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Numerous dignitaries of all nationalities and beliefs have been the honoured guests of the Council of Europe. These men and women, often instrumental in the implementation of political, social and cultural initiatives, illustrate the dynamism and values which, since the 1950s, have governed the work of the Council of Europe

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Lech Walesa [1943 - ]

President of the Republic of Poland

4 February 1992

quoteDemocracy is not an aim in itself. It is a means to a better, more secure and more prosperous life...quote

His speech:

...Poland has always been in Europe. In terms of its culture and civilization. Having accomplished its revolution by peaceful means, she has joined Europe politically as well. Through her own experience, she has attracted the other countries of the central and eastern part of our continent. Putting it in a more graphic way - Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Soviet Union and other countries have translated the script of the Polish way to freedom. They have turned it to their own use. And now they are carrying it into effects as their strength, possibilities and aspirations allow for it. Freedom and democracy have now become a thing of everyday life in the states of eastern Europe. They are now a standard over there.(...)

I think that western Europe should support the countries of our region, also in its own interest. You have to realize that your opening to eastern Europe will help this continent’s economic potential to grow. Why have I taken this opportunity to speak about it at greater length here, on the forum of the Council of Europe ? It is because I am privileged to be in the heart of democratic Europe, because it is just here that I can hope for an understanding of the obvious truth: it is that without prosperity democracy will have a precarious life. A difficult one, too. Prosperity will strengthen the newly won democracy. Otherwise, the citizens of the Eastern states will start wondering why they have ever fought for it. Democracy is not an aim in itself. It is a means to a better, more secure and more prosperous life…