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President Duda Makes His Mark
In Washington, D.C.

 WASHINGTON, D.C.Diplomacy Takes Center Stage. For the Honorable Andrzej Duda – President of the Republic of Poland – time was of the essence while here to attend the International Nuclear Security Summit on March 31 – April 1, 2016 as convened by U.S. President Barack Obama. It was attended by 56 world leaders and their delegations. The stark absence of nuclear superpower Russia was most notable.  (Photo: Embassy of the Republic of Poland)

At a reception hosted by Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf at the Embassy of Poland on March 30th, President Duda delivered a 30-minutes extemporaneous address in Polish that spanned different germane topics to over 250 regional and far-flung Polonia guests. Firstly, he commented on what a moving experience it was to stand among so many of his countrymen and women who were so proudly singing the Polish national anthem, in which he ably participated.

DSC04690forwebThe President expressed his gratitude, and that of the Polish nation, for all that the Polish Diaspora has done – and continues to do – for Poland. He cited the U.S. Polonia’s efforts that resulted in Poland’s becoming a NATO member, “teaching the Polish language, promoting Poland’s heritage and culture, and faithfully promoting the good name and image of Poland.”

(In photo:) Proud Polish Patriotism. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, at left, and Polish Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf are pictured singing Jeszcze Polska Nie Zginela – Poland’s National Anthem, at the Embassy of Poland on the eve of the International Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

President Duda specifically asked for “continued assistance in the area of dispelling myths, falsehoods and misunderstandings about Poland and her people, particularly during World War II. Defending Poland’s good name is the Polish Governments’ duty. A good example is the recent opening of the museum remembering Poles who saved Jews in Markowa (south-east Poland). The Nazi Germans executed the Polish family of Josef and Wiktoria Ulma, including their 6 young children (ages 2 to 8), for protecting and housing Jews during the Holocaust extermination.”

DSC04709forwebDuda noted that “at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Israel there are over six thousand trees memorializing Poles who saved Jews (during the Holocaust). This is our pride, with that we should feel honored, and this is how the falsified history is exposed.” The President reassured that the Polonia can count on the support from the President and the Government of Poland in this matter.

President Duda closed by saying that “Today Poland is a free and democratic nation even though there are disagreements among elected officials, much as we see here in the U.S., but Poland remains dedicated to the ideas of freedom and democracy.” His overall remarks were very well received by the audience and he was rewarded with thunderous applause as he exited the podium. In Photo: Mrs. Dorota Wysocka-Schnepf, at left.

PresidentDudaAfter the reception formalities, and during the bountiful buffet dinner, Duda was readily available and eager to converse with the guests – with numerous photo opportunities abounding. He personally greeted “those seniors present who have given so much of themselves to the Polish cause and continue to be a shining example to the next generations,” namely Walter Zachariasiewicz, General Edward Rowny, Lady Blanka Rosensteil and Kaya Mirecka-Ploss.

While here in Washington, President Duda adroitly managed to optimize his limited time by addressing the prestigious National Press Club on the critical and multifaceted matters of NATO solidarity and European security, especially in the face of a resurgent, militarized and overtly aggressive Russia, as exemplified by Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and balkanization of eastern Ukraine. Duda reassured the world that “Poland is a proud and responsible member of NATO” and that it is ready to fully keep its commitments to members of the defensive military alliance.

DSC04729forwebDuda also had a private, peripheral meeting with President Obama in the White House during a dinner for the Summit-assembled heads of state. As per Polish Presidential Minister Krzysztof Szczerski via Polish Embassy Press Release:  The two Presidents spoke mainly about nuclear issues, the forthcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw as well as the current controversial and heated political situation surrounding the Constitutional Tribunal crisis in Poland. (Photo: Delicatessen Cart)

Szczerski continued that: President Duda informed President Obama about the latest developments in Poland and about a meeting of political parties – which he welcomed with satisfaction – as well as about chances for political compromise regarding the law on the Constitutional Tribunal. And that Duda said that he “would soon launch steps to regulate the system of justice in Poland and the Constitutional Tribunal in the Constitution.” President Obama thanked Poland for its achievements and in the non-proliferation of nuclear arms.

DSC04734forwebAll things considered, it appears that President Andrzej Duda had a very successful foray into the world of international politics and fraternal networking with Poland’s diaspora while here in our nation’s capital city. (Photo: Grand Buffet)

Text and Photos by
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau

April 8, 2016