Today we welcome Donald Trump, the leader of the United States, without illusions and without naïve enthusiasm, but with a moderate helping of hope.
Poland and the United States were always allies. This is a durable and non-opportunistic alliance. The United States were present at the birth of the Polish democracy in 1918, as well as in 1989.
In the dark days of Communism, America’s message to Poland was always: freedom and democracy, the rule of law and independent media. We have always remembered this message and always shall.
President Jimmy Carter, when visiting Poland in 1977 on the invitation of the authorities of the Polish Peoples’ Republic, announced human rights as a universal principle, applying it to all citizens of the Communist Block. That was like a breath of fresh air for us. Ronald Reagan – though he never visited Poland as a president – called the Soviet Union the ‘evil empire’, supported the Solidarity movement and gave hope to all the enslaved nations of Eastern Europe. He became a hero of the Polish collective consciousness.
The visits of Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and of Barack Obama were accompanied by the same message of freedom, broadened by guarantees of Poland’s safety. None of them ever took a step back from this stance.
Another US President is arriving today, in another Poland. But we expect President Donald Trump, in his speech on Krasinski Square, the first he will give in Europe, to refer to the words and ideas of his great predecessors.
For us, the United States continue to be a symbol of democracy and of freedom, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, respected by American citizens and by the authorities. The Constitution – which refers to the rights and freedoms of the individual, instead of an ethnic nationalism, directed against other people – binds the multicolored, multicultural American nation. „We, the people”, said Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, in his historical speech to the joint Chambers of the US Congress in November 1989.
That is why we will be listening very attentively to the words of the current American President. We expect the United States to confirm the commitments resulting from Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (one for all, all for one) and to provide Poland with guaranties of safety, confirmed by the permanent presence of US troops on our land. We expect that Donald Trump’s Presidency will not mean a return to a policy of isolationism; in other words, that the United States will not back out of Europe; that they will support the European Union instead of weakening it. We expect the American cult of democracy, law and freedom to be the most important determinant of the policy of the United States.
Leaders change, but nations and their founding principles endure.
Trans. Andrzej Ehrlich