Celebrating the Polish Constitution

Update: May, 04/2016 - 09:00
Long tradition: Warsaw, nurturing over 400 years of pride as a capital, is Poland’s largest city and an economic, political and cultural centre. — Photo courtesy of Poland Embassy

For the celebration of the 225th anniversary of the first Polish Constitution yesterday, Việt Nam News presents an article written by Polish Ambassador to Việt Nam Barbara Szymanowska.

May 3 is an important day for all Poles. On this day Poland celebrates the anniversary of enacting the constitution in Poland and across Europe in 1791. 2016 is also a special historic date because Poland celebrates 1050 years since it became a state and 66 years of diplomatic relations with Việt Nam.

Year 996 is considered the year of the birth of Poland. 1050 years ago, Polish ruler Mieszko united Slovian tribes and baptised the country. The introduction of Christianity to Poland is symbolically linked to the founding of the Polish state, and is also the first firm date in the history of Poland. Mieszko’s son Bolesław Chrobry completed the process of forming the country by conquering a considerable amount of territory. He was rewarded for his efforts with the throne and became the first legitimate king in Poland’s history. Poland became a kingdom in 1025.

The royal line of Mieszko ruled Poland until the end of the 14th century, when they died out. This forced Poland to look for their new king elsewhere. The Polish queen Jadwiga married the Grand Duke of Lithuania, thereby giving rise to a long-lasting union between the two nations. The alliance eventually evolved into the creation of one country: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In the mid-17th century, this huge political organism started to weaken. Neighbouring countries’ policy of using internal conflicts to maintain domestic disorder resulted in Poland’s existence being seriously endangered. The only way out was fundamental reform. The very last attempt to carry them out was to adopt the Constitution on May 3 in 1791. It was the first constitution in Europe and second in the world after the US. However, this important act did not save Poland’s independence. A few years later Poland vanished from the map for 123 years. The country regained independence on November 11, 1918 after World War I.

History plays an important role in Poland, but the country lives for the future and conducts pragmatic foreign policy focused on peace and stability, as well as providing an environment for economic prosperity. The Polish economy has been blooming and expanding to become the 23rd largest economy in the world. Poland, located in the very centre of Europe is the biggest trade partner of Việt Nam in that region. Poland has unique experience of successful economy transition from central-planned to market and is keen to share it with Việt Nam. 

In 25 years Poland moved from being a middle-income country based on cheap labour to an economy based on knowledge – more than 90 per cent of adult Poles graduated from high school (the average of OECD is 75 per cent). Education has a great impact on economy. In Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index 2015 Poland was ranked 25th in the world. Poland tries to share good experiences with Việt Nam – in 2015 more than 35 students from Việt Nam went to Poland for different Polish scholarships. Poland has been working together with Vietnamese universities on exchange programmes in the framework of the EU-financed programmed Erasmus+. 

In the terms of economy, Polish GDP rose 3.6 per cent in 2015 and was among the highest in the EU. The country’s trade volume with Việt Nam grew 17 per cent last year.

Polish culture is also expanding in Việt Nam. Sharing literature and music between the two nations provides a good environment for connectivity and people-to-people relations. Proof of such relations is the large Vietnamese community in Poland – more than 40,000 Vietnamese are living and working in Poland, contributing to the development of the country.

This shows that relations between Poland and Việt Nam have a bright future. — VNS