Warschau, 11. November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: “Poland is an indispensable builder of the new Europe”

Foreign Minister at the celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of Poland’s independence

Today, in the lead-up to the celebrations in Warsaw to mark the 90th anniversary of Poland’s independence, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik offered her congratulations to President Lech Kaczynski. "Poland stood and still stands for courage and hope. The country can be proud of how it withstood and overcame division and suppression in the difficult times of its history. For Poland, but also for other Central Europeans, the November days of 1918 mark the dawn of a new era. The bitter experiences of fascism, the Nazi regime, death and annihilation, renewed war and communism had to be lived through before the Europe of today could be built," continued Plassnik.

Commenting on the recent past, the Foreign Minister said: "Next year two decades will have passed since European history showed signs of revival following a period of oppressive paralysis. Then, the Polish were the first to take their fate into their own hands. Poland made a decisive contribution to the collapse of communism and the peaceful integration of our continent. In this way Poland has become an indispensable builder of the new Europe."

"Poland and Austria are not only neighbours in cultural terms, they are also connected by the close, sometimes painful, ties of a common European history. Today it is particularly pleasing that the contacts at the level of federal provinces and voivodships, but also the contacts between cities and local communities, have increasingly intensified. Apart from the countless ties between families and at the interpersonal level, the Polish community in Austria also builds a bridge. Since Poland’s accession to the European Union the quality and dynamics of our multifarious, friendly relations have continued to develop. Poland contributes special experiences and regional contacts to our new Europe, which we appreciate. Austria and Poland act as bridges and intermediaries between East and West, each in its own way. Our countries have special understanding for the process of rapprochement of our south-eastern and eastern neighbouring states with the EU," continued Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that "the enlargement of the Schengen area at the end of 2007 has placed additional focus on cooperation between Austria and Poland. Today, our countries are part of a common space of values, security and freedom. Today we are offered the opportunity to look back at what we have achieved in Europe since 1918."

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