Annual Schuman parade walks through Warsaw
The 20th Schuman Parade passed along the streets of Warsaw on Saturday, under the motto "We choose Europe" and in honour of international Europe Day, also known as Schuman Day.
Young people predominated the parade crowd, especially pupils from numerous schools around the country, who carried pro-European banners reading "My voice, my Europe", "We support Europe" and "Europe is my home."
The parade set off after noon from Krakowskie Przedmieście street with participants walking to the Zamkowy Square and back to a specially designated Schuman's Area where institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament were represented. The public were treated to contests, debates and animations regarding the European Union.
Piotr Nowina-Konopka from the Polish Robert Schuman Foundation (PFRS) explained that this year's motto refers to the upcoming elections to the European Parliament to be held in Poland on May 26.
He stressed that the time has come again, "when our decisions have extraordinary importance".
"We are standing this month before such a decision which carries the same weight as the decisions made 16 years ago, as to whether Poland was to join the EU," Konopka pointed out. "We will have to decide again in two weeks whether we renew our readiness and whether we understand well why Poland is in the European Union," he added.
He also mentioned important people who helped Poland to join the EU, including former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former Foreign Minister Władysław Bartoszewski and the main negotiator of Poland's accession to the EU, Jan Kułakowski.
The Schuman Parade, held annually since 1999, is a civic, non-governmental demonstration. It takes place within days after Schuman Day on May 9. The latter marks the anniversary of the unveiling in 1950 - by then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman - of plans to set up the European Coal and Steel Community, from which the EU later emerged.