Ilves receives honorary degree

  • 2010-05-26
  • By Ella Karapetyan

AMONG THE GREATS: President Ilves says that new EU members are not taken seriously enough.

TALLINN - On May 19, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who was on a two-day working visit to the Republic of Poland, was named an Honorary Doctor of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. “It is a great honor to be at the Catholic University of Lublin, which has long been a center for moral resistance against tyranny, whether it is the tyranny of Nazis or communism,” said the president in his speech at the ceremony to bestow him doctor honoris causa.

According to the head of State, many great Poles have come from the Catholic University of Lublin, including Karol Wojtyla, who was head of the Department of Ethics at the university before becoming Pope John Paul II.
In his speech, President Ilves commemorated President Lech Kaczynski and the alumni of the university, including Mariusz Handzlik, who was Deputy State Secretary of the Office of the President of Poland as well as being a good friend:

“Only a week before the tragedy, I was discussing the future of the European Union and NATO with Mariusz.”
When speaking about the European Union, President Ilves expressed his concern with the fact that even six years after Estonia, Poland, and several other countries joined the EU, the countries are still being referred to as “new” member states. “We have to admit that these so-called new members are not being taken as seriously as the old members in the EU. However, today it can be said that the new, not the old members, have managed their economies with responsibility, playing by fiscal policy rules,” stated Ilves. “I say that only by taking joint action can we overcome this classification into the new and the old,” said Ilves. “We must not submit to such a mentality; our voice must be stronger.”

According to Ilves, no other country but Poland, which was the only one that showed economic growth in 2009, has a bigger right to demand clarity from the European Union: “Clarity in both the foreign and fiscal policy of the EU. Estonia stands by you in this matter,” he emphasized. Ilves also met with the Rectorate of the Catholic University of Lublin and placed flowers at the memorial of John Paul II and Cardinal Wyszynski.

In the evening, the Estonian head of State also visited the Powazki military graveyard in Warsaw, where he placed a wreath on the grave of the Polish diplomat and Deputy State Secretary of the Office of the President of Poland, Mariusz Handzlik, who died in the plane crash in Smolensk on April 10.

Later, President Ilves also met with the acting president of the Republic of Poland, the speaker of the Sejm, Bronislaw Komorwoski and the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski.