Aleksander Kwaśniewski (born 15 November 1954) is a Polish politician and journalist. He served as the President of Poland from 1995 to 2005. Kwaśniewski was elected to the presidency in 1995, defeating the incumbent, Lech Wałęsa. He was re-elected to a second and final term as president in 2000 in a decisive first-round victory. Although he was praised for attempting to further integrate Poland into the European Union, he faced criticism for involving the country in the Iraq War. His term ended on 23 December 2005, when he handed over power to his elected successor, conservative Lech Kaczyński.
- I think, for me, the first important thing is that the West should have a common policy toward Russia. So the unity of the European Union and the United States is a precondition for good talks and good relationships with Russia.
- In the old Belarusian society, women’s stories—however important—were silenced. The crucial change we observe now is that women are not only organising to survive but they are leading the fight. That is indeed incredibly inspirational!
- I understand that if someone asks me to be part of some project it’s not only because I’m so good, it’s also because I am Kwasniewski and I am a former president of Poland. And this is all inter-connected. No-names are a nobody.
- Six years ago, I didn’t hope, I didn’t dream that in 1995 I would win the presidential election. But the situation in Poland changed very fast, and became totally unpredictable. Poland is going on this democratic way faster than we thought before.
- Poland really started to change in 1989. Since then, we have achieved our main goals: we are in the European Union, we are in NATO, and we finally have democracy after almost fifty years of communist rule. We have a full-fledged free-market economy.
- Ukraine is not an ideal country, nor will it be one for a long time to come. But we have the opportunity to introduce it to our standards. If we don't do that, Kiev will follow the Russian and the Belarusian model. Ukraine was strongly under Russia's influence for centuries, and its people experienced a very brutal form of communism.
- "Ex Polish Leader on Failed Ukraine Talks" in Spiegel International (9 December 2013)
- Today there is no communism in Europe, no Warsaw Pact, no balance of fear. We, Poles, have a great satisfaction that the cause of the construction of better, united and secure Europe of free people began in Poland and has achieved the present phase here, in Rome.
- The Cold War walls have come down. They have set free the spirits of freedom and democracy, but also unleashed the demons of new threats to security. Among those threats are unconventional capabilities of the so-called "states of concern."
- "Speech at the NATO HQ" (13 June 2001)
- We have become aware of the responsibility for our attitude towards the dark pages in our history. We have understood that bad service is done to the nation by those who are impelling to renounce that past. Such attitude leads to a moral self-destruction.
- "Speech at the Jedwabne Ceremony" (10 July 2001)
- The transformations in the Polish economy continue. We are slowly approaching the completion of the privatisation of enterprises and banks. We have built a securities and financial instruments market from scratch. The private sector, employing almost 70 per cent of the entire working population, is growing dynamically.
- "Speech at a meeting with the representatives" (16 April 2000)
Quotes about edit
- Ex-communists frequently did well out of the ‘transition to the market’. This was a phenomenon common to several states in the region but not in Poland, the Czech Republic or the abolished German Democratic Republic, where communists were flung out of positions of influence. Nearly everywhere the communist parties adopted fresh names, new leaders and a programme of ideas close to social-democracy rather than communism. This was usually not enough to earn them popular trust. But they were not disgraced in elections and in 1995 the ex-communist Alexander Kwasniewski won the Polish presidency and served two full terms. This had been barely imaginable in the heady years of Solidarity’s supremacy. Yet capitalism had not been kind to many people in Poland and elsewhere in the 1990s. Mass unemployment, shoddy welfare facilities and a widening of the gap between rich and poor gave communists a second chance in politics. They had to adjust their appeal by wrapping themselves in the national flag, throwing Marxism to the winds and identifying themselves with the needs of downtrodden electors. Electoral victory did not come easily or often. Kwasniewski had done better than the candidates put up by communist parties in western Europe.
- Robert Service, Comrades: A History of World Communism (2009)