Primary Source

A speech by Mr. Józef Czyrek at a founding meeting of the Polish Club of International Relations

Annotation

On May 11, 1988, Józef Czyrek, a member of the Polish Politburo, inaugurated the Polish Club of International Relations, an organization unprecedented in that it included both members of the government and of opposition organizations. Meant to coincide with the announcement of dramatic economic reforms by the Sejm (historically the lower half of parliament in Poland, during the Socialist period the sole legislative body), the speech acknowledged the ongoing economic and political crisis in Poland, the need for political pluralism, and the need for cooperation with countries outside of the Soviet sphere. The speech obliquely acknowledged the influence that many Polish opposition leaders had achieved abroad. Although the Club did not go on to any significant political achievements, its founding is important because it points to an attempt by the government to foster civil society in Poland.

Józef Czyrek, "A speech by Mr. Józef Czyrek at a founding meeting of the Polish Club of International Relations," Making the History of 1989, Item #78

Text

Speech by Jozef Czyrek,
11 May 1988

A speech by Mr. Jozef Czyrek at a founding meeting of the Polish Club of International
Relations, held on 11 May 1988

1. Together with our host, Professor Aleksander Gieysztor, we have envisioned
the founding of a Polish Club of International Relations. The talks conducted on this
matter and today’s meeting confirm a positive response to this initiative. I am convinced
that outstanding representatives of different circles and orientations will join in the
activities of the Club, which we want to base on the recognition of pluralism and
understanding.

2. We have stated in a joint letter with Prof. Gieysztor that Poland’s position
among the nations of the world demands broad social support, dialogue and public
evaluation. This would be the major objective of the Polish Club of International
Relations. I want to repeat: social support, dialogue and public evaluation. This is the
essence of how we see the activity of the Club.

3. This assumes a wide representation of points of view and opinions, lively and
unrestrained discourse on all questions of Polish foreign policy, relations in Europe and
the world, aiming at a consensus through dialogue. We assume that the Club will act on
the basis of the Constitution of the Polish People’s Republic and will be led by the Polish
raison d’etat. However, within the framework of the Constitution and the principles of
raison d´etat there is a wide area for an exchange of views and the drawing of
conclusions. I want to express conviction that in the Club’s activities we should strive
toward the broadest understanding and consensus. After all, there is no doubt that we are
led—above all differences of views—by the good of Poland, the good of our nation, of
our motherland.

4. Proposals to create this kind of social body have been suggested by different
circles for some time. We are now taking this initiative not without reason. We look at
the creation of the Club and its activity as one of the important elements building national
understanding. Poland needs it as much as [it needs] air. Recent developments not only
do not undermine such a need, quite to the contrary—they fully emphasize its
importance.

5. We are holding our meeting on a day of very important Sejm deliberations.
They fully confirm the will for the implementation of the II [second] stage of economic
reform, and very important resolutions are being taken, which are intended to speed up its
introduction and increase its impact. The Sejm also confirms its unwavering will to
continue and expand political reforms. I think personally that from the process of renewal
we will come to a deep reconstruction, to a significant widening of the Polish model of
socialism in economic, social and political life. Led by this desire is Chairman of the
Council of State Wojciech Jaruzelski, and—contrary to various opinions— he has broad
backing, both within the ruling coalition and various patriotic forces, as well as from
within our party.

6. In various discussions, including those held within our party, the idea of
building some kind of pro-reform coalition or anti-crisis pact is being put forward. There
is no doubt that Poland needs this kind of coalition very badly. I am personally convinced
that we should strive towards it, build it not for a distant future, but rather for the near
one.

7. I am stressing this basic objective because we see, together with Professors
Gieysztor and other co-authors of that initiative [discussed above in number 6], such
activity as a basic task of the Club. Consensus on the questions of foreign policy, to
which the Club should contribute, is as important as consensus on the questions of
internal economic, social and political reforms. In fact there can be no deeper national
understanding without a harmony of positions on key international questions for the
country. It is important in all countries and in ours in particular.

Foreign policy is certainly the area, which is evoking, relatively, the smallest
[number of] controversies. There is a broad understanding of the correctness of the
alliance with the USSR and other socialist states as the basis for the territorial integrity
and security of Poland. There is also broad support for the unambiguously peaceful
purposes of our foreign policy, and particularly [for] active participation in building joint
security in Europe and constructively shaping East-West relations, including the need for
positive developments in relations with Western countries. We fully appreciate the
significance of international law, including human rights, the weight of regional and
global problems in the natural environment, the necessity of expanding cultural
exchanges and the elimination of all barriers to economic cooperation.

There is no doubt that the purposes of Polish foreign policy are consistent with the
national interests of Poland. However, there is also no doubt, that both within the area of
objectives and of the ways of their realization, a broad social dialogue is needed. We
would like the Club that we are about to set up to serve well such a dialogue, an
elaboration—as I have already pointed out—of mutual understanding and consensus on
these matters.

8. In our times the significance of the phenomenon which is being called public
diplomacy, is growing. This form of diplomacy, engaging various social forces and
affecting the shape of foreign opinion on one’s country, is one of the great platforms of
international contacts. It’s even more important, the more representative and the more
socially and morally authoritative the persons are participating in it. We are convinced
that we can gather many such personalities in the proposed Club. And today’s meeting
also confirms it.

Based on an idea of national understanding, we would like to see the proposed
Club gather people of practically all patriotic orientations. We see it as place for people
who, as a result of their present or past activity, have contributed significantly to the
development of Polish relations with the abroad. We see in it people, who, from different
philosophical or political outlooks, participate or want to participate in expanding
contacts with abroad. People from very different circles, of divergent opinions, but ready
to get involved in building national understanding.

9. It is our conviction [that] the Club, in addition to its other purposes, should also
serve in shaping political culture. It should act on its principles and at the same time
make a significant contribution in the deepening of society. We think that this
understanding will gain support, because one cannot build a national understanding
without political culture.

10. Together with Prof. Gieysztor and other co-authors of the initiative we are
deeply convinced that the Club should have a social character. Thus, we do not want to
tie it to any state institution, nor to any existing social organization. We see it as an
autonomous social body set up on the basis of the law on associations and self-governing
principles of activity. We think that this formula is the best one and will gain support of
both the personalities gathered here, as well as many other persons to whom we have
appealed for participation. The draft statute of the Club is based on such principles, with
a significant contribution by Prof. Manfred Lachs, for which I thank him wholeheartedly.
This draft will be submitted here for discussion. We also want to submit for discussion a
draft list of people, to whom we have turned for participation in the Club’s activities.

11. In the end I want to thank wholeheartedly Prof. Aleksander Gieysztor for his
co-participation in this initiative and for hosting today’s meeting. I hope that the beautiful
Castle of which Prof. Gieysztor is so admirably in charge, will be the Club’s
headquarters.

[Source: Andrzej Stelmachowski Papers; translated by Jan Chowaniec for CWIHP.]

Credits

Józef Czyrek, "Speech at the Founding Meeting of the Polish Club of International Relations," speech, Poland, May 11 1988, Cold War International History Project, Virtual Archive, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

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A speech by Mr. Józef Czyrek at a founding meeting of the Polish Club of International Relations in World History Commons,