Presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine sign a joint declaration marking 3 May Constitution anniversary

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TVN24230th anniversary of 3rd May 1791 Constitution

During the official ceremony to mark the 230th anniversary of the Constitution of 3rd May 1791, the Presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine signed a joint declaration of support and cooperation with countries striving for democratic changes.

"We, the Presidents of Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania, meet in Warsaw today in order to jointly celebrate the 230th anniversary of the adoption of the 3 May Constitution. The passing of that momentous Act in 1791, regulating the legal system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, was of historic importance since it marked the first modern state effective fundamental law on our continent and the second one worldwide" - the declaration reads.

Mindful of the historical experiences, proud of the achievements of our contemporary cooperation in the region and conscious of the challenges, we look with hope to the future. We express the conviction that the prosperity of our common heritage and common home, rooted in the European civilization, demands that, just like home, also Europe be built on the basis of fundamental values and principles. These are with no doubt: freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity, democracy, the rule of law, equality and solidarity. A uniting Europe should remain open to all countries and nations which share the above-mentioned values" - the five presidents underscored.

"We approach with understanding and support the persistent strivings of all the peoples of our region, with whom our nations are joined by common historical fate, and who wish to enjoy today, just as we do, the blessings of freedom and democracy while courageously demanding that their rights be respected. We believe that to all of us the solidarity of nations, especially under current threats to our common security, is one of the cornerstones of peace, stability, development, prosperity and resilience. Led by this assertion we are committed to continuing the dialogue and cooperation among the states we represent" - the presidents concluded the declaration.

Europe's first constitution

The act passed on 3rd May 1791 by the Four-Year Sejm regulated the legislative system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was Europe’s first modern constitution and the world’s second. It introduced a system of constitutional monarchy and, while it preserved the structures of social class, it opened up prospects for the further transformation of the state system.

On the strength of the act, Montesquieu’s division of power into the legislative, the executive and the judicial were adopted and various aspects of the former system, including liberum veto, confederations and free elections, were abolished.

Although the Constitution of 3rd May 1791 would remain in force for a mere fourteen months, it was a tremendous achievement for the Polish nation, which sought to preserve the independence of the state and ensure the potential for the country’s economic and political development.

The original manuscript of the Constitution of 3rd May 1791 was initially held in Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, in the collections of the Potocki Public Archives, which were amassed by Stanisław Kostka Potocki, who had participated in the sittings of the Four-Year Sejm.

On the basis of family contracts, the archives were transferred to the town of Krzeszowice, near Kraków, in the eighteen seventies. Post-1945, they returned to Warsaw, where they were consigned to the Central Archives of Historical Records.


Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Leszek Szymański/PAP