Andrei Duda: “Solidarity against Russian aggression”
Almost a year ago, during the celebration of the 230th anniversary of the adoption of the Polish Constitution on May 3, we hosted in Warsaw the presidents of Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Our country is bound by neighborliness, shared values, culture, history and current challenges. The symbol of these ties is the second modern Basic Law in the world, transforming the noble Polish democracy into a more efficient constitutional monarchy. Unfortunately, it was a late act. Three allied absolutisms, Russian, Prussian and Austrian, destroyed the unique political and civilizational project of the libertarian, multi-ethnic and multi-religious First Polish Republic. The ancestors of the citizens of Central and Eastern Europe today became subjects of the Tsar. They were forced to support the expansion of the Russian Empire with their blood, property, and labor.
Remember about this historical lesson, about looting, persecution, destruction of cultural heritage and genocidal acts committed by Russia and the Soviet Union against our states, as well as with the actual occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine by the forces of the Russian Federation, as heads of our countries, which has been going on since 2014 we signed an official declaration of the region . In it, we emphasized that a united Europe must be open to all nations and nations that share its values, and That the solidarity of nations for all of us, especially in the face of current threats to our common security, is one of the pillars of peace, stability and development (…).
These statements sounded equally powerful almost a year later, during the meeting of the presidents of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. This time, on April 13 of this year, the host was President Volodymyr Zelensky. We gathered in Kyiv under the fire of the Russian invaders.
The dramatic appeals to Europe’s resolve and solidarity in the face of Russian neo-imperialism, which have been repeated for years, have not reached the conviction of some of the political elites of our continent. Putin’s regime openly declared that it would – in one form or another – re-establish the “prison of nations” that was the Soviet Union and the sphere of influence of the former states of the Eastern Bloc; Glorification of Communism and Stalin. introducing the spirit of division among the European family of nations; Attempts to interfere with the democratic procedures of NATO and EU countries; suppression of Russian dissidents and treacherous assaults on them; Regular violations of the air and sea space of European countries by the Russian armed forces and hostilities in cyberspace; the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the hybrid war against Ukraine in 2014; Hybrid attack in 2021, when the Lukashenka regime of Moscow transported migrants from the Middle East to Belarus, and then forced them to cross the eastern border of Poland, which is also the border of the European Union and NATO – all these are “alarm bells” and some politicians have not stopped talking With opinion leaders on the need to “understand Russia and its sensitivity.” Representatives of the states in our region were not confident when they warned that sooner or later new infrastructure investments and contracts for the supply of Russian energy carriers will be used by Moscow as an instrument of brutal blackmail. Recent events have proven that we were right.
February 24, 2022 became a turning point in world history. After the tragic conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina 30 years ago, war broke out again in Europe. Events not seen here since 1945 are being repeated, thousands of soldiers and civilians dying. Villages and cities that have been bombed are disappearing from the face of the earth. The Russian aggressors do not allow the evacuation of their residents. They use scorched-earth terror tactics. They commit burglaries, rape, torture – as well as against women and children – and mass executions. Ongoing investigations by ICC prosecutors must lead to the convictions of the leaders and perpetrators of these devastating crimes against humanity.
Polish authorities, volunteers and millions of Polish refugees helped burn Ukraine from the first moments of the war. We help citizens from more than 150 countries around the world return home. Almost 3 million people left the territory of Poland, of whom almost 2 million remained with us. They are mainly women, children and the elderly. Although we call them guests and not refugees, although here they find shelter not in makeshift camps, but in private apartments, in religious buildings and structures, health care facilities and utility buildings, it is a great challenge for us. For comparison, just over 1.8 million people came to Europe during the migration crisis in 2015. We urgently need the financial support, at least that Turkey received after it took in 3 million refugees from the Middle East.
Above all, Ukrainians defending themselves against criminal aggression need help. They need military equipment and constant economic pressure on Russia to weaken its war machinery.
The fate of our continent is in the balance today on the plains of Ukraine. There is a very dramatic battle for a secure future, freedom, identity and reputation for the whole of Europe. The time for discussions is over. It is time for solidarity and decisive action.
The text was published in the monthly opinion “Everything Matters” and in the world media as part of the “We tell Poland to the world” project implemented in cooperation with the Polish National Bank and the Institute for National Remembrance. .