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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 23:41 GMT 00:41 UK
Queen praises Polish 'fortitude'
The Queen and Poland's President
The Queen welcomes Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski
The Queen has welcomed Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski to the UK with a banquet at Buckingham Palace.

In a keynote speech on Wednesday evening, she celebrated his country's new membership into an enlarged European Union.

However she warned that despite the fact that Europe is no longer divided, "new enemies of liberty are emerging".

She said the division had been ended "not least thanks to Poland's particular determination and fortitude".

"As we both know only too well, peace and freedom cannot be taken for granted," she said.

New enemies

"Europe's division has ended, but new enemies of liberty have emerged."

Britain and Poland had been allies in Bosnia and now in Iraq, "giving the people in these troubled countries a chance to build a better life", she said.

Poland is back where it belongs: a leading member of the family of free and democratic European nations
The Queen

She added: "Mr President, your own role in leading your country to join Nato and now the European Union has been exceptional."

Referring to the years of Nazi tyranny during the World War II, the Queen said the commitment of Poland and its people to the European ideals of freedom, democracy and peace had been sorely tested.

"Last year was the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in which so many Jews showed indomitable courage in fighting for freedom, tragically paying for it with their lives," she said.

"It is right to remember those who fought and fell to give us the chance to enjoy our freedom today."

According to the Queen, Poland was once again able to play its full part in shaping a shared European destiny.

"Poland is back where it belongs: a leading member of the family of free and democratic European nations," she added.

Former communist

With the rise of the workers' movement, Solidarity, under Lech Walesa, Poland was the first of the central European countries to overthrow communist rule in 1989.

President Kwasniewski, 50, a former communist, succeeded President Walesa in 1995.

He thanked Britain for its support of Poland's membership of the EU.

"I am very happy that already in the first week of Poland's membership of the European Union I can visit the country of our proven, devoted friends who in such a considerable way supported our accession efforts."

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