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Were we in solidarity during pandemic?: President at UN General Assembly

“20 months of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic remind us of the word “solidarity.” But were we really in solidarity? Has humanity acted as it should in the fight against the virus? I have serious doubts about this,” President Andrzej Duda said during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

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“Have we, the ‘rich North’… shown solidarity with the countries of the South? Did we have equal access to vaccines and other measures to prevent the spread of the disease?” The President asked.

“After almost two years, when more than 4.5 million people have lost their lives, we should answer the question: how did we pass this test of solidarity? Glory to those who won the battle for the vaccine in laboratories and those who, risking their health and life, vaccinated hundreds of millions of our planet’s fellow inhabitants,” Andrzej Duda stressed.

He also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has obscured many international misfortunes and dramas, including conflicts in Syria, Ethiopia, Yemen, Libya and Ukraine.

“What was the reaction of the ‘rich North’ to the drama of the nation of Ukraine fighting for independence? It was the construction of the huge Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline through which Russian gas will flow to Western Europe, bringing the aggressor more billions [of Euros] and complete helplessness, or even indifference to the fact that Ukraine is in even greater danger,” he pointed out.

President Duda also drew attention to the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, stressing that the Belarusian regime “has been bringing tens of thousands of desperate inhabitants of the Middle East to its country for many weeks, forcing them to cross our borders and trying to create an artificial humanitarian crisis.”

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“We will not give way in this crisis, because we do not agree to the instrumental treatment of migrants, to using their difficult position for actions aimed at the security of our borders. I am also saying this as the leader of a state that is perfectly able to distinguish between a humanitarian crisis and a hybrid operation and which, together with allies, participated in the rescue of refugees at Kabul airport just a few weeks ago,” the President pointed out.

He also called for respect for the rights of Belarusian opponents and activists of the Polish minority, Andżelika Borys and Andrzej Poczobut, and demanded the release of all political prisoners in Belarus.

In his speech, the President also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has obscured one of the most serious topics – the fight against climate change.

“We leaders need to be aware of the challenges of protecting people and the planet from climate change. This issue does not go away with the pandemic and it too is part of international solidarity,” he emphasised.

Andrzej Duda emphasised that over the last 30 years, Poland has made enormous progress in terms of climate protection, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over 30 percent in the years 1988-2016. At the same time, he admitted that this was “just the beginning of the road.”

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