Sunday, April 10, 2022

President Duda's Interview for CNN - full transcript

A few days ago, President Andrzej Duda gave an interview with CNN's Dana Bash. Since there is no transcript available on CNN's website, I translated the Polish transcript I found at (

 April 7, 2022

Dana Bash, CNN: Thank you very much for inviting us to the Presidential Palace. We appreciate very much that you have found the time. In the beginning, I would like to touch on the subject of these shocking photos that reach us, especially from Bucza. There, civilians were tortured, shot, and left in the street by Russian troops. President Zelenski said that if he had received the weapons, the planes that the West had asked for, then - and I quote: We could save thousands of people. He blames Russia for this, of course, but says that the West could help Ukraine. How do you comment on this?

Yes, of course, we've all seen those nightmarish documents that came from Bucza, those films that document the enormity of Russian crimes, in fact, in the suburbs of Kyiv. This is a sight that we have not seen since World War II. It was the last time that the bodies of civilians in such incredible numbers lay on the streets of the city. The magnitude of this crime, especially the pits into which the bodies were thrown and buried, reminded Poles of the Katyn massacre that the Russians committed in 1940 on Polish citizens and Polish officers.

The Russians then murdered almost twenty-two thousand Polish citizens with a shot in the back of the head. They buried them in the pits: over ten thousand Polish officers, Polish intelligentsia. For decades, the Russians did not admit it, and to this day, they do not admit it. And here it is the same.

This is the model of the Russian, once Soviet, the act of denying the crime - the crime is obvious, and they reject it. The same thing happens here.

I saw the face of Volodymyr Zelensky, whom I know well, with whom I have talked many times face to face, directly. It is his face there, in Bucza ... These film materials made a great impression on us, let alone the view there, in the place where he was ... There is no doubt that what is needed here is a firm, decisive reaction from the world. 

We support Ukraine as much as we can. We - Poland, we - members of the North Atlantic Alliance.

After all, not so long ago, I spoke here with President Joe Biden during his visit to Poland about various forms of support for Ukraine. Literally, a few days ago, so of course, we are acting.

It is so that President Zelensky represents a country that is under hostile attack today, a country whose citizens are being murdered and killed by the great empire that is Russia. Of course, he will be making all kinds of requests for support, and we must implement whatever help is possible. This is our duty. 

Dana Bash: You mentioned what happened here during World War II, what Russia did with Polish officers, with the intelligentsia. They denied it then and deny it now that they are committing these crimes, although we can see the photos. President Zelensky makes it clear that this is genocide. Do you agree with that?

It's hard to resist. Yes, this is a crime that most certainly qualifies for genocide. If we also consider the whole context of the various talks that are being held, where it is said about the denazification of Ukraine ... Complete nonsense! This is entirely untrue!

This is blatant black Russian propaganda. It is obvious search for an excuse to commit a massacre, just to kill people. The fact that Ukrainian civilians are being killed shows best what the Russian invasion is for. It simply serves - to some extent - the liquidation of the Ukrainian nation.

Dana Bash: The International Criminal Court operates partly in Poland, trying to collect evidence of war crimes. Can you provide any information on what has been established? Apart from these photos, of course, what else can be presented in court to prosecute perhaps Vladimir Putin himself?

The prosecutors of the International Criminal Court collect evidence, they also operate in Poland, and in our territory, it was precisely in the circumstances of war crimes that refugees who came to Poland were interrogated. 

Please remember that war crimes are not only what happened in Bucza. We see these attacks almost from the beginning of this war, and the battle lasts over 40 days. These are bombed estates where ordinary people live, with no defense, no military, and no defense positions. Apartment buildings are bombed. People are killed. They are killed. These are all war crimes. These types of attacks are a clear breach of convention. What is happening in Ukraine today is even a violation of the laws of war.

The prosecutors of the Tribunal have been operating for some time. Also, in Poland, they collected testimonies from refugees and collected materials. It is evident to me that there should be criminal cases. 

Former UN prosecutor of criminal tribunals to prosecute war crimes in former Yugoslavia Carla Del Ponte said she believed an international arrest warrant should be issued for Vladimir Putin. I also think that such measures should be taken. Not only towards Vladimir Putin but also towards all the people who work directly with him. The whole circle of people responsible for this massacre, for what is happening to the civilian population in Ukraine, should be punished. The Tribunal and prosecutors will determine who is actually responsible for the deaths of these people and who is not. 

Dana Bash: I would like to ask about the sanctions. Western leaders have just announced new sanctions against Russia that will target banks and high-ranking Russian officials. The European Union is also working on introducing a ban on coal imports from Russia. The war in Ukraine has been going on for over six weeks. Are these sanctions effective?

Of course, the sanctions should be more robust, mainly because of what we saw in Bucza. The question remains how to stop it. These sanctions should be strengthened. I have no doubts about it. This is, of course, an extremely challenging task.

The most effective would certainly be to establish - if we are talking about economic sanctions - those that would block Russia from selling hydrocarbons, primarily oil and gas. Crude oil in the first place because it is the sale of oil that accounts for the majority of the revenues of the Russian budget. This is less true for gas. Oil is key. 

The only problem is that for some countries, these are basic supplies. They know very well that blocking oil supplies from Russia will immediately cause a colossal fuel crisis for them. Consequently, there are ongoing discussions on this.

But we, Poland, have proposed imposing an additional tax on Russian hydrocarbons in the European Union and a strict policy of gradually limiting Russian supplies to the European Union market to a greater and greater extent.

I hope that we - in Poland - will be able to completely free ourselves from Russian supplies to our market by the end of this year. 

Dana Bash: You said "some countries," but you did not mention them by name. One of them is Germany, which depends on Russian energy, especially gas. The German Finance Minister said today that, at the moment, the energy sanctions would do too much harm to the German economy.

This is a broader problem for us Poles. We fought against joint German-Russian investments in Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II from the very beginning. We were against both gas pipelines because they were not so much economic or economic in nature but were obviously political. They were used to bypass the territory of Poland, bypass the Baltic states, and bypass the territory of Ukraine through the new gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea. It was precisely so that Russia could use gas blackmail against these Central European countries - as it did against Ukraine at the beginning of the 21st century. 

We protested this all the time, but, unfortunately, these investments were carried out. The German influence in the European Union pushed these projects all the time.

We still believe that the Nord Stream II gas pipeline should not only be blocked, but should also simply be dismantled, as it is harmful to the entire European Union. It leads to Russian hegemony over Europe, primarily in the gas market, to Russia's monopolization of the European gas market, which is obviously - now it is visible in black and white - simply deadly for Europe.

Dana Bash: It seems the Lord is saying, "Did I not tell you?" in the context of this dependence, which was created mainly by Germany, which became dependent on the Russian energy sector. I would like to ask you about the word "blackmail." Do you think Russia is now blackmailing Germany?

I think Russia is now de facto blackmailing, not only Germany. At the moment, they are in fact blackmailing all of Europe. After all, it is said: that it is not possible to introduce an embargo on Russian gas and Russian oil right away. Yeah! Additionally, Russia says today: We demand that it be paid immediately in rubles.

They believe that it is beneficial for them, that it will raise the value of their currency, and that it will improve her economic situation in an age of struggle through sanctions.

If the Editor asks me about the sanctions ... I will say this: these sanctions will mostly be effective, but they will be effective in six months, for a more extended period. The Russian economy will feel them very much because it is even a matter of supplying parts for devices in use in Russia.

Russia has globalized itself greatly in terms of the world economy. Today, the supply of parts, the supply of new devices, and the service of these devices are blocked in many cases. How long will the Russian industry continue without all these supplies? It is still functioning all the time. But in my opinion, as experts say, it will start to stop in a few months. What will Russia do then?

Dana Bash: The Polish Prime Minister recently criticized the French President Macron for still holding talks with Vladimir Putin. He said: no one negotiated with Hitler.

I am not surprised that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki - looking at these images from Bucza, photos of the massacre caused by the Russians, the murders they committed - spoke out emotionally. This is just a typical emotional statement.

For years, it was here in the European Union that it was said that you need to conduct a dialogue with Russia.

In 2014, Russia attacked Ukraine - after all, there was the first attack on Ukraine. Before that, there was a Russian attack on Georgia. Each time it was an attack in any way unprovoked. Brutal attack every time. And each time we have heard: we need to conduct a dialogue with Russia.

Dialogue with Russia does not make any sense. 

Dana Bash: But if you don't talk to Vladimir Putin, how can this war be ended?

Very tough conditions must be placed on Vladimir Putin. And to say that if these conditions are not met, we have nothing to talk about.

We will continue to firmly support Ukraine. We will continue to increase the sanctions regime. On the Russian side, conducting a dialogue that does not result in anything is just a game of time. Russia only benefits from this, presenting itself to the world on this occasion as someone who wants to have a dialogue with whom to talk. Meanwhile, on the one hand, they show that they can speak, they try to offer a civilized face, and on the other hand, they murder in the absolutely wildest and vile way. These are the facts.

Dana Bash: Do you think it is right now to compare Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler?  

The fact is that Russian soldiers have murdered hundreds of people in Bucza in recent days. Most likely, they also murdered hundreds of people elsewhere. This means a total of thousands of murdered people.

So can the leader of Russia be considered a regular leader of the modern world? Is this a leader of the contemporary world that others might recognize, accept, or is he simply a criminal who requires harsh punishment?

I think the answer is obvious. 

Dana Bash: Let's talk about this region more broadly, especially Hungary. You have criticized your longtime ally - Wiktor Orbán, who has just won the election again. He works very closely with Vladimir Putin. He did not agree to the transfer of military aid to Ukraine via Hungarian territory. He also blocked assistance for Ukraine in another way. Hungary is, of course, a member of NATO. Are they a reliable partner in the fight against Vladimir Putin?

As Poles, we have our own point of view on the issue of the Russian attack on Ukraine. We also have a very clear and understandable relationship between Poland and Ukraine. It is very important to us that there is a free, independent, sovereign Ukrainian state beyond our eastern border, which will be able to develop peacefully, and which will be able to become a member of the European Union. We hope that he will be that member. 

We have always wished Ukraine very well and tried to support it. We support Ukraine also now. From this point of view, I must say that the attitude of Prime Minister Viktor Orban towards Ukraine in this very difficult situation is not understandable to me.

On the other hand, when it comes to the accounts of Viktor Orban with Russia - in economic terms, you also need to know and understand it. His situation is complex. He is economically highly dependent on Russia. In terms of energy, that is, when it comes to electricity - it is produced by a nuclear power plant built by the Russians in the old days and currently modernized by the Russians.

As for gas supplies, they are dependent on Russia. When it comes to the supply of crude oil - also to a great extent. In this respect, Hungary is indeed in a difficult situation. They have virtually no alternative if they want to cut themselves off from Russia today. So, from the energy and economic point of view, the attitude towards Russia can be understood. However, it is tough for me personally to comprehend it regarding the attitude toward Ukraine.

Dana Bash: You wrote in a tweet that Ukrainians need three things: weapons, weapons and again, weapons. Poland has tanks from the Soviet era, as do the MIG29 planes. Why has it not been possible to work out a position within NATO to deliver it to Ukraine?

I smile because yes: weapons, weapons, weapons again - that is what Ukraine needs.  

It must be said clearly: the free world, the North Atlantic Alliance, and we Poles, too, did not expect that the Ukrainians, our neighbors, would stand up to defend their country in such a decisive, courageous, and heroic way. 

Before the war, many thousands - actually over a million - Ukrainians stayed in Poland. They have lived and worked here for some time. Of course, they went to their families in Ukraine, but they came back and earned money with us. Now a large part of these men went to Ukraine to fight. 

The refugees who flee Ukraine to our country are women and children. We have two and a half million refugees in Poland who have crossed the border. Almost two million of them are still in Poland. But the men who had worked here previously got into their cars and drove to Ukraine to fight to defend their homeland.

They are determined, they are incredibly heroic, and they fight. After all, since 2014, the Russian occupation of the Luhansk district, the Donetsk district, and the Crimea continued there. They fought there. Many of them have combat experience. They showed it these days. What do they need? Weapons. We try to help them with all our strength.

Not everything - of course - I can speak with the Editor here, in an open interview on the air, because these are also the secrets of the North Atlantic Alliance and Polish-American relations. But believe me, I spoke to President Joe Biden about this. We consulted the administration at the White House, and we are in close contact all the time.

There is help for Ukraine. It comes from the United States all the time, from other places, and also from allies. We are trying to support Ukraine as best we can.

Dana Bash: Your country has just announced the signing of a $ 4.75 billion deal to buy American tanks. The Polish defense minister said it was about deterring a potential aggressor. How much is Poland afraid that the war in Ukraine will spill over into Polish territory?

In the situation of the Russian attack on Ukraine now - as the military says - full-scale, no one doubts that Poland is in potential danger of Russian aggression in the future. Therefore, we must strengthen our defense capabilities. We are very happy to be members of the North Atlantic Alliance. We are grateful to the United States and the Polish community living in the United States for supporting our aspirations for membership in the Alliance. There is article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

President Joe Biden in Warsaw very strongly - and not for the first time - emphasized that Article 5 is absolutely binding and collective defense is fundamental. I am very grateful to the President for that because it is crucial for Poles.

We take our defense seriously. We want to defend ourselves. Of course, we want the Alliance, the US military, to assist us if we need it. But most of all, we want to be able to defend ourselves. This requires ongoing modernization and increased spending on the Polish army.

We have declared that we will spend 3 percent of our GDP for defense purposes. We are replacing the rest of the post-Soviet tanks in our country. We want to replace them with ultramodern Abrams tanks from the United States, which we believe are the best in the world at the moment. We are thrilled that these supplies will be - around 250 tanks - and that Polish soldiers will be able to use them to defend the territory of NATO and Poland.

Dana Bash: You mentioned Article 5, of course, and you said that President Biden was indeed serious, declaring that if Poland was attacked, all NATO members would defend it. On the other hand, in light of what is happening in Ukraine, where war crimes are committed, people suffer - is there a tipping point beyond which there will no longer be a line between NATO and non-NATO countries where it will be said: we have a moral obligation provide more military aid than before?

These days I often talk to Volodymyr Zelensky. I think the most common of all leaders. This is my immediate neighbor, I can confidently say - a colleague. We spoke the day before yesterday. We had a long telephone conversation. Also, Volodymyr often calls me when something is happening in Ukraine, even in the middle of the night. This was the case, for example, when the Zaporizhya Nuclear Power Plant was attacked.

I have a deep feeling that we must do everything to help Ukraine. Yes, for me, it is a sense not only related to the security of Poland, but to the fact that we simply want the Ukrainian state to exist as an independent, sovereign state - but it is also, I have a deep feeling, my obligation as a human being, as a colleague. And in this regard, I am doing everything possible.

On Thursday I'll see Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, we will talk about these topics. A few days ago, I spoke with President Joe Biden earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris, who also visited us here in Warsaw. In fact, political consultations are ongoing all the time. Next week, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will come to Poland, and we will also discuss these topics.

So mobilizing to support Ukraine within the North Atlantic Alliance - from all sides and outside the Alliance by all states of goodwill that understand what it means to defend your freedom - is very important to me, and I am trying to mobilize everyone to do so.

Dana Bash: Of course, Poland accepts more refugees from Ukraine than any other country. More than 2.5 million refugees have come here since the beginning of the war. How long can Poland cope with such a massive influx of refugees?

Just before the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, called me - it is known that he has a very influential and significant Ukrainian minority in his country - and asked what we would do if there was a Russian attack on Ukraine: would the Polish border would be open or closed? I told him, "Prime Minister, Justin, I have no doubt that it will be open. Of course it will be open. If our Ukrainian neighbors are attacked, if they flee from death, war, or Russian bombs, we will accept everyone who needs it."

And so, we did. We have opened our border. We welcomed and welcome all who needed it.

This wave was huge. In the first two weeks, we had almost 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine here. They are citizens of 170 countries around the world. These are not only indigenous, native Ukrainians, but also students from India, African countries, and other countries. A whole spectrum of people just ran away because they were scared. Many of them lived in Kharkiv, where bombs fell on housing estates and houses. We welcome everyone, we try to help everyone.

Of course, this is something Poland has never experienced in its history. We have over 1050 years of history - and we have never had a situation in which 2.5 million people came to us in forty days. We cope. I am incredibly proud of my compatriots.

We don't have any refugee camps in Poland! We have not had to build any such base in Poland so far, which is typical in some places around the world. All people were admitted in private homes, student dormitories, hotels, boarding houses, sanatoriums, and in various areas made available by local authorities.

We are trying to help with all our strengths, but we need international support very much.

Dana Bash: This is what I wanted to ask. What Poles do is simply amazing. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said the conflict could go on for years. Has Poland started to develop a plan? Because, as you said, many Ukrainians live with ordinary people, in their homes. So is Poland planning to officially include them in Polish society?

Many of them remained and remain in Poland, mainly women with children - this must be remembered. The men are fighting. Besides, the Ukrainian border guards themselves detained the men and ordered them to return. Only women and children were allowed to cross the Polish border. It was the decision of the Ukrainian side. So the men stayed and the women with the children came to us.

We try to find schools for children, we have created a special legal regulation in Poland, we have passed a special law that gives Ukrainians, in fact, the rights that Poles have: to health care, to education, to work, insurance - whatever is needed. For now, we have established it for 18 months.

Many of them - at present there are almost two million refugees in Poland - do not want to go further. They say: "We are waiting for the war to end, we want to return to our homes." So these are women who want to go back to their husbands; they are children who wish to return to their schools, to their environment. We want to provide them with the best possible conditions for their stay here in Poland, hoping that they can go back when the war is over.

Dana Bash: Do you think that part of Vladimir Putin's strategy is to destabilize Poland with the help of the refugee crisis? Perhaps this also applies to other neighboring countries?

Certainly - of course, it is undoubtedly part of the Russian strategy. I am proud of my compatriots who help - thousands of Polish volunteers who give their hearts selflessly, who stay awake at night to help refugees from Ukraine. I am very grateful to them for that.

But on the other hand - I am also aware of the enormous burden it is on our country and society. That is why I appeal for international aid everywhere. And this help comes. My wife spoke to the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, about American support, for example, for children from Ukraine who come to Poland with oncological diseases and disabilities. These are often children who do not have orphan parents. They require help.

My wife tries to organize this help by talking to Presidents around the world. Mrs. Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, also joined. My wife was in New York. She spoke to the former US Ambassador to Warsaw, Ms. Georgette Mosbacher. Together, they organized help from American citizens who simply want to offer their support to Ukraine, Ukrainian refugees. The wife also spoke with Mrs. Brigitte Macron, wife of the President of France; with Ms. Diana Nausėdienė, the wife of the President of Lithuania; with the spouse of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier. They organize this help together.

Some of the children in Germany have already been admitted to specialized hospitals, to specialized centers - they are under care. The spouse of the President of Germany really got involved in this respect, and this cooperation is very close.

We are looking for this international aid everywhere. I talked to representatives of international organizations and international institutions that deal with such assistance; with the Director of the World Food Program; the Director of the International Agricultural Development Fund for Agricultural Development, and the President of this organization: about how to ensure food security for people who come to Poland.

Please also remember that the war will reduce agricultural production in Ukraine - this is a considerable threat to the world. Ukraine together with Russia provides 76 percent of world's production of sunflower oil. Ukraine delivers 80 percent of wheat. It is hard to imagine what will happen if it turns out that this year there will be almost no agricultural crops from Ukraine. That there was no way to sow, there was no way to harvest. There was no fuel for the farm machinery to work, and most of all, there were no men who could reap these crops because they are all fighting in a war.

Dana Bash: I would like to ask about Polish American relations. When President Biden visited here last month, you said, and I quote: "Polish-American relations are flourishing." However, in 2020, as you remember, when Joe Biden ran for the office of president, he threw Poland "together" with Belarus and Hungary, warning that the number of totalitarian regimes in the world is growing. You waited about a month to congratulate Joe Biden on winning the presidential election in 2020. Are all these tensions a thing of the past? 

Madam Editor, I am the President of Poland, a country that lies in the heart of Europe and is very proud of it. But at the same time a country that many times experienced suffering, war, and occupation. Who unfortunately has a bad experience with its neighbor, Russia. The United States is our greatest ally; that is, to a great extent, the guarantor of our security as the largest NATO member. That is why I spoke about these critical words of President Joe Biden, who spoke here in Warsaw about 'Article 5' and collective defense.

As the President of Poland, it is my duty to ensure the best possible relations with the United States and the President of the United States. I am glad that the President has come to Poland, that he made his speech in a place that is extremely important to us, which is the Royal Castle in Warsaw - a symbol of the destruction of Poland during World War II. Warsaw lay in ruins, demolished by the Germans with Stalin's consent. So, in Poland, we remember very well what it means to be enslaved, and destroyed, what it means that our families were murdered and that people were killed.

Friendship with the United States, this military alliance is crucial to us. Today, there are soldiers of the US 82nd Airborne Division on our territory, highly experienced in combat, an elite unit - which is essential for us from the point of view of our security.

I am delighted that my collaboration with the President of the United States is so vivid, good, and fruitful today. I sincerely believe that President Joe Biden is pleased with his visit to Poland; that he thinks it was necessary and good; that thanks to this he saw with his own eyes what the situation was.

In Warsaw, at the National Stadium, he met refugees from Ukraine - there are many of them here; he talked with representatives of government and local government authorities; he spoke to me.

He was in Rzeszów, where American soldiers are stationed; he met with American and Polish soldiers.

I think it was a significant visit. For us, it has also been very fruitful and promising, and I am glad that our relations with the United States are going so well at the moment.

Dana Bash: You seem to have an excellent personal relationship with President Joe Biden. How do you evaluate his leadership during this crisis?

I am delighted that the attitude of the United States and Great Britain is so absolutely unambiguous. This is one of the reasons why now, after meeting with President Joe Biden and after a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Thursday I am going to London to speak with the Prime Minister personally about these issues. Because, in a sense, I have a feeling that we are creating a triangle that probably supports Ukraine the most.

Anyway, Volodymyr Zelenski told me the same thing during our last conversation - that he counts on it very much, and is pleased with the presence of President Joe Biden in Poland. He is pleased that I will personally talk to Prime Minister Boris Johnson because he has the deepest faith in the American and British aid for which Poland is giving support and became a gateway.

Dana Bash: You had a pretty good relationship with former US President Donald Trump, who announced that he intends to run again in the presidential election in 2024. You were in Washington, in the White House, just before your re-election. Would you like to meet Donald Trump again? 

Of course, it was imperative to me - meeting with the President of the United States is crucial to me. I am glad that during my presidency, since 2015, all the Presidents of the United States in turn - and President Joe Biden is already the third President, because first was President Barack Obama, then President Donald Trump, and now President Joe Biden - everyone supported the security of Poland.

After all, it was President Barack Obama who made the decision, which was sealed with the NATO summit in Warsaw: first - about the Enhanced Forward Presence, i.e., the advanced, enhanced presence of NATO on the eastern flank, and therefore also for the first time of NATO units in Poland. President Barack Obama made the decision that American soldiers would come to Poland and be stationed here in rotation. These decisions were later reinforced during the presidency of President Donald Trump, with whom I signed a Strategic Partnership in this regard, and indeed these relations were very vivid. And now this security is strengthened by President Joe Biden, with an even more significant American presence here in Poland, on the eastern flank of NATO, and with his visit to our country a few days ago. So it's just a goal that I - as the President of Poland - carry out. I am trying with all my strength to have the best possible relations with successive presidents of the United States to build a Polish-American partnership and build the security of my country.

Dana Bash: In recent years, Poland has had problems with the European Union in terms of weakening democracy, the judiciary, the media, and civil rights. How will you respond to those criticisms, both in Europe and in the United States, that your party is drawing Poland away from democracy and pushing it towards authoritarianism?

Different voices appear on other occasions. Of course, an opposition party in Poland will criticize various things until the end of my presidency. Because this is its nature - the opposition constantly criticizes. Also in America, the presidential elections results have been recently challenged. Different issues are discussed, and different issues are questioned. Please answer this question: does the Editor think that if the rules were really violated in Poland, if civil rights, civil liberties, such as freedom of the media, and thus also freedom of expression, civil liberties, were to be violated. Do you believe that at 70% attendance Poles would have chosen me for the second time for the President of the Republic of Poland two years ago? Poles are wise. They know what they are doing; they know what their country looks like; they know if it is developing, and they know are they safe in their country. The fact that I was elected President for the second time in a row is that, with a 70 percent turnout, people voted for me, and it was over 50 percent of our citizens - it proves that in Poland matters were well conducted.

Dana Bash: I will ask another way. Does Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a democratic state located just outside Poland, show even more clearly how important democracy is here and all the rights it guarantees?

Of course, democracy must last. What happens at a time when there is no democracy is best shown precisely by the situation in Russia, where there is simply no democracy.

Fortunately, it is present in the entire spectrum of Central European countries, starting with the Baltic states, starting with Estonia, and even higher - Finland, through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. There are democracies everywhere, elections are held everywhere, these elections are fair everywhere, and they are not questioned in any of these countries. And the authorities fulfill the will of the citizens since they are elected by them.

For me, this is the most natural element of democracy. As a result of elections, which are the quintessence of democracy, its most important institution, representatives of society are elected: be it to parliament or the president of a country who fulfills his electoral obligations is elected. It implements the policy expected by the citizens who elected it. This is a natural action of the authorities, and this is how I try to act.

Dana Bash: I would like to ask you about the issue of anti-Semitism throughout history in Poland. How can this be compared to what Poles are currently doing for Ukrainians? Poland has very painful memories of the Second World War, there were pogroms against Jews in your homeland before, there were concentration camps during the Second World War, and Jews were expelled from the country in 1968. Do you think that what the Poles are showing now, this huge heart towards Ukrainians, is an attempt to make amends for these wrongs?

We know what death means. We know what the Holocaust means.

These photos, which we saw from Bucza, certainly made a great impression on Poles, because they resemble the most terrible things that the oldest Poles remember from World War II. What also did the Nazi Germans do here, in Poland, towards our neighbors, the Jews who lived with us in our country for centuries, for almost a thousand years, because that's how much Jewish culture in Poland had. These cultures developed together here - together and at the same time side by side. Coexistence with Jews in Poland is our centuries-old tradition.

In 1939, the Germans came and destroyed this tradition. They built concentration camps on our land, which they occupied, and murdered Jews. In Poland, Poles were threatened with the death penalty for helping Jews. Whoever helped the Jews, who hid them, interacted with them in any way, and gave them food was threatened with the death penalty, as was his entire family.

This is how, among others, the Ulma family with a museum in Markowa. A pregnant woman, her husband, and five children were killed because they hid Jews.

Poles today have the most trees of remembrance at the Yad Vashem Institute. Why? Precisely because most Poles hid Jews during the Second World War and most Poles died for helping Jews. It was a dramatic time for us. Six million Polish citizens perished, including three million Jews. It was a terrible tragedy for us.

Therefore, we know very well what it means when someone exterminates another nation. And that is why, I think, many of my compatriots help the Ukrainians so much. Why? Because you can. Because helping does not threaten death, because helping - on the contrary - brings gratitude on the one hand, and on the other hand, the world says: You are doing very well. And people bring this help. During World War II, many people were simply afraid because they were threatened with death, but today they offer this help from an open heart because helping is possible.

Dana Bash: This is a personal experience for you, not only as a Pole. Your wife has Jewish roots, members of her family were in the camps. Is it true?

Yes, indeed, my wife's grandfather was in concentration camps. A survivor. He returned to Poland, where he started a second family, from which my wife comes, and he lived there until the end of his life.

In my family - my wife, me, our daughter - we know very well from my grandfather's memoirs what Holocaust means, what a concentration camp means. My wife's grandfather's entire family, except his sister, perished in concentration camps. She was murdered during the Holocaust.

Dana Bash: The last question. Will you be able to sleep peacefully as long as Vladimir Putin holds the office of president? Is it possible?

I don't sleep well because I know what is happening abroad, I know what is happening to Ukraine, and I know what is happening to people.

I flew to Italy a few days ago, and we transported the children to the Bambino Gesù hospital - traumatized and sick. The terrified mothers of these children were with us. I can see what is happening to these people.

Can the leader of a neighboring country sleep well in such a situation? It is challenging and indeed the tension is high, and the stress is high, but that's why I think I should act like this and do everything I can to help. I should do everything in my power to make Ukraine defend itself. I should do everything in my power to get Putin detained. Today it is in the interest of Ukraine, but it is also in the interest of my country, Poland, and my countrymen.

This is also in the interest of the whole of Central Europe, which was once in the Soviet sphere of influence - I can boldly say in Soviet captivity, because it was de facto, and which wants to be free, democratic, who wants to live normally and develop normally.

Dana Bash: You said that you would not sleep well until the situation in Ukraine calms down, it is understandable, but if this happens and Vladimir Putin remains in power, will you accept this situation?

I hope that no one from the world community will ever speak to Vladimir Putin again after what we see in Ukraine. That no one would consider him a reliable and honest leader or politician. Just.

Dana Bash: Mr. President, thank you for your time.

Thank you very much.