The Sejm, December 12, 2017
Mateusz Morawiecki - the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland
Mr President, Mr Speaker, Honourable Deputies, Dear Compatriots,
At the very beginning, I would like to thank Mrs Prime Minister Beata Szydło for years of our joint hard work. Mrs Prime Minister, you are and you will remain the symbol of solidarity revolution, which restored dignity in everyday life of millions of Polish families. I thank you on behalf of the whole government for your titanic efforts, for your sensitivity and constant faith in the sense of restoration of the Republic of Poland.
I am also very happy that we will continue to work together for Poland. These two years were good for Poland and for Polish citizens. We have got used to effective implementation of good change in Poland and I would like to ensure that our government will continue this work without reprieve. Mrs Prime Minister – thank you once again.
The government of which I am becoming the Head is the same, so are our roadmaps, values and the direction of activity – it is therefore a government of continuation, which will implement its policy to support Polish families. Development and social affairs are the same thing. Thriving economy is a precondition for generous social policy. As it is now. That is why we will pursue our social programmes and we will even reinforce and develop them.
The guiding thought that leads me in everything I do, my main concept and motto, is a sentence of Wyspiański: “Poland is a great thing.” Indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, Poland is a great thing. Indeed, Poland is our primary good, and last week, Mr President entrusted me with a mission to lead the government. It was a great honour for me. Poland is a proud country with tremendous achievements. It is a country that did not bow to the tyranny of absolutism, Germanisation, Russification, Nazism and communism. It is a country that stood up to the Holocaust and avoided religious wars. It is a country that reborn after over 100 years, it is a country where “Solidarity” was born.
My desire is that the government of United Right is the government of a united Poland, as the government and the prime minister have to serve the entire country, our entire motherland, and to each and every citizen of the Republic of Poland. There is room for everyone. There is only one Poland. The Republic of Poland is our common good. A common good of all citizens. This deep community dimension is inherently rooted in our tradition. Linked to the help for deportees. “Żegota,” an organisation helping our Jewish brothers, or “Solidarity” – these are the genuine evidence for what “Polishness” and community are.
Strengthening our identity, our great national heritage, is our commitment towards those who built our Republic through their work and blood through the centuries. But it is also our obligation towards future generations, which should inherit this gift from us. This gift is our Polish culture, values, our development path, our desire from freedom and truth. We cannot give up our identity.
In this context, it is worth recalling the vote of the Chamber held several years ago, when 90% of the Deputies voted for accession to the European Union, but also for declaration on the autonomous nature of Poland in the scope of morality and culture. Over 90% of the deputies voted for that.
The world should learn more about our contribution to the fight for freedom and justice. Our fight for the most important values of the Western civilisation. The history of opposing the evil. “Do not give up your freedom of thought for any price,” as said the author of the “Solidarity” anthem. Our history is one of the most inspiring histories from across the globe. It was written by great heroes, whom our President told here about several days ago. However, Mr President told also about the need to restore the memory of forgotten persons and places that relate to the history of fight for the free Poland. We intend to do so, because the story of the work and fight for Poland is also the story of common, yet extraordinary people. People, who – faced with dramatic events – displayed their unwavering spirit, courage and bravery. Among those people there are hundreds of thousands of Poles who rescued Jews during the second Apocalypse, students of lower-secondary schools combating the communists in the year 1920 or thousands of nameless printers fighting communism during the period of martial law. Among them is also Danuta Siedzikówna “Inka” and Hieronim Dekutowski “Zapora”, whose remnants at Łączka were being uncovered i.a. by my children. Among those people are also the recently departed Ryszard Kowalczyk, Anna Walentynowicz, my friend Andrzej Kołodziej, who is here with us on the gallery today and who – as a 20-year old young man – organised and kept alive the strike action in the Paris Commune shipyard during the memorable August of 1980. Among them is also my aunt Wacława – here on the gallery as well – who held Marian Senger “Cichy”, one of the youths who participated in the successful assassination attempt on Franz Kutschera, the buther of Warsaw, as he died. They are the people of our freedom, and we owe our freedom to them. Grateful for what they have done for us, we look to the future and – gazing at our holiest place, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – take over their fire and carry it towards better tomorrow.
There is nothing more important for me than rebuilding that which we have lost due to partitions of Poland, due to wars and due to communism. Now, we hold a unique chance in our hands and we cannot allow it to go to waste. That is why the Polish policy needs to be ambitious. Drifting or going with the flow is not in our DNA. The government is not meant to focus just on administration – it is meant to govern, and I understand governance as the need to set our ambitious goals. We have to unite, unite more fully. We need to convince each other, not overcome each other. Convince, not overcome. Have we already forgotten the words of our own national anthem? “When, with a backsword in hand, »Concord« will be everybody's watchword”. We are not and will never be the government of ideological extremities. We are far removed from neoliberalism and similarly far removed from socialism. Not only because such dogmatism simply does not work. But especially because it is far better to unite than to divide. To combine competition with cooperation. To combine the global dimension with the local dimension. Also, to acquaint Europe with our point of view, from the perspective of our interests. To combine state governance and management pragmatics with the free market – there is no contradiction here. And, well, to combine law with justice. This is also very important.
From this place I would like to promise you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that our government will be very ambitious in changing Poland for the better. For this, we need i.a. to establish the Centre of Strategic Analyses. We have to learn how to draft coherent laws and how to take decisions subordinate to long-term development strategies. It is also not always the case that the more laws, the more legal acts, the better – quite often the opposite is true. In the course of the last 25 years more legal provisions were introduced every year. We will try to stem this tide.
State rejoins the game for real. Resourceful entrepreneurs will now be supported by a resourceful State. It was the State that laid foundations for the success of the American Silicon Valley, the Israeli innovativeness or the Korean or German industry. It is important to find the perfect balance between a minimal State, which abandons its citizens, which was frequently the case in our recent past, and lumbering bureaucratic State. We do not want either of them.
We want to carry out great modernisation of Poland. I firmly believe that our national sovereignty and tradition will be our strength in these modernisation endeavours. An advantage, and not a burden, as some tried to convince us. And behind this concept there is a diagnosis that in today’s Europe, it is precisely the struggle of interests that plays a pivotal role and we can see exactly this struggle and want to use our national sovereignty and tradition as an advantage in the fight for our national interests.
For all that, we are witnessing a technological revolution taking place, which means – can mean, will mean – a new “shuffle of the cards” in the world economy. This new shuffle should be taking place with the participation of Poland. This is the first industrial revolution in which Poland may play a major role, and even in some areas, the role of the leader. It is today’s economic policy that shall decide whether in 10 years Poland will be a producer of high technologies, or just an export market for foreign firms. We haven’t been wasting time in the last two years. Poland is the first country in the region to be promoted to a developed economy by FTSE Russell Agency. In 2017, 2/3 of new industrial jobs in the entire European Union were created in Poland. This is why we’ve been called the Europe’s factory. Major companies are building technologically advanced manufacturing plants and R&D centres here. Our government support programme for young technology firms is the largest in this part of Europe. Further development and revival of the industry will be one of the main tasks to be performed in the second half of our term.
We have also managed to accomplish what others thought to be impossible in other areas; e.g. we closed the loopholes in the tax system. Only this year, total VAT receipts increased by PLN 30 billion. It is more than in the last nine years. We managed to accomplish this by fighting tax criminals and breaking VAT mafias. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, we had to restore the gravity of the state, of the institution of the state. VAT is no “cotton swabs”, and VAT mafias are not some woods-dwelling bandits. There’s nothing to fear. This trend, this very positive trend which occurred for the first time in nine years — we intend to uphold it. It is worth noting that at the same time, more than PLN 70 billion went to Polish citizens as part of various social and pro-family programmes. And we will continue and strengthen this social policy. We intend to strengthen it in a number of areas.
We are also regaining control over the strategic sectors of the Polish economy. The four chronic diseases of our social and economic life, and at the same time the signs of our weakness, were poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and civilization backwardness in healthcare. And out of these “Four horsemen of the Apocalypse” – to a great extent thanks to our actions – we can see a significant improvement in the first two areas. There’s less poverty, while unemployment is at its lowest level for 27 years. And we have commenced the cheap housing development project and the repair of the healthcare system. I will discuss these issues more in the further part. But there is also still much to be done in the area of job creation, wage increases and poverty reduction. We will not rest on our laurels, although real earnings have been growing the fastest in 10 years. We will also increase the minimum wage level. Polish policy is stretched out between two false visions. On the one hand, the vision of dependent development, that is 25 years of the Third Polish Republic, which envisages only a peripheral role for Poland. On the other hand, there were voices saying that Poland was to wall itself off from the rest of the world.
We want Poland to be a great country. Poland is part of the Western world. If so, then it needs to have global aspirations and not fear competition. Not fear cooperation.
We therefore need the state and a strong identity to quit playing the peripheral role in contemporary capitalism. This is why one of the key ideas of the development plan is to establish Polish firms as global champions.
However, it is not just about business. Culture or sport is a good example here. We have already got used to the fact that our most talented football players, already as juniors, go to western clubs to the football schools and then play for them and sometimes in their representations. Is this normal? No, in my opinion, it is not normal.
What would be the German representation without Mirosław Klose, our boy from Opole, who scored the most goals in the German representation. Or without Łukasz Podolski, who still feels like a Pole. Luckily, they did not take away Robert from us.
Poles are one of the nations that works most in Europe. We are one of the most hard-working nations. We work around 2000 hours per year. The productivity of work today and the number of hours worked do not determine the economic success. We do not want Poles to work for the longest time, we want them to work effectively for a decent wage. We want them to have more time for their families and their loved ones, therefore we need to shift our Polish capitalism to the western tracks, which is the goal of our development strategy.
Young generations are the guarantee of development, the skills of young Poles are today the driving force behind our innovation, our modernity, and this is their enthusiasm, their curiosity of the world, competing with the best that determine the success.
All our work makes little sense if it does not respond to the needs of young people – for them, for you it is worth changing Poland.
We are creating jobs for you, we are introducing social clauses, we are trying to make salaries higher and the unemployment lower.
I, for one, love to work with young people, because they can present every complicated case in 280 characters. Let us not be naive. A strong economy will not be built by others.
Figures show everything. The share of Polish employees’ wages in Poland is only 46% of our GDP, which is 10% lower than the EU average. We have to work out our original path to the modern economy, if we want – and we want – to make Poles earn more.
Therefore, I would like to focus on the several key areas of development in the coming years, and now I would like to talk about them and then ask MPs for a vote of confidence for our government.
The first most important task is health care. There is no decent life without an efficient healthcare system, so we will lead to a leap increase in healthcare spending to 6% of GDP over next few years. This is an answer to the right demands of patients, medical personnel, doctors and nurses.
This growth is mainly possible thanks to the tightening of tax system and making state institutions actually serve the State.
As was the case this year – additional 4 billions – this year, we have already allocated additional 4 billions to shorten queues for doctors, to purchase the most modern equipment for hospitals, as well as to buy out the commitments of the last 10 years, including those commitments that have grown in the times of previous governments. This is just the beginning.
The two most common causes of Poles’ deaths are cancer and cardiovascular disease. Three quarters of Poles leave this world because of these two types of diseases. Therefore, we need to put more emphasis on the prevention and treatment of these diseases and that is why we will launch two initiatives, which will modernise the Polish healthcare service.
The first one is the construction of the National Institute of Oncology that will not only be the place where cancer is effectively treated, but also where modern research and therapy are conducted.
The second initiative is the National Cardiac Health Programme. Poles played an important role in the development of cardiology, and our intention is to continue specialising in treating heart diseases. Obviously, we would rather Poles did not suffer at all from heart diseases other than perhaps a romantic heart break.
This National Programme – although is it really necessary to start every name with “National”, it might as well be called “Polish” or “State” – will be of key importance to us, but as a parable goes “no man putteth new wine into old bottles” we cannot allow for new money to be spent in an inadequate way and for the system to be ineffective.
Thus, just as we secured the tax system, we intend to conduct a similar operation as regards healthcare. Every zloty invested in health must translate into better quality of life for the Polish people. This will benefit not only patients, but also those who can be seen standing at their bedside day by day.
However, there can be no privatisation of profits and no nationalisation of losses. Public medical equipment is meant to serve common goals, the interests of patients. Therefore, we will focus to a large extent on healthcare digitisation, and, here, we would also like to address physicians, nurses, midwifes, paramedics and all of the healthcare personnel, all of you who work in hospitals and out-patient clinics. I would like to ask you to take part in this transition, this good change, a change whose main aim is to build a modern healthcare system.
Another area of our broad activities will be the environment.
In many Polish regions, and in particular in Małopolska, Śląsk but also in Mazowsze, I saw landscape shrouded in thick, pungent fog and children coming back home from school wearing face masks.
Clean air poses a modern-age challenge. How we deal with this challenge, will show if Poland is in fact a developed country.
The air, water, earth do not belong only to us, they belong also to the future generations, and what we left behind will be our legacy.
Each year, smog is the cause of premature death of 48 thousands of Poles, and the smoke from burning waste in furnaces does not rise in the air. Instead, it fills our lungs and the lungs of our children.
However, we also realise that not everyone can afford cleaner fuel. Therefore, the Anti-smog Programme supports the poorest people who currently cannot afford to heat their homes, to change their windows or doors, who cannot afford good, non-poisonous fuel.
We wish to eliminate this energy poverty and improve the quality of life of all Poles.
I would also like to say thank you to the pioneers of the fight for clean air. To all the NGOs, urban movements which for several years now have being doing some great work.
Here, local governments also play a crucial role. They are in the front line, and good cooperation between the central and local governments will be of key importance. We hope that you and we together will address this issue.
Here, I would also like to mention a socially and economically important issue of the sharing economy. This is a new perception of the environment and of social and economic life from the economic perspective. It marks a shift from focusing on one’s own needs towards a community and common interests. This corresponds to the Christian teaching, to the ethics of “Solidarity”, and, quite surprisingly, to the strategy of the European Commission, which not always is the case, but of which I am very glad.
The benefits of the sharing economy include: higher economic productivity, the said cleaner environment, better use of natural resources, and savings for all of us. Today, technology makes it all possible. I believe that it is technology that is the connecting factor today – also for us here.
Now a few words about energy and energy security. Today, coal is the core of our power generation, we cannot and we do not want to give it up.
It is important not only for Silesia and Zagłębie, but also for Poland in general. We are planning reforms in the long term. At the same time, Śląskie Voivodeship is also becoming a region specialising in new technologies, apart from coal. That is why I was very pleased to hear the social leaders, union leaders from Silesia and Zagłębie underlining that the Voivodeship plan that we had prepared provides for a good and prospective development strategy. However, in view of the future generations, I would like to make sure that also alternative energy sources could be developed in Poland. Not in the name of ideology, but for economically justified reasons and only inasmuch as it brings benefits for the Poles, not costs. We may use natural resources that we have access to due to the location of our country. Law and Justice is a party which has always strived to guarantee the energy security.
This is a condition for our sovereignty. A project which has brought us closer to achieving that aim is the gas terminal in Świnoujście. Its implementation would not have been possible if it had not been for President Lech Kaczyński. This new infrastructure allows us to be less dependent on the imports of Russian gas. For the first time, there is a possibility that after 2022 we will not be dependent on Russia in terms of the gas purchase and price diktat.
We are expanding the gas infrastructure which will allow to make our country the heart of the region. We wish to create a gas hub here, which will supply gas to our neighbours. Another goal for today, which was valid 10 years ago and is still valid, is the construction of gas connections with Norway. Our task for today is to implement these projects and to ensure that Poland is independent in terms of energy, with low CO2 emissions, and this is why we are also very positive about nuclear power. In this speech, I have been highlighting the need to cooperate and unite, and I will highlight it a lot in the future. Energy industry is one of the fields where I hope for a smooth cooperation of the whole Sejm. Polish interests have to be clearly defined and a mutual development policy has to be adopted that will last numerous terms of Sejm.
Now, I would like to move to the topic of infrastructure. We must learn to think not only from the angle of individual aspirations, but also from the angle of collective goals. For 25 years, increasingly better vehicles have appeared on our roads but the roads were increasingly worse and we closed railways. But not only Poland will be such as Poles will be. It is also the other way round. The way we will shape Poland is the way it will shape us, our children, grandchildren. In the long-term perspective, only these communities whose members can better link their private objectives with a common good have a chance of winning and contributing to the treasury of humankind.
International success is not mainly an individual experience, with a possible exception of sportsmen or artists. International success is the experience at the collective level, at national and state community level. Therefore, we focus on the collective strategies, Poland of large-scale projects and one of such strategies is the construction of the Central Communication Port, “Solidarity Port”. This is a key element of the development strategy, transport development strategy in Poland. This is not only an opportunity for the aviation sector, it is also an expansion of the rail network, it is a first step towards establishment of the most advanced European transport system in Poland that is open for such innovations as autonomous transport or vactrains. The Central Communication Port will be our Gdynia in the heart of Poland. Moreover, our Gdynia in the heart of Europe.
Reconstruction of the Trójmiasto and Szczecin-Świnoujście sea port will be... exactly, this long awaited project covering Szczecin-Świnoujście sea port and construction of the tunnel linking Świnoujście and Poland will be also implemented.
All this will be the next very important step towards changing Poland in the logistics centre of Europe. Honourable Deputies, we still face the lack of many express roads and motorways. Obviously, there is a lack of Via Carpatia in Eestern Poland; in addition, particularly, there is also a lack of north-south roads, in accordance with the Three Seas idea. We will achieve this. S3, S7, A1 – we will construct them but I would like to emphasise that in the next decade, we have to focus on the significant improvement of the poviat and gmina communication, improvement of road and railway transportation. We will devote more resources to these areas, including from the state budget, and I look forward to working closely with all self-governments. It’s time for the regional responsible development strategies. I would like to make a personal commitment to be involved, especially, in the development of local and self-government Poland. Our further objective is to strengthen Polish companies and entrepreneurship. Every Polish generation have to meet modernisation challenges all over again. When year and a half ago we announced the responsible development plan, many people said that we were aiming too high and that it was an unreal dream. Meanwhile, in the third quarter, Polish economy grew by ca. 5%, in general, without increasing the debt. In a couple of weeks, you will find out that in this year, for the first time in 28 years, the public debt increase will amount to zero or barely higher than zero.
Therefore, on the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Marshal I can say that we achieved this through implementation of his motto: “romanticism of purposes and positivism of measures.” The economy and public finances are increasingly sustainable. We face consumption optimism and we have a positive trends in reduction of inequality. More and more people actively participate in consumption and the number of people who are positive about their future is increasing. When foreign experts talk about our economy, they increasingly share our diagnoses concerning the level of our dependence on the foreign market for the last 25 years. Most renowned economist in the world, Thomas Piketty, when referring to our country, said “foreign owned countries” – you are a country that is owned by foreigners. I believe he exaggerated, he did exaggerate, but how it sounds like.
The most popular news agency, Bloomberg, reports how the western capital colonised Poland and Central Europe countries. This is our real life. Which means what? Which means how? It means that masks dropped down. We face a huge challenge. We all face a huge challenge. A taboo, this taboo has become an obvious truth, in spite of the fact that Poland produces a lot, not everything our economy produces remains in our wallets. PLN 70–100 billion per year, i.e. 4–5%, depending whether net or gross, – I repeat – PLN 70–100 bln, i.e. 4–5% of the GDP is the revenue of the foreign companies. This is the result of the model adopted by the Third Republic. We know today that this was a wrong model, but we know it too late. Today we are told about it also by the rating agencies. Yes – it’s not a joke – we are treading a fine line. A precipice on the left and on the right – as Jacek Kaczmarski used to say.
Ladies and Gentleman, we are a part of the western culture, but this does not mean that we must accept this model. We want Poland to play a subjective role in the economy, rather than peripheral.
This is why there is still a lot of work to do. We need to turn from the consumption-on-credit capitalism, which was installed here by the foreign institutions in the early nineties, to the savings and investment capitalism. Indeed, this a struggle for the Polish ownership, for the Polish capital. This is why I ask all for help. Let’s together recover Poland.
Our philosophy is focused on micro-, small and medium enterprises which support millions of Poles. I have an important message for the small and medium entrepreneurs: all honest entrepreneurs may expect that the legal environment will be respected while ensuring level playing field. Soon, a whole package of legislation facilitating the economic life, headed by the Business Constitution, will be submitted. The dogmatic liberals say that there is no place for the State intervention in the market. This is a wrong opinion. Without the State and its institutions the free market will yield to corruption, tax fraud, monopoles or unfair foreign competition. On the top of that an honest entrepreneur has no chance to fight with mobs, closed circuit or monopoles without efficient and fair judicial system. This is why the institutions, such as Central Anticorruption Bureau or Economic Crime Depratment of the Police or Prosecutor’s Office, are so important for the economy. This is why efficient and fair courts are so important.
Another area is modernity and digitisation. No one is in any doubt that we live in an increasingly digital world, and IT talents of Polish citizens are a national treasure. A contemporary, entrepreneurial state focuses on the innovativeness of the IT sector as the driver of development of companies and public administration. Cyberspace is the battlefield of the contemporary world. For this reason, a serious state should also focus on ensuring cybersecurity. What we need is a revolution in the relations between citizens and the state. Technology may help to reduce the time needed for handling administrative matters. At last, IT tools also help in tightening the tax system, so the programme “From Paper to Digital Poland” is an intensive process of developing a modern state. A task for all government departments, the entire Council of Ministers.
Another area is education and science. “The Republics will always be as good as their youth’s education.” For it is our children and grandchildren who will be building the Poland for which we long. We decided to go through with the reform of the education system, because it was criticised. The first step was to decommission lower secondary schools and go back to vocational and technical education. In the years to come, we will put great emphasis on sectoral education, as this is simply what the job market needs today. 65% of our students will most likely work in professions that do not yet exist. Young Poles, for whom emigration was the only hope, represent a generation that is sometimes called the generation of missed opportunities. We will make every effort, especially in the educational system, to allow the representatives of this generation to find jobs – jobs in Poland. We will make sure they will work on decent terms, not based on the so-called “trash” employment contracts. Work for the highest wages. I believe this will be the generation of regained opportunities.
A modern economy is one that is cooperating with science. This is why we will reform the higher education system and research institutes. The Ignacy Łukasiewicz Institute research network will be one of Europe’s largest institutes of this kind. Polish science must, much more so than is currently the case, form the foundations for the development of our economy and building the wealth of Polish citizens. But we cannot look at science only from the perspective of economic benefits. An equally important task of Polish higher education institutions is the formation of national elites. For 250 years, we have been facing the challenge of the “brain drain.” For this reason the subsequent budgets need additional funds to reinforce the position of universities, also the regional universities.
Our path leading to a better tomorrow must be the Poland of equal opportunities and social solidarity, and not the Poland of interest groups and fighting egoisms. The Poland of fair sharing, and not the Poland of unfair divisions.
We managed to considerably reduce inequalities with our social programmes, in particular the 500+ programme.
According to the Constitution, we have a social – and not an anti-social – market economy. How did the practice of the first 25 years of the Third Polish Republic unfortunately look like? Only for two years we may be saying that the social market economy in Poland is alive, in good health and bearing fruit. But the social market economy is also about engaging in a dialogue and cooperation with social partners such as trade unions or employer organisations.
Therefore, I would like to strongly emphasize that the Social Dialogue Council will be the place where we will jointly develop the key solutions that are going to allow us to maintain a healthy economic and social balance.
Polish countryside and agriculture are another area we will focus on. Polish countryside and agriculture are the wealth not only for us but also for the entire Europe. Our government will seek to acquire an appropriate budget under the common agricultural policy. A budget that will ensure a level playing field for Polish farmers and bring the support payments to the level of the Union average, but there are also current challenges.
There is an abbreviation – ASF – which for many persons present here might be unfamiliar, but for the farmers, for the breeders and for rural areas is very important. African swine fever is a major threat for pig farming. This disease that is coming from the east and devastates the Central Europe has already crossed the Vistula River. Therefore, we will strengthen and implement the measures to limit its spreading and to eliminate it.
We will also take care of Polish land and support farm modernisation and rural entreprenurship. Polish farm products are quality symbol in the world. They should be served in Europe and in the world under the Polish trademark.
We also intend to develop rural areas in terms of provision the classic water supply or transport infrastructure. But we also desire to provide fast internet access for each Polish Gmina and each school. To build more crèches, to repair the school premises and to provide active cultural institutions. The Gmina cultural centres must be an attractive meeting place in rural areas and in small towns.
We have already commenced restoration of the police stations which were liquidated a few years ago. This is about the police stations missing in small localities, because people are entitled to feel safe where they live.
We must stop the State from winding up.
The safety of our country, our countrymen, was, is and will be the priority for the government of Law and Justice. As a result of the recent actions of our government over 90% of Poles believe that living in Poland is safe. I would also like all soldiers, policemen, fire fighters, guards, offciers - all brave people - to know that they may count on the State because they are the shield and sword of the State, and I thank them all.
Now, I would like to address the issue of housing - a fundamental subject. Poland ranks the last but one in Europe as far as the ratio of the number of flats to the number of inhabitants is concerned. Still 3–4 million flats are needed.
Yes, I remember, I do. Exactly, you ridiculed it at that time and it may be ridiculed, ... as years before ..., but believe me – this is not funny – this is the question of life of young people. Really, there is nothing here to laugh at – these flats are really needed. “Stop, boys, this not a fun. It is a game for you, when we struggle for life.” This is the life of many millions of young Poles. Help building them, because we make up for the 70 year old gap and it is not easy to move forward with it. It is not easy but this ball is already rolling and in a couple of quarters, we will commission first apartments of this kind, cost-effectively constructed apartments. This programme is the Polish government’s flagship task for the next 10 years.
Moreover, there was a Minister of Construction from Centre Agreement (PC), Adam Glapiński, who proposed such programme from this rostrum in 1991. The Centre Agreement recognised this problem over twenty years ago. Unfortunately, currently the law does not prevent housing investments to larger extent, the investments cut off from communication, schools and kindergartens and even from basic technical infrastructure. Such apartments quickly become a nightmare instead of a dream apartment. On one of the Warsaw estates, at certain point, the tap water stopped flowing because estates that were built closer started taking water from the estates located further; we cannot let that happen in the future. We deserve to live in the cities and towns which form a coherent whole, where each house has access to effective public transport and where schools and kindergartens are established in places where new estates are built. Therefore, we will propose the benefits package for self-governments which will maintain the spatial order. Order and aesthetics.
After all – as Roger Scruton, laureate of “Courage and Reliability” medal of “Poland – the Great Project” Congress, put it – the beauty will save us. That is why the work of Urban Planning and Architecture Institute will start with full speed next year. We have to leave Poland neat and aesthetically planned for our children and grandchildren. Teachings about beauty should not be neglected.
Another field of our activity is the policy of zero tolerance for violence and equal opportunities for women. The State is genuinely strong only if it is able to protect its weakest citizens. Therefore, I firmly declare: the Polish government will not condone violence nor any acceptance of violence.
My life turned out in such a way, that – together with my wife, who supports me and displays great patience in supporting me – we have many contacts with orphanages, especially one specific orphanage. I have witnessed first-hand the harm inflicted upon children, and frequently also upon their mothers. I have seen the suffering of abused children – we cannot leave them on their own, we cannot hide our heads in the sand. Certainly, taking children away due to poverty is a crime, but leaving children at the mercy of people who maltreat them is also a crime. Period. We cannot accept a situation in which an abused woman is forced to run away from her own home together with her children.
We will improve mechanisms ensuring protection for victims of domestic and workplace violence. A profound change is needed in the justice system; we cannot allow a situation where a victim meets his or her oppressor in the courtroom over several years due to slowness of the court. This is the fight with social pathology. This pathology has nothing in common with our tradition. It is respect for woman that is deeply rooted in our Polish tradition and culture.
Ensuring equal opportunities for women and men is not only our legal obligation, but also an expression of solidarity. It should be reflected, among other things, in equal remuneration and access to management position. Although “The Economist” ranked Poland fifth among the most women-friendly countries, I am aware of the fact that Polish women hit a glass ceiling. One of its reasons is that women have to combine family and work in their everyday lives.
Additionally, it is necessary to take great care of such important events as pregnancy and labour. That is why we will develop labour and delivery care standards that will effectively protect the lives and health of mother and baby, as well as alleviate pain during the labour. Each and every woman deserves to give birth to their children in decent conditions.
The role of mother and the situation of women are different and often more difficult than in the case of men. We have to reasonably help our ladies, our wives, sisters, daughters and mothers, in workplace and in everyday life. We will not tolerate any ill treatment, rape, oppression and injustice. The State has to take a tough line in such cases.
Another area for our activities is the Friendly Poland programme. The measure of the maturity of a country is how it treats and takes care of its most vulnerable citizens. Our great task will be to create a State that is truly friendly for elderly and disabled persons. Today, many disabled persons still cannot lead a full social and professional life. We will help seniors and pensioners in diverse ways. That is why we are launching a great project called “Friendly Poland.” This project is to be implemented in the following years in order to eliminate infrastructural and legal barriers that hamper a full integration of the Polish society.
I wish that elderly persons would not have to think about a simple visit in a shop as of an expedition or a 3000 metres steeplechase. I also think that this programme will allow for implementation of a State serving all citizens, which Mr President called for a few days ago.
It is true that young people run faster, but it is the older ones who better know the way. Respect for the elderly will help reap full benefits from their experience and include them in the everyday life.
Our key field of operation is also of course Europe. We are at the turning point which will outline the future of the European project and the entire global economy. A strong, competitive and united Europe is a part of the modern Polish idea. Many authorities lost their positions due to the crisis, which hit Europe and the world 10 years ago. The myths that the capital has no nationality, that inequalities are good, that industry is a relict of the 19th or 20th century or that the state is no longer needed by anyone, were abolished.
Europe is still recovering from that crisis. It is searching for new ways, new ideas. The future of the European project is at stake. We do not want the Union to develop at two different speeds. We do not want any further divisions or leaving some behind. We do not agree to dividing Europe into the superior and the inferior.
It happens more and more often in Europe, however, that some – not the weak, but the strong – are given an advantage, and this is not fair. Dear Europe, no doubt the Polish piece fits perfectly the European puzzle, but it cannot be placed upside down or push by force. Otherwise, both the picture as such and this piece will be damaged.
The migrant relocation scheme did not work. Other approaches are needed and we want to be a part of this discussion. Europe also needs to return back to the real values. Everyday, we hear a mantra on the European values which are even not specified sometimes because they are increasingly in contradiction with what they were in the past and they are inconsistent with the natural law or traditional values. Yet, the Republic of Poland represents one of the most magnificent tradition of Europe. It is one of the most glorious tradition of tolerance and democracy. You can count on the one hand the parliaments acting for so many centuries as the Sejm of the Republic of Poland. You can also count on the one hand the countries where the majority of the citizens could enjoy freedom for so many centuries.
The Republic of Poland was the first to grant the voting rights to women, however, we do not bring only the valuable collection of our values and traditions to the united Europe. The Anglo-Saxon capitalism is clearly not tackling the issue of inequalities very well, and the French or Italian capitalism is not very good at handling competitiveness.
In the new Polish economic and social model we are showing Europe how to combine social solidarity with dynamic economic development.
It was us who introduced the subject of the fight against tax havens to the European agenda. It is Poland who is currently fighting for the completion of the single market and ensuring the total freedom to provide services. It is us who started a discussion across Europe by showing our success in the fight against VAT carousel fraud. And it is estimated that every year the whole Europe loses EUR 160 billion on VAT carousel fraud. It is more than the European budget.
Forests are our wealth. And foresters understand it best and take the best care of them. I’d like to thank them for that. Their actions in the Bialowieża Primeval Forest were aimed at protecting it. We want to believe that EU institutions also aimed at safeguarding the Polish nature. I do want to believe that. And because we respect the judgements of the European Court of Justice, we will act in conformity with its ruling.
European Union should take care of what made it a great project and a great success – the Europe of homelands. Rich because of its diversity, underpinned by dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation. Today, Poland wishes to be an advocate of good changes and we want to realistically participate in decision making processes in Europe.
I would now like to talk about the broader context in the foreign policy. Our foreign policy is the policy of Polish reason of state. Today, the ammunition of the battles of the modern world includes decisions of regulators, which sometimes determine the fate of entire individual sectors.
Occasionally, because of one regulation, one could lose more than we gained through privatisations, or out companies sold some time ago. Victories in these battles are decided not only by the number of divisions, but also by the soft power. We need to build it like our Western neighbours, professionally and efficiently, also through the historical truth.
In the past two years we significantly strengthened Poland’s security. Implementation of decisions made at the NATO summit in Warsaw, the presence of allied soldiers and American troops in Poland, expansion of military infrastructure, became a clear message that Poland can count on the support of allies.
We are now pursuing possible most far reaching harmonisation of activities of NATO and the European Union. With this very intention we have have supported the work on the Warsaw declaration on the cooperation of the Union with the Treaty. And with this intention we have committed to permanent structural cooperation in the defence domain. NATO is and shall remain the foundation of our security, while the United States shall remain are primary ally.
We shall also use the great potential of supplying the army with arms to strengthen Polish industry. The army and defence policy must contribution to the transfer of high technologies to Poland and to their domestication. We shall continue the consolidation of the countries of our region.
This in particular pertains to the Visegrad Group and the Three Seas initiative. We would also like to go back to a truly strategic partnership in the East. We plan to deepen our relations with Ukraine, Lithuania or Georgia and give them a new quality, though it takes two to tango.
When it comes to the policy outside of Europe, we want to take particular care of our economic interests in Asia and South-East Asia, where - by the way - we need a more balanced trade.
Also the Middle East and Africa become new directions for activities of Polish diplomacy. Close cooperation with the Polish diaspora shall be an integral part of our foreign policy. This shall be manifested both by activities for protection of interests of Polish citizens abroad and actions taken together with the Polish diaspora and intended at defending the good name of our country.
Poland is more than the citizens of the Republic of Poland living in Poland. It is also Poles scattered across the world, and I wish as many of them as possible come back. To this end, we shall strengthen repatriation programmes. There are 60 million of us across the world and we have obligations towards all Poles. And they have obligations towards Poland.
We are giving the gift of our greatest treasure, our citizens, to other countries: our bricklayers, engineers, plumbers, teachers, doctors or IT specialists. Quite obviously, this is not what we want. We want to work for them. For you.
I believe that you are able to find in Poland, what you are looking for in the West. You can be happy here, you can be safe. You can earn more and have ambitious jobs. From where I stand, I want to invite you to build a modern, strong and wealthy Poland together. The generation emigrating now yielded to the principle: the home is where I am comfortable. For our future, it is important for another principle to prevail: I am comfortable, where my fatherland is.
But this “comfort” needs to mean more than material assets. It is also aesthetic surroundings, security, mutual kindness, spiritual values, cultural values, as well as equitable and efficient judiciary.
Thus, the objective of our government shall be to encourage as many Poles as possible to come back to the fatherland, both from Kazakhstan and London. “Die Sonne does not shine the same Polish sun does”.
President Lech Kaczyński believed that Poland drew its power from Central Europe. Only Poland with its own regional policy in an alliance with the US, open to all countries of Central Europe, can be an important member of the Union and an empowered partner in international relations. He also believed that Poland should take on ambitious goals, such as the membership of G20, being one of the main architects of the European Union, the pillar of NATO or the leader of the Three Seas region.
Honourable Members, I would like to conclude with few reflections. My father is present here today. For me it is a great personal experience. He taught me that another person, freedom, solidarity and justice were most important. I thank you for etching these values in me.
I would also like to thank my mum. A silent hero of the Solidarity and the hero of my everyday life. In the old days, during maybe several dozens of interrogations I had in SB, nothing was more painful, no threats, no blackmail or other less nice things, than the threats against my loved ones.
Ladies and gentlemen, Honourable Members, the Christmas Eve is in two weeks. Poles, as every year, will exchange greetings, sit at table, happy that the God is born. Do no let this Christmas Eve table be a barricade. Let it be the place which connects rather than divides. Poland is our common good, irrespective of political and ideological differences. This I wish most to all the deputies, including the opposition deputies.
We could call December 2017 the eve of the 100th anniversary of Polish Independence. Let us enter it with the hope of agreement and solidarity, remembering that without cooperation we would not live in a free Poland today. We can and we have to dispute. Yes to dispute and no to war.
Those building this country 100 years ago had to overcome greater differences. Poland was probably the only country to have both left hand and right hand traffic at the same time. Driving from Kraków to Warsaw you had to take one and then the other side of the road, but in the name of compromise and agreement was reached. Are we able to afford such an agreement today? I trust we are. I also trust that we can afford an agreement and a compromise, just as our grandfathers could afford it a 100 years ago.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Deputies,
Our programme is the will to build Poland proud of the power of its economy, Poland of financially secure families, Poland raising admiration and recognition of other, Poland which is joyful because it equitably shares the fruit of development.
We shall face these global challenges, if we become a community. Particularly in the context of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of independence, we must once again find what we have in common and bring down the temperature of the political discourse. At some point, in Poland there were divisions into the Whites and Reds, but we, Poles, are not only white, or only red. We have never been only white or only red. It is high time to reject these deadly divisions. We are white and red, all of us Poles are a white and red team.
Ladies and gentlemen, 40 generations of Poles are looking at us. It is a great responsibility. Let us put our Poland together, let us unite it. Let us rebuild it and glue it back together. Only with you, fellow countrymen, it shall be possible.
John Paul 2 used to say that freedom is not a given, it is a task, and so it is with Poland. If we are lucky to have it today, than it is first of a all a great task and a great obligation. Each of us has a dream, an objective, something to push forward, determine the actions. Probably we all dream about a safe Poland, strong and equitable Poland. I would like to make this dream come true together with you.
Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński invoked: “It is from our arms, this or that way, that Poland will spring, free as a bird.” To this, let me add: Poland supportive as love, righteous and equitable, to the benefit of us and future generations, to God’s glory.
Thank you very much.