Andrzej Duda has been sworn in to become the sixth president of the III Polish Republic at a ceremony in the Sejm on Thursday morning.
At 10:00 am members the National Assembly, the 460-seat lower house – the Sejm and the 100-seat upper house – the Senate, stood up for the national anthem after which Andrzej Duda took the presidential oath.
Its text is written in the Polish Constitution:
“Assuming, by the will of the Nation, the office of President of the Republic of Poland, I do solemnly swear to be faithful to the provisions of the Constitution; I pledge that I shall steadfastly safeguard the dignity of the Nation, the independence and security of the State, and also that the good of the Homeland and the prosperity of its citizens shall forever remain my supreme obligation.”
Following the ceremony, the President made an address to the National Assembly.
President Duda recalled his electoral promises and pledged that these will not be forgotten. The new president stressed that the most important issues are to submit a bill to increase the tax-free bracket, as well as a introduce draft legislation to lower the retirement age.
Duda added that he hopes for support in the Parliament for the proposals. However, the Civic Platform-led coalition government has steadfastly justified its raising of the retirement age as an essential measure to combat Poland's demographic crisis.
He called for mutual respect, which, as he put it, is the key to repairing Poland.
“This respect must be the cornerstone of the community,” President Duda stressed, adding that he believes in a constructive cooperation with the government, the Sejm and the Senate.
While in the Parliament, the President laid flowers at the plaques commemorating Polish parliamentarians who perished during WWII and those who were killed, along with the president and other high-ranking officials, in the plane crash in Russia in April 2010.
From the Parliament, the President and the First Lady will proceed to St John’s Cathedral to attend mass, which will be celebrated by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Head of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, together with the Primate of Poland Wojciech Polak, Kazimierz Cardinal Nycz of Warsaw and the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Celestino Migliore.
Later in the day, during a ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Andrzej Duda will take over command of the armed forces.
Andrzej Duda is the sixth Polish President since the country embarked on the path of democratic transformations in the summer of 1989.
His predecessors were Wojciech Jaruzelski (the only one elected by the National Assembly, in July 1989), Lech Wałęsa, Aleksander Kwaśniewski (who served in the post for two terms, in 1995-2005), Lech Kaczyński (who was killed in the air crash in 2010, the last year of his term), and Bronisław Komorowski.
Duda told the Sejm that Poland's foreign policy should “not be a revolution, but it needs correction and an increase in activity.
“This correction is talking about our goals, our aspirations, presenting our point of view in a calm but firm and unambiguous manner, by communicating this to our international partners,” the president said.
On the international arena over the last 26 years Poland has enjoyed two great successes, according to the president: membership of NATO and the EU.
“Thanks to these events, Poland - not only symbolically, but also geopolitically - has moved from East to West.”
“European cohesion must be constructed in such a way that Polish affairs are also taken into account,” he added.
“In this way, we should build the unity of NATO,” the newly sworn in president continued.
Duda stressed the importance of building a strong and well-equipped army and pledged cooperation with the Minister of Defence. “But it will also be active. I believe that we can work together for the good of the Republic in this field.”
“Here one has to put the matter clearly - we need more guarantees from NATO, not only we as Poland, but the whole of Central and Eastern Europe in the current difficult geopolitical situation. We need a greater NATO presence in this part of Europe, including in our country,” Duda added.
Duda also said he plans to create an office for the Polish community abroad (Polonia).
“We must maintain connectivity with the young abroad, create conditions for their return to Poland.”