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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » April 28, 2011
America in Poland
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U.S. and Polish Presidential Visits Throughout History
April 28, 2011   
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President Barack Obama’s trip to Poland in May will continue a tradition of high-level visits between U.S. and Polish leaders.

The first American president to visit Poland was Richard Nixon, who arrived on May 31, 1972. Nixon, who previously traveled to Poland as vice-president in 1959, declared, “For the first time in the long history and friendly history between our two countries, a President of the United States stands on Polish soil. I bring greetings of friendship from all of the American people to all of the Polish people… Niech żyje Polska [Long live Poland].”

The next president, Gerald Ford, visited Poland in July 1975, though he had also visited before becoming president.

President Jimmy Carter came to Poland in December 1977. During a formal dinner at the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, he raised a toast: “On behalf of the people of the United States… to the indomitable spirit and to the freedom of the Polish people.”

President Ronald Reagan did not visit Poland during the time of martial law in the 1980s, but strongly supported the struggle of the Polish people for freedom. Reagan finally visited Poland in 1990, after leaving office, to show his support for the transition to democracy.

George Bush Senior visited Poland as both vice-president and president. In July 1989, President Bush met with government and Solidarity leaders and addressed the National Assembly. In July 1992, he attended the reburial of Ignacy Jan Paderewski at St. John’s Cathedral in Warsaw, along with Polish President Lech Wałęsa.

Bill Clinton came twice to Poland while president, in 1994 and 1997. During the second visit, Clinton invited Poland to join NATO, declaring, “Finally, we fulfill Poland’s destiny as a free nation at the heart of Europe.”

George W. Bush visited Poland in 2001, 2003 and 2007.

President Barack Obama planned to visit Poland in April 2010 for the funeral of President Lech Kaczyński, but was unable to fly because of the ash of a volcano in Iceland.

Every Polish president since the fall of communism has visited America. Lech Wałęsa first visited the United States in March 1991. Aleksander Kwa¶niewski visited the U.S. several times, including a week-long visit in 2005. Lech Kaczyński also traveled to America on a number of occasions. His first trip to the U.S, in February 2006, was his second foreign trip as president of Poland. He returned for visits in 2007 and 2009. Bronisław Komorowski’s first visit as president took place in December 2010, though he traveled to the United States in the past.
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