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UN2K: Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski



New York, 7 September 2000



H.E. Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski

the President of the Republic of Poland

at the United Nations Millennium Summit

Distinguished Presidents of the Millennium Assembly,

Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In history, an end also marks a beginning. Now, at the turn of the centuries, we have a strong sense of this happening. History has quickened its pace, and the new face of the world is emerging before our eyes.

Many may find the balance of the passing century depressing: Two world wars and hundreds of local ones. Two ominous totalitarian systems. Achievements of science drawn in work of destruction. Famine. Surges of egoism among nations and groups which crushed individuals. Yet, the 20th century has also had its brighter pages. Owing to the progress of technology, mankind has been equipped with new medicines, new sources of energy, new means of communication. International co-operation has flourished. The world has learnt to appreciate both its own multi-dimensional character and multiplicity of cultures. Freedom, democracy, rule of law, tolerance, as never before in history, have built a common house for millions of people.

I am proud to represent a country which has made a substantial contribution to the positive transformation. Twenty years ago, the phenomenon of the Polish "Solidarity" gave rise to a surge which eventually melted the ice of the Cold War. In 1989, in the wake of the Round Table Talks a historic meeting of government and "Solidarity" led opposition, the Poles showed how the will to negotiate and agreement above divisions could bring about a historic breakthrough. Democracy, reforms, reconciliation and development have become part and parcel of Poland's everyday life. Ultimately, the whole of our region of Central Europe emerged as a factor of stability, security, development and progress.

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Aware of its assets and proportionately to its potential, Poland participates, and intends to be even more actively involved, in the construction of the new global order. This has been evidenced, inter alia, by the participation of thousands of Polish soldiers and observers in United Nations peace-keeping missions, by the efforts during our chairmanship of the OSCE, as well as by the Warsaw Declaration, adopted last June, when along with other democratic countries we reiterated our determination to cooperate on the basis of fundamental values of democracy and human rights.


Let us ask ourselves, let us honestly consider: Have we really been able to develop and apply procedures and instruments to effectively protect human rights? Have we yet found a way to overcome divisions between the impoverished South and the prospering North? Are we able to protect the natural environment? Do we know how to ensure that the era of inexorable progress of information and communications really favors development of culture and education, and that it will not transform into an era of information chaos? In the face of the market dictate, do we not lose sight of the human person in his or her full dimension, including her or his spiritual values?

A term 'globalization' has been coined for our new interdependence. I represent a country which has opened itself to the world, emerging as an even more active participant of trade, scientific and technological exchanges. We, of Poland, feel at ease in a world of cultural interactions and lively contacts between people.

We should remember, though, that there is also a dark side to globalization. The disparity between poor and rich countries continues to grow. I am convinced that we can succeed in this endeavor only if we accept that the world's development must be founded on universal values. In this respect, the principle of solidarity will have an important role to play.

Solidarity is shared responsibility. It is sensitivity to the needs and anxieties of the weaker. It is willingness to cooperate and to offer support. It is priority of concerted efforts over unilateral action. It is respect for diversity and dialogue. But, above all, I perceive solidarity as freedom, dignity and welfare of the individual which are brought into focus of attention of all political action and global campaigns. What the world needs today is a synthesis of the strengths, which the free market has undoubtedly demonstrated, combined with realistic and people-oriented solutions which have to be introduced into political practice.

The threshold of the 21st century poses a formidable challenge before the United Nations. The world has changed, the concept of international order is transforming. Hence the imperative of the reform of our Organisation, capable of facing great global challenges and, at the same time, able to protect the rights of every person. Within the United Nations, we need efficient organs, a flexible program, and effective use of resources. Our role as heads of State or Government should be providing clear guidelines, political support and adequate resources for the Organization.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We need our world Organization more than ever before. We must face up to the inevitable: changing lifestyles, changing ways of communication and of satisfying needs. In this new, ever- changing world, the UN should offer us a sense of stability and predictability. I am deeply convinced that the United Nations is able to serve mankind in such a way, facing the challenges to come in this new 21st century.

Thank you for your attention.

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