Poland is celebrating as it takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union for the first time since it joined the bloc in 2004.
Addressing parliament, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski called it a "symbolic moment" in Polish history, coming exactly two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet-era Warsaw Pact on July 1, 1991.
Komorowski also called Poland's EU Presidency the "crowning" glory of the country's efforts since communism collapsed in 1989.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk told journalists that solidarity needs to be more than just a slogan as the continent faces a persistent economic crisis and renewed skepticism about its unity.
"It is important that despite all, what wins is the spirit for mutual assistance that is going to make Europe turn around altogether," Tusk said.
Polish officials will be joined later in the day by EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, as well as representatives from the outgoing Hungarian presidency, to officially mark Poland's takeover of the bloc's leadership.
Poland's priorities for the six-month term include building relations with the EU's eastern and southern neighbors, and encouraging economic growth. It also says it wants to promote further EU enlargement.
compiled from agency reports