New York

4 June 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at the opening of the exhibition by Poland: "The End of the System" [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you for your welcome. I am pleased to join all of you for the opening of this exhibition on this historic day.

I have been honoured to visit Poland as Secretary-General, most recently last November. Like people around the world, I have been greatly moved by your struggle for democracy.

A quarter of a century ago, the people of Poland lined up to vote in multi-party elections and paved the way for democracy.

The seeds of Poland’s freedom were sown in Gdansk and the shipyards of the Baltic coast in the 1970s and 1980s. This evening, Lech Walesa’s role in that movement and as leader of the Solidarnosc [Solidar-nosh] union and first President of a democratic Poland will be commemorated in the showing of the film; Walesa. Man of Hope.

The holding of free elections in Poland sent shockwaves across central and Eastern Europe. The Polish experience in turn influenced events right across the region.  The rest is history. 

We can all be inspired by the determination of the Polish people to turn a new page in its history.  They showed that peaceful democratic transition can take place even in the most difficult of situations.

The fundamental values of the modern Polish state – and your pursuit of good governance, the rule of law and human rights – provides an example for others striving for a free, prosperous and stable future.

In the spirit of the 25th anniversary of this event, I trust that Poland will continue to share its valuable experience and offer counsel to other countries in transition and places where people are seeking their fundamental freedoms.

I would also like to recognise the partnership between Poland and the United Nations. Only with such strong bonds can we hope to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing us today.

Today, more than ever, we need sustained and genuine dialogue and to work closely together to address the major issues confronting our increasingly interdependent world.
No country can do it alone. Just like 25 years ago, we need solidarity – global solidarity – to advance peace and security, promote sustainable development, uphold human rights and take on climate change.

Once again, I am honoured to be with you and salute Poland for its longstanding support. Thank you for your example.

I count on the government and people of Poland to further strengthen and deepen its contribution as we work together to build a better world.

Thank you.