Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very pleased and deeply honoured to be delivering this opening address at the XIIIth Europe- Asia Think Tank Dialogue. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to our partners KAS and ISDS, and personally to Dr Hofmeister and Prof Hernandez for giving us the opportunity to co-organize such an outstanding and valuable event.
There is a popular Asian saying : my heart is happy when friends from afar are coming. Dear guests, your coming to Warsaw from such distant places as Korea, Thailand, China, Taiwan, India and those a bit less far away – UK, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany indeed makes my heart happy. It is the perfect way to remind me just how great an event we are all participating in those following two days. It truly is an honor to host you… Thank you all for being here with us.
Dear guests, welcome! It is a pleasure to see so many of you here today. A fact that shows us how rapidly the interest in Asia is growing in Poland. Thank you for coming.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year’s Think Tank Dialogue takes place in Warsaw due to the Polish Presidency in the European Union.
The Presidency we took over in July gives us the perfect opportunity to discuss issues that might not be discussed merely as much as we feel they should be. Issues that are usually on the bottom of the public debate agenda.
It also gives testimony to all the hard work the country and its society have been undertaking for the last 20 years, in order to successfully implement a democratic political system and a free market economy. Poland was welcomed back into the European Family and we joined the European Union with pride and joy.
However, we must not forget that there are new challenges ahead of us, one of them being the ever-growing importance of Asia in numerous aspects of the 21st century global reality. Europe’s and world’s economies, politics and cultures deeply depend and interact with Asian ones.
This is why in Poland Asia Research Centre, an institution bringing together young scholars with experienced academics and experts on all Asia related topics, we aim at becoming a communication platform for Poland, Eastern Europe and Asia, an international overseas bridge, so to speak.
I am proud to represent people who contribute to its construction day after day. Maybe it is not going to be as impressive as Taj Mahal, as modernized as the Petronas Towers or quite as long as the great Wall of China but I can ensure you that a really dedicated and powerful team of people is always present at its construction site. Our history is that of 3 years, rather short if we look at our partners, but the different backgrounds, nationalities and attitudes each member of the Research Center brings to the table help us grow in strength with every published article.
Allow me to introduce some of our renowned colleagues, who contribute to our mission both professionally and in their everyday life.
My colleague from Poland Asia Research Centre, Dr Krystyna Palonka, who spent several years in Sweden and Asia, coordinating many projects in Japan, China, Vietnam and Singapore.
Janusz Reiter, the director of the International Relations Centre and a former Polish Ambassador in Washington and Berlin. One of the most competent people to talk about Polish transformation’s success story and the country’s successful integration with Europe and the rest of the world.
Pawel Skotarek, a Polish lawyer fluent in Korean and Japanese, who represents the young generation of Poles dealing with new global trends and facing challenges with enthusiasm and determination.
Japan born Yoshiho Umeda, who came to Poland at the age of 12 and spent most of his life here, actively creating and supporting the country’s democratic opposition, which finally led to political transformation in Poland after 1989. He was awarded with the Order of Polonia Restituta by the Polish President and became a part of Polish history.
Let me also welcome and introduce Mr Han Dang, a representative of the large Polish Vietnamese community that started settling down in Poland in the late 80’s and is working hard to contribute to the local society and economy.
I would also like to thank Mr JJ Singh, leader of a fast growing Indian community in Poland, a community whose attitude towards authority and family values are very similar to Polish.
Of course, we cannot forget the hardworking and successful Chinese community represented by the very active Mr Chai Hongyun, known for numerous Polish-Chinese initiatives. I believe there will be more and more work to do, as the global influence of China is increasing and it is also visible in Eastern Europe. It is most likely that we will have many new Chinese investors next year, hopefully as many as in Hungary, and Belarus, where money is literally pouring in from China. I am sure Mr Chai Hongyun who speaks perfect Polish after his 17 years here will play an active role in the process.
Mr Han Dang, JJ Singh and Chai Hongyun are all proof that Poland is a friendly place, where many Asians can live peacefully with the local population and build bridges between Poland, Europe and Asia together.
I would also like to steer your attention to the presence of prof Kong Tianping, who is actually a descendant of Confusius! However, having spent a long time in Poland and learnt the language and customs so well, he can be considered as the heir not only to his great ancestor’s heritage but also that of Poland.
I would also like to thank Mr Falk Altenberger, and KAS. Thanks to his efforts, professionalism and hard work, we can enjoy today’s meeting and conference.
Together with Ukraine, Poland will be hosting the European Football Championships next year and that is why you can see construction sites wherever you look. The slogan of the ruling party that has won the election two weeks ago was Poland under construction.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I strongly believe this conference is also about construction and development. It is about building good interpersonal relations and coming up with inspirational ideas that will help to include Poland into European policy on Asia. Make it more familiar to Asian societies through the participation of Asian experts and will open Poland up for Asia.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us start building and let the creative juices flowing. Let us build the bridges that we lead us to our common goals!
Autor: Radosław Pyffel