Polish President Andrzej Duda celebrates 400th anniversary of Poland's Constitution

Polish President Andrzej Duda celebrates 400th anniversary of Poland's Constitution

On Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda paid tribute to Poland's Constitution of 3 May 1791, one of the most progressive supreme laws in Europe at the time.

The constitution was passed by the Great Sejm Grand Parliament of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth on May 3, 1791, and was Europe's first document of its kind, predating the famous French Constitution and following the American one by only four years.

It is an anniversary of an attempt to save the Republic of Poland, made against all odds by people who were steadfast patriots, said Duda at an official ceremony held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

A year later, Austria, Prussia and Russia annexed parts of Polish territories in what has been called the first partition of the country, despite the fact that the constitution was short lived. Two subsequent partitions, carried out in 1793 and 1795, removed Poland from the map of Europe for more than a century.

Duda said that Poland was a republic of many nations that enjoyed years of great power thanks to the commonwealth of these nations, and was a republic of many nations 231 years earlier. The Republic of Poland of that time was a European superpower thanks to this commonwealth, thanks to this community and unity of nations that were able to stand against the biggest powers, the Moscow one, and the Teutonic one. Duda said that a declaration they had signed was of particular importance for the current Russian aggression against Ukraine, despite the meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine at the Royal Castle on the last year's Constitution Day.

The presidents stood at the Royal Castle as they adopted a joint declaration and spoke about the brotherhood of their nations, freedom, the right to self-determination and existence of our nations and states, and they expressed their opposition to imperialism, to interfering with the sovereign interests of our states and nations, and opposing Russian occupation of Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk, Duda said.

The president said how meaningful it was when they spoke again about a commonwealth of nations in our part of Europe.

Despite the costs that it involved for the West, Duda called for continued sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

In the face of what is happening in Ukraine, we must pursue a policy with an aim to force Russia to stop the aggression, Duda said. A policy of sanctions, including economic ones, is costly. The Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, wrote on Facebook that the systemic document was unacceptable for our anti-democratic neighbours, our future division powers: Austria, Russia and Prussia. The Polish Constitution was even more far-reaching than the one from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, since it ruled out slavery, according to Morawiecki.

The constitution of May 3 was a special document that, as the second in the world and the first in Europe, established the rules of modern law-making and was perhaps a precursor of the processes that were just beginning in Europe, according to Gitanas Nauseda, the Lithuanian president. We have a number of reasons to be proud and we're marking this day together with the Republic of Poland, Nauseda said.

A hereditary constitutional monarchy was introduced in the new constitution in place of the free election of kings religious tolerance and the division of power into legislative, executive and judicial branches.