Public Papers

Remarks to Polish Citizens in Warsaw


Thank you, Mr. President, for those very kind words. And good afternoon to Mrs. Walesa. It's a pleasure to be back here. I'm pleased that the U.S. Presidential delegation, headed by our own Secretary Derwinski, could be here today.

So hello, Warsaw, and hello, Poland. Thank you all for this warm welcome. Barbara and I are honored to be back once more, to come home once more to the birthplace of the Revolution of '89. And I'm especially pleased to come here from America's Fourth of July celebration of freedom and carry that same spirit to a free Poland.

This is truly a homecoming, the day Poland welcomes home a part of its proud history, a great patriot, a patron of freedom. You spoke eloquently of him. Through his long life, Ignacy Paderewski fought for a free and independent Poland. When independence came, Paderewski served as Prime Minister of your new nation. When occupation came, he joined the exiled government. And when he died, America gave this great friend of freedom a place alongside our honored dead in Arlington Cemetery to rest, in the words of our President Franklin Roosevelt, ``until Poland would be free.''

Few knew then how many dark days would come and go, how many lifetimes would pass until this day. When years passed without fanfare or ceremony, when a small, simple marker took the place of a larger stone, Poles understood. In 5 years or 50 years, Paderewski would one day come home to Polish soil.

Today, a patriot has come home. Today, Poland is free. And what a magnificent day this is. On this Sunday, from St. John's Cathedral to the village churches of Zakopane, the bells toll not simply the solemn requiem but a new beginning, a new birth of freedom for Poland and its people.

It's a new beginning not just for Poland but for all of Europe and the world. It is proper that we mark this new birth in your country. It was here in Poland that the Second World War began. It was here in Poland that the cold war first cast its shadow. And it was here in Poland that the people at long last brought the cold war to an end.

I've said many times that in the deepest sense, the cold war was a war of ideas, a contest between two ways of life. The rulers of the old regime claimed they saw the triumph of the totalitarian ideal written in the laws of history. They failed to see the love of freedom written in the human heart.

I recall my last visit to Poland: The fierce defiance and determination in the faces of the workers gathered in what was then called the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, the warmth and the welcome for America made plain to Barbara and me by you, the good people of Poland. We'll never forget it.

Just think of the new world that's emerged these past 3 years: Europe, whole and free; Russia, turning from dictatorship to democracy; Ukraine and the other nations of the old Soviet empire, free and independent. Look at this new world, and remember where that revolution began: right here in Poland.

Today, Poland stands transformed. Your bold economic reforms have earned the world's admiration and support. And what's more, they're working. Shelves that once stood empty are now stocked with goods. Gone is the old Communist Party headquarters, now home to the Warsaw Stock Exchange and the Polish-America Enterprise Fund, providing seed capital to help Poland's private sector growth and prosper. Gone are the slogans and the sham reality; everywhere you hear new voices and new hope. Freedom has come home to Poland.

For all that is new, there are things that have not changed, things that sustained you through the darkest days: Polish strength, Polish spirit, Polish pride. Reaching your dreams will be difficult. I know the sheer volume of new voices can sometimes be deafening. But from the clamor of new voices must come democracy, a common vision of the common good.

Of course, in many places and for many people there is more pain than progress. But we must take care to separate cause from consequence. Poland's time of trial is not caused by private enterprise but by the stubborn legacy of four decades of Communist misrule. Make no mistake: The path you have chosen is the right path. And as you say, Mr. President, it is the path of pioneers. Free government and free enterprise have helped Poland overcome a crippling past. Free government and free markets will bring Poland a bright future.

Poland is no stranger to sacrifice. Many times before, you were asked to do without for the greater good of the state. But today is different. This time, yours is a sacrifice blessed by freedom, the sacrifice of a nation determined to make its destination democracy.

Poland has made great progress in its reforms, moving this country to a new stage in its economic revolution. As always, the United States of America stands ready to help. In 1989, the United States worked with Poland and others to establish a billion fund to help support a free currency for a free Poland. Now we need to consider new uses for that fund, to help Poland as it faces today's challenges. That's why I am proposing that once Poland is back on track with the IMF that we make that fund available for other uses, perhaps to finance Polish exports or to help capitalize banks to support new businesses. The U.S. contribution alone will amount to 0 million.

This is a Polish and American idea that I will take to the economic summit at Munich. There I will urge the leaders of the world's great democracies to join with us to seek new ways to help Poland toward progress and prosperity. Let there be no doubt: America shares Poland's dream. America wants Poland to succeed. And we will stand at your side until success is guaranteed to everyone.

We mark today not simply the memory of a great Polish patriot, we celebrate the men of moral courage who sustain this nation: President Lech Walesa, Father Popieluszko, Pope John Paul II. But Poland could not have come this far, Poland could not have won its freedom if only a few had the courage to stand up against the state. Freedom was won by the everyday heroes of the underground, the men and women who kept faith when faith was forbidden, who spoke the truth against a wall of lies, the true heroes of democracy: the people of Poland.

Your strength of spirit drives away all doubt: Poland will succeed. Poland will succeed because Poles have made this journey before. In a strange new world called America, in the stockyards of Chicago, in the steelworks of Cleveland, in a thousand towns thousands of miles from this land they love, Poles worked and worshipped and built a better life -- Polish hands building the American dream. Now at long last, Poles can build that dream right here at home.

As President of the United States of America, as a fellow democrat, as friend of a free Poland, I bring this message: America stands with you. America wants Poland to succeed and to prosper. America wants Poland, now and forever, to be free.

Thank you all for this warm welcome. May God bless the free people of Poland. And may God bless both our great countries, Poland and the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 2:30 p.m. at Castle Square. In his remarks, he referred to Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a Roman Catholic priest who was murdered in 1984.