Polish president hosts New Year’s meeting for religious and ethnic groups

The Polish presidential couple hosted a New Year’s meeting with representatives from a number of ethnic and religious communities living in Poland.

The meeting took place at the Presidential Palace, where the president thanked those present for building “a unique community occasion of contemporary Poland”.

Poland was one of the most multicultural states before the outbreak of the Second World War, with ethnic Poles making up only around 65 percent of the total population. The invasion by Nazi Germany and subsequent genocidal campaign against Polish Jews and the country’s Roma population almost erased the two cultures from Polish territory.

On the initiative of the Soviet Union, and agreed to by the Western Allies at the Potsdam conference in 1945, population transfers were carried out in connection with the process of carving out new borders for postwar Poland. In effect, the number of Germans, Belarusians and Ukrainians living in Poland diminished significantly. As a result, the Polish state became one of Europe’s most homogenous, with more than 95 percent of the population considering themselves as ethnic Poles. However, ethnic and religious minorities can still be found across the country.

During the New Year’s meeting, President Duda underlined that all minorities have their place in Poland. He continued by stating “What is important is that all these religious minorities want to cooperate and talk to each other”. The president also stressed that the minorities are open to the idea of brotherhood and good co-existence.

President Duda didn’t shy away from talking about difficult times and memories, saying “we must draw conclusions from the most difficult moments,and the relations between the co-existing ethnic and religious minorities as well as the problems which were present and escalating.

The president concluded by stating that he is happy that everyone had showed up to give proof of brotherhood and unity, thanking everyone for accepting his invitation to the Presidential Palace.