The 16th International Biennial Conference of Editors of Diplomatic Documents, Warsaw, June 8, 2022.

Here is the transcript of my intervention:


Director, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues

What a pleasure it is to be again at this Institute, and what a pleasure and honour it is to attend the unique assembly of the diplomatic document editors.

No lengthy talk is intended, let alone a speech. Director of the Institute has invited me to start a conversation. My way to do it is to ask a rhetorical question. For instance: What do you call a package of documents sent via boat. I repeat, a package of documents sent via boat. Pier to pier file transfer, of course! Well, when I quoted the expressions in a conversation with a British peer, he was more amused.

The documents are the carriers of propositions, and some propositions make sense. Propositions, not necessarily proposals. Yes, words count. An airport conversation: The immigration officer: Nationality? The passenger meekly replies: Russian. The officer, again: Occupation? The passenger: No, no, just visiting.

Is it possible at all? I mean, such a linguistic misunderstanding. Well, I met a kamikaze who had flown many successful missions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the competent preserving documents is enhancing civilization. Keeping the archives is the civilization. And there is no civilization without a civic identity of men and women in every country, every political culture. Yet not all the countries do have a documentary series like those series of yours.

The Polish series was established only under the post-1989 political system of a democratic statehood and the rule of law. Between us, I toyed with idea of taking the post of the editor-in-chief. Director of Institute and Editor-in-Chief… it sounds pretty good. But I finally decided to appoint someone much younger to provide for a sustainable success in the years to come. Professor Włodzimierz Borodziej run the series for twenty years. Sadly, he passed away last year. He had been assisted by Piotr Długołęcki who is with us to day continue the work.

The series and volume editors enhance political culture within democratic civilization. A lot has been done. Is there anything left to improve? Speaking in my capacity as a user of your products I dare suggest that more unification of the editorial norms would make the users’ life easier. A unification, not necessarily by a binding resolution. It is enough to follow the best, whereas the best may keep improving. Best wishes for your work.

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© Ryszard Stemplowski