President of the Republic of Lithuania President of the Republic of Lithuania

Speech by President Gitanas Nausėda at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations

2021-10-19

Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Poland,

Honorable Speaker of the Seimas, Honorable Members of the Seimas, Distinguished Guests,

It is a great pleasure for me to participate in the commemoration of the anniversary of the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations. We have gathered here today to continue and symbolically complete the celebrations of the 230th anniversary of the Constitution of May 3, which began six months ago.

I am delighted that the President of the Republic of Poland has joined me at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on this very special occasion. When I was in Warsaw six months ago, I felt a great responsibility towards the Lithuanian, Polish and other peoples of the region, who share the legacy of our common state. I have no doubt that today His Excellency the President also deeply feels the significance and importance of this visit.

This is a great opportunity to remember the shared history of Lithuania and Poland, to appreciate our cultural heritage and the significant contribution of our nations to the development of Europe. We can be rightly proud that the Constitution of May 3, inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment, has interpreted and adjusted them to the actual realities of our region. We will always remember this legal document and celebrate it for placing Lithuania and Poland among the pioneers of constitutional thought.

The unanimous decision of the Seimas of the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth on October 20, 1791 to adopt the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations summed up a debate that began long before the outlines of the Constitution of May 3 were announced. This was the natural outcome of processes that took place at the end of the 18th century when the existential threat to the Commonwealth of Two Nations impelled our forebears to carry out urgent reforms and strengthen the State.

One of the most pronounced trends at the time across Europe was the centralization of state power. Accordingly, many of the most prominent and influential figures of the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth aspired to transform the Kingdom and the Grand Duchy into a single political entity capable of standing together and resisting the pressure of outsiders.

However, even after the Constitution of May 3 was adopted, the newly formed joint Police Commission found a place for “Two Nations” in its official name. It was a single institution, but it pertained to both nations. Not only to Poland, not only to the Commonwealth, but also to Lithuania.

It is telling that at that time, during the discussion on the further development of the institutions of the Commonwealth, the Castellan of Trakai, Konstantinas Pliateris pointed out that “being in the union, Lithuania cannot be considered a province within a common entity, it must be seen as one nation next to another”.

The Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations adopted in October 1791 reflected the natural political evolution of the Commonwealth from the Union of Lublin to the Age of Enlightenment. The constant search for compromise gave birth to a constitutional document, an integral part of the pacta conventa, which today can only be read in conjunction with the May 3 Constitution. The Mutual Pledge conclusively legitimized political binarism and Lithuania’s status as an equal partner of Poland in a federal state. In this way, its authors managed to reconcile the need for centralization with the tradition of state independence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The document, the 230th anniversary of which we are celebrating today, is important not only as one of the components of the May 3 Constitution. It is first of all proof that the development of Lithuanian-Polish inter-state relations was, and still is, based on the art of compromise. It must be founded on trust and tolerance. Only in this way can we continue our strategic partnership – and build on it in the ever-changing geopolitical reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lithuania and Poland rose from the ashes twice in the 20th century, taking strength from the traditions of freedom and statehood handed down from generation to generation.

For the third time, we are free to build our nations and pursue the well-being of our people. Never have we lived so well before. Never have we had such strong security guarantees.

I am glad to say that Lithuania and Poland continue moving forward together. In the recent decades, we have witnessed a rapid development of bilateral relations. However, I am sure that we have not yet exploited all the opportunities for cooperation.

Growing military, technological and economic threats and challenges are an important incentive to act together.

Like 230 years ago, Lithuania and Poland are at the forefront of Western civilization today. Attempts to heat up the atmosphere at the eastern borders of the European Union and NATO set special tasks for us in safeguarding the security of our countries and maintaining a balance in the region. We must not only focus on bilateral military cooperation, but also consolidate NATO’s unity, strengthen our border infrastructure and include Ukraine, which is both culturally and politically close to us, in the security framework and seek to restore its territorial integrity.

Our countries spare no effort to ensure that the citizens of neighboring Belarus can elect their own government freely and democratically. We believe in this and therefore consider the Lublin Triangle format open to the future democratic Belarus.

At the same time, it means that we need to be ready to deal with new threats. The hybrid attack by the Belarus regime, which has diverted thousands of irregular migrants across the Lithuanian, Polish and Latvian borders, has highlighted the need to improve existing EU legislation. We must adjust European law to the new realities in order to secure the EU’s external borders.

I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Poland for its assistance in managing the migration crisis orchestrated by the Belarus regime, as well as for its political support regarding the unsafe Ostrovets nuclear power plant and our efforts to prevent the electricity produced there from entering the EU internal market.

As before, I personally have high expectations of cooperation between Lithuania and Poland in developing the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy. The stability and future well-being of the whole region depends on our success in this area. We must therefore do everything we can to ensure a strategic direction for the EaP policy and to maintain the incentives to pursue ambitious reforms.

The spirit of the May 3 Constitution and the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations is also well reflected in the recent pace of development of our bilateral economic, energy and cultural cooperation.

We are sincerely glad to see rapid changes in Poland’s transport infrastructure. We, too, are enthusiastically engaged in the Rail Baltica project and we are looking forward to 2026, when the European gauge starts operating.

We hope to implement the Harmony Link project together with Poland before 2025, which is necessary for the synchronization of the Baltic States’ electricity grid with continental Europe. Yet another project, the development of the electricity interconnection with Poland, should also be completed soon.

It is no less important that cooperation between cultural, historical memory and scientific institutions, scientists, heritage specialists, and museum professionals from both countries is expanding. It is ongoing and targeted, and best symbolized today by the opening of an international exhibition and scientific conference at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, dedicated to our shared experience based on the May 3 Constitution and the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations.

Six months ago I said in Warsaw, and I can repeat it now, that Lithuania is rediscovering the Constitution of May 3. I would like us to see this Constitution as a whole, which includes the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations. I would like us to remember it as a unique effort in the conditions of the time to resolve the systemic problems of modernizing the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth and society.

May the spirit of the May 3 Constitution and the Mutual Pledge of the Two Nations, which has endured throughout two very difficult centuries reemerging to shine in the current age of freedom, always inspire our people. May mutual trust, respect and tolerance always serve as the cornerstone of Lithuanian-Polish relations!

Thank you for your attention!

Last updated 2021.10.19 16:58

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