“I see Lithuania not only as the leader of a neighbouring country. I always think of Lithuania as a person who feels his roots are here. As president, I have always said, and not everyone liked it, that a major part of my heart remains in Lithuania as my family comes from here,” Komorowski said during the ceremony.
The Polish president’s family comes from the Kavoliškis estate near Rokiškis, a town in northeastern Lithuania. Lithuania’s famous interwar lawyer Mykolas Romeris was also related to Komorowski.
In his speech on Tuesday, Komorowski stressed the importance of reminding Lithuania and Poland of their common history and the exceptionally successful last quarter of the century, calling for unity in the face of today’s threats.
“There have been good and bad emotions accompanying Lithuanian-Polish relations, and today we need to work for ensuring that those not-always-easy emotions rooted in our history are not replaced by indifference dominated by political pragmatism. (…) We, Lithuanians and Poles, know that nobody can always feel safe in this part of Europe, and we need good emotions in these difficult times,” the Polish president said.
Komorowski was congratulated by Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius who said that Komorowski “is known in Lithuania not only as a politician and the leader of the neighbouring country, one who has always realized the importance of good neighbourly co-existence, but also as a person close to our country, with family roots in Lithuania”.
It was reported initially that not a single Lithuanian leader would be able to come to congratulate Komorowski, but Butkevičius said he later changed his schedule so that he would attend the award ceremony.
“Since the president is now in Croatia, I asked to change the Seimas agenda, since I had to come,” he said.
Komorowski’s presidential term expires on August 6. He will be replaced by Andrzej Duda.