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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 17, 2002
8:37 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all. Mr. President and Madam First Lady, it's a great privilege for Laura and I to host you here in the White House. Tonight's dinner is a small way of saying dziekuja for the warm hospitality you showed us last year in Warsaw.
Today Poland and the United States are meeting the challenges of our times, sustained by bonds of kinship, culture and commerce that unite our peoples. Two centuries ago, Poles fought for America's independence. Before and since, thousands of American communities have been enriched by the energies of millions of Poles who came here to settle.
Mr. President, tomorrow we'll travel to Michigan to visit one of those communities. But pride requires me to point out that the oldest permanent Polish settlement in America can be found in my home state. In the fall of 1854, more than 100 Polish families traveled to the prairies of south Texas, seeking greater freedom and opportunity. They arrived at their destination on Christmas Eve, and they christened their new settlement, Panna Maria -- or Virgin Mary. The town is still there, a living symbol of our common ties.
Just as Poles keep contributing to America's vitality, Poland keeps contributing to the vitality of the entire world. Poland's opposition to Soviet tyranny inspired half a continent, and helped bring down an evil empire. And the passion for human dignity and iron integrity of a Polish Pope has added to the momentum of freedom around the globe.
Freedom did not have to be imported into Poland. It is found naturally in the rhythm of every Polish heart -- a commitment of conscience and faith stronger than the brutality of conquerors or the official lies of oppressors.
In 1989, Poles on all sides of the ideological divide made an historic decision to build a society based on democracy and human rights and the rule of law. Two years later, more than 100 political parties participated in Poland's parliamentary elections, including one party called the Beer Lovers' Party. We're watching to see how much beer you drink tonight, Mr. President. (Laughter.) All but a handful of these parties were committed to a Poland founded on freedom.
In the decades since, Poland has continued to be an example for other nations seeking to claim their democratic future. And Poland has found what America has found, that democracy and free markets are honorable and just and indispensable to international progress.
America and Poland are joined by a commitment to helping each other along freedom's road. Thomas Jefferson once wrote to Kosciuszko and praised him for being true to a single object, the freedom and happiness of man. Today this single object defines Poland, itself. And it defines the partnership between Poland and America. Together, we can and we will complete the unification of Europe. We will reach out to Russia and Ukraine, and we will win the war against terror.
Poland and America share a vision that is stronger than intolerance and hatred and bigotry. It is a vision of a world that is free and just, a world that respects people's dignity and rewards their enterprise and creativity.
Mr. President, let us toast to friendship between our countries. Tonight, the old Polish saying has new meaning in a new century: For your freedom, and ours.
(A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT KWASNIEWSKI: Mr. President, Mrs. Laura Bush, ladies and gentlemen, it's a great pleasure to be here in Washington. I -- we, together with my wife, we feel here almost like at home. And on my own behalf, on behalf of my wife and my friends, I thank you for this splendid welcome and the warm words uttered also here.
I do not know if there is another such unique thing in the world as Polish-American friendship, reaching through the ocean, tested throughout centuries, revitalized by new acts of solidarity, and reconfirmed by unfailing partnership. Poles have especially warm feelings about America. According to Poles, Americans are in top three most liked nations in Poland.
Perhaps our sense of community is so strong because we are children of freedom. Because freedom plays the leading role in the history of our nations. Because we have never failed each other and have always supported each other in the fight and building a better world.
There is no doubt that the might and the dynamism of the United States originate in the free thought and entrepreneurship of a free men, energy of democracy that continues to search for new solutions. And it is worth emphasizing that the sovereignty of Polish people, regained 13 years ago, takes our country down the same routes as the ones that have been followed by America towards the faster development of democracy, economy and civic society. And although geographic distance and potential divide us, we are brought together by love of freedom and justice, and we share faith in better future.
We are proud in Poland with what we have achieved, with how we have been transforming our country, with how we have been able to bring other countries of our region of Europe closer to one another, and encourage the cooperation. I know that also here in America, Poland is perceived as a success story, and we are aware how much in our efforts we owe to the support of the USA.
Today, I have a special opportunity to tell you, Mr. President, on behalf of all Polish people and from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Good job, Mr. President. It was an excellent job. (Applause.)
In Europe, we live in a land severely experienced by history, the land of many wars, national, religious and social conflict. And from that region of the world that has been in flames so very often, we are bringing good news to America, unceasingly, for over a dozen of years.
Central and Eastern Europe has been transforming into the area of cooperation, stability, and security -- not without difficulties, not without problems. Nobody, however, should have any doubt that the direction towards European integration in the frame of the European Union, and Euro-Atlantic integration in the frame of NATO are irreversible.
The nations of our region that have regained freedom, sovereignty and democracy have decided to choose this way. However, we feel that this process has not been completed yet. Among the countries located between the Baltic, Adriatic and the Black Sea, there are NATO members, those who are strong candidates to the European Union, as well as the countries that so far are only aspiring to these organizations. One hundred and twenty million people live in that region. We want to help each other, and we count on the U.S. support in this process.
It is worth stressing that Poland and America are more than just fair-weather friends, and we should nurture it, these relations. Let us find our place in the global political system, become one of the pillars of transatlantic breach, and an important link in international cooperation.
Poland and America can rely upon each other. We shall be together in the uncompromising fight against terror, in strengthening the unity of Western civilization, in building the world of prosperity, peace and security. In the war on terror, even if it lasts many decades, we shall go to every battle, take up every risk, until the victory.
I want to wish you, Mr. President, Mrs. Laura Bush, and everybody here, every success. And I raise this toast to Poland and America, and to our friendship, creative strength of freedom.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
END 8:50 P.M. EDT