POLAND NEEDS CHANGES
Artur Stelmasiak talks with dr. Andrzej Duda – a candidate for the Polish Republic President
ARTUR STELMASIAK: – At the moment of our talk we do not know the official results of the first ballot of presidential elections, but with much probability one can say that Andrzej Duda won. How do you evaluate your result?
DR. ANDRZEJ DUDA: – It is a pity that we were not successful in the first round (laugh)… But elections are not won on one’s own. It is not only my victory, but the effect of work of many people and engagement of million Poles, for which I thank everyone.
– What are further campaign plans?
– To convince those who voted for my competitors because like me, each of them presented a program of changes. Therefore, I thank them, especially those who will not take part in the second round of elections. I am sure that their candidacy was motivated by their love to homeland, and also by their willingness to repair the Polish Republic. I also say: Poland needs changes. On the road of a social dialogue, repair of our country will become a fact.
– As a minister in the office of Lech Kaczynski you know the Presidential Palace very well. Are there any more important pieces of furniture than the chandelier?
– (laugh)…This statement of Donald Tusk was to attack the president prof. Lech Kaczynski but now it is taking revenge on the current president. This ‘chandelier’ became a symbol of inactive presidential post of Bronislaw Komorowski.
– And what about other pieces of furniture?
– What is the most important are the desk and the table. On the desk acts are signed and made. As a president, I will try to pay particular attention to making good law which serves to Poland and Poles. President Bronislaw Komorowski rarely uses the desk because during his cadency there were twice less acts than in the office of prof. Lech Kaczynski. Whereas the table is a symbol of a meeting and a talk. I promised that I would support a dialogue with citizens and sit at the table with them because Poles deserve a president who listens and defends them.
– In the campaign you were brutally attacked for your opinions about in vitro. Do you feel discriminated for your religious beliefs?
– I will not keep it as a secret that I am a religious man. I have my own opinions but in this advert I was deliberately manipulated. During my speech which was used by Bronislaw Komorowski, I spoke that although I am personally against the in vitro method, it is impossible to prohibit it completely. My opinions go together with the teaching of the Church but as the president, I will look for an agreement. The current discussion deliberately got to the Seym so that the Civil Platform could use it in the electoral campaign. After all, they have been governing for eight years and only now are they discussing the issue of in vitro. It is not accidental but cynical using the problem of infertility for a political fight. One must say clearly: this is a bad action.
– So, what are your opinions like. President Bronisław Komorowski says that he is for life, so he is for in vitro. Are you also for life?
- I am for life but not at the cost of another life. We need an act which protects life but does not sanction legally destroying embryos. At the present situation a compromised solution could be allowing for in vitro but only provided that other embryos would not be frozen and destroyed. I mean prohibition of making supernumerary embryos. As the president I would allow for a possibility of making only as many embryos as they would be needed for a woman to get pregnant.
- At present in Poland there are a few million embryos in the state of permanent hibernation.
Would you like to defend embryos before freezing whose future is unknown?
- Yes, I would. But I would also like to say that in Poland there are not any programs of treating infertility. In vitro omits the illness instead of treating it. I would like to create a project of real treatment of infertility.
- I wonder whether in Poland a catholic person has a right to become president. After all, the advertisement spot of Bronisław Komorowski is an open attack on people who want to live according to the teaching of the Church.
- I hope that Andrzej Duda will become president. I do not conceal or am ashamed of the fact that I am a believer. But I wonder how Bronisław Komorowski can attack the teaching of the Church in one sentence and in another sentence refer to the authority of bishops. Unfortunately, it is typical for his candidacy. We can mention his signing the so-called anti-violence convention to which the Episcopate and many catholic groups opposed. On the one hand, the president pretends to be a conservative but on the other hand he signs leftist projects. Therefore, he can always hope for support of Janusz Palikot, a politician who is openly fighting with the Church.
- Do you feel persecuted for your beliefs?
- For now I think that I am the right person to be the president, not a martyr.
- And how did you take accusations of Bronisław Komorowski of ‘radicalism’ and ‘medievalism’?
- I have opinions like St. John Paul II. I believe that Poles do not consider the Holy Father as a medieval radical person. For me and most of my compatriots the Pope was and is a great authority.
- It is a pity that the president Bronisław Komorowski does not agree with the teaching of John Paul II. But let’s leave the current president – let’s talk about the electoral campaign of Andrzej Duda. Some people accuse you of promising pears in the sky. Haven’t you made too many promises?
- I take full responsibility for what I say. I promise that when I am elected by the nation to be the President of the Polish Republic, I will make a lot of efforts to realize all postulates which I presented in my campaign.
- But presidential prerogatives do not give any tools to manage particular sectors of economy and ministries.
- That is true. but the active presidency can stimulate not restrict some directions of legislation. In the presidential campaign I use concrete points which are understandable for all citizens. First of all, I wanted to present sectors of Polish policy which I really want. It shows what I am going to fight for when I become president.
- What do you mean?
- When somebody becomes president, he is an elect of this nation and should remember about it. I know very well, that my main duty is going to be serving Poles. So, I am going to be the president who listens to citizens, talks with them, cares about their welfare and safety. I would also like to start the president’s legislative initiation, which does not exist in the current cadency. However, I would mainly like to invite Poles for a serious debate, not avoid it. I will not avoid a discussion on difficult and inconvenient issues.
- So, what is the difference between you and president Komorowski? After all, he says that ‘agreement is constructive’.
- President Komorowski says about agreement with those who agree with him. After all, Bronisław Komorowski has not even talked with those groups which collected millions of signatures under projects of civil acts. The Civil Platform party threw them into a bin and president Komorowski did not even say a word, invited nobody and talked with nobody.
- Do you suggest that the president does not listen to citizens?
- I do not suggest it but I know about it. Let’s take the example of the six-year-olds at school. I ask: where was the president at the time when parents were asking him for help? Is it how the pro-family policy looks like? He is not the president whose duty is to serve citizens, but a part separated from the reality of authority which tells Polish families what is best for them. As a result, today 6- or even 5 –year-olds go to school which is not prepared for their admission. Education reform is the most extreme example of arrogance of the government and the President.
- Let’s return to the sphere of values and ideals in the public life. This time to what is called patriotism and historical policy. What is the vision of patriotism of Andrzej Duda?
- At this moment I would like to remind about the person of deceased Lech Kaczyński. I remember emotions of people whom he had rewarded… Poles who had already lost hope that Poland would claim for them. Therefore, it is an honour for me to be supported by Mrs. Zofia Pilecka, a daughter of the captain Witold Pilecki, one of the most prominent heroes in history of Poland. We have such history of which we can be proud, and, therefore, I do not understand passivity of our authorities when our nation is being slandered in the international arena.
- Do you mean ‘Polish concentration camps’?
- This is the most extreme example of lack of knowledge, ignorance and also deliberate action of the western public opinion. I will not agree to it. I would like to establish an institution which will employ lawyers defending our good name. Polish heroes simply deserve it.
- And what is the vision of the foreign policy of president Andrzej Duda?
- I must refer to the presidency of prof. Lech Kaczynski again, who could attract countries of our region in order to pursue a definite policy towards Russia. When in 2008 he was making a speech in Tbilisi, he said that today Russia is attacking Georgia, tomorrow it is attacking Ukraine, and later… Today we see that he was right. The policy of concessions towards Russia and withdrawal of our activity from the East results in the situation in which nobody asks us about our opinion on Ukraine. The foreign policy is a hard game of interests. When we are praised and patted on our backs it means that others take advantages on it, and we are losing. We must negotiate strongly and not be afraid of criticism.
- I was listening to the pronouncement from 2 May when you were saying that the Church is a fundament of Polishness. Aren’t you afraid of accusations of excessive clericalism?
- In my opinion, the broadly understood interest of the Polish nation is connected with our tradition which was built on the fundament of Christianity. When in history there were situations of imposing a foreign authority on us, and even deprivation us of nationality, the Polish nation survived thanks to the Church.
- So, the Christian tradition is still important.
- If we speak about tradition, about our culture and fundaments of the Polish nation, it is impossible to omit the Church. This is not my fabrication, only history which is not questioned by a reasonable person. Therefore, attacking faith and our tradition is also an action to bring harm to Poland. John Paul II said that the word ‘Homeland’ comes from the word ‘patrimony’, that is, everything which we received from our fathers. This is our treasure which we should guard with our all strengths. Unfortunately, there are stronger and stronger pressures in order to impose foreign cultures examples on us. When we lose our roots we will be more and more exposed to what the wind of history will bring to us. As the president, I will defend Poles against these dangers which penetrate our culture, education and legal system. John Paul Ii wanted us to maintain our values which need to be spread among the young generation. We must pass our patrimony over to other generations.