East. Both Lithuania and Poland undoubtedly belong to this group of countries. However, there is also another dimension to the EU, one that is very strongly connected with the North-South axis, an axis linked historically by many factors. Most importantly, what connects all of us is our common past, two or more generations of living under real socialism. In that common past, some directions were preferred, while others quite the contrary: not at all. And, in terms of infrastructure development, the north-south or south-north direction was not a preferred one. And what were the reasons behind that, we need not explain to ourselves, as we all know perfectly well. And we also know that we need to make up for this neglect using EU resources. This is crucial, both in terms of our countries’ economic interests and the possibilities to use the Baltic Sea as a transport route. Finally, this is crucial in bringing our countries closer together in general. At present, the geographical distance is not very big; Mr Minister mentioned one thousand kilometres here a moment ago – there is another Lithuanian town and the last town that Mr Minister mentioned, Debrecen in Hungary, but there is Poland along the way, quite an extensive country. There is Slovakia along the way and only then is there Hungary. And still it is just one thousand kilometres, or a little more. So geographically we are all close to one another.

There are places in Poland much closer to Slovakia’s capital than to Warsaw. There are places in Poland much closer to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, than to Warsaw. Contrary to what might appear, the same is true for Budapest. Yes, there are also places in Poland closer to Budapest than to Warsaw. And yet transport is difficult because of the lack of an adequate road network. What we are discussing today is how to put this situation right, how to reinstate something that is somehow natural. Natural, as landlocked countries have to be naturally oriented towards the Black Sea, on the one hand, and towards the Baltic Sea, on the other hand. And as for the Black Sea, access to it, I am speaking of the EU here, is yet to be provided, while the Baltic Sea has been accessible for quite some time now.

But there is yet another crucial element, from the Polish point of view at least, though I believe it is equally true for all the other countries. I am addressing Madam Provincial Governor here. Namely, we have in Poland a problem of our eastern borderland. The point is that these regions are economically much weaker as compared to the others, much weaker as compared to major urban centres, naturally. We even have a special phrase for that, for these territories that do not abound in major urban centres, we call it the ‘eastern wall’ problem. And we want to address this problem vigorously; this is in particular a policy of this government. ‘We’, for I am a president deriving from the same political movement, though without any formal party affiliation today. I would very much like to see a more equal level of economic development throughout Poland. And from this point of view, north-south or south-north connections--between Rzeszów and Białystok, for example--need to improve dramatically. This is one of the opportunities for this part of our country, and this opportunity must be used, in close connection with Agenda 2007-2013, and I believe also with the next one, covering the next six years, for the processes we are talking about will not have been completed within 6 years.

These are very extensive processes that need to be carried out for the next ten years or even more. This is an opportunity to ensure much more equal development levels. I believe Slovakia and Hungary are facing similar problems, to a certain degree at least. Thus we have a common project, an in connection with this project we need to--I must be saying this for the hundredth time--show solidarity with the EU. Within the European Union, various groups are formed with a view to achieving various aims; it is a good thing, perhaps, that there are no established line-ups, long-standing alliances there, for this would mean a risk of permanent cracks appearing within the EU. And yet we have to reach agreements on issues that bring us close together, and the issue under discussion brings our countries very close together, hence it has my personal support; within the constitutional prerogatives vested in the President of the Republic of Poland, naturally. I think it was an excellent idea to convene this conference here in Łańcut, at one of the most beautiful palaces we have managed to preserve. May this Łańcut palace, that is a symbol of splendour, also become a symbol of agreement between our countries, who are all EU members today, who are all NATO members today, and who can within this organisation--I mean the former here, the EU, that is, which is an organisation of cooperation and solidarity, but given human nature must also be an organisation of healthy competition to a certain extent--who can win more by fighting together. Let us now win these connections, let us win them, for this is a chance for all our countries; and the north-south system is also a chance for the Czech Republic, that is not present here among us; it is a chance for those countries that are likely to join the EU in the near future, for Balkan countries; and finally, in the long term, it is also a chance for a country that in our opinion should join the EU, even though there is some opposition, as we all know, so I would not like to decide anything. I mean Turkey here. It is a great north-south network that in a dozen years or so may play a crucial role in Europe. Thank you.’

Next, the Polish President awarded Orders of Polonia Restituta to war veterans.