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Toasts of the President and First Secretary Gierek at a State Dinner in Warsaw, Poland

December 30, 1977

THE FIRST SECRETARY. Dear Mr. President, dear Mrs. Carter, ladies and gentlemen:

I wish to express, Mr. President, our satisfaction of your visit to Poland. I rest assured that together with the highest authorities of the Polish People's Republic, it is indeed shared by the entire people of Poland.

We take great pleasure in seeing Mrs. Carter in our midst. We also welcome prominent members of the party accompanying you on this visit.

In your visit, Mr. President, we see a reaffirmation of the friendly feelings of the American people for the people of Poland and a reflection of the intentions to further expand cooperation between our two countries. Indeed, these feelings and intentions enjoy our full reciprocity as the expansion of Polish-American cooperation remains in keeping with the tradition of friendship between our two peoples.

It is in the interest of our two countries. It helps deepen detente and shape up constructive international relations. Rich and noble are the traditions we jointly refer to. Poles were among the first settlers on the American soil. In the American struggle for independence, a splendid chapter has been written by Kosciuszko, Pulaski, and other great Polish patriots, for whom the cause of freedom of their own land was inseparably linked with that of all peoples.

It can be assumed with all certainty that from the outset of and all through the Bicentennial of the United States, which, along with the American people, we marked here with friendly observances, a significant share to the expansion of the American economy, civilization, and culture has been contributed by Poles.

We are glad that today the overwhelming majority of the multimillion masses of Americans of Polish extraction as good United States citizens keep maintaining their sentimental and cultural ties with the land of their ancestors, that they wish favorable development of cooperation with the Polish People's Republic. The people of Poland are also cognizant of our common struggle in the great anti-Nazi coalition.

Mr. President, I trust that the paramount cause guiding us mutually is the consolidation of peace. The Polish people in particular only too well know both its price and value, for wasn't it so that the city of Warsaw--which we have risen from the ashes--had been doomed to total extinction? For its heroic resistance, for its contribution for the victory of nations over the fascists, our nation paid the price-of more than 6 million human lives, of the loss of over 40 percent of the national wealth.

It paid the price of most cities turned to ruins and thousands of villages reduced to ashes. The memory of those tragic experiences impressed forever in the Polish minds and hearts imposes the loftiest of obligations upon us to do all in our power to ensure security and peaceful development.

It is with lasting peace, the joy of which we want to share with all other countries of Europe and the world, that we are linking our aspirations, our plans and expectations, for today and for tomorrow. Hence, it is only natural and understandable, Mr. President, that we view with due attention and support warmly actions which serve that great and supreme cause to all nations.

The key factor of the process of detente we perceive in relations between your country, Mr. President, and the Soviet Union. The dialog between the two big powers determines the climate, the overall climate, of international relations in saving mankind from a nuclear holocaust.

This is why theirs is a special responsibility for world peace. Hence, our profound satisfaction over the incipient progress in the talks on offensive strategic arms limitation. Hence our hopes, in fact shared by the broadest public opinion, for a prompt new agreement, as well as for positive results of discussions between the two powers on other important questions.

Together with its Socialist allies and friends, Poland spares no effort to consolidate the process of detente and make it irreversible, for detente is the only alternative. It indeed represents a great chance of our times. Its proper utilization depends in particular on containing the arms race, which weighs heavily upon international relations, wastes economic resources, and poses great threats.

I am sure you are aware, Mr. President, that Poland has always attached special significance to preventing proliferation of nuclear armaments. We have been advancing our own initiatives to this effect, which have enjoyed general recognition.

Today, when the danger of proliferation of those armaments and the introduction of new kinds of weapons of mass destruction is greater than ever before, we are bound to appeal for moderation for the containment of the dangerous phenomenon, for the strengthening and extension of the system of treaties to protect against it.

Remembering, as we do, what you, yourself, Mr. President, have been saying on that matter, we trust it will be given the maximum of attention. By the same token, we lend our full support to the initiative made by Leonid Brezhnev to conclude an agreement to mutually renounce the production of neutron weapons.

Poland proceeds from the principle of full and integrated implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the Final Act of the Helsinki conference, which we treat as the magna carta of peace in Europe. Guided by its principles, we are favorably shaping up our bilateral relations with all states, signatories of the Final Act to take efforts to achieve positive results of the Belgrade meeting.

Progress in the Vienna talks on the reduction of armed forces and armaments in Central Europe would, too, no doubt, serve to strengthen the general sense of security.

There is much to be said, Mr. President, of the climate of international relations. There is need for mutual understanding and trust; only in such circumstances there can be progress in constructive and friendly international cooperation.

Dear Mr. President, we are glad that you share our desire of continuation of the positive processes in Polish-American relations. Our constructive discussions today have confirmed this.

In recent years, important joint statements, agreements, and contracts were signed between our two countries. They do provide a good basis for further mutually beneficial cooperation. Our economic relations have dynamically expanded. As you know, we attach special significance to them and wish to continue expanding them. Our scientific and technical exchanges have grown, constantly enriching is our cultural cooperation, as is the growing tourist traffic, more frequent, our contact serving to get our respective nations to know better and bring them closer together.

It gives me satisfaction to expect that your visit will effect in a further growth of Polish-American cooperation.

Mr. President, we are sorry you are visiting us for such a short time. We would certainly wish that you could get to know our country better, a country of great progress and, at the same time, still overcoming century-old underdevelopment.

Following the gravest tragedy in its own history, our nation has made a choice which offers it lasting safeguards of independence, sovereignty, and security, which provides for the best premises for development. These premises comprise its own ever more growing potential of present day Poland, its alliances with the Soviet Union and .other friends.

Today Poland belongs to the group of countries of the world which are having the greatest development scale as far as production in industry is concerned. And for the last 7 years, we are maintaining very high indices of further growth.

There has been a tremendous revival, biological revival, of our people. in the current decade, the age of maturity is being reached by 7 million of young Polish girls and boys. We ensure to all of them education and work. We have created just, democratic, socio-political conditions. We are implementing the fullest possible code of socio-economic and political rights.

In maintaining and cultivating all what has been most precious in our national tradition, we are enriching contemporary life of Poles by new, profoundly humanistic contents.

Our greatest achievement is the moral and political unity of our people, in which we perceive the paramount safeguard for successful implementation of all noble aspirations of Poles and also a dignified place of our country among other states of Europe and the world.

Mr. President, tomorrow you will be leaving Poland, departing for other countries. May I be permitted to express my conviction that the impressions you will be taking with you from the first leg of your trip and, first of all, the friendly feelings of the Polish people to the American people and our strivings to peace and cooperation will stay in your good memory for long.

I wish to propose a toast and ask all those present to join me to drink to you, Mr. President, and Mrs. Carter, to the successes .of the great American people, to the further expansion of friendly Polish-American relations.

THE PRESIDENT. First Secretary and Mrs. Gierek, distinguished leaders in politics, the military, music, drama, art, poetry, education, science, engineering:

We are very proud to be here in Poland and to have had a chance to meet with and to learn from First Secretary Gierek. We have already become close personal friends. He has taught me things that I can use in my own Nation. He has this afternoon discussed with me--and tonight--how he proposes to have a balance of trade in Poland. He sells hare or rabbits to adjacent countries for a lease in hunting preserves, and the rabbits are trained to return to Poland. [Laughter]

When I was running for President of the United States for 2 years, I met hundreds of thousands of Americans of Polish ancestry. I saw very quickly that they had a deep love for the United States and, simultaneously, for Poland. They recognize the historical ties which have bound our nations together since the very origins of our country. They have a natural hospitality inherited from their ancestors, and this made us look forward to this trip with great anticipation.

Our country has observed closely the distinguished Poles who have affected world history and our own Nation--ancient and modern scientists like Copernicus and Madam Curie, favorite authors like Joseph Conrad, musicians, Artur Rubinstein, who still loves Poland very deeply, and one of the greatest engineers of all time, Admiral Hyman Rickover, who developed the peaceful use of atomic power.

We have much to learn from Poland-how to use coal, and particularly brown coal, efficiently in this day of short energy supplies. We share cultural and scientific and engineering knowledge.

A hundred and twenty thousand Americans each year come back to visit their homeland here. And today I have seen at firsthand at your memorials a demonstration of affection for those who suffered so bravely in recent wars.

Georgia's capital city of Atlanta was completely destroyed in war, as was the city of Warsaw. But although we have suffered greatly, no other nation has borne such suffering as Poland. In the World War, six million Poles died--800,000 in Warsaw alone. Poles were the first people to fight the horrors of Nazism and earn the admiration and appreciation of the world. You were the ones who demonstrated a deep commitment to human rights, a belief in the value of human freedom and human life.

You have seen the horrible consequences of racial hatred when the Polish Jews were exterminated by Nazi terrorists. From these terrible experiences, valuable lessons have been learned. There is a tendency for those in the West to distrust those nations in the East. Sometimes, perhaps, you distrust our motives and our judgment. Sometimes we feel that you might be a danger to us as the NATO allies face the Warsaw Pact nations. But I know in more vivid terms than before that nations like your own and like the Soviet Union, which have suffered so deeply, will never commence a war unless there is the most profound provocation or misunderstanding brought about by lack of communication.

We also want peace and would never start a war except by mistake, when we didn't understand the motives and attitudes and desire for peace on the part of our potential adversaries.

I am pleased to know that there is increasing communication, consultation, and cooperation between the Socialist nations and the nations of the West. Although we belong to different military alliances, our hunger for peace is the same. We are working closely with the Soviet leaders to eliminate the constant and horrible threat of atomic destruction. This is an extremely complicated and technical discussion, but good motivations and common purposes can resolve those differences.

I have every expectation that this next year will bring success. We will do our utmost to realize this dream. We want to prevent the development of new and more powerful weapons and also to prevent any tests of atomic explosions. We want to prevent nations which do not presently have atomic explosions from desiring those capabilities. We want to reduce the sale of conventional weapons to nations around the world. And we want to seek in every possible way closer communications, better trade, closer friendship between our countries.

Poland and your leaders have an ability and experience to look knowledgeably both to the East and to the West, and you can contribute greatly to the mutual efforts of ourselves and the Soviet Union to reach those agreements which we both desire.

The ancient alliance between the United States and Poland in peace and war has given our people good lives. We have helped to establish and to maintain the independence of one another. This sharing of culture, blood kinship, and close cooperation in the past can give us a basis for even better future together.

I hope that at the earliest convenient time we might be permitted to repay the hospitality to your leaders, First Secretary Gierek and others, that you have extended to us on this visit. It is very valuable to have Polish and American friendship combined together to give us what all men and women want--peace throughout the world.

On behalf of the people of the United States, I would like to propose a toast to the indomitable spirit and to the freedom of the Polish people, to your enlightened leaders--particularly First Secretary Gierek and his wife--and to peace throughout the world.

Note: The exchange began at 9:27 p.m. at the Palace of the Council of Ministers. First Secretary Gierek spoke in Polish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the dinner, the President met with First Secretary Gierek at the Palace.

Jimmy Carter, Toasts of the President and First Secretary Gierek at a State Dinner in Warsaw, Poland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242816

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