Polish, Lithuanian officials commemorate historic battle in Poland

Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP

Poland's and Lithuania's top officials on Wednesday marked the 610th anniversary of the July 15, 1410 Battle of Grunwald, in which Polish-Lithuanian forces defeated the German–Prussian Teutonic Knights.

The commemorative events were attended by Polish President Andrzej Duda, his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda, the prime ministers of both countries, Mateusz Morawiecki and Saulius Skvernelis, as well as Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Frank Bayard.

"For centuries, the Battle of Grunwald shaped the image of this part of Europe," Duda said during the anniversary events held on the fields of Grunwald, northern Poland.

According to the Polish president, the joint commemoration of the historic battle demonstrates Polish-Lithuanian and European friendship. "For Poles and Lithuanians and our countries at the time, it was the beginning of a new reality of the state sealed with the blood shed together, which had great importance for the development of our nations and this part of Europe," he said.

In Duda's opinion, the historic union between the two nations which created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the biggest countries of 16th/17th-century Europe, was "the first peaceful agreement of countries that wanted to live together, co-create statehood and their European position" and "the beginning of "what Europe looks like today, namely the European Union."

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that the victory of the Polish-Lithuanian military units taught people to build their own statehood, defence of identity, independence and values.

President Nauseda said that today's history often becomes a tool of revisionism and manipulations directed towards Poland and Lithuania, and that his country would never accept it.

"The Battle of Grunwald is a constant reminder of the fact that we cannot allow history to repeat itself. We must find peaceful solutions to all problems and disputes and be ready to face all emerging threats," Nauseda said.

Addressing the ceremony, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said the alliance between Poland and Lithuania and their joint policy in the EU and NATO will contribute to the two countries' prosperity and strength.

Morawiecki said that "our common and nearly identical strategy towards our interests in the European Union and full unity in NATO (...) will help Lithuania become independent from the former system," as he referred to the country's Soviet past.

In this context, the Polish PM mentioned common projects such as the Three Seas regional initiative, the Via Carpathia north-west and Via Baltica east-west motorways as well as new gas interconnectors and electricity links.

The Battle of Grunwald was a major Polish-Lithuanian victory over the Knights of the Teutonic Order. The battle marked the end of the order's expansion along the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea and the beginning of the decline of its power.

The Polish-Lithuanian forces were led by Poland's King Wladyslaw Jagiello and Grand Duke Witold of Lithuania. The Order's knights were under the command of Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen, who died in the battle.