Lech Kaczyński

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Lech Kaczyński

We are here together

President Lech Kaczyński addresses a public gathering in Tbilisi

August 12, 2008

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The tension in the relations between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the countries of the European Union increased during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. Moscow’s support for the separatist ambitions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia became the cause for a diplomatic offensive. President Lech Kaczyński delivers a memorable speech on the threats to Europe posed by the Russian leader’s policy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here to express our full solidarity with you. We are presidents of five countries: Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. We are here to join the fight.

For the first time in a long period, our neighbours from the north – to us they are also neighbours from the north and from the east – showed the face we have known for hundreds of years. These neighbours believe that the nations around them should be subjected to them.

We say no!

That country is Russia. That country believes that the old times of the empire, which collapsed less than 20 years ago, have returned; that one country’s dominance will again be the feature of this region.

It will not!

Those days are over, once and for all. Not just for 20, 30 or 50 years! We have all come to know this dominance in the same period, or in slightly different periods in the past.

This was a great tragedy for the whole of Europe; the breaking of people’s characters, the imposition of a foreign political system, the imposition of a foreign language.

But what is the difference between today’s situation and that of many years ago? Today, we are here together. Today, the world has had to react, even if it has been reluctant to act. And we are here to make this world react even more strongly. In particular, the European Union and NATO.

When I initiated the idea of this visit, some people thought that the presidents would be afraid. Nobody was afraid. Everyone came here, because Central Europe has courageous leaders.

And I would like to say – not only to you, but also to those from our common European Union – that Central Europe, Georgia, and our entire region matters, that we are sovereign entities.

And we know perfectly well that while today is time for Georgia, tomorrow it may be time for Ukraine, then for the Baltic States, and later, perhaps, for my own country, Poland!

We believed deeply that membership in NATO and the EU would end the period of the great Russian appetite. It turned out that this was a mistake. But, if the values upon which Europe is based have any practical worth, then we can oppose this. If those values are to have any meaning, then we have to be here, the whole of Europe should be here.

Here we have four NATO countries present. The Ukraine – a big country – is here. President Sarkozy, the current President of the European Council, is also here. But all 27 countries should be here.

We believe that Europe will understand and will be here, that they will understand your right to liberty and their own interests in protecting that. We believe that they will understand that but for Georgia, Russia will restore its empire, and this is not in anyone’s interest.

That is why we are here.

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