Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Poland and Spain

Office of the Press Secretary

The President will travel to Warsaw, Poland, and Spain July 7-11. From July 7-9, the President will attend the 2016 NATO Summit, his fifth and final Summit with NATO leaders. The meeting will afford an opportunity to underscore Alliance solidarity, to advance efforts to bolster security to NATO’s east and south, and to project stability through new partnerships beyond the North Atlantic area. The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the Polish President to discuss U.S.-Polish relations, reaffirm the American commitment to Poland’s security, and exchange views on the broader security environment in Europe. While in Warsaw, the President will also meet with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation across a range of shared priorities, including countering terrorism, fostering economic growth and prosperity, and addressing the global refugee crisis. Following the visit to Poland, the President will travel to Spain from July 9-11. The visit to Spain, an important NATO Ally, will highlight robust security cooperation, a strong political and economic relationship, and longstanding people-to-people ties. The President’s agenda in Spain will include meetings with His Majesty the King of Spain and the Acting President of Spain.


October 17 will be National Day for St. John Paul II

The National Polish Apostolate Committee and the Saint John Paul II National Shrine are hosting a National Day of celebration of the legacy of Saint John Paul II on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. The observance will take place at the National Shrine of St. John Paul II in Washington D.C. This event will be celebrated annually closest to October 16, the day Karol Cardinal Wojtyla was elected to the See of St. Peter in 1978.

St. John Paul II left an enormous wealth of teachings on the meaning of life, value of the family, purpose of living, human dignity, and the formation of character of young people, etc. In his pastoral journeys, John Paul II always had a message for the Polish community and emphasized that his religious and Polish cultural heritage served him well to govern the Universal Church.

Under the leadership of Adam Cardinal Maida, Polonia in the United States, together with other constituencies, played a major role in establishing the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. Its dominant purpose was to promote the legacy of Pope John Paul II in the United States. The Polish American community was very instrumental and supportive of this endeavor. With the dawn of the great recession and other factors, the Center was acquired in 2011 by the Knights of Columbus, who assumed the challenge of perpetuating and assuring that the purpose and mission of the Center would endure for generations to come.

Pope John Paul II was canonized in 2014. Upon the request of Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) designated the Center as the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II in the United States.

The Knights of Columbus have invested substantial financial resources and established a museum worthy of one of the greatest Church and world leaders. The museum is a tribute to a Polish Pope, Saint John Paul II. The artistic arrangements of the exhibits amplified by the latest technology present the life of Karol Wojtyla as a student, priest, bishop, and pope in an engaging and captivating manner. His life, which was greatly affected by Nazi occupation and Communist rule, is portrayed with vivid reality. The difficult conditions of his life, his deep personal faith and a solid doctrine prepared him to be a spiritual leader, statesman and pastor of the world who led the Church for twenty-seven years.

Source: Polonia Media Network

Statement by the Press Secretary on Elections in Poland

Office of the Press Secretary

We congratulate President-elect Andrzej Duda on his election in Poland’s May 24 presidential election, and we applaud the people of Poland for remaining a model of freedom and democracy in the region through their election process. We also thank President Bronislaw Komorowski for his support for Polish-U.S. ties and for his strong leadership in the region. Poland is one of our closest transatlantic partners and a stalwart NATO Ally, and we look forward to working with President-elect Duda to advance our shared values and to build a more democratic, prosperous, and secure region, and to deepen the already strong partnership between our two countries and peoples in the years to come.


Roman Polanski appears in Polish Court

Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski attended a closed-door hearing Feb. 25, 2015, in a Polish court set to rule on his extradition to the United States, where he faces sentencing for the 1977 rape of a 13-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty in the U.S. to unlawful sex with a minor, or statutory rape, avoiding a trial, but then fled the country fearing a hefty sentence. The United States filed an extradition request for the 81-year-old fugitive in January, but Polanski said he doubted it would be honored. The dual French-Polish citizen, dressed in a suit and tie, appeared calm and made no comment as he arrived in court alongside his lawyer. Polish prosecutors argue there are legal grounds for the extradition to go ahead, despite a statute of limitations under Polish law on child sex crimes. If the Krakow court clears the extradition, Poland’s justice ministry will still have to make the final decision.

Source: Polonia Media Network

Court condemns Poland for secret CIA “Black Sites”

Warsaw (PMN)—The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Europe’s top human rights court, condemned Poland on July 24, 2014, for hosting secret CIA prisons, saying Warsaw knowingly abetted unlawful imprisonment and torture of two Guantanamo-bound detainees.

The Court ruled in favor of a Palestinian and a Saudi national, Abu Zubaydah, 43, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 49, respectively, locked up in a U.S. “black site” for several months in Poland in 2002-2003 before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where they are still being held. More than a decade later, they have not as yet had a hearing before a U.S. judge.

The ECHR said in its rulings over the cases that the Polish government “enabled the U.S. authorities to subject the applicant to torture and ill-treatment on its territory.”

Their lawyers told the Strasbourg court the men were repeatedly tortured by waterboarding. The ECHR also found Warsaw guilty of allowing the men to be sent to places where they faced torture, further detention and “flagrant denial of justice.”

The government was ordered to pay about $135,000 in damages to each man.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said that “Poland doesn’t comment on the court’s verdicts as we respect its jurisdiction.” Poland has three months to appeal the decision.

Poland’s president at the time, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was quoted by Polish news agency PAP as saying, “I respect the verdicts of independent tribunals, but I will not comment on them.”

Leaders of this NATO member have repeatedly denied knowing anything about the so-called CIA black sites. However, former Polish spy chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski said in 2012 that prosecutors had charged him in connection with the probe.

An investigation into the detainees’ treatment was opened in Poland in 2008, but is still not concluded, a situation that has been condemned by the UN’s anti-torture body.

Human right organizations in Poland hailed the ECHR verdict, noting it was the first time a European Union (EU) member was found guilty of hosting secret U.S. jails. In Warsaw, Irmina Pacho of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights stated the verdict proves that “government policy aimed at sweeping the case under the rug is short-sighted.”

Poland is one of a number of European countries accused of having assisted the United States in its extraordinary rendition of suspected terrorists from the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Guantanamo, in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Source: Polonia Media Network