• June 30, 2019
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The Union of Lublin and Importance of its Heritage

The Union of Lublin was a memorable event that defined the political and social order in Central Europe for many years. In this project, one can see many models of contemporary international politics,  said today in Lublin the Marshal of the Polish Sejm Marek Kuchciński.

The Speaker of the Seimas [the Lithuanian parliament, TN] Viktoras Pranckietis and the Marshal of the Polish Senate Stanisław Karczewski also participated in the debate titled “The importance of the Union of Lublin and its Heritage for contemporary European nations and states”. 

The Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sent letters to the participants of the celebrations. 

Mr. Kuchciński opened the debate on “The importance of the Union of Lublin and its Heritage for contemporary European nations and states” at the Center for the Meeting of Cultures. This debate takes place as part of the celebrations on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the Union of Lublin.

The Marshal of the Polish Sejm emphasized that “the Union of Lublin was a memorable event and defined the political and social order in Central Europe for many years.’’ 

– The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a political actor that was a rare example of a successful compromise between different nations, lands, religions, cultures, and languages, was established as a result of the Union of Lublin, pointed out the Speaker of Sejm.

He added that the essence of this project was the principle of independence and equality between the two partners. 

– A new public space was created with pillars of: parliamentarism, self-governance, tolerance, independence of the judiciary branch, republican electoral system, freedom and equality, a wide private sector, said Mr. Kuchciński.

The Marshal of the Polish Sejm also claimed that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was at that time “a political and systemic exception in Europe in which the absolutist rule and the principle Cuius regio, eius religio [English whose realm, his religion, TN] became a standard,” 

– Our Commonwealth was an opposition to these trends and that was why it had become attractive to many people, said Mr. Kuchciński.

According to the Speaker of Sejm, many models for contemporary international politics can be seen in the Union of Lublin.

– The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a huge political actor (…) that survived 226 years, was established as a result of signing the Union of Lublin, emphasized Mr. Kuchciński.

The Marshal underlined that the Union of Lublin was based, among others, on the protection of common values as a basis for cooperation between the nations and on respect for the diversity and traditions of each country. Mr. Kuchciński pointed out that today, it is also worth to pursue these values because, as he argued, they form the basis for cooperation.

“We proudly recall the great work of our ancestors, which is a testimony of deep political wisdom,” wrote President Andrzej Duda in a letter to the participants of the 450th Anniversary of the Lublin Union celebrations held on Sunday in Lublin.” 

Andrzej Duda’s letter was read by the president’s Chief of Staff, Krzysztof Szczerski.

“The Union of Lublin, concluded 450 years ago, is a great historical monument. We proudly recall the great work of our ancestors, which is a testimony of deep political wisdom, visionary thinking and civic responsibility, and at the same time the ability to build the common good through dialogue,” wrote the President.

He stressed that just like centuries ago, the act of union was very significant, “not only for Poles and Lithuanians but also for the course of history in Central and Eastern Europe,” and now “it provides the inspiration to create a successful future for our region and to unify the continent.”

The president indicated in the letter that the Union of Lublin was a real phenomenon on a European scale. “When international politics were primarily ruled by dynastic interests, authoritarianism and violence of those who were stronger against the weaker ones, which was proved by numerous evidence both in the East and the West, the union between Poland and Lithuania was created and based on the bilateral agreement, equality of rights and mutual respect,”  he wrote.

He reminded that “the main idea of the foundation of this Union was to become united amid thew multiplicity of two states.” The monarch, the defense and foreign policy, the currency and the customs system were common, while the official languages, the army, the treasury and the judiciary remained separate.

“The multinational state formed in this way and based on the principles of freedom, parliamentarism and democracy was a superpower in the Central Europe. For its residents, among whom apart from Poles and Lithuanians were also representatives of many other nations, religions and cultures, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a mainstay of tolerance and principles of friendly coexistence,” wrote the President.

He also pointed out that the Lublin Union had never been formally broken, and only the exterior aggression put an end to its existence. “Although the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth did not always follow the principles that were laid at its foundations, it was not a matter of chance that it lasted for almost 250 years with numerous triumphs and successes,” noted the president.

“It is undeniable that the heritage and tradition of the Union of Lublin had a strong, positive impact on shaping the identity of Central Europe, consolidating the principles of freedom, strengthening the sense of pride of following its own original path. It is today our common heritage,” wrote Mr. Duda.

According to the president, the Union of Lublin is an example of a great project which presaged  the prosperity of all its parties, and that a modern project that pursues the interests of Poland and its partners from Central and Eastern Europe is the Three Seas Initiative (TSI). “It springs up from the awareness of the great importance of our region in building a strong, developed and safe Europe,” stated the president.

Mr. Duda warmly greeted all participants of the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the Lublin Union. “Shall this holiday and its values strengthen us in the sense of community and, like a compass, lead us to the desired goals,” he wished them. 

“The essence of the Union of Lublin’s heritage is freedom,” said the Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland Stanisław Karczewski during the meeting of the Speakers of Parliaments.

“The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest political union of free people in the world at that time. It was not created by a single ethnic noble nation, but by all its ethnic nations and peoples of different religions,’’ emphasized Mr. Karczewski.

The Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis also took the floor during the discussion. He estimated that the Union of Lublin was one of the largest enterprises in all of Europe. “The act of establishing the Union was an evidence of innovative thinking in terms of the law,” he said.

Mr. Pranckietis said that the Polish-Lithuanian Union, the precursor of the European Union, proposed a “model for developing international relations.” According to him, this Union also showed that our countries can be tolerant and take into account each other’s interests.

The Speaker of Seimas also stressed that currently Poland and Lithuania play an important role in  the political processes that take place in Europe. He noted that for us it is still very important to focus on our common goals. He pointed out that Poland and Lithuania cooperate on the issue of Ukraine and its territorial integrity.

He estimated that the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass have changed the sense of security in our part of Europe, and added that the threat from Russia is real. In his opinion, this is why the strengthening of NATO’s Eastern flank and increasing defense capabilities in this region of Europe is of particular importance.

Mr. Pranckietis congratulated Poland on the recent signing of the agreement with the US, which will strengthen the presence of US troops in Poland. “It will be beneficial for the whole region,” he said.

“Let’s learn from our past. Let’s avoid the liberum veto. Let’s strive for a unity!” summed up the Speaker of Seimas. 

It is planned that the Sunday ceremony will end with a concert during which a new piece by Mikołaj Górecki “Missa” for solo baritone, mixed choir and orchestra will be performed. The concert will be performed by mixed bands from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Belarus.

On July 1st 1569, the Lublin Union Treaty was signed by the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the general and common Sejm of Lublin. It united two states into a political entity, the Republic of the Two Nations, which became one of the most powerful political actors of Europe at that time.


Translated by Karolina Antos within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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