Poland wants to listen to and understand African states

Address by President Andrzej Duda at the African Union forum in Addis Ababa.

Distinguished Mr Chairman,

Distinguished Delegates,

Honourable Ambassadors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your invitation, your hospitality and your friendly welcome to Addis Ababa. I am pleased and grateful for this opportunity to address, as the first incumbent Polish President, the African Union – an organization representing over one billion people, the establishment of which was and continues to be an expression of strength of the pan-African idea, a strength to overcome conflicts for the sake of dialogue and cooperation.

I can see the depth of symbolism standing here before you at the plenary forum of the African Union.  My presence in Addis Ababa is the result of Poland showing interest in more than just its immediate neighbourhood. Poland is also ready to conduct dialogue and to cooperate with the world which might be more distant, but which is not at all foreign to us. Many of your countries maintain frequent, close and direct contacts with Poland. For a number of years your youth – students – were coming to Poland for educational reasons. Our engineers and doctors were coming to your countries to help foster the development and protection of health.

And let us not forget about services rendered to us by our African friends from Uganda, Kenya, today`s Tanzania, the Republic of South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe who received on their soil thousands of my compatriots fleeing from Poland in the period 1942 – 1943, when my country was at the epicenter of the Second World War. Over that time friendships were formed, marriages were entered into and the rich legacy of cooperation accumulated. Mindful of our historically friendly relations, both from the more distant and recent past, we wish to look into the future by giving a new momentum to our cooperation.  This constitutes a huge shared capital, since I firmly believe in close people-to-people contacts. For they are the essence of international politics.

It is also symbolic that I am addressing you on the Day of Europe, also referred to as the Day of the European Union. On the one hand,it symbolizes the end of the most tragic conflict in the contemporary history of the world – the Second World War. But first of all, this is the day when the so called Schuman Plan was conceived. That plan later became the symbol of the restauration of the European unity, both in the purely practical sense, but also in the metaphysical one – understood as the reinvention of ideas, values and observed norms. I am saying this as a representative of the country which achieved success becoming, after many years of isolation behind the iron curtain, part of the European unity and integration. I believe that this is something we have in common: both continents – Europe and Africa – know that a world dominated by conflicts and wars is a world devoid of the future and development – a world evil by nature. We also know that a world built on cooperation, founded upon respect for mutual subjectivity, is a world which guarantees stability and development. Poland is successful thanks to the European unity. Therefore we are defending this unity, and opposing the plans of divisions, hierarchies and exclusion. I am convinced that the African Union will also prove to be the source of success for your countries, through cooperation and stabilization. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

On my way to this room I walked past the monument to the former  president of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah, who right here, in Addis Ababa, speaking at the first, historic conference of the Organization of African Unity, held also in May, 54 years ago, uttered words which today are carved into a plaque nearby: “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God. Africa Must Unite!”. I think that the existence of an organization which today unites all African states is the fulfillment of the vision and dreams: his and those of other authors standing behind the idea of African unity.

To ensure the effectiveness of that vision,one needs to adapt it to the currently dynamic conditions and the complex situation in the international arena. It is necessary in order to be successful on the path to integration. Agenda 2063isthe 2013 plan for the social and economic transformation on the African continent, spanning the next 50 years.To my mind, it expresses the belief of the African Union and its member states that such a long-term, strategic planning is necessary.

I am also closely following theAfrican Peace and Security Architecture(APSA), as a comprehensive concept framing the African Union`s actions in the fields of security and peace policy. Efforts to conduct internal reforms within the African Union itself clearly prove that the project is alive and dynamic in nature. And the willingness to further improve it, is aimed at finding response to the needs of all member states and their people. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The significance and activeness of the African Union for the sake of keeping peace and security in Africa cannot be overestimated. You are undertaking initiatives in a number of the most explosive regions across the continent, by cooperating with the United Nations Organization in joint peace-keeping operations. I am well aware of the degree of importance, sacrifice and danger involved in the peace-keeping missions served by soldiers from your countries.  I feel deep respect for their daily dedication and that of their families. I also know how much hard work it requires from the politicians, diplomats and officials from across the continent.

Still, the African Union means so much more than that: it involves, among others, political, economic, scientific, social and human rights cooperation. It requires coordination of actions to ensure a comprehensive and realistic improvement of the living conditions and perspectives for all inhabitants of Africa:  from Tunisia to the Republic of South Africa, from Cape Verde to Mauritius.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

This visit to Ethiopia made me realize what immense amount of energy and the will for action the African people have.Using this vast potential in a creative, constructive and just way constitutes, in my opinion,one of the greatest challenges  currently faced by the African Union and all the member states.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me assure you of one thing:  you have allies and friends outside Africa. One of them is my country – the Republic of Poland. We can see the potential of the African continent: we have had a long-standing presence in a number of countries, such as: Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, the Republic of South Africa, to name but a few. We are developing our activities on the African continent: last year we opened our diplomatic representation in Senegal. Right now, we are re-engaging with our diplomatic presence in Tanzania. We are developing political contacts, as proved by our regular presence at the African Union summits. We are involved in the economic cooperation and are funding developmental projects, including the GoAfrica programme. African countries account for fifty percent of the priority partners covered by our developmental cooperation programme. We are open to friendly and partnership-based cooperation by offering our vast experience in areas such as the economic transformation. We want to invest in Africa and not exploit it.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Poland is the biggest country in Central-Eastern Europe. We are an experienced nation who, just like the African people from all over the continent, had to secure its independence through armed struggle. Therefore, I approach with great respect the efforts aimed at looking for and promoting your own, African solutions to African problems. It is You – representatives of the proud states and nations of this continent who not only can, but also should present to the international community Your opinions on all sorts of challenges faced by Africa and the world, as well put forward proposals on how to solve them. I am convinced that thanks to the African Union, the voice of Africa is and will be better heard.  


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today I am standing before you in my capacity as President of the Republic of Poland – a country bidding for a non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in the period 2018-2019. Taking into consideration the current state of international relations, it seems certain that the  security of the world today should be understood in a complex and all-round way. It goes beyond the Armed Forces and the factor of the military power. It also covers issues beyond the regular agenda of the Security Council,starting from the changes in natural environment: deforestation, access to drinking water: conflicts centred on natural resources, economic disparities (abuse, unfair trade), and ending with healthcare. These issues should also become a regular item on the agenda of UN Security Council. Nowadays, international community’s capability to prevent conflicts is seen as an important feature. This cannot be attained without the appropriate diagnosis of the sources of such conflicts.

There is one and indivisible security. Failure to achieve such security may result in massive migrations and exile, the problem which is now shared by Europe and Africa alike. That is why it is incumbent on international community to eliminate root causes of seeking refuge and to restore to each man the right to live in his own home country. There are no conflicts without reasons, therefore there are no conflicts which cannot be terminated.

Moreover, it is our obligation to engage in cooperation to permanently eliminate any criminal procedures committed by the people who want to prey on the refugee tragedy in a most inhuman way. We cannot turn a blind eye to blood-stained money which circulates across the world.

That is why I wish to assure you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that as a member of this body Poland would listen carefully to the voices of all like-minded partners who share our belief in the fundamental importance of principles enshrined in the UN Charter, which are pivotal for the world peace and security. Poland would like to take heed of and to show understanding to the voices and views coming from African states, from the members of the African Union.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I myself and my compatriots view security, in the broad sense of the word, through the prism of three values that I trust – is shared by you as well. The first of them in FREEDOM: personal freedom, the dignity of the human person and inviolability of his/her life, as well as freedom of conscience and of religion.

It was back in history that a motto was coined in Poland: “For our freedom and for yours” whose permutations can be heard world-wide. It is due to FREEDOM understood in such way that Poland never was a colonizing state and never had any dependent territories in Africa or in any other place in the world. It is due to freedom understood in such a way that Poland`s foreign policy was always directed towards assistance and support of those who stand up for their right of self-determination, the right to establish democratic government and to secure respect of human rights.

The second foundation on which rests our view of the world is SOLIDARITY. This concept is very close to the Poles who -carried by the social movement bearing this name – achieved a peaceful political transformation some 30 years ago, rejecting a system based on lies, exploitation and enslavement. The permanent foundation for Polish solidarity was broadly shared sensitivity to ill-will suffered by the others, and respect for every human being, regardless of his/her origin and social status.

Solidarity is therefore understood as the need to involve all citizens - women, men, children - in sustainable development so that they can equally benefit from the opportunities that the world of today gives them.

On the other hand, SOLIDARITY, in international terms, consists in humanitarian and development aid in areas affected by economic crises, armed conflicts or natural disasters. The previously mentioned migration flows, which the international community must now face, reminds us about it. SOLIDARITY is after all a responsibility. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The third pillar and a safeguard of security is the ABSOLUTE PRIMACY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW in inter-state relations. We would like to pave the way for cooperation with a view of building international order, founded on political sovereignty and territorial integrity in the first place. Each instance of violation of these rules, each act of aggression in violation of international commitments undermines mutual confidence. 

At the session of UN General Assembly I called for the establishment of a world which will be guided by the “force of law” and not the “law of the force”. These words will continue to inspire us in all actions taken in the whole UN forum, as well as in the UN Security Council, provided we should be elected.

It is not a coincidence that the motto adopted for our campaign is: Solidarity-Responsibility-Commitment. These are the values that we wish to promote and include also in the proceedings of the Security Council.  Here we are led by our conviction that only through a joint and several, solidarity based responsibility and harmonious cooperation among all states shall we be able to secure to future generations sustainable growth, security and peace.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I started my address with a quote from President Nkrumah, son of the Ghanaian soil, and I will conclude with one of Nelson Mandela: "Although we are so different, we are unity." In the world of today, it is much easier to build bridges between continents and countries, provided that there is good will. Geographical distances do not matter so much anymore. Peoples’ mutual attitudes: of openness, commitment, solidarity, are capable of overcoming distances.  And so I have come to you: as an engineer who builds people-to-people bridges, one more engineer from Poland coming to Africa. I would like us to jointly pave the way for success: economic, political and social one.

Once again, I would like to thank you for such a warm hospitality. It is my profound conviction and hope that we shall continue our dialogue based on freedom, solidarity, openness and commitment. 

Thank you for your attention.

Source: President.pl