Date: December 12th, 2017
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, the Honorable Chamber (Sejm – lower house – PAP), Dear Compatriots,
First, I would like to thank Prime Minister Beata Szydło for the shared years of very hard work. Prime Minister, you are, and will remain the symbol of the solidarity revolution which is restoring a decent everyday existence to millions of Polish families. I thank you, on behalf of the whole cabinet for your titanic effort, your sensitivity and your unflinching conviction, that it makes sense to try and repair the Republic of Poland.
I am also very happy that we will continue to work for Poland. These were two good years for Poland and its citizens. We have grown accustomed to the swift implementation of positive change in Poland and I would like to offer you my guarantee that our government will continue in this mission, without pause. Prime Minister – thank you again.
The government which I am going to lead is the same, its policy direction is the same, its signposts and values are also the same – so it is a government of continuation, focused on implementing the policy of supporting Polish families. Development and social aspects are one and the same. A flourishing economy is essential, to be able to conduct a generous social policy. We are conducting such a policy now. We will continue with our social programs – in fact, we are going to strengthen and develop them!
In all my actions, I am guided by one thought, an overriding idea and a motto, namely the words of our writer and artist Stanislaw Wyspiański, who said: “Poland is a grand thing.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Poland is a grand thing. Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, Poland is the overriding good and when last week, the President entrusted me with leading the cabinet. It was a great honor for me. Poland is a proud country, with huge accomplishments. It is a country which never succumbed to the tyranny of absolutism, Germanisation, Russification, Nazism or Communism. It is a country which opposed the Holocaust and avoided religious wars. It is a country which re-emerged after over a hundred years (123 years of partitioning – PAP) and the country where the Solidarity movement was created.
It is my desire for the government of the United Right to be the government of a united Poland, because the government and the Prime Minister are meant to serve the whole country, our whole motherland, every citizen of the Republic of Poland. There is enough room for everyone. There is only one Poland. The Republic of Poland is a collective good. A common good of all the citizens. This deeply communal aspect is an indispensable part of our tradition. Of supporting our compatriots sent to Tsarist prison camps. “Zegota,” the underground organization whose task was saving our Jewish brothers during World War II or the Solidarity movement – these organizations are the real evidence of what being Polish is about and what it means to be a community.
To strengthen our identity, to strengthen this grand national heritage of ours, is an obligation – to those who, for centuries have worked at building our Republic of Poland, with their toil and with their blood. But it is also our duty towards future generations, whom we should present with this gift of identity as an inheritance. We should present them with our unique Polish culture, values, our development path, our desire for freedom and our desire for truth. We must not discard our identity.
In this context, it is worth reminding ourselves that a dozen, or so years ago, 90 percent of the members of this Honorable Chamber voted for joining the European Union, but at the same time, expressed support for a declaration proclaiming Poland’s sovereignty in the sphere of culture and morals values. More than 90 per cent!
The world should learn more about our contribution to the struggle for freedom and justice. Our struggle for the central values of western civilization. The history of our opposition to evil. “You must never let go of free thought, whatever the cost,” as one of the Solidarity protest songs put it. Our accomplishments rank among the most inspiring stories in the world. This story features some great heroes, whom the President mentioned from this dispatch box last week. Yet the President also spoke about the need to rekindle the memory of people and places that have been forgotten, but are linked to our historical struggle for a free Poland. And this we are going to do, because the work and struggle for Poland was also conducted by many ordinary, yet extraordinary people. People who, in the face of dramatic events, did not waver, showing courage and bravery. Such as those hundreds of thousands of Polish people who saved Jews during the second Apocalypse (WWII – PAP), the secondary-school pupils fighting the communists in 1920, or the thousands of nameless printers (those who printed the clandestine newsletters – PAP) fighting Communism during Martial law (1981 – PAP). Or Danuta Siedzikówna, “nom de guerre” Inka, Hieronim Dekutowski,” nom de guerre“ Zapora, whose remains were exhumed with the assistance of my own children (students worked as volunteers in the Powaski cemetery trying to discover the whereabouts of unmarked graves of Polish heroes – PAP). Such as Ryszard Kowalczyk, who died recently, Anna Walęntynowicz, or Andrzej Kołodziej – who is with us today, sitting in the gallery – and who is a friend of mine, in fact, and at the age of 20, he organized and maintained the strike in the “Paris Commune” Shipyard in Gdynia, during that memorable August of 1980. Or my Aunt Wacława – who is also sitting in the gallery – it was in her arms that Marian Senger,” nom de guerre” Cichy, died, having earlier taken part in the successful assassination of the Nazi German executioner of Warsaw – Kutschera. These are the people of our freedom, these are the kind of people whom we have to thank for our freedom. Full of gratitude to them, we are looking to the future and, looking also at our holiest site, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, we are taking over their flame and carrying it into a better tomorrow.
Nothing is more important to me than rebuilding what we have lost as a result of partitioning, wars and communism. We now have a unique opportunity in our hands and we must not waste it. Therefore, Polish policy must be ambitious. Drifting or just going with the flow, is not in our DNA. The government is not meant to administer, but to govern and in my view, this means we should set ambitious goals for ourselves. We must also unite, unite more. We must try and persuade each other, not defeat each other. Persuade, not defeat. Have we forgotten the lyrics of our own anthem? “Having drawn our sabers, our motto will be harmony and the Motherland will be ours.” We are not and will not be a government of ideological extremes. We stand far from neoliberalism, and equally far from socialism. Not just because such dogmatism does not work. Also, because it is better to link. Link competition with collaboration. A global aspect with a local perspective. Europe with our view, motivated by our interests. Also, to connect a pragmatic approach to the governance and management of the state with the free market – there is no contradiction here. And finally, to connect law and justice. This is of great importance, too.
I would also like to promise you today that our government will be very ambitious in changing Poland for the better. This will require the creation of a Centre for Strategic Analysis, among other initiatives. We must learn to devise consistent legislation and make decisions based on long-term development strategies. More law, more legal acts does not always mean better. Sometimes it is the other way around. Over the past 25 years, the volume of legislation has grown each year. We will strive to stem this tide.
The state is seriously coming back to the game. Our enterprising entrepreneurs are now being joined by an equally enterprising state. Such a state has laid the foundations for the success of America’s Silicon Valley, the Israeli innovativeness or the Korean and German manufacturing sectors. We need to find a golden mean between the minimal state which abandons its citizens – as was often the case in our recent past – and the unwieldy bureaucratic state. We want neither one, nor the other.
We aim to carry out a huge modernization of Poland. I deeply believe that our national sovereignty and tradition represent an asset in these modernization struggles. An asset, not a burden, as some would have us believe. In fact, this plan is based on the realization that a key aspect of today’s Europe is the struggle between competing interests. We are witnessing precisely such a struggle and we seek to capitalize on our national sovereignty and tradition in this struggle for our national interest.
We are also witnesses of a technological revolution, which means – can mean, will mean – a new deal in the global economy. This new deal should involve Poland. This is, after all, the first industrial revolution in which Poland can play a major role, even a leading role in certain areas. It is today’s economic policy that determines whether Poland, in ten years, will be the producer of high technology or merely a market for foreign companies to sell them goods.
We have not been idle for the last two years. Poland was the first country in the region to be categorized as a developed market by the FTSE Russell agency. In 2017, two thirds of new workplaces in the whole of the European Union’s industry were established in Poland. That’s why we are called Europe’s factory. The largest companies build technologically advanced factories as well as research and development centers here. We have the largest government support program for young companies dealing with technology in this part of Europe. One of our main tasks for the second half of our term of office will be further building and rebuilding of industry.
Also in other areas, we have managed to do what many would consider unachievable, such as tightening the tax system. This year alone, VAT revenue has increased by 30 billion PLN (7.1 billion EUR). That’s more than in the previous nine years! It has been achieved by fighting tax offenders and breaking up VAT gangs. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, it was necessary to restore reputation of state institutions.
VAT is no trivial matter, and VAT mafias are no Robin Hoods. But don’t worry. We will keep up this trend, this very positive trend that has appeared for the first time in nine years. It’s worth stressing that more than 70 billion PLN (16.5 billion EUR) was transferred to Poles in social and family programs over the same period. And we will continue and strengthen this social policy, strengthen it in many areas.
We’ve also been regaining control over strategic sectors of the Polish economy. Poverty, unemployment, housing shortages and civilizational gaps in healthcare, used to be the four chronic diseases of our social and economic life, and at the same time the sign of our weakness. And largely due to our activities, we can now see significant improvement in the first two areas from among those Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. There’s less poverty, while unemployment is at its lowest level for 27 years. And we have launched an affordable housing program and a healthcare repair program. I will talk about these issues later. But there’s still plenty to do in the areas of job creation, wage growth and reducing poverty. Wages have been growing at their fastest pace for 10 years, but we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to raise the minimum wage. Polish politics is stretched across two fallacious visions. On the one hand, the dependent development vision, that is the past 25 years of post-communist Poland that assumed only a peripheral role for the country. On the other extreme, there are voices that Poland should be walled off from the rest of the world.
We want Poland to be great! Poland is a part of the West. And if so, it must have global aspirations with no fear of competition. Having no fear of cooperation.
So we need the state and a strong identity to break away from the peripheral role in contemporary capitalism. Therefore, one of the key ideas for the development plan is to promote Polish companies into global champions.
But this does not only go for business, with culture or sports also being good examples. We’ve got used to the fact that our most talented footballers leave for western clubs or football schools, while still junior players, and then they play for them, or at times for their National teams. Is this normal? No, in my opinion it’s not.
Where would the German National team be without Miroslav Klose, our boy from Opole, who scored the most goals for the German team. Or without Lukas Podolski, who still feels Polish. It’s good they haven’t taken away our Robert Lewandowski.
Polish people are among the hardest working nations in Europe. We are one of the most industrious nations. We work about 2,000 hours a year. Work efficiency and the number of hours worked is not the sole determinant of economic success. We don’t want Poles to work the longest hours, we want them to work efficiently for decent pay. We want them to have more time for their families, for their loved ones, that’s why we need to switch our Polish capitalism onto western tracks, this is the goal of our development strategy.
Our younger generation is the guarantor of development and the skills of young Poles are the driving force of our innovation and our modernity, and it is their enthusiasm, their curiosity of the world, their competing with the best, that is the key to our success.
All our efforts make little sense if they do not meet the needs of young people, Poland is worth changing for them, for you!
It is for you that we are creating jobs, introducing social provisions, working to achieve higher wages and reduce unemployment.
For example, I love working with young people, because they can present every complex issue in 280 characters. Let’s not be naive. Others will not build a strong economy for us.
Figures show everything. The share of Polish employees’ wages in Poland’s GDP is only 48 percent, 7 percent less that the EU average. We need to work out our own original path to a modern economy if we want Poles – and that’s what we want most – to earn more.
That’s why in the coming years I would like to focus on a few key growth areas and talk about them now, and consequently ask the House for a vote of confidence in our government.
Healthcare is the first extremely important problem to tackle. There’s no decent life without efficient healthcare, therefore we will ensure a quantum leap in health spending, to 6 percent of GDP over the next few years. It’s our response to legitimate arguments from both patients and medical staff, doctors and nurses.
This increase was possible mainly through plugging loopholes in the tax system. State institutions started truly serving the state.
This year we have already spent 4 billion PLN (950 million EUR) on cutting waiting time for appointments with doctors, purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for hospitals as well as paying off debts, from the past 10 years, including the debts that accumulated when our predecessors were in government. And this is just the beginning.
The two most frequent causes of death in Poland are cancer and cardiovascular disease. Three quarters of Poles leave this world due to these two areas of disease, and that’s why we need to put more stress on preventing and treating these diseases, that’s why we’ll also launch two programs that will modernize Polish healthcare.
The first is the construction of a National Oncology Centre, which will not only provide effective treatment for cancer, but will also run modern research and therapy.
The second initiative is the National Program for Cardiovascular Health. Poles have made a huge contribution to the development of cardiology and we want the treatment of heart disease to remain our specialty, although of course, we primarily want Poles not to suffer from heart disease at all, or perhaps only when it’s love-related.
This national program, and by the way not everything needs to be equipped with the adjective “national,” it could be “Polish” or “state” – also well phrased, but it will be very important, it will be crucial for us – still, following the Gospel adage that you should not pour new wine into old wineskins, we can’t allow for new money to be badly spent, for the system to be ineffective.
That’s why, just like with tightening of the tax system, we’re planning to carry out a similar operation in healthcare. Every zloty invested in health must translate into a better standard of living for Poles. Patients as well as those who take care of them every day will benefit from that.
However, this must not mean privatization of profits and nationalization of losses. Public medical equipment must serve common goals, the patients’ good. That’s why we will put a huge stress on digitalization of healthcare and that’s why I also ask doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and the entire medical staff, all the people who work in hospitals and clinics. I ask you to become part of this change, this change for the better, the change whose fundamental aim is to build a modern health service.
Another sphere for our wide-ranging action will be the environment.
In many parts of Poland, especially the Małopolskie and Sląskie provinces, but also the Mazowieckie province, I have seen a landscape mired in thick, pinching fog and children returning home from school with masks on their faces.
Clean air is a civilizational challenge. A measure of whether Poland is truly a developed country.
Air, water, the Earth – clearly, they do not belong only to us, they also belong to future generations and the condition in which we pass them over to our grandchildren will reflect on us.
Due to smog, 48,000 Polish people die prematurely every year, while the smoke from refuse-fired furnaces is not disappearing into the skies. This dust is finding its way into our lungs and those of our children.
Yet we also realize that not everyone can afford cleaner fuel. For this reason, the anti-smog policy is a program of support for the people with the least means – for those who are unable to warm their home, replace the windows or the doors, or buy good – not toxic – fuel today.
We want to combat this energy poverty and raise the quality of life for all Polish people.
I also wish to thank the pioneers in the fight for clean air. All the non-governmental organizations and urban movements which have been doing a great job over the last few years.
Local governments have a vital role to play in this context. It is they who are on the frontline and it will be of key importance that the central government works well with local governments. Together with you, we want effectively to solve this problem.
I would also like to take this opportunity to mention a significant social and economic issue, namely “the sharing economy.” It is a new way of thinking in economic circles about the environment, about social life, about economic life. It is a departure from focusing on one’s own needs towards the community and the common good. In fact, it goes well with Christian teaching, with the ethics of the Solidarity movement, but also – much to my amazement and delight – with the strategy of the European Commission, which does not always happen.
The benefits of “the sharing economy” are: a more productive economy, a cleaner environment, better utilization of natural resources and savings in our wallets. All of this is possible today, thanks to technology. I believe that today, it is technology that can unite – it can also unite all of us here.
Now for a few words about energy and energy security. Today, coal is the basis of our energy mix. We cannot discard it and nor do we want to.
This is important for the neighboring regions of Silesia and Zagłębie (which make up the Sląskie province – PAP), but it is also important for the whole of Poland. We are planning long-term reforms. Besides coal, the Sląskie province is also becoming a hotbed of new technology. So, it made me very happy when social and trade union leaders from Silesia and Zagłębie described our program for the province as a good and forward-looking strategy of development. But for the sake of our future generations, I would like to make sure that alternative sources of energy are also al-lowed to develop freely in Poland. Not as an ideological project, but where it makes economic sense, where it will bring benefits, not generate costs for the Polish people. We can take advantage of the natural resources provided by the location of our country. The Law and Justice party is a party which has always sought firmly to guarantee energy security.
This is a condition of our sovereignty. One project which has contributed to this, which has brought us closer to this goal, is the LNG terminal in Swinoujście (north-western Poland – PAP). It would not have been created, had it not been for the de-termination of the late President Lech Kaczynski. Thanks to this new infrastructure, our dependence on imports of Russian gas is diminishing. For the first time, there is a possibility that after 2022, we will no longer be reliant on Russia, when it comes to buying gas, nor will they be able to dictate prices to us.
We are expanding our gas infrastructure, which will enable us to make our state the beating heart of the region. We seek to create a gas hub here, which will supply our neighbors. Another objective, which was relevant a decade ago and remains so to-day, is the construction of gas connections to Norway.
Our task for today is to implement these projects and make Poland energy independent with low CO2 emissions, and with that in mind, we are also adopting a positive approach to nuclear energy. I have already said a lot today – and will say more – about the need for collaboration and unity. Energy is one of these areas where I count on a collective, concerted effort from the whole Honorable Chamber. We must clearly define Polish interests and adopt a shared development policy which will outlast many Sejm (lower parliamentary house – PAP) tenures.
I would like to proceed now to the topic of infrastructure. We need to learn to think not just in terms of individual aspirations, but also collective goals. For the past 25 years, ever better cars have been appearing on our roads, but the roads themselves have deteriorated and we were also winding down railway connections. And yet it is not merely the case that Poland reflects the Polish people. It works both ways. How we shape Poland will determine how Poland, in turn, shapes our children and our grandchildren. In the long run, only those communities which can better intertwine private goals with the common good, stand a chance of emerging victorious and contributing to the treasury of humanity.
This is because success on the international scene is not achieved mainly through individual effort, except perhaps in the case of sports competitors or artists. International success is achieved at the level of the collective, the national community, the state community. Therefore, we are placing an emphasis on collective strategies, on a Poland of big projects, and one of them is the construction of the Central Transportation Port (CPK) – the Solidarity Port. It is a key element in the strategy of developing transport in Poland. As well as representing an opportunity for the aviation sector, it also entails an expansion of the railway network. It is a first step towards creating Europe’s most modern transport system, here in Poland, a system which will be open to such cutting-edge solutions as autonomous transport or vacuum railways. The CPK will be like the next Gdynia (a Polish sea-port built from scratch in the 1920’s, at the time the most modern such facility in Europe – PAP), but in the heart of Poland. Also in the heart of Europe, in fact.
We will rebuild the sea-ports in the Tri-city (of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot – PAP) and Szczecin-Swinoujście, as well as building the long-awaited tunnel linking Swinoujście with mainland Poland.
All of this will constitute another vital step towards making Poland a logistics center of Europe. Honorable Chamber, we are still lacking many expressways and high-ways. Obviously, above all, we are lacking the Via Carpathia (a planned international route stretching from Saloniki in Greece to Klaipeda in Lithuania – PAP). In eastern Poland, there are not enough roads linking the north with the south – in line with the Three Seas concept – and we will complete them. We will be building the S3, the S7, the A1 – but I would also like to stress that in the next decade, we must focus on making notable improvements in communications at the level of communes and counties, as well as on improving road and railway communications. We are going to allocate more resources to such projects, also from the central budget, and I hope to work closely with all the local governments. The time has come to devise regional strategies for responsible development. Today, from this dispatch box, I would like to make a personal obligation to dedicate my efforts particularly to the growth of local Poland, the Poland of local governments.
Our next objective is to strengthen Polish companies and entrepreneurship. Every Polish generation must embrace the challenge of modernization anew. When we published the Responsible Development Plan – eighteen months ago – many people said we were aiming too high, that these were unrealistic dreams. But in the third quarter of this year, the Polish economy grew by almost 5 percent, essentially with-out an increase in public debt. This year could be the first such period in the last 28 years when the growth of public debt – as you will see shortly, ladies and gentlemen, in a few weeks – is zero or slightly more than zero.
So on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Marshal Józef Pilsudski (Poland’s 20th century independence hero – PAP), I can tell the Honorable Chamber that we have accomplished this thanks to his formula: being romantic in choosing our ends, but pragmatic in choosing our means. The economy and public finances are ever more balanced. Consumers are optimistic and we are noting positive trends in the reduction of inequalities. More and more people are actively participating in consumption and a growing number feel upbeat about their future. When foreign experts describe our economy, they are increasingly echoing our assessments. Namely, they are noticing how dependent we have become on foreign capital over the past 25 years. Ladies and gentlemen, the world’s most famous economist, Thomas Piketty, told us we are among the “foreign-owned countries.” I think he exaggerated, he definitely exaggerated, but what a powerful statement.
Bloomberg, an information agency which is very much part of the mainstream, wrote about how western capital colonized Poland and other Central European countries. This is the reality we are living in. So, the masks have fallen off. We are facing a gigantic challenge. We are all facing a gigantic challenge. The taboo topic, this taboo topic has become an obvious truth – although Poles manufacture a lot, not every-thing our economy produces stays in our wallets. Every year, between 70 and 100 billion PLN (17 – 24 billion EUR), or between 4 and 5 percent of Poland-made GDP – depending on whether we take the net or gross figure – is posted as profit abroad. This is the effect of the economic model we adopted after the fall of communism. A flawed model, as we know today, in retrospect. Ratings agencies are also telling us as much today. Yes, this is no laughing matter, it is as if we were traversing a narrow mountain trail. With an abyss to the left and to the right, as Jacek Kaczmarski (the anti-communist poet and singer-songwriter – PAP) used to say.
We are a part of the West, ladies and gentlemen, and we will remain so, but this does not mean that we must accept this model. We want Poland to play an active role in the economy, not cut a peripheral figure.
So, there is still much work ahead of us. Today, we need to move on from the capitalism of loan-based consumption – which was installed here by foreign institutions in the early 1990s – to the capitalism of savings and investments.
After all, this is a fight for Polish ownership, for Polish capital. So, I ask everyone for assistance. Let us regain Poland, let us regain Poland together.
At the heart of our philosophy, our economic philosophy, will be micro- small and medium-sized firms, which provide a livelihood for millions of Polish people. For the small and mid-size entrepreneurs, I have an important message: all honest entrepreneurs can expect due regard for the legal environment, as well as equal competition rules. Soon we will present a whole collection of bills to simplify economic life, most notably A Constitution for Business. According to hardline economic liberals, there is no place for state activity in the market. This is a mistaken view. Without the state and its institutions, the free market will not defend itself against corruption, tax fraud, monopolies, or unfair competition from abroad. Also, without efficient and fair courts, an honest entrepreneur has no chance of fighting mafias, a closed system of influence. And this is precisely why such agencies as the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) and the economic-crime departments of the police and prosecution services are so vital for the economy. Therefore, efficient and fair courts are so vital.
Modernization and digitalization is another area. It’s clear to everyone that we’re living in an increasingly digital world and that Polish IT talents are a national asset. A contemporary, entrepreneurial state prioritizes innovation in the IT sector as a vehicle for developing companies and public administration. Cyberspace is the contemporary world’s battlefield. Therefore, a responsible State must also prioritize cybersecurity. We need a revolution in citizen-state relations. Technology may help us cut the time needed to deal with public administration matters. IT tools also help us tighten the tax system, so the “From Paper to Digital Poland Program” is an intensive process of building a modern State. This is a task for all the ministries and the whole Cabinet.
Education and science is yet another area. Poland of the future will be shaped by how its young people have been educated. It is our children and grandchildren that will build the Poland that we’re longing for. We’ve decided to reform the education system due to widespread criticism of it. The first step was to liquidate the “gymnasium” level (middle schools – PAP) and revive vocational and technical education. In the coming years, we will put significant stress on industry-specific education to meet current market needs, labor market needs. Sixty-five percent of our students will probably work in professions that have not yet emerged. The generation that we call the generation of lost opportunities consists of young Poles whose only hope was emigration. We’ll do everything, particularly in the education system, to ensure this generation can find jobs, jobs in Poland. To ensure that these are decent jobs. Not low-quality contracts. Jobs with as high wages as possible. I believe it will be a generation of restored opportunities.
A modern economy is one that cooperates with science. That’s why we’ll carry out Higher Education reform and will also reform research institutes. The Lukasiewicz institute will be one of the biggest institutions of its kind in Europe. Polish science must play a more prominent role in providing the foundation for our economic growth and the prosperity of Poles. But science cannot be viewed only through the prism of economic benefits. Formation of national elites is an equally important task for Polish universities. For 250 years we have been struggling to put a stop to our brain drain tragedy. Therefore subsequent budgets will have additional funds earmarked for strengthening universities, including regional ones.
Our way to a better future, is a Poland of equal opportunities and social solidarity rather than a Poland of interest groups and conflicting egoisms. A Poland of fair sharing, rather than a Poland of unfair divisions.
We have significantly reduced inequality thanks to our social programs, especially the 500 Plus (monthly child benefit program – PAP).
Our constitution states that we live in a social market economy, a social not anti-social one. But what was the unfortunate practice of the first twenty-five years of post-communist Poland? Arguably, the social market economy has been thriving and bearing fruit in Poland only for the past two years. But a social market economy also means dialogue and cooperation with social partners, with social partners such as trade unions or employer organizations.
Therefore, I want to stress that the Social Dialogue Council (a trilateral negotiation body comprising trade unions, employers and the government – PAP) will be the place for joint preparation of key solutions that will help us preserve a healthy economic and social balance.
The Polish countryside and the farming sector, is yet another policy area we will be concentrating on. The Polish countryside and Polish agriculture are a treasure, not just for us, but for the whole of Europe. Our government will lobby for the adoption of an adequate budget under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy. A budget that ensures unified conditions of competition for Polish farmers and brings direct payments to the EU average. But there are also more immediate challenges.
There is an abbreviation, ASF, which may be somewhat enigmatic to many people here, but for farmers, breeders, for the countryside, it stands for something very important. Namely African Swine Fever, which poses a grave threat to the breeding of domestic pigs. It is a disease which has come from the east, causing devastation in central Europe and it has already crossed the line of the Vistula river. So, we will be strengthening our protective measures, introducing procedures to limit the spread of ASF and to combat it.
We are also going to protect Polish land, support the modernization of farms and facilitate rural entrepreneurship. Polish farm products are a symbol of quality around the globe. We must make sure that they reach tables in Europe and worldwide under Polish brands.
In addition, we plan to develop the countryside by expanding its infrastructure. This means the classic amenities such as water-supply systems and transport. But equally, we seek to supply high-speed internet to every Polish commune and school. Also, to build more nurseries, renovate schools and make sure cultural institutions teem with life. The communal centers of culture ought to function as attractive meeting places, hubs of rural and urban life.
We have already embarked upon a program of restoring police stations, which were closed a few years ago. We are restoring those police stations in smaller localities, which are so sorely missed today, because everyone has a right to feel safe in their locality.
We must stop the winding down of the State.
The security of our country, of our compatriots, has been and will remain a priority for the Law and Justice government. Thanks to the policies of our cabinet so far, more than 90 percent of Poles consider Poland a safe place to live. I would also like to give my assurances to all the soldiers, policemen, firefighters, guards, officers – who are brave and courageous people – that they can count on the State, because they are its sword and shield. And I heartily thank them all.
Now let me turn to the issue of housing, a fundamental issue. We are last but one in Europe for the number of homes compared to the number of citizens. We’ve been lacking three to four million housing units and they are still lacking.
Yes, I do remember, I really do. You laughed then and you can laugh now if you want… As you did years ago… But please, this is no laughing matter. This concerns young people’s lives.
No, there’s nothing to laugh about, these homes are really needed. “Boys, now, stop this fatal game! Play and pain are not the same” (a quotation from a fable by Polish 18th century writer, Ignacy Krasicki, as translated by Louise Wedrychowska – PAP). This is pain suffered by many millions of young Poles. Help us build these homes as we are now catching up with the delays, that have accumulated over the past 70 years, and of course it’s not easy. It’s not easy, but this snowball has already moved and in a few quarters, we’ll be completing the first affordable apartments, the first economically-built apartments. This program covering the next 10 years is a flagship program for Poland’s government.
There was a minister for construction from the Centre Agreement (a party active in the 1990s, founded by the current ruling party leader, Jarosław Kaczynski – PAP), Adam Głapinski, who, speaking from this podium, suggested such a program in 1991. The Centre Agreement party took note of the problem over twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the current law does not prevent housing investments being made in an open field, investments cut off from transport, schools and kindergartens and even the basic technical infrastructure. Such flats, which were supposed to be dream homes, quickly become a nightmare. We cannot allow such situations, as seen on a Warsaw housing estate, where the water supply stopped one day because estates built closer started taking away water from those located farther away. We deserve to have our cities and towns arranged as a coherent whole, to have efficient public transport close to every home, to have schools and kindergartens built where new housing estates appear. That’s why we will suggest a package of benefits for those local governments that show concern for spatial order and aesthetics.
Finally, “beauty will save the world” said Robert Scruton, the winner of a medal at the Poland – A Great Project Congress. That’s why next year we’ll launch the Institute of Urban Planning and Architecture. We need to pass on to our children and grandchildren, a Poland that is well-kept and arranged in an aesthetic fashion. Because we must not neglect the science of beauty.
Another of our fields of activity is a policy of zero tolerance for violence and of equal opportunities for women. The State is truly strong if it can protect its vulnerable members. So, I declare firmly: the Polish government will not accept violence, nor give the slightest consent to violence.
My life has progressed in such a way that – together with my wife, who supports me and does so with patience – we are in frequent contact with children’s homes, one such institution in particular. I have seen for myself the harm that is suffered by children, often by their mothers, as well. I have seen the suffering of maltreated children and they must not be left to themselves, we must not bury our heads in the sand. Of course, taking children away from parents, because of poverty is a crime, but leaving kids at the mercy of violence is also a crime. Period. It is not acceptable that a maltreated woman should be forced to flee her own home together with her children.
We will improve procedures which ensure that the justice system protects victims of domestic and workplace violence. A deep change must occur – it is not acceptable that the victim should go through meeting their oppressor of several years in the courtroom, because of the slow judicial process. This is a fight against a pathological social phenomenon. This pathological phenomenon, has nothing in common with Polish tradition. In fact, respect for women is deeply ingrained in our Polish tradition and culture.
Ensuring equal opportunities for women and men is not just our legal duty, but also an expression of solidarity. This solidarity ought to be reflected, for example, in equal pay and equal access to management positions. Although today – according to The Economist magazine – Poland ranks fifth among the most women-friendly countries – I know Polish women are still coming up against a glass ceiling. I am aware of this partly because I must combine work with family duties daily.
What is more, such key events as pregnancy and childbirth must take place in the context of attentive care. So, we are going to develop such standards of care – pregnancy-related care – which will effectively safeguard the life and health of both the mother and her child, as well as alleviate pain during childbirth. Every woman deserves to give birth in dignified conditions.
The role of a mother and the situation of women is different and often more difficult than in the case of men. In a reasonable way, we must help our ladies – our wives, sisters, daughters and mothers – both in the workplace and in everyday life. And when it comes to maltreatment, rape, oppression and injustice, will not be accepted it in any way, shape or form. The state must wield a very heavy hand in this matter.
“Accessible Poland” is yet another field of our activity. The maturity of a State is reflected in the way it treats and takes care of its weakest citizens. Our great task is to create a Poland, that is truly friendly towards its senior and disabled citizens. Today many people with disabilities still can’t fully participate in social and professional life. We will continue to help senior citizens and pensioners in various ways. That’s why we’re going to start a great project that we call “Accessible Poland.” It’s a project for the next few years and it’s designed to remove infrastructural and legal barriers, that prevent the full integration of the whole of Polish society.
My wish is that an older person does not think of going to the shop, as an expedition or a 3000-metre steeplechase. I also think this program will let us meet the goal of a State that serves all its citizens, as presented here a few days ago by the President.
It’s true that the young run faster, but it’s the old who know the way better. Respect for the elderly, will help us make full use of their experience and involve them in our everyday life.
Europe is of course another key activity area. We’re at a turning point of the European project and the whole global economy. A strong, competitive Europe that observes the principle of solidarity is part of the Polish modern concept. When the crisis struck the European and global economies ten years ago, several authorities fell off their chairs. Myths were dispelled that capital has no nationality, that inequality is good, that industry is a 19th or 20th century anachronism, or that no-one needs the State any more.
Europe is still recovering from that crisis. It is looking for new ways, new ideas. Now the fate of the European project is at stake. We don’t want a two-speed EU. We don’t want a return to divisions and leaving some people behind. We don’t agree with dividing the EU into better and worse members.
However, it is more and more frequent that in the EU someone gains the upper hand, and it’s not the weaker but the stronger one, and that’s not right. Our beloved Europe! “The Polish piece” fits the European jigsaw perfectly, but it shouldn’t be placed from the wrong side or pushed by force. This will destroy both the whole picture and our piece.
The refugee relocation policy has not been successful. New solutions are needed and we want to take part in this debate. Europe also needs a return to real values. Every day we hear the mantra of European values, which are sometimes not even named, as increasingly they often become the contradiction of their own past versions, contradicting nature or traditional values.
The Republic of Poland has one of Europe’s most magnificent histories. One of the strongest traditions of tolerance and democracy. Countries whose parliaments have been in existence for as many centuries as the Sejm of the Republic of Poland can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Countries in which an equally large part of society was able to enjoy freedom over so many centuries can be counted on the fingers of the same hand.
The Republic was one of the first in the world to introduce voting rights for women, but our contribution to united Europe is more than just our precious values and traditions. Anglo-Saxon capitalism is evidently coping poorly with inequality, and French and Italian capitalism does not seem to be handling competitiveness too well.
In the new Polish economic and social model we are showing Europe how to com-bine social solidarity with dynamic economic growth.
It was we, who brought the issue of combatting tax havens onto the European agenda. It is Poland which is today striving for the completion of the single market and the guarantee of a fully free flow of trade and service. It was we and our successful battle with the “VAT carousels” that sparked off the European debate on the subject. And Europe suffers an estimated 160 billion EUR annually in VAT losses, which is more than the European budget!
Our forests are our treasure. Foresters understand this best, and know how best to tend to them. For this, I thank them wholeheartedly. Their work in the Bialowieża Forest was aimed at its protection. We want to believe that the EU’s institutions also had the concern for nature as their objective. I want to believe this.
However, because we respect the rulings of the European Court of Justice, we will comply with its verdict.
The European Union should nurture that which has made it a great project and a great success – a Europe of nations. Rich in their diversity, based on dialogue, mutual respect and co-operation. Today, Poland wants to be an advocate of “good change,” and we want to participate actively in the decision-making processes in Europe.
I would now like to pass to the broader context of our foreign policy. Our foreign policy is based on Poland’s raison d’etre. Today, a weapon in the contemporary world’s battles are decisions by regulators, decisions by regulators which can often decide the fate of entire sectors.
A single rule can sometimes cause bigger losses, than the gains we achieved from privatization, or the one-time sell-off, of our companies. Victory, in such battles is not decided only by the numbers of troops, but also by “soft power.” We must build it in the same way our western neighbors did, professionally and efficiently, also by the means of historical truth.
Over the past two years we have considerably increased Poland’s security. The implementation of decisions made at the Warsaw NATO summit, the presence of allied and US troops in Poland and the development of our military infrastructure are all clear signals that Poland can count on the support of her allies.
Now, we are striving to achieve possibly the most far-reaching harmonization between NATO and the EU. It was with this in mind that we backed the preparation of a Warsaw declaration of cooperation between the EU and the Alliance. And with the same in mind, we joined the Permanent Structural Cooperation in the field of defense. NATO is and will remain the mainstay of our security, and the United States our main ally.
We will also use the huge potential inherent in supplying weaponry, to our armed forces, to strengthen domestic industry. The armed forces and defense policy must contribute to the transfer of high-tech solutions to Poland and their application. We will continue to consolidate our policy with countries in our region.
This is especially relevant to the Visegrad Group and the Three Seas project. We would also like to return to a true strategic partnership in the East. We plan to strengthen our relations with Ukraine, Lithuania and Georgia, and give those relations a new quality. Although it takes two to tango.
As for non-European policy, we especially want to strengthen our economic interests in Asia and Southeast Asia, where our trade needs to become more equal.
The Middle East and Africa, are also new directions in Polish foreign policy. An integral element of our government’s foreign policy will be close cooperation with Polish diasporas. This will be visible, both in steps undertaken to guard the interests of Polish citizens abroad, and in undertakings to defend Poland’s good name.
Poland is not only to the citizens of the Republic who live in Poland. It also encompasses those who are scattered across the world, who hopefully will return in as big numbers as possible. To this end, we will be stepping up our repatriation programs. There are 60 million of us, around the globe and we have duties towards all the Poles. And they, in turn, have duties towards Poland.
Other countries are benefiting from our greatest treasure, namely our citizens – our bricklayers, engineers, plumbers, teachers, doctors and computer scientists. We do not want it that way, do we? We want to work for all of them. For you.
I believe that whatever you are looking for in the West, you can find in Poland. You can be happy here, you can be safe here. You can earn more and more and have important jobs. From this dispatch box, I would like to invite you to join us in building a modern, strong and rich Poland together.
The current generation of Polish expatriates is living in accordance with the idea that the Motherland is where we feel good.
For the sake of our future, it is important that a different principle prevails, namely that we feel good in the Motherland!
But “feeling good” cannot just mean material affluence. It also entails an aesthetically pleasing environment, security, mutual warmth, spiritual values, the values of culture, as well as a fair, efficient and just judicial system.
So the goal of our government will be to encourage as many foreign-based Polish citizens as possible – from Kazakhstan as well as London – to return to the Motherland. “Die Sonne” does not shine in the same way as “słońce” (Polish for sun – PAP).
President Lech Kaczynski saw central Europe as a source of strength for Poland. Only a Poland which pursues its own regional policy, is allied with the US and open to all the states of central Europe, can be an important member of the European Union and a major player in international relations.
President Kaczynski also believed that Poland must set ambitious goals for itself, such as, for example, joining G20, being one of the key architects of the EU, a pillar of NATO and a leader of the Three Seas region (between the Black, Adriatic and Baltic Seas – PAP).
Honorable Chamber, I want to leave you with some concluding thoughts. My father is present here today. It is a very personal and moving experience for me. It was he, who taught me that our fellow man, freedom, solidarity and justice are the most important values. I thank you for instilling these values in me.
I would also like to thank my mother. The silent hero, of the Solidarity movement and the hero of my everyday life. A long time ago, when the communist security service interrogated me – several dozen times – nothing, not even threats, or attempts at blackmail or any other unpleasant things – touched me as much as threats against my nearest and dearest.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Chamber, Christmas Eve will be here in two weeks. As every year, Poles will share the Christmas wafer, sit at tables, finding joy in the birth of Christ. Let the Christmas table not become a barrier. Let it be a place that brings people together rather than divides them. Poland, is our common good, regardless of our political or social differences. This is my wish for all MPs, and especially the opposition MPs.
December 2017, can be said to be the Eve of Poland’s 100th Independence Anniversary. Let’s enter it with the hope for agreement and solidarity, remembering that without co-operation we would not currently be living in a free Poland. We can and should argue. Arguments yes, but not war!
Those who were building a single nation 100 years ago, had to overcome much bigger problems. Poland, was probably the only country where traffic drove on both the left and right-hand sides. On a journey from Krakow to Warsaw, you had to go initially on one side, then on the other, but an agreement was reached in the name of compromise. Can we reach such an agreement today? I believe we can. I believe we can afford agreement and compromise, just like our ancestors could a hundred years ago!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Deputies, Our program is to build a Poland that is proud of its strong economy, a Poland of financially secure families, a Poland that is admired and recognized by others, a Poland where the fruits of its growth are shared in a fair way.
We will meet these global challenges, if we become a community. Especially, in the context of the Centenary of our Independence celebrations, we need to rediscover our common ground and cool down political disputes. Poland used to be divided be-tween the Whites and the Reds (communists – PAP), but we, the Poles, are neither only white nor only red. We’ve never been only white or only red. The time has come to reject those deadly divisions. We’re white and red, all Poles are a white and red team.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We are being observed by 40 generations of Poles. This is a great responsibility. Let’s re-adhere Poland together, let’s unite it. Let’s rebuild it together. This will only be possible with you, our countrymen.
John Paul II used to say that freedom is not given to us as a gift, but as a task, and the same goes for Poland. If we’re lucky enough to have a free and independent Poland today, it is first and foremost our great task and duty to protect Poland. Everyone has a dream, a goal, something that inspires them to act. I would like to pursue this dream together with you.
Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński (a young Polish poet who was killed in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising – PAP) cried: “This way or that, Poland, free as a bird, will fly from our very arms;” and let me add: a Poland that cherishes solidarity, as it does love – a Poland that is just and fair, for the benefit of all of us and future generations and to the glory of God!
Thank you very much.”