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May 24, 2024

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President of the Republic of Poland Speech On The 161st Anniversary of the January Uprising

21 stycznia 2024

Your Excellency, Mr. President of the Republic of Lithuania,
Distinguished Madam Nausėdienė,
Your Excellency, Mr. Ambassador of Ukraine,
Esteemed Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, representing here the patriotic civil society of Belarus,
All Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

161 years ago, an armed insurrection against Russian occupiers started on the lands of the former Commonwealth. This anniversary is filled with solemn mood, but our meeting also evokes my great joy. For once again Lithuanians, Poles, Belarusians and Ukrainians are celebrating under the sign which the insurgent authorities used to seal their documents with. It is a tripartite coat of arms depicting the White Eagle, the Pahonia and Saint Archangel Michael, symbolizing both the unity and the separate identities of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Ruthenia.

We are joined by a vivid memory of a great common legacy of freedom, by a magnificent tradition of struggle for self–determination and by the experience of peaceful, multilaterally beneficial coexistence – either as neigbours or within one, voluntarily established state organism. This unique bond of common, proud memory has become stronger over the last few years in particular. A great merit for that goes to Mr. President Gitanas Nausėda. Mr. President, I commend your important gestures which have induced gratitude of Poles over the last few years. Thank you for your presence and the significant words during the celebrations held on the occasion of the 610th anniversary of one of the biggest and most important battles in the history of medieval Europe – the battle of Grunwald – victorious for Poland and Lithuania. I am glad that the recent jubilee marking 500 years since the coronation of the last Jagiellonian King Sigismund Augustus was celebrated with dignity both by the Lithuanian Seimas and the Polish Sejm. I recall with acknowledgment the ceremonial commemoration of the 230th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of 3 May, which took place not only in Warsaw, but also here, in Vilnius. It is with deep emotion and joy that I think about the ceremonial session of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations, during which I said, on behalf of my nation, the words which are absolutely obvious for us, Poles: due to our remarkable, common history and also in view of the current close cooperation within the European Union and NATO, Lithuanians and Poles can and should call themselves brothers.

Of all our meetings, the one which particularly stood out due to its solemn atmosphere was the 2019 burial of the mortal remains of the commanders and soldiers of the January Uprising.  The ceremony was adorned with the national flags and wreaths laid on behalf of the Lithuanian, Polish, Belarusian and Ukrainian nations. I also frequently recall last year`s ceremony commemorating the 160th anniversary of the outbreak of the January Uprising, when I was honoured to host Mr. President Nausėda and his Spouse in Warsaw.

It was precisely there, in the capital of Poland, where on 22 January 1863 the independence conspirators said “no” to the brutal repressions of the tsarist authorities and to the mass conscription to the occupier`s army – for long years of forced, grueling service to Russian imperialism. A call was issued back then from Warsaw to “the People of Poland, Lithuania and Ruthenia” – to oppose despotism, to take part in the armed confrontation between “ European civilization and savage barbarity”.

The words of that manifesto send a powerful message to us also today. Since for centuries, a peaceful and armed resistance against the same violence, conquest, plunder and humiliation – against the inhuman order known as russkiy mir – has not ceased. The next stage of this struggle is the currently unfolding full–scale Russian invasion of an independent Ukraine, as well as the loop closing around Belarus, i.e. the dependence of the Minsk regime on the Kremlin. Therefore, by opposing Russia`s neo–imperialist policy, the free nations of Central and Eastern Europe are supporting, in solidarity, the fighting Ukrainians and the Belarusian democratic opposition.

„So prepare your weapons and strike deeply with bullets, / sharpen the steel of your bayonets on your fathers` grave!”, sang the insurgents of 1863 in the famous March of the Riflemen. Today we stand at Vilnius’ Rasos cemetery, as well as by many other insurgent graves – in Estonia, Latvia and Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. Recalling the sacrifice of our ancestors, we fill our hearts with the spirit of their courage, dignity and love of freedom. And once again, we make a great commitment: to  remember our common, great and proud history and to build our prosperous future together.


Honor and glory to the heroes of the January Uprising!

Long live the brotherhood of the free nations of Europe!