President stresses need for strong state in Constitution Day speech

Paweł Supernak/PAP

Andrzej Duda, Poland's president, said on the 232nd anniversary of the May 3 Constitution that only a strong state can survive and exist in our geographical location.

"History shows clearly that a weak state will be controlled by another one," Duda said, addressing a gathering in Zamkowy Square in Warsaw's Old Town on Wednesday.

The constitution was passed on May 3, 1791, by the Great Sejm (grand parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and was Europe's first document of its kind, predating the famous French Constitution and following the American one by only four years.

Expressing his conviction that a bright future was awaiting Poland, Duda said that either coming generations and future politicians "will be building a strong, independent and a truly sovereign Poland, or this country will no longer be ours."

Referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the president said Poland was a country which had been supporting its Ukrainian neighbours.

"Fortunately, Ukraine is today surrounded by those who have been helping it repel a terrible aggressor," Duda said, praising the Polish people for their support offered to their Ukrainian neighbours.

The president expressed his belief that "the independent and sovereign Poland our ancestors fought for will continue to exist in Europe.

"This is our huge obligation," Duda said, urging the Polish people to be proud of "this large European country in which we could be safe, feel at home, and in which there are no foreign rulers.

"The May 3 Constitution has for centuries been a lantern for us, a signpost and a pride," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters, adding that it had also defined the aspirations of the Polish people.

Referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Morawiecki said that now Poland needed a strong army which could deter potential enemies so that no one dare enter its territory.

"On behalf of the United States of America, I extend our best wishes to the people of Poland as you honor the adoption of your first constitution 232 years ago today," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Wednesday.

"The United States is proud to stand with Poland as friends, partners, and Allies, working side-by-side to defend freedom from tyranny and aggression, support Ukraine, impose consequences on Russia, and strengthen our collective security on NATO's Eastern Flank," Blinken wrote in a statement published on the Department of State website.

Best wishes were also conveyed to the Polish people by US Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski who wrote that, for centuries, Poles were the symbol of perseverance, hope and freedom. He also stated that US-Poland friendship had never been stronger than it is now.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda wrote in a congratulatory message that the May 3 Constitution was an example of the unique unity of Poland and Lithuania, and their joint contribution to the history of Europe and the entire world.

Vasyl Zvarych, the Ukrainian ambassador to Poland, conveyed his best wishes on the May 3 Constitution anniversary and added that Ukraine and Poland had been jointly defending freedom, independence, democracy and international law. "Being united we will win," he wrote on social media.