President Andrzej Duda in his speech at the UN General Assembly accused Belarus of leading a hybrid attack against Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. He also suggested that rich countries – including Poland – did not act in solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in the face of conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Libya.
The solidarity of rich countries towards the poorer, as well as the rights of nations and human rights, were the main topics of the president’s speech in New York. – This word has become a symbolic determinant of our policy, its ideal. When I say solidarity, I am also thinking of solidarity in the context of COVID-19. This is not an easy reflection. Especially towards us, the leaders of the rich world, the rich North – said Andrzej Duda.
The Polish leader pointed out, among other things, to unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. He also emphasized that he considered Poland to be part of this rich North. – Haven’t we forgotten that, in a pandemic situation, the vaccine is a human right rather than a commodity subject to market rules? – He was asking.
Andrzej Duda said about Poland’s joint actions during the pandemic
The president indicated that he wanted Poland to be a country of solidarity from the very beginning, so that it would not follow the principle that the weaker must die. He assured that Poland tried to protect every life with the same commitment and, whenever possible, tried to be in solidarity with other nations that needed help at a given moment.
– I am not able to say whether we did everything possible, but we tried, for example, by sending doctors to our friends in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, but also in the USA and Italy. I am convinced that some countries in the rich North behaved similarly to Poland, which donated 6 million doses of vaccines to our partners from the South, among others, said Andrzej Duda.
– But was it enough to close the obvious difference in access to vaccines, which were wasted in some countries and unavailable in others? It seems to me that our part of humanity still has a lot to complain about – assessed the president.
Andrzej Duda accuses Belarus of a hybrid attack
The strongest words were spoken when the president spoke about the situation on the border with Belarus. The president accused Lukashenka’s regime of leading an attack against the countries of NATO’s eastern flank and the EU and of instrumental use of migrants. – For many weeks, the regime of Alexander Lukashenka has been bringing tens of thousands of desperate inhabitants of the Middle East to his country, forced to cross our borders under police batons and trying to cause an artificial humanitarian crisis – said Andrzej Duda.
– These people then camp on the border, and the regime is deaf to our offers of humanitarian aid. These people, immigrants, are treated by the regime as pawns in the political game, their dignity and elementary rights are insulted, ‘added the president.
– We will not give way in this crisis, because we do not agree to the instrumental treatment of migrants, to using their difficult location for activities aimed at the security of our borders. I am also saying this as the leader of a state that is perfectly capable of distinguishing between a humanitarian crisis and a hybrid operation, and which, together with its allies, participated only a few weeks ago in rescuing refugees at the Kabul airport, he said.
Allegations against Lukashenka’s regime
Duda stated that the brutal actions of the Belarusian regime both against its neighbors and against its own people were one of the issues that did not receive due attention from the world due to the pandemic. – Since August 2020, hundreds of thousands of people have gone out to peaceful protests every day, demanding only one thing: respect for the election results. Instead, they encountered a truncheon, tear gas, and often bullets from a regime defending itself against its own nation, said the president and pointed out that there are currently over 650 people in prisons in Belarus, mostly young women and men, patriots who they just wanted to be able to honestly choose their leader.
He recalled that recently the hood court sentenced two of them – Mary Kalesnikawa and Maksim Znak – to 10 and 11 years in prison, and with them in prisons and detention centers for democratic activities are the leaders of the Polish minority in Belarus – Andżelika Borys and Andrzej Poczobut. – These are just a few names among hundreds of persecuted. We demand the release of all of them and greater solidarity from the international community, he said.
The president noted that nearly 150,000 people had gained shelter and work in Poland. Belarusians, including thousands of protesters. – Recently I told our Belarusian brothers that they are welcome with us and that Poland will be their home for as long as they deem it appropriate and necessary – he stressed.
Andrzej Duda draws attention to the situation in Ukraine
Duda concluded that the pandemic also overshadowed other dramatic events in the world, which were thus relegated to the background. He mentioned here, among others about the situation in Libya and Syria, as well as in Ukraine. – And yet the pandemic did not stop the war in Ukraine, where more than 13,000 people have died since the beginning of the Russian aggression and where one state has seized the territory of another state – pointed out the president.
– What was the reaction of the rich North to this tragedy of the Ukrainian nation fighting for independence? It was the construction of the huge Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, through which Russian gas will flow to Western Europe, bringing more billions to the aggressor and complete helplessness, or even indifference to the fact that Ukraine is in even greater danger from that moment, said the president.
He indicated that he had recently participated in the summit of the Crimean Platform in Kiev. “I was one of the few leaders of a rich North there. I looked there for those who had built and approved the construction of the Nord Stream 2. I did not find them – stated Duda.
Andrzej Duda on climate change
The president also raised the issue of climate change, stressing that it was also a matter of international solidarity. – Again I ask the question whether we, the rich North, are passing this test of solidarity, or are we just improving our statistics by moving production to the poorer countries of the South and using the least environmentally friendly technologies there, and then accusing these countries of “poisoning” the planet – said Duda.
He stressed that he was speaking as the leader of the country that overthrew the communist dictatorship in 1989 and inherited from it a very difficult ecological situation. The president pointed out that over the last 30 years Poland has made great progress in this matter, in the years 1988-2016 it reduced carbon dioxide by more than 30 percent.
He also indicated that the share of coal in the structure of obtaining energy is systematically decreasing, and the importance of biofuels and renewable energy sources is increasing. – But I humbly admit that this is only the beginning of the road – said the president.
That is why – pointed out Duda – in February this year the Polish government approved the “Poland’s energy policy until 2040”, indicating the directions of the energy transformation. According to the president, the document is an important step towards the low- and zero-emission transformation of the Polish economy. – I am convinced that in the name of solidarity it will also be implemented under the rule of my successor or successor – he added. He also emphasized that Poland supports a just transformation, taking into account the right of nations to live in decent conditions.
Poland’s activities for human rights
Duda also emphasized the importance of the primacy of international law. He argued that ensuring respect for international law was one of Poland’s priorities as a member of the Security Council in 2018-2019. – Today we are continuing our efforts to uphold international law by sitting on the Human Rights Council. Our priority is to protect particularly vulnerable groups: civilians in armed conflicts or religious minorities, he pointed out.
The president noted that the same goal would be for the Polish presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2022, during which – as he said – Poland wants to “act to resolve regional and frozen conflicts”.
– We want to use the potential of the OSCE to improve the conditions of the weakest and most vulnerable to threats. We will also strive to ensure that human rights are the main point of reference for the activities of the OSCE. Because at the source of human rights, of every human being, is solidarity – declared the president.
President Duda is one of over a hundred leaders who have attended or will participate in the General Assembly debate. In front of him performed, inter alia, US President Joe Bidenwhich heralded the beginning of the “era of relentless diplomacy,” as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping, who – in a recorded message – announced that China would no longer finance new coal projects abroad.
The speech at the UN headquarters was the highlight of President Duda’s four-day visit to the US. In addition, on Tuesday, the head of state met, among others with the leaders of Brazil, Turkey and Mongolia.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / SPENCER PLATT / POOL