Welcome all of you! I’m very happy to be with the participants of this very important conference. I’m thankful for inviting me for the opening speech. It is very timely and duly.
Yesterday the president Putin established in “The National Interest” the article titled “The real lessons of the 75th anniversary of the World War II”. And there he stated, and I will quote him…just a second…
The article is about the facts and historical processes which led to starting of the World War II. And he wrote the following:
The quote from the president Putin: “The blame for the tragedy that Poland then suffered lies entirely with the Polish leadership, which had impeded the formation of the military alliance between Britain, France and the Soviet Union and relied on the help from its Western partners throwing its people under the steamroller of Hitler’s machine of destruction”…
This is the first thesis and the second thesis is that he shows Germany as victim of the World War II. So, he does not pretend to explain the reasons of the World War II in Germany, the political processes which were present there, together with the Soviet-German Pact, but he completely destroys the historical truth blaming the Polish authorities for beginning of the World War II.
And then, I believe that we have to bear in mind the following: the most important for everybody is the truth! I don’t like the word “narrative”. I understand that we are all fascinated by mostly the American way of presenting political opinions, and that politicians should have their own narrative. But, when we are talking about history we do not need narrative. Of course, as a historian I also understand that every historian writing history tries to explain the historical processes with narrative. But, the most important is that this narrative should show the truth, not the political influence.
Now we are confronted with narrative, which is the narrative of president Putin, the narrative which is completely not connected to the facts and historical truth.
Therefore, what I’m calling for, is not to answer with our narrative. Our answer should be just to show the truth because only truth can defend us. This is first.
Second is that the authoritarian countries use history as political tool. And it is very visible today with Russia, but also with China. And these authoritarian countries use this historical narrative as a tool to enslave their victims, to enslave, for example, the countries which surround Russia. And we have to bear in mind that Democracy can defend itself only by showing and promoting the truth.
Sometimes the truth is unpleasant. Sometimes the truth is very tragic for those who are presenting it. We can talk a lot about Polish-Ukrainian history. And we absolutely know that the truth about this history is painful for both the Poles and the Ukrainians. But when we think about friendship for the future we have to come back to the truth, we have to find the truth, because only the truth can enable us to avoid the falls from the past.
This is the same situation with Russia: what we need to expect our Russians friends is to base our relations on the truth and this is why I’m very thankful to the Memoria…which is the best example of how to deal between the nations…just on the truth.
So, I would like to conclude with the following:
We should study, research, promote the truth about the history because only the truth can be the basis for real friendship between nations.
This is also why I’m very keen to talk about truth with Russians, with president Putin.
So, search for the truth, promote the truth. Then the truth will be the basis for peaceful relations between our nations.
Member of the European Parliament from the Civic Platform party, member of the European People's Party, vice-chairman of the EP's International Trade Committee, deputy of the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee. Member of the Sejm of the I, V and VI convocations, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland of the V convocation, initiator and first chairman of the Polish-Ukrainian interparliamentary group in the Sejm of the I cadence. Expert in international affairs and respected commentator on Polish foreign policy.