President Duda, flanked by ICFR President Dan Meridor.
(photo credit: A. LACKO)
Security through deterrence does not exclude dialogue, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told a joint meeting of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, and the Polish Institute for International Affairs in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Poland is ready for dialogue, he said at the event at the King David Hotel, but it must be conducted under conditions of trust.
He was speaking in the context of new challenges and threats that have emerged and for which Poland, Israel and the rest of the free world should find common answers.
His two priorities, he said, are security and community. “In a world engulfed by brutal acts of terrorism, the best guarantee for security and community is solidarity.”
Referencing security as a global value, Duda said that if security is an important value as such, it is indivisible and all allies need it equally.
Poland, as a member of the International Coalition against Islamic State, is helping to fight terrorism in the Middle East, and has two airborne contingents in the region, he said.
Duda commended Israel’s cooperation with Egypt in fighting terrorism in the region, and said that in addition to its own involvement in this respect, Poland has increased its humanitarian commitment in the Middle East and is also acting to stabilize the situation in the Mediterranean which has become chaotic due to the migration crisis.
Touching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Duda said that Poland remains consistent in its belief in the two-state model, but only if this is achieved through direct negotiations and the resulting peace takes into consideration the interests of both sides, and that there is recognition of Israel by the Arab states.
As a responsible member of the European Union, Poland is an advocate for European unity, but at the same time wants to ensure that Europe is sufficiently stable for reforms to be introduced into the EU, he said.
Duda did not specify what these reforms entail.
In its relations with the United States, Poland wants to enhance cooperation in the fields of defense, energy, and innovation, and as far as Israel is concerned, Poland is keen to deepen its relations in innovation and technologies, “because Israel is the absolute leader of innovation in the world.”
He was proud to report that Warsaw is becoming increasingly important as a center of politics in Eastern Europe, and that many international International NGO's are opening branches in Poland’s capital, among them the American Jewish Committee.
In response to a question about Poland cracking down on anyone who makes a statement about “Polish” concentration camps, Duda became passionate. He went to great pains to explain that Nazi concentration and death camps were on Polish soil. “They were not Polish camps. They were German camps, and it was the Germans who murdered six million Jews of who three million were Polish citizens.”
He declared that he wanted to thank all those who “tell the truth and say there were no Polish concentration camps.”
Throughout his address and in other speeches that he gave during his visit, Duda repeatedly spoke of the thousand-year joint history of Poles and Jews. When challenged about Polish antisemitism before, during and after the Second World War, Duda insisted that Jews are very welcome in Poland today, and noted that during the war many Poles risked their lives to save not only their Jewish neighbors but also Jews who were total strangers.
He conceded that there are still individuals who are antisemites, but made it clear that antisemitism is not part of government policy and is not condoned by the government.
Duda invited all the Israelis present to visit his country to see for themselves how friendly Poland is to Jews.