Archive for June, 2003

Presidents’ visits to Poland

Sunday, June 1st, 2003

The months of May and June were rich in interesting and important events for Poland. Intense international discussions on the situation on the Iraqi front, final phase of the European integration, and numerous travels of important and less important international leaders – these were the topics that did not leave the front pages of newspapers, small cafes, and even household kitchens.
In Poland, special significance was given to the international visit of President George Bush in Krakow. About its causes and results many things were said and written already. That is why it is important to look at this visit in historical context and remember other visits of United States presidents to Poland.
The present resident of the White House is the 43rd President of the United States, has already been a guest in Poland twice. The record was set by his father, Bush Sr., who before taking office, during his presidency, and after his presidential term visited Poland all together seven times.
But the first president who traveled to our country was Richard Nixon. He did this in May/June of 1972. He returned again to Warsaw as a former president in February of 1993. He was interested in the existing situation in Poland and its neighboring countries. Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka welcomed him. Year later, Richard Nixon passed away.
Toward the end of July 1975, we welcomed Gerald Ford, and two years later, in December of 1977 – Jimmy Carter. Both were on official visits, but spent only about 48 hours in Poland.
In July of 1990, Ronald Regan traveled privately to Warsaw and Gdansk. By the sea, he met with Lech Walesa and in the capital, with Wojciech Jaruzelski. Gdansk showed it appreciation by naming the former president an honorary citizen of the city in 2001; the title was awarded for his support in the Polish struggle toward democracy and for his “historical role in taking down of iron curtain”.
George Bush Sr. for the first time visited Poland as a vice president in October of 1987, and next as a president in April and July of 1989. He stayed in Warsaw and Gdansk and gave a speech for the National Body. In July of 1992, also as a president of USA, he participated in a ceremony of lying to rest the remains of Ignacy Paderewski at St. John’s Cathedral. Remaining visits were as a former president: 1995 – Krakow, private visit; 1997 – Gdansk, the city’s 1000th Anniversary per invitation from Lech Walesa; 1999 – Warsaw, private visit per invitation of Vice-prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz. At that time, George Bush called Lech Walesa “electrician who was brave enough to start the light in the darkness of communism”. Thanks to his support for Poland, the Paris Club decided to forgive about $33 billion of Polish loans.
Bill Clinton was the fifth US President, who traveled to Poland. The first time in 1994, Lech Walesa invited him to Warsaw. The American leader stated at the Parliamentary Forum that Poland would be one of the first countries to enter NATO because of its many reforms. During his second visit in 1997, he officially invited our county to join NATO while standing on the Royal grounds in Warsaw. Clinton’s third stay in Poland, as a now a former president, was for personal reasons and significant for his presentation on  “Globalization of World’s Economy”. It is important to note that all (230) of the paid tickets for this even were sold, each at the cost of 6,000 zlotych.
The current president of the United States came to Poland the first time in 2001. With his speech at the University Library in Warsaw, he received applause from the gathered crowd. The latest visit of Bush Jr. to Poland was very mush publicized to the whole world, as the President was underlining the importance of Poland as a solid partner of the US.
The most important fact in all of this is that recently many positives are being said and written about our Country.

jk
Translated by Monika Glazar

Forum, 6/2003

MUSEUM PROGRESS REPORT

Sunday, June 1st, 2003

Thanks to the generous contributions of members of the Cultural Center and a much discounted price by Jaenette Brzoska we have been able to purchase the building that will house the museum. Now comes the hard work to renovate the building and convert it to function as a museum.
Our plans are to have separate rooms for displays of art and sculpture, Polish folklore, military memorabilia, and a history of Polish emigrants in Cleveland. A separate area will be set aside to display works of local artists and visiting exhibits.  The museum will also house a Polish library and a reading room.
We have assembled a group of experts to advise us on the designs for the future museum. There will be a committee to supervise the operation of the museum and we are looking into partnering with other Polish museums. Much needs to be done before the museum becomes a reality. However, the job will be done with the help of those willing to participate in this worthwhile project.
We welcome your suggestions, your involvement and above all your financial help. The cost of the renovation and operation of the museum will have to borne by the contributions from our members and friends. We encourage all Polonians to participate.
The contributions for the museum should be made to the Polish American Cultural Center – Museum. A separate account is designated and maintained for the specific needs of the museum. Thank you.

Forum, 6/2003

POLAND IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

Sunday, June 1st, 2003

On June 7th and 8th the people of Poland voted to join the European Union.  The Polish press announcing the results, proclaimed “  We are now citizens of the Republic and of Europe!  The real winners of this election are the Polish people and our nation.”  President Kwasniewski in his speech after the announcement of the referendum’s results declared:  “…Today, we can say with one voice, we have returned!  Our country and our people have come back to the great European family.  We return to the place we belong, not only because of a thousand years of history, but also because of the bravery and the struggle of our people in the face of incredible challenges presented to us over the past few years that changed the face of our nation and indeed the face of this continent.”
In his remarks, President Kwasniewski expressed gratitude to the Holy Father – “…a man who nurtured this dream and goal for many years”. The President said “John Paul II, our great countryman, was always with us seeing us through.”
We sincerely wish Poland and all Poles success in taking their rightful place among the nations of Europe, a place Poland richly deserves because of its history and its many contributions to the culture of Europe.

Stanisław Kwiatkowski
Translated by Zofia Wisniewski

Forum, 6/2003