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Ten Speeches for a Quarter-Century

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Our future and our past are defined by words. The speeches that have accompanied the most important moments of the past twenty-five years of freedom characterize the shared memory of who we are – we, a political community of Poles. These texts outline strategic goals for Poland and capture the collective aspirations and stories of the moments that form our identity. Be they premeditated or spontaneous, these are not wasted words, and those who spoke them have formed the vanguard of Polish public life. At times they have defined our future; at others they have reaffirmed our earlier efforts. In hindsight, we see that – taken as a whole – they tell the story of our contemporary democracy, despite political competition and differences in agenda.

We have chosen the speeches that follow in the spirit of identifying the breakthrough moments of the last quarter-century, and presenting significant public statements that today characterize Polish collective memory. These texts constitute a fundamental body of reference for the national community. Together, they set a horizon for our perception of a free Poland.

We wish to express our gratitude to International Paper and to the Chancellery of the President of Poland for their help in facilitating this publication.

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