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English Section

Polish, Lithuanian MPs mark Polish constitution anniversary

03.05.2021 10:00
Polish and Lithuanian parliamentarians held a joint online session on Monday to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the adoption of Poland’s historic constitution of May 3, 1791.
  • Polish, Lithuanian MPs mark Polish constitution anniversary
Polish and Lithuanian Presidents at the Sejm, lower house of Polish parliament.
Polish and Lithuanian Presidents at the Sejm, lower house of Polish parliament.Photo: PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda took part in the event in person at the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament in Warsaw. He was joined by Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

President Duda thanked Lithuanian MPs for their participation, saying the event was a symbol of the two nations' close partnership.

The constitution of May 3, 1791 should be “a constant inspiration among the challenges of the 21st century,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nauseda said he believed in the strength of Polish-Lithuanian bilateral relations and friendship between Poles and Lithuanians.

Elżbieta Witek, the conservative Speaker of Poland’s Sejm, said during the joint session that the Constitution of May 3 was “the most outstanding and far-sighted achievement of Polish parliamentarism.”

May 3 in Poland is a public holiday which celebrates the adoption of the first modern constitution in Europe and the second worldwide, after the American Constitution, which was created in 1787.

The pioneering Polish constitution is described by historians as one of the proudest achievements in the nation’s history.

But reforms and liberties proposed in the document – including religious tolerance and the separation of powers – were viewed with suspicion in neighbouring countries, especially in light of the French Revolution raging at the time.

The Polish reforms were seen as a threat to the European status quo by Russia, Austria and Prussia, historians say, and the adoption of the constitution hastened the dismemberment of Poland by those powers.

After a series of partitions, Poland in 1795 lost its sovereignty for 123 years. It re-emerged as an independent state on November 11, 1918, the day World War I ended.

While Poland marks Constitution Day on May 3, Independence Day is on November 11, commemorating the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty.


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