For your freedom and ours
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bronis ław Geremek addresses the ceremony of accession to NATO
March 12, 1999
The fifth article of the Washington Treaty is one of the pillars of Poland’s defense policy today. After a decade of political transformations, the accession to NATO by the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary is a striking symbol of the longawaited return to Western security structures.
For the people of Poland, the Cold War, which forcibly excluded our country from the West, ends with our entry to NATO. Poland, as member of the most powerful alliance, bringing together democratic nations of Western Europe and North America, joins the vital process of bridging old divisions and contributes to security and stability in Europe.
This remarkable achievement would not have taken place without the leadership, vision and courage of individuals who have played the pivotal role in the process. We owe our deep gratitude to President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. We are grateful to the American People, who have continuously expressed their support for our aspirations.
Today’s ceremony confirms that the Alliance is a community of values. The success of NATO over the last fifty years has been built on the principles of democracy, civil rights and liberties, shared by all of its members. The nations, who join this community today, were denied those values until 1989. On the streets of Budapest in 1956, Prague in 1968 and Gdańsk in 1970 and 1981 they paid a heavy price. They have proved their democratic credentials, which give them the right to be here today.
Poland in the Alliance will be a good and credible ally, for “Good and bad weather”. We are prepared to both take advantage of the rights of membership and bear the obligations that membership carries.
We shall contribute substantially to bolstering the organization and to developing its political and military strengths. I want to assure our allies that we will not lack the determination, courage and imagination, needed to reinforce our own capability as a member of the Alliance.
We are convinced that NATO must remain a defensive alliance, based on the principle of solidarity. To quote President Truman: “The security and welfare of each member of this community depend upon the security and welfare of all. None of us alone can achieve economic prosperity or military security. None of us alone can assure the continuance of freedom”.
Senator Vandenberg once called the Alliance “a fraternity of peace”. We share the view that NATO has a wider role to play to further the cause of democracy, human rights and solidarity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me say a word about relations between America and Europe. Poland, shall be a dedicated advocate both of the process of European integration and the strong transatlantic link. The United States has given the Atlantic Community leadership, stability and strength. Europe continuously needs a firm American anchor for its security and growth. Conversely, American security and prosperity depend on a reliable and flourishing Europe.
We should keep the door open for those, who have fought for freedom. Another curtain must never again descend on Europe.
Although it would lack the rigidity of the old, iron one, it would almost certainly become as cruel. It would keep us divided economically, if not politically.
Based on common values and principles, NATO must promote a value-oriented approach to democracy, stability and peace. The challenge facing us in the coming century – the challenge of creating a new international order – must accompany us at all times, must be an indispensable and inseparable part of our agenda. To meet this challenge we must safeguard the democratic values incorporated in the Washington Treaty, the ability to defend the strong transatlantic ties and ourselves. These are the sources of our strength. We cannot let them fade away in future.
This is a great day for Poland, as well as for millions of Poles scattered all over the World. Poland forever returns where she has always belonged – to the free world. Poland is no longer alone in the defense of her freedom. We are in NATO “for your freedom and ours”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for the Harry Truman Presidential Library, we have brought from Poland some records of history of our road to freedom, among them – the poster of 1989 elections with a picture of Gary Cooper from the film “High Noon”.It helped us to win.
For the people of Poland, high noon comes today.
The government alone will not heal any-thing. We must do this together, for Poland will only be different, if we all truly want it to be so.