Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland in Warsaw
Mr. President and Madam Kwasniewski, Mr. Prime Minister and Madam Buzek, distinguished guests, many of whom sacrificed for freedom. Laura and I are grateful for this great day—it's been a great day in Poland—and for this good company. You've made us feel most welcome.
I bring with me the affectionate greetings of the American people. Poland has a special place in our hearts, not just in places like Panna Maria, Texas, or Warsaw, Alabama, or Pulaski, Tennessee. Americans understand that we owe a lot to Poland. It has even been claimed that the old Polish game—an old Polish game was the earliest inspiration for baseball. [Laughter] If that's true, I owe more than most. [Laughter]
Today, our friendship is based upon a shared heritage and a hope for the future. When my father came to Warsaw in 1989, he declared that the cold war that began in Poland could end in Poland. Poles won their freedom with courage and determination. Americans from President Reagan to President Bush to President Clinton walked alongside you. Hope became reality. And Poland knows that when that happened, the world turned right side up. Poland became a mature democracy. Long a friend to America, we now proudly call you Ally. Yours is a moving story, and only you will ever know how difficult it was to write.
Mr. President, the United States greatly admires the leadership you have demonstrated these past 6 years. You understand that building a better future sometimes entails coming to grips with the past, even if that past is uncomfortable to some. America understands the value of reconciliation, of overcoming old divisions. History looks well upon such leadership.
Mr. Prime Minister, the United States is deeply appreciative of your service to your country and to the cause of freedom. You understand that building a better future requires hard choices. The reformer is rarely rewarded and often criticized but then moves ahead with reform, nonetheless. History is kind to this type of leader, as well.
This week I've spoken to many leaders from across Europe about the challenges of unity and open commerce and peace. I am here today because America is convinced that we can meet those challenges in partnership with a strong and free Poland. We know we can count on Poland to remain true to its best traditions of tolerance, compromise, and determination that have brought you so far and so fast.
We know we can count on Poland to keep reaching out to its neighbors, showing them the way and helping them help themselves. We know we can count on Poland to continue its reforms. And Poland can count on America. We are in Europe to stay, because we know the danger of retreating behind the false security of an ocean.
Together, our countries know what faith, commitment, and integrity can build. Our partnership is going to last a long time, always mindful of where we have been; always moving forward to build the future we know we want, the future we know we can achieve.
My toast is for a free Poland, its leadership, and the courageous souls who made it happen.
NOTE: The President spoke at 8:50 p.m. at the Presidential Palace. In his remarks, he referred to Jolanta Kwasniewska, wife of President Aleksander Kwasniewski, and Ludgarda Buzek, wife of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland in Warsaw Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/216376