Published: December 23, 2015
An international conference on the legacy of President Lech Kaczynski in Central and Eastern Europe took place at the Presidential Palace under the auspices of President Andrzej Duda. The conference "Sovereignty, solidarity, security. Lech Kaczynski and Central and Eastern Europe” opened with these words by President Duda: “The policies of President Lech Kaczynski were based on the highest values. Their tenets remain important today."
“Lech Kaczynski is often called a Man of Solidarity. He understood Solidarity more profoundly than just as a movement. He endeavored to build a strong community in our nation based on the ideals of Solidarity. The policies of Lech Kaczynski were based on the highest of values. Their tenets remain valid today,” stated President Duda.
After the President’s speech, the daughter of the late Lech Kaczynski, Marta, delivered her speech. “The concept and diagnosis of the situation, which Lech Kaczynski predicted during his speech in Tbilisi in 2008, was correct. The aim of today’s conference is to reflect on his presidency, his foreign policy, but above all, the analysis of his policy should help us draw right conclusions for the future,” said Marta Kaczyńska.
During the conference about the legacy of Lech Kaczynski on foreign policy of Eastern and Central Europe, the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves offered his remarks recalling a historic joint trip to Tbilisi, during the Georgian-Russian War.
Thoughts on the policies of Lech Kaczynski were also shared by Czech President Václav Klaus. “President Kaczynski was very Polish in his manner. And, as such, very confident,” said Klaus. “Polish – Czech relations were then the best in history,” he added.
The former President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili also offered his recollections about Lech Kaczynski. “President Kaczynski saved the sovereignty of Georgia, which was subsequently consolidated by President Bush. He was the author of the idea of diversification and energy independence. Kaczynski is the hero in Georgia, so I had to make every effort to attend his funeral despite all odds, despite the suspension of flights at the time ", said the former President of Georgia.
Saakashvili also recalled the incident of firing at the presidential column from Russian positions. “I pointed out the Russian positions to Kaczynski. The Russians were drunk and began to fire at the column,” he recalled.
The former President of Romania, Traian Băsescu, said that he was always skeptical about the cooperation with Russia because it represents a risk for the entire region. “Gazprom is more powerful than the Red Army”, he said. He also stressed that the policy of the Civic Plantrofm Government of the Republic of Poland was a departure from the European solidarity in favor of an alliance with Germany, which is building Nord Stream. Kaczynski was a hero in our region because he understood very well political risks,” said Băsescu.
During the conference, several presidents of the region who participated in the realization of the Lech Kaczynski vision held discussions about building a safe and prosperous Central and Eastern Europe. President Andrzej Duda invited for the discussions President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a former President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, former President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus, former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, and former President of Romania Traian Băsescu, and others. Editor-in-Chief of the “Gazeta Polska”, Mr. Tomasz Sakiewicz was also among the guests.
President Lech Kaczynski’s brother, Jarosław Kaczyński also spoke during the Conference.
“The event that occurred on 10 April 2010 affected what had happened henceforth in this part of Europe. My brother told me about his conversation with the President of Lithuania. It was the last Head of State, with whom he had spoken. She told him that she is concerned about the situation and views him as the last hope. On 10 April 2010 that hope was destroyed,” said Jaroslaw Kaczyński, President of Law and Justice Party (PiS).
The President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves also presented a speech during the conference. He spoke about their joint trip to Tbilisi during the Georgian-Russian war of August 2008. “The trip to Georgia was the most special moment of my life, as it showed the solidarity and incredible leadership by Lech Kaczynski,” said President of the Republic of Estonia.
Ilves recalled how Lech Kaczyński met with the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy in the capital of Georgia in august 2008. At that time, Sarkozy was in charge of negotiating a ceasefire between Georgia and Russia on behalf of the EU.
“We should talk,” Ilves recalled how Kaczynski approached Sarkozy. The French President replied that we can talk, but not with these “little” guys, referring to Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians. “In that case, we won’t meet at all,” replied President Kaczynski. This exchange showed how Lech Kaczynski adhered to his principles. Most of the European leaders would say yes, yes, we need to talk. But President Kaczynski never did that. Thanks to President Kaczynski’s stand, he showed that in this world you can achieve much more when you look a bit further, beyond today, not just the way most of the world leaders do. It is one of the strongest moments that I remember from my cooperation with President Kaczynski. Clearly, the most special moment of my life was the journey to Tbilisi, showing solidarity with the Georgian people and experiencing the incredible leadership qualities demonstrated there by Lech Kaczynski. We felt lost, but he knew what to do. This is important - especially now," said Toomas Hendrik Ilves.