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Warsaw, Poland Remarks of the President and First Secretary Edward Gierek at the Welcoming Ceremony.

December 29, 1977

THE FIRST SECRETARY. Mr. President, Madam Carter, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the highest authorities of the Polish People's Republic, in the name of our people, I greet you cordially, Mr. President, on the Polish soil.

We are happy to be able to play host to you and Mrs. Carter, as well as to persons accompanying you. We are welcoming and greeting you, Mr. President, as the highest representative of the great American people for which we entertain our sentiments of friendship.

History has linked our two nations by manifold ties. They were molded by the great sons of the Polish people through their participation in the struggle for American independence. They were shaped by the scores of Polish emigrants who have contributed their significant and valuable share to the development and might of the United States. They have been further strengthened in our joint strife for the freedom of all peoples within the great anti-Nazi coalition.

Our desire is to cultivate those traditions in the present-day peaceful and friendly Polish-American cooperation.

We trust your visit will contribute to its further expansion, beneficial to our peoples and promoting the dearest cause to all nations, the cause of peace.

You are arriving in Poland, Mr. President, at a time when the process of international detente--so important as it is to all mankind and the world at large--has been again rejuvenated by the constructive dialog of states and the expectations of nations.

You no doubt understand, Mr. President, that to the people of Poland, which has so dreadfully experienced the atrocities of war, security is the supreme value, while life and peace is the fundamental right.

We view your present visit, Mr. President, as a reaffirmation of the friendly feelings of the American people towards Poland and an expression of the interest in our active peaceful policies. We see in it, too, a manifestation of your personal involvement in the further expansion of Polish-American cooperation in cultivating the traditional friendship between our nations.

We are glad, indeed, that we shall be able to acquaint you with the record of accomplishment of Socialist Poland, with its plans and aspirations with all that at a price of a relentless effort, painstaking and self-sacrificing labors our nation has built on the ruins and ashes.

Ours is the desire that your visit to Poland serve actions which link our peoples together and that it may engrave well in the good memories of yourself, Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, and the members of your party.

Welcome on the Polish soil, Mr. President, in the spirit of the Polish hospitality.

THE PRESIDENT. First Secretary Gierek, distinguished officials from Poland and from other nations, the people of Poland:

We are delighted to be in your great country. When I left the United States this morning, I told the people of my Nation that this journey reflects the diversity of a rapidly changing world. It is a world in which old ideological labels have lost their meaning and in which the basic goals of friendship, world peace, justice, human rights, and individual freedom loom more important than ever.

I am proud to begin this journey in Poland--friend of the United States since the time our Nation was founded. Poland is the ancestral home of more than six million Americans, partner in a common effort against war and deprivation.

Relations are changing between North and South, between East and West. But the ties between Poland and the United States are ancient and strong.

Not far from our home in the State of Georgia, a great patriot of both our nations, Casimir Pulaski, was mortally wounded while leading a cavalry legion in the fight for American independence. The home of my son's wife is Pulaski County, Georgia, named for this hero from Poland.

Also, for his military skill and bravery, Thaddeus Kosciuszko won the respect of our first President, George Washington, during wartime. And for his commitment to freedom and justice, he won the admiration of our third President, Thomas Jefferson, in time of peace.

These brave men fought alongside Americans in the era which produced three of the great documents in the struggle for human rights. One was the Declaration of Independence from America. The second was the Declaration of the Rights of Man from France. And the third was the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791.

Our shared experience in battle has also taught us the paramount importance of preventing war, which has brought devastation to Poland twice in this century. At the end of World War I, a great American, Herbert Hoover, came to Poland to help you ease the suffering of war and to observe the reestablishment of an independent Poland. Circumstances were different and the struggle was long, but Hoover said, and I quote, "If history. teaches us anything, it is that from the unquenchable vitality of the Polish race, Poland will rise again from these ashes." And his prediction came true.

I have come not only to express our own views to the people of Poland but also to learn your opinions and to understand your desires for the future. Building on the historical ties between us, recognizing the new and changing realities of life, I look forward to strengthening Polish-American friendship on my visit here in Warsaw.

We deeply appreciate the warm welcome extended to us tonight by First Secretary Gierek and by the Polish people.

Thank you very much.

Note: The exchange began at 10:40 p.m. at the Civilian Terminal, Okecie International Airport. First Secretary Gierek spoke in Polish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Jimmy Carter, Warsaw, Poland Remarks of the President and First Secretary Edward Gierek at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242804

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