Supporting Ukraine aids our independence, says president

Albert Zawada/PAP

Poland's support for Ukraine also reinforces its own independence, Andrzej Duda, the Polish President, said on Friday during Independence Day (Nov. 11) celebrations.

Speaking at a formal ceremony on Warsaw's Pilsudskiego Square Duda thanked Poles for the extensive help they have given to Ukrainian refugees.

"I thank all who... gave help to our Ukrainian neighbours... To all who accepted (refugees - PAP) into their homes without asking who is who or if they are wealthy or poor,” he said.

“In helping the Ukrainians you showed great class, you showed that Poles know what to do in the best sense of the word," Duda said, adding that "such actions also serve to protect Polish independence."

Turning to Poland's independence, Duda said that Poland had managed to stay sovereign over most of the past 104 years despite a tumultuous history.

"It must be said that, despite all the winds of history, despite enormously difficult decades and the terrible years of World War II, for most of this time Poland was a sovereign and independent state. The Poles were free people in their own country," Duda said.

Duda also expressed thanks to Poland's teachers and educators for their efforts to raise awareness of independence.

"I am greatly thankful to my countrymen for building knowledge about the value of independence and sovereignty," Duda said.

He added that it was important to remember that "independence and freedom are not given forever."

Gitanas Nauseda, president of Lithuania, who attended the celebration alongside Duda, congratulated the Poles on their independence recalling that 104 years ago Poland "was reborn like a phoenix from the ashes of World War I."

Nauseda added that Poland's return to independent statehood after the First World War "gave rise to a new era of national democratic states."