The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
IN order to understand Poland's attitude toward the problems perturbing the world, it is not sufficient to know simply that we are a socialist country belonging to the great community of socialist states, a fact which per se determines the basic trends of our policy. Even though the main line of a state's policy is, broadly speaking, dictated by the specific conditions resulting from its social system, and though, within this general framework its current policy is being shaped by many internal and external factors which determine the situation of a given state, yet this does not cover all elements influencing this policy. The roots of each state's policy are embedded also in its historic past and grow out of its own specific development. This is particularly true in our case. The policy of present-day Poland, more than that of any other state, stems from the history of the Polish people, their tragic experiences in both the distant and the recent past.
Less than two centuries ago, at a time when the United States had won its independence, Poland lost hers. Three mighty and predatory powers partitioned the country and for over 140 years the Polish people were deprived of their statehood. Only the abolition of Tsarism, the victory of the socialist revolution in Russia, and the defeat of Germany and Austria opened the road to Poland's independence. The Poland of that time, however, did not draw the proper conclusions from this significant fact, which is why her independence was not based on solid foundations.
The policy of Poland between the two world wars was permeated with hostility and hatred towards the Soviet Union. This was the cause of her doom. The politically reactionary and socially egotistic classes which ruled the country placed their class interests above the national well-being. Their policy was responsible for Poland's weakness, deprived Poland of her natural allies and isolated her from other states, as became glaringly apparent in 1939. Not only did the ruling classes fail to make up for the country's economic and cultural backwardness once it had gained its independence; their 20 years of power were marked by retrogression in many respects. In 1938, Poland's industrial production per capita was 20 percent of the European average, as compared with 30 percent in 1913.
These were the reasons for Poland's catastrophe, in September 1939, when the Polish people for the second time lost their independence. The responsibility rests with the social classes which wielded power in the inter-war period. In 1939 Poland was easy game for Nazi Germany. The prewar rulers' guilt was the greater because their blind hatred for the Soviet Union and their fear of their own nation led them to enter into a reckless and suicidal alliance with Hitler, support the expansionist policy of the Third Reich and even join in its attack on Czechoslovakia. But the essence of the problem was not that Hitler succeeded in deluding his Polish allies. History again proved that Poland was incapable of averting catastrophe and preserving her independence when at a later stage she broke with Nazi Germany and tried to safeguard her security by an alliance with the Western powers.
The existence of an independent Poland always was plainly in the interest of the Western states. Yet even after Hitler's attack on Poland, these states, though they declared war formally on Germany, did not engage in any military operations in the defense of our country. In September 1939, isolated Poland was dying under Nazi Germany's heavy blows. She had no friends then to hurry to her aid, to save her from defeat, just as the Poland of the gentry had been without friends when she was erased from the map of Europe by the three partitioning powers.
The reasons for Poland's isolation in 1939 are generally known today. The policy of the Western powers was to direct Nazi aggression towards the east, against the Soviet Union. And the fact that this could be achieved only by sacrificing Poland was considered an unavoidable evil. Poland was to be written off, in the hope that in the final account the balance sheet would be closed on the credit side. There were errors, however, in these calculations, for before Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union it had already dealt some mortal blows to the Western countries.
The historic experiences of two centuries taught Polish people the bitter truth. The former Poland, whether in bondage or after she gained independence, was only a pawn on the political chessboard of Europe, serving the great powers in their political games. Until the socialist revolution in Russia, Poland could not free herself from this role. And when, thanks to this revolution, conditions were created which made it possible for Poland to discard her former role and safeguard her independent statehood, the anti-Soviet policy of the classes then ruling the country barred the way. The alliance and friendship with the Soviet Union were as necessary for Poland as air to breathe is necessary for life; and Europe needed it to create a barrier against Nazi aggression and for preservation of peace. The Polish people, drawing the correct conclusions from their tragic experiences, swept away the social and political forces which had made Poland weak and had led the way to the catastrophe in September 1939.
Their tragic experiences taught the Polish people yet another truth, fearful in its eloquence. To other states, losing a war did not mean slavery and loss of statehood as it did to Poland. The Nazi Government intended to go even further. According to plans overtly proclaimed by Nazi Germany, she not only intended to erase Poland from the map of Europe as an independent country, but our land was to become a "Lebensraum" for the Germans. The Polish people were to be evicted and were threatened with the tragic fate of the Jews--biological extermination. Occupied Poland became a virtual hell. Six million innocent people from Poland and other countries of Europe were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps at Oświecim, Majdanek and Treblinka. The Polish nation was decimated by executions in the streets, prisons, camps and forests. One-fifth of the Polish population met death at the hands of the Nazi exterminators. Warsaw, reduced to rubble, became one vast cemetery. As much as 38 percent of our national wealth was destroyed.
Poland owes her liberation and independence to the Soviet Union and the Soviet Army, which together with the forces of the United States, Great Britain and other allies in the anti-Nazi coalition routed Nazi Germany. Moreover, it was thanks to the Soviet Union and its stand at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences that an independent Poland was able to emerge within new and just frontiers, encompassing in their entirety the historic Polish lands from the River Bug up to the Rivers Oder and Neisse, with an access over 300 miles wide to the Baltic Sea.
Opinions are expressed in the West that Poland's present policy is dictated by her geographical situation. This is absurd. It is not geography that determines the policy of a state, but the people composing it and the social classes governing it. The fact that Poland bordered on Tsarist Russia and the former Germany was one source of her historical tragedies. But she benefits now from having the Soviet Union as a neighbor. Having learned from experience, Poland has chosen the road of close friendship and alliance with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. This guarantees peace and the security of our frontiers and is an unfailing safeguard against the revanchist aspirations of the German militarists.
Having socialized the means of production, Poland is making great economic efforts to rebuild the country from wartime destruction and to eliminate the backwardness inherited from former rulers, so as to ensure a higher standard of living and culture in the shortest possible time. In the political sense, she has become a people's democracy governed by a broad coalition of progressive forces rallied round the working class party which is the leader in the construction of the socialist system.
Thus defense of peace and the consolidation of our independence, the dynamic development of the productive forces of our national economy and the construction of a just socialist system--these are the three elementary principles guiding the policy of Poland.
Judging by the American press, public opinion in the United States ignores the profound historical and social roots of the socialist evolution of contemporary Poland. American writers, dominated by their dislike of Communism, incline to regard the socialist line of Polish policy as a result of "external pressure from the Soviet Union" and of "dictatorship imposed by the Communists." Apparently they need to adopt this thesis to make their readers believe that "the foundations of Communist rule are crumbling" and that the Polish people dream of nothing but how to wrest their country from the alliance with the Soviet Union.
There can be, and are, differences of opinion among the Polish people as to the various concrete problems of our life. There are differences arising from various attitudes toward religious beliefs. Critical views may be and are expressed concerning certain steps taken by the central or local authorities. Some dissatisfaction may be and is voiced by people because of difficulties or shortages they may have to cope with. To the rather amusing surprise of Western correspondents who visit Poland, our citizens express opinions on such matters quite freely. But there are no differences of opinion among the overwhelming majority of Poles as to the fundamental principles of our People's Republic. The best proofs of this were the results of the elections to the Sejm and the people's councils held during the last few years in an atmosphere of such freedom that even unsympathetic Western reporters could not but recognize it. Socialism in Poland is growing out of Polish soil and has struck deep roots in it.
The new forms of social life initiated 15 years ago released the energy of the nation. In 1959 the value of production in Polish industry was almost seven times as high as in 1938, not to speak of the incomparably richer and more up-to-date assortment of goods produced. Polish agriculture--though still based mainly on small holdings, insufficiently equipped technically--has increased the yield per acre by 50 percent over the prewar period, even though the agricultural population decreased by one-third.
From being a country where two-thirds of the population lived from the land, Poland has become an industrial-agricultural country where almost 60 percent of the people get their livelihood outside agriculture and where the number of industrial workers has increased threefold. The national income has trebled as compared with the prewar period, and this has been accompanied (despite the great investment in economic development) by a great rise in the level of consumption and an improvement in the standard of living and the national culture. These social and economic changes have resulted, among other things, in raising the average life expectancy in Poland from 50 before the war to 65.
The gap in economic development separating Poland from the highly developed countries of Western Europe has been narrowed. We expect that at the present rate we shall catch up with them in the next 10 or 12 years in per capita production and consumption. Thus socialism has clearly proved that a socialized economy--without capitalists and big landowners, without dividends paid to foreign capitalists--develops incomparably faster and permits a just distribution of income to each according to his work.
Some Western observers, reckoning on our difficulties in agriculture, forecast that our policy of simultaneously increasing production and gradually creating socialized forms of land cultivation will not succeed among peasants. Agriculture in Poland is indeed lagging behind, both in yields per acre and labor productivity. Nor does it meet the country's needs. Only mechanization and agro-technical progress, achieved through joint efforts of the peasants aided by the state, can bring about a substantial increase in agricultural production and prepare for a thorough transformation of our agricultural system into one with big, modern, highly-efficient farms based on coöperative principles. We have no intention of forcing Polish peasants to do this. They can be convinced only by practical experience. It is not necessary to be a Communist to understand the necessity of merging small inefficient holdings into large farms based on modern science and technique; it is enough to be a sober, thinking American farmer who knows how to calculate.
Another subject in which Western observers take a special though less sympathetic interest is the relationship between the state and the Roman Catholic Church. They allege that the Church creates an impassable barrier to Communism or at least will undermine the existing social system.
I do not exclude the possibility that there may be Polish priests who would like to play the part of political fighters against Communism, but they are unable to find support either among the larger circles of the clergy or among the population. Complete religious tolerance exists in Poland; it is guaranteed by the state, is universally recognized and is not questioned by any honest foreign observer. In many respects freedom of religious practice, freedom of all rites and religious holidays, is wider here than in many capitalist states. Both the clergy and the faithful fully avail themselves of this freedom.
All speculations that the Polish people can be divided into believers and non-believers and set one against the other, that the Polish Roman Catholic clergy would let themselves be used for anti-state activities and call on the faithful to fight against the people's authorities, are doomed to failure. And neither the influence of the Vatican Curia nor pressure exerted on the Roman Catholic Church by other centers hostile to Poland will be of any help.
Misunderstandings of one kind or another have occurred and will no doubt occur in the future between the state and the Church. Indeed, they are unavoidable in every country which wishes to observe the principle of a strict separation of Church and state and where for long centuries the Church had a strong influence on the spiritual life and customs of the people. This is confirmed by the history of many Western countries where conflicts between the state and the Roman Catholic Church were sharper than those occurring at present in socialist Poland. Misunderstandings and conflicts may also occur with those Church representatives who engage in activities going beyond their pastoral duties and enter the realm of politics in conflict with the prevailing social and legal system. Such conflicts have been and will be solved with full observance of the principle of religious tolerance.
Poland's new position as a socialist country means that for the first time in her one-thousand-year-old history her frontiers are lasting frontiers of peace and friendship. Mutual alliance and aid link Poland with all her neighbors--the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic. Her relations with them are based on unity of interests and aspirations, on equality and respect for the sovereignty of each country. The Polish nation's sense of security stems from this alliance, which grew out of the joint victory over Nazi fascism, the joint road taken in social transformation and all-round political and economic coöperation.
In the light of the inclusion of the German Federal Republic in the Atlantic Pact and the intensive rebuilding of German militarism, Poland has joined other countries threatened by that policy in a defensive alliance. The unification of the forces of the socialist countries in the framework of the Warsaw Treaty and the tremendous increase in the economic and technical potential of the socialist world now form an insurmountable barrier for those who would like to return again to policies of the "Drang nach Osten" or an "anti-Communist crusade." The Polish-Soviet alliance has also brought the Polish nation enormous advantages in the reconstruction and development of its economy, and has become an accepted principle for public opinion in Poland. Nothing disturbs the close and fraternal relations between Poland and the U.S.S.R. We are only surprised that some American newspapers and politicians spread absurdities about alleged Polish-Soviet misunderstandings and conflicts, trying to undermine by every possible means the conviction about the durability of the alliance and friendship linking our two countries. This is faultfinding for the mere sake of it--a vain Sisyphean labor.
Poland's peaceful aspirations are very closely linked with the idea of the peaceful coexistence of states irrespective of their social systems. People's Poland has always favored a relaxation in international tension, termination of the cold war and understanding between the East and West. We consistently uphold the principle that all controversial issues between states should be solved exclusively through negotiations and mutual agreements. Like our allies, we want the present division into military blocs to be replaced by collective security and peaceful coöperation.
We welcome the turn for the better in international relations which occurred last year, particularly as a result of Premier Khrushchev's visit to the United States and his talks with President Eisenhower. We hope that it opens the way to broader agreements which will secure peaceful coexistence, competition and coöperation between the socialist and capitalist states and exclude armed conflicts. We are convinced that the growing tendency to peaceful coexistence must finally get the upper hand, for it is a manifestation not only of the good will of the statesmen now heading the big powers but of the profound transformations which have taken place in the contemporary world. The alignment of forces is shifting decidedly in favor of those countries which exclude aggressive war from the arsenal of their foreign policy. I am thinking, first, of the development of the socialist countries and the growth of a number of sovereign states in Asia, Africa and Latin America. I have also in mind the growing influence of those people in governing circles in the West who realize that a thermonuclear war would lead to the annihilation of entire nations and unpredictable consequences for all mankind. The realization of the necessity of peaceful coexistence between all countries, irrespective of their social systems and ideology, is becoming an increasingly decisive factor in the international situation.
For these reasons we believe that the forthcoming Four Power summit meeting, which bears supreme responsibility for the fate of mankind, has every chance of bringing about an understanding on the most urgent controversial issues, such as the termination of the arms race and controlled disarmament, the final cessation of atomic and hydrogen bomb tests, a peace treaty with Germany, the problem of West Berlin, etc. The Declaration issued by the signatories to the Warsaw Treaty on February 4, 1960, is a document of good will, testifying to the unanimous and determined endeavors of the socialist countries to reach constructive peaceful solutions to controversial international problems.
The most momentous of all the subjects for discussion between East and West is Premier Khrushchev's proposal for general and complete disarmament, a proposal backed by the unilateral reduction in the armed forces of the U.S.S.R. Adoption of these proposals, which are of tremendous importance to mankind, would not only remove most of the controversial issues now dividing the members of the Warsaw Treaty and NATO but would also open up the possibility of appropriating gigantic material resources now being used for the production of means of destruction for meeting the peaceful needs of countries in different stages of economic development. Although implementation of the idea will still encounter many obstacles, especially where the remnants of the cold war have not yet been completely eliminated, it should lie at the foundation of all partial solutions. Poland, together with other socialist countries, will do her best to promote this idea.
It is only natural that Poland should concentrate on the main problem of European security, i.e. the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany. Though 15 years have elapsed since the end of the war, Germany is one of the main danger spots in the relations between the East and West, a source of mutual distrust which poisons the international atmosphere. Poland's principal aim, like that of other socialist countries, is to create a situation in which German militarism will never again threaten the security of its neighbors and world peace. Criminal German militarism has twice been mainly responsible for world wars and, should it succeed in unleashing a third world war, it would not only bring about the collective suicide of the German nation but would also push into the abyss of annihilation hundreds of millions of people in both hemispheres. Who can reconcile himself to such monstrous prospects?
In the interests of all nations, therefore, German militarism should be bridled and liquidated. The Nazi régime in Germany was not abolished by the Germans themselves; it was smashed only by the allied armies of the anti-Nazi coalition. The powers justly decided at the Potsdam Conference to apply a number of measures which would once and for all cure Germany from racism and militarism. Unfortunately the Potsdam decisions have not been put into effect in the whole of Germany. Militarism and Nazism have not been uprooted. Only in the German Democratic Republic has this been done. Revanchist territorial claims against anybody are not heard from that country, and fascism has been exterminated there.
The situation in the German Federal Republic is just the opposite. Hitler has gone, but the Nazis remain. They have remained in important posts in the West German state, even in the government, and are setting up mass revanchist organizations. Nazi colonels and generals command the Bundeswehr and also hold leading posts in the general staff of the Atlantic Pact.
Should anybody doubt this, the latest fascist and anti-semitic excesses in Western Germany have revealed to all what is hidden behind the screen of the ruling régime. The reappearance of the swastika on the walls of German towns has surprised many people in the West, but it was no surprise to us. It is the natural fruit of the German Federal Republic's policy, a continuation of the agelong traditions of the Prussian invaders, the "Drang nach Osten."
The policy of the German Federal Republic is characterized, above all, by three incontestable facts: First, the reconstruction of Germany's military power, the Bundeswehr, and its equipment with the most up-to-date weapons. Second, attempts to obtain a revision of the frontiers established in Europe following the defeat of German fascism, and particularly of Poland's frontiers on the Oder and Neisse Rivers. Third, endeavors to regain hegemony in Europe and to strengthen the Federal Republic's economic and military potential to the point where it could impose its policy upon the other Atlantic Pact countries. These three main trends have made the German problem the principal source of conflict in Europe and are proof that the German Federal Republic does not identify its aims with a peaceful future for the world.
The remilitarization of the German Federal Republic has been effected from the very beginning with acquiescence and even great financial, military and technical aid on the part of the Western powers, particularly the United States. It was included in the Atlantic Pact, and during the cold war certain American circles have put their stake on the Bundeswehr as the Pact's main striking force in Europe, as an argument in defense of the "policy from the position of strength." Contrary to the postwar agreements concluded by the countries of the anti-Nazi coalition, its armed forces were not only revived but freed from the restrictions imposed by the Western powers themselves. The Bundeswehr has been equipped not only with all kinds of conventional weapons but even with missiles.
The nuclear warheads of these missiles today are still under the control of the United States forces. However, representatives of the United States Government announce that atomic weapons and technological secrets will be put at the disposal of its allies. These statements naturally arouse alarm and distrust and cannot but strengthen vigilance in many countries, particularly in Poland. For the transfer of these most destructive weapons to the allies of the United States would as a practical matter put them at the disposal of the Bundeswehr, the army of the only country in Europe which is putting forward territorial claims against its neighbors and fostering the spirit of revenge. Only boundless naïveté can prevent one from seeing that all this increases the threat to peace. Today, when the cold war is giving place to a climate of détente, many Western statesmen try to calm public opinion by saying that the Bundeswehr forms part of the Atlantic Pact forces, and that the Pact is, as it were, a strait jacket for the West German militarists and a school of peace for Nazi generals. Such reasoning amounts to standing on one's head.
The strengthening of the West German armed forces and the putting at their disposal weapons capable of using atomic warheads cannot but enhance the importance of the Federal Republic and its position within the Atlantic Pact. There can be no doubt about it. The problem is quite clear. The greater the strength of Western Germany the greater its influence on the policy of the NATO countries. And since nobody in the world would even try to assert that Western Germany is influencing its Atlantic allies in a spirit of peace, the greater its strength the greater its possibilities of influencing its allies in a spirit of cold war, of aggravating international tension; all this would only intensify the bellicose tendencies in the policy pursued at present by the West German militarists. Modern military technology with which the Bundeswehr is to be equipped creates a genuine danger of provoking conflicts, unpredictable in their consequences.
That this is not an imaginary danger is best proved by the whole policy pursued by the West German government, which is today playing the role of the main bastion of the cold war. That government is stubbornly opposing all proposals, even most realistic ones, concerning the settlement of the German problem. Herr Adenauer even went so far as to say that he regards peaceful coexistence as an illusion. One cannot deny that he is consistent in his attitude. This is the consistency of politicians stubbornly clinging to a hopeless concept, the beginning and the end of which is the absorption of the German Democratic Republic and liquidation of the Potsdam decisions concerning Germany's frontiers, as well as the reconstruction of an aggressive, militaristic German power.
The demand for a revision of Germany's eastern frontiers is unequivocal proof of the aggressive character of the German Federal Republic. At Potsdam it was decided that the former German territories up to the Oder and the Neisse Rivers--territories wrested from Poland in the course of centuries--were to be excluded from occupational status and given to Polish administration and the German population transferred out of them. In consequence, it was obvious to everybody that confirmation of Poland's western frontier in a future peace treaty had been virtually decided upon. The German Democratic Republic recognized the present Polish-German frontier and confirmed it in the Zgorzelec Agreement of 1950.
During the last 15 years these territories have become an integral part of Poland, inhabited by 7,500,000 Poles, more than a third of them born there since these territories were recovered. Through the efforts of the entire nation, Poland has rehabilitated these lands laid waste by war, and has increased their industrial production more than one and a half times over what it was when these lands belonged to Germany. We have opened 21 university schools from which thousands of specialists in many fields have graduated. All Poles regard these territories as an inseparable part of the Polish People's Republic. The present status--the product of historical justice and of the peaceful work of the Polish people--can be questioned only by adventurers who are driving towards a new war. Yet the government of the German Federal Republic and powerful groups there are openly putting forward territorial claims against Poland and Czechoslovakia.
No serious politician in today's world can fail to realize that the revisionist claims of the German Federal Republic are nothing more than mere wishful thinking. Nobody takes seriously the statements of its leaders that they have no intention of realizing their revisionist claims by force. Common sense and the entire history of Germany belie this. All the world knows that any attempt to revise the Oder-Neisse frontier would automatically result in war. In spite of this, the United States and the majority of other members of the Atlantic Pact have so far passed over in silence the revisionist demands made in Bonn. In avoiding recognition of the irrevocable fact of the present Polish-German frontier they encourage only the advocates of revenge. Among Western statesmen only General de Gaulle has stated that Germany's present boundaries, including her eastern frontiers, have been settled once and for all. The same attitude is being taken by many influential politicians in the West, but so far this has not found reflections in official statements by representatives of their governments.
The general bitterness aroused among the Polish public by this ambiguous policy and by the whole practice of arming the new Wehrmacht is therefore fully justified.
One cannot eliminate international tension and at the same time tacitly approve of the aggressive plans of the West German militarists. Poland demands that the Western powers state unequivocally that the Polish-German frontier on the Oder and Neisse will be sanctioned in the future peace treaty with Germany. Poland demands this not only in her own interest but also in the interest of peace. What is at stake is no mere formality but an important political and moral act. Actually, Poland has nothing to fear as regards the security of her frontiers. They are not and will never be an object of international bargaining. The joint strength of the socialist countries constitutes sufficient might to nip in the bud any attempt at violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Poland, the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia. In demanding that the West explicitly recognize the Oder-Neisse frontier we are motivated by our concern to extinguish the cold war and prevent the revisionist forces--which are degenerating into fascist and racist forces--from torpedoing a relaxation of tension and threatening the vital interests of countries both East and West.
The conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany would be the best evidence that all the states concerned share this attitude. At present, Germany is divided into two states, with such deep differences between them that we cannot speak seriously about their unification in the very near future. A peace treaty should therefore be concluded with both German states. While assigning to them their due sovereign rights, the treaty should at the same time reaffirm Germany's present frontiers, forbid the Germans to have atomic and other weapons of mass destruction and provide for other conditions indispensable for Germany's peaceful development. On this problem Poland shares the stand taken by the Soviet Union at the last Geneva Conference of the Foreign Ministers of the four powers and fully supports the draft peace treaty there submitted.
However, the Government of the German Federal Republic categorically denounces all proposals which could lead to a peace treaty, since a peace treaty would deprive it of the possibility of fanning the cold war, questioning Poland's frontiers, and resorting to other aggressive steps, besides eliminating Germany's chance of regaining domination in Europe.
The Western states have on many occasions countered proposals for concluding a German peace treaty by raising the issue of Germany's unification. In the present situation, when German militarism is increasing its potential with the help of its Western allies, unification cannot be brought about. As a matter of fact, it is not desired by the Western allies themselves, for they realize that the hegemony of an armed, united and expansionist Germany would threaten their own interests.
The conclusion of a peace treaty with the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic and the settlement of the problem of West Berlin have become such urgent issues that they will be discussed at the summit meeting. Peace in Europe and in the world as a whole will gain if the Western powers denounce the stand of the German Federal Republic on these problems and consent to the final closing of the last chapter of the Second World War.
Poland for years has participated in all measures designed to ease tension in international relations. She now will actively participate in the Ten Power Disarmament Conference due to start its work soon. Thanks to her peaceful policy, Poland has been elected to a number of international organizations such as the Economic and Social Council, and, as the representative of Eastern Europe, to the Security Council. It is a source of satisfaction that her election to this most important United Nations organ, achieved with the support of the majority of members, represents not only condemnation of the policy of discrimination against the socialist countries but also, undoubtedly, her growing prestige in the international arena.
Peaceful coexistence above all means trade--trade without discrimination, based on the principle of equality and mutual benefits. Even during the cold war Poland endeavored to develop economic exchanges with the capitalist countries, and trade with them now accounts for 35 to 40 percent of her foreign trade. At present we maintain economic relations with 136 countries and territories; our annual turnover with countries outside the socialist camp is steadily rising and last year reached nearly a billion dollars. Further development of trade with the West depends, above all, on the elimination of the remaining economic discrimination left over from the period of the cold war. The countries that open their markets to our goods will have the best prospects for a broad exchange with us.
During the last few years Poland has also developed a broader economic exchange with the United States. A useful role was played here by the American commodity credits to Poland. Credits of this type, granted with no political conditions and with due respect for the sovereignty of the country concerned, help to improve international relations and create an atmosphere of trust between countries with various social systems, thus laying the foundation for further fruitful coöperation. The attempts made from time to time in the West to treat the credits as an instrument to influence Polish policy grow from a misunderstanding and can only diminish the beneficial effects which the credits have on the practice of peaceful coexistence.
Peaceful coexistence also means cultural and scientific exchange, the exchange of information and visits. Poland has sought to develop this type of coöperation widely on principles of reciprocity. Our frontiers are open to tourists and leaders from the West. Tens of thousands of our people visit the West, and what limitations there are on this travel stem from lack of foreign currency.
In these circumstances the activities of such Western propaganda centers as "Free Europe" and the like, which in their Polish broadcasts spread falsehoods and misinformation, must arouse our categoric protest. These cold-war radio stations are operated by people from among the reactionary Polish émigrés who long ceased to represent anybody in Poland; they interfere in the internal affairs of our country, trying to belittle the achievements of the Polish people and the Polish state and stirring up hatred towards Poland's neighbors. It is no secret that "Free Europe" is financed by certain circles in the United States. Its activities are not only in discord with the principle of peaceful coexistence, but also with the elementary principles of honesty, and harm Polish-American relations. Poland has a right to expect that this method of propaganda will be curtailed, the more so because Polish broadcasts to the United States and other Western countries never interfere in their internal affairs and give the most objective information.
Peaceful coexistence cannot eliminate rivalry and the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism. Both sides share this view. Not long ago Secretary Herter, in a speech before the National Foreign Trade Council, said: "We Americans welcome competition, and we are ready to join him [Khrushchev] in finding ways of making it securely peaceful. . . . The Communists repeatedly proclaim their belief in their creed and system, and its eventual triumph. We must match their expressed belief with faith in our own principles."
And indeed, we do believe that socialism is a better social system, which has raised Poland from misery and made it possible for her to develop the creative power to improve steadily her standard of living. Americans can differ about this, particularly those not familiar with capitalist Poland and present-day Poland. In their own country the capitalist system may suit them better and may seem to them a better system than ours. We cannot eliminate dispute on this subject, but it should in no way become a reason for international conflict, much less a reason for war. Dispute on the basic ideological problem can be settled only in the peaceful competition between socialism and capitalism, in the course of mankind's advancement. Those who succeed in ensuring the people a better and more justly organized life will win.
Polish-American relations have been considerably improved and normalized during the last few years. The most concrete expression of this improvement is the development of economic relations and cultural contacts. An important role has been played here by the direct contacts between Polish and American political and state leaders, in particular by the visit of Vice President Nixon to Warsaw and the visits of members of the Polish Government to the United States.
Poland is willing to maintain and develop friendly relations with the United States based on equal rights and mutual advantage, excluding interference in each other's internal affairs. However, certain circles which favor the cold war endeavor to disturb our relations. Public opinion in Poland was unpleasantly surprised last year by a number of unfriendly moves, among them the activities of the American Delegation to the United Nations aimed at preventing Poland's election to the Security Council, and the aggressive misleading of the public by part of the American press as to the real situation in Poland. We do not believe the American people will approve these sad remnants of a period in international relations which we hoped belonged to the past.
The world is entering a new era greatly influenced by the universal desire to remove the threat of extermination and to utilize the splendid achievements of the human mind for the good of man. Peace is today of supreme value. It can and should be preserved, irrespective of all ideological and political differences dividing the world. It must be built by all countries, whether large or small, whether more or less advanced in economic and cultural progress. It must be consolidated in multilateral and bilateral relations. We look to the future with optimism. Fifteen years ago the nations which had bathed in the blood of the World War raised the cry: "No more wars." Today we are convinced that the realization of this universal demand is nearer than ever before.