AP PHOTOS: A look at past presidential visits to Poland

AP News
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Posted: Jul 04, 2017 10:03 AM
AP PHOTOS: A look at past presidential visits to Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — When President Donald Trump arrives in Warsaw on Wednesday night he will be the eighth U.S. president to visit Poland, one of the staunchest U.S. allies in Europe. Here is a history of the previous presidential visits:

Richard Nixon, arriving in May 1972, ended his speech at Warsaw's airport saying "Niech zyje Polska" (Long Live Poland).

Fearful lest Moscow disapprove of a warm welcome, the communist authorities appealed to people to stay home, but crowds gathered along Nixon's route, greeting him with flowers.

The visit paved the way for some trade exchange and for sizeable U.S. loans for Poland.

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Gerald Ford came in July 1975 to Warsaw and Krakow. He was greeted by cheering crowds, many with their own U.S. flags as they were unavailable in the communist country.

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Jimmy Carter visited Poland in December 1977, on one of his first foreign trips as president.

At dinner with communist leader Edward Gierek, Carter proposed a toast to the "indomitable spirit and to the freedom of the Polish people."

He also stretched protocol by making an unplanned visit to the much-respected head of Poland's Catholic Church, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, and he defied censorship by holding a news conference broadcast live.

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George H. W. Bush visited in July 1989, weeks after elections in Poland that led to peaceful, gradual ouster of communists from power. He traveled to Gdansk to meet Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

In July 1992, Bush returned to Warsaw briefly to attend, with President Walesa, the reburial of Polish politician and pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, whose remains were brought from the Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

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Bill Clinton, in Warsaw in July 1994, drew cheers for declaring that NATO enlargement to include the new democracies of eastern Europe was "not a question of whether, but when and how." At the time, there was little support inviting the former communist nations to join the alliance.

Three years later, Clinton made a one-day stop in Warsaw right after a NATO summit invited Poland and some other post-communist nations to join. He greeted Poles, Czechs and Hungarians as future U.S. allies in NATO and said very significant words, in Polish: "Nic o Was bez Was" ("Nothing about you without you").

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George W. Bush gave a speech in June 2001 endorsing Poland's aspiration of joining the European Union, which it did in 2004.

In May 2003, he returned to visit the memorial of the German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and the Renaissance royal Wawel Castle in Krakow.

In June 2007 Bush made a brief stop in the Baltic Sea resort of Jurata for talks with President Lech Kaczynski about plans for building elements of a missile defense system in Poland.

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Barack Obama intended to visit Poland in April 2010 for the funeral of President Lech Kaczynski but canceled when a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland grounded planes.

In May 2011, Obama was a guest at a Central Europe summit, where he stressed Poland's leading role in the region. He laid flowers at the monument to the heroes of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where he broke protocol to shake hands and talk with the people in the crowd.

In June 2014 Obama came to mark 25 years since Poland's elections that ushered in democracy.

In July 2016 Obama came to a NATO summit, and also expressed concern to Poland's president about the new conservative government and its moves that included taking control of a top court, the Constitutional Tribunal.