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Wednesday, 31 August 2005

The President of the Republic of Poland participates in the conference “From Solidarność to Freedom”

On 31 August 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, took part in the celebrations in Gdańsk of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the NSZZ Solidarność. Addressing the guests assembled in the conference “From Solidarność to Freedom”, the President of the Republic of Poland said, among other things:
 
The idea of solidarity has not been invented by the Polish people. But in the recent quarter-century, it is our nation that has done very much for this idea to recover its strength, win the hearts and minds of millions of people, and usher in the change of the contemporary world.
Born 25 years ago here in Gdańsk, the 10-million-strong social movement not only emblazoned the idea of solidarity on its banners. It turned it into reality. It gave ordinary people renewed hope and confidence in the power of their action and it asserted their dignity. Solidarity proved to be the way to freedom.
And this message went in the world. Nowadays, the idea of solidarity is one of the key answers to globalisation and the challenges of the 21st century. Truly,  the seed planted 25 years ago is bringing forth the fruits that variedly serve almost all people on our planet.
I wish, on behalf of Poland and the Polish people, to warmly welcome in our country the distinguished guests of this conference, welcoming you in the Homeland of the people who with no resort to violence have materialised their dreams on the way of dialogue. I welcome all who have been and are in solidarity with us and who have been implementing the ideas of solidarity in their respective countries. It is important and it is very propitious that the jubilee of the Polish August - the 25th anniversary of signing the Gdańsk Accords has attracted to the land on the Vistula and to Gdańsk, and earlier to Warsaw, such a celebrated gathering of guests from all over the world. This is visible proof of appreciation by the international community of the great work done by my Compatriots.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we  thank you for your good wishes, for your friendship, for your presence!
The particular hero of the Polish epic of freedom is the legendary leader of NSZZ “Solidarność”, Mr. Lech Wałęsa, the man who...(address interrupted by a round of applause, whereupon the President went on to say:). Now I, too, am asking you for a round of applause at the end of this section and also, if I may, at the end of my speech, because I still have something to say about Mr. President and Chairman, Lech Wałęsa – the man whose face and name personifies the idea of solidarity for the majority of the world’s people; the man who has already now made history alongside such great characters as Mahatma Gandhi,  Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, or present here with us Vaclav Havel, whom I also welcome most warmly. Also, please accept – all of you, Ladies and Gentlemen, the known and the unknown, anonymous people of “Solidarność”, of the democratic opposition here in Poland and everywhere in the world, the words simplest: thank you. We know how much we owe to  you, Gentlemen, and to you, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.
 
When in the summer of 1980, the worker strikes were unfolding in one Polish town after another - in Świdnik, Lublin, Szczecin,  and first of all in Gdańsk – no one at that time yet supposed that a landmark in Europe’s history was in the making. “Solidarność” was born – and with it nothing would ever be the same.
Here, a great civil movement emerged in the very centre of Eastern bloc. It was independent and self-governing and beyond control of the authoritarian regime. Here, where the Soviet empire dictated the rules, this must have sounded like a shot. But the shock  was all the bigger as on the contrary - no shots were fired. Instead, there was firmness, there was composure, and there was the common will of the millions. The Polish revolution repudiated violence in what gave it an ever greater strength.
But for the sake of memory, historical fairness, one should mention that the conditions for that historic breakthrough also came with the perestroika initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev We also remember the Polish Round Table which voiced its will of change without the use of force, but by way of agreement, which offered the perspective of change and which was neither treason nor conspiracy. The Round Table was a reasoned, peaceful concept of a fundamental systemic change, a change without casualties and bloodshed. The Polish people proved themselves wise with their traumatic, tragic experiences of risings and fighting that had cost so many hundreds of thousands of lives and that were bringing no effect. We remember that, too. But an exceptional role was played by the experience of the Polish “Solidarność” – the experience of the millions who had overcome fear and proudly raised their heads. That set in train the domino effect as the pressure from the awakened civil society began to successively tumble authoritarian regimes – in the GDR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Baltics. That the Berlin wall went down crushing, that Germany reunited, that the “iron curtain” landed on the garbage heap of history and that a once-divided Europe started to bond together again –all of that was, no doubt, the historic fruit grown of the seed of “Solidarność”.
 It is a symbolic fact that UNESCO  placed the Gdańsk Accords on the heritage list of documents that have had the most significant impact on the history of the world.
And that is why, Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s events marking the quarter-century of signing the Gdańsk Accords and foundation of NSZZ „Solidarność” are important not only for the Polish people, not only for the Europeans. They are the Feast-Day of all who cherish values such as freedom, such as democracy, such as human dignity, who give priority to talks and agreement over conflict and erection of new walls.
The “Solidarność” message lives on with its continuing inspiring power. We witnessed it not long ago in the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian towns during the memorable events of the “Orange Revolution” there. The Polish people saw in those events a reflection of their own dreams of the past, their own protest, their own struggle in defence of the truth and freedom. Then said the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko: without the sweltering Gdańsk of 1980 there would not have been the cool Kiev of 2004. Victor, we hail you in this place, in historic Gdańsk! We hail you with our shared  hopes, with our best wishes and with our solidarity, the solidarity with the transformations, with the Ukrainian democracy, with your efforts.
Understood precisely in this manner, the solidarity with those who fight against lies, lawlessness and enslavement shall always be among the foundations of policy, I believe, not only Polish policy, but all policy being pursued in the world. Now and in the future. Poland has been pacing along this road for 16 years. We have striven for reconciliation over and above the painful conflicts in history. We are building close partnership and cooperation with the sense of common destiny of all populations of our region at its core. We supported the aspirations of our neighbours and friends on their way to NATO and today on their way to the European Union. This is the Polish raison d’état from which – I am sure – no government, no authority in the Republic of Poland will want to deviate irrespective of their political colour. This, too, is the dimension of contemporary solidarity.
 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
  “Solidarność” has affected the course of history and has altered the face of the world away from the cold-war world. The present-day world is nevertheless in need of solidarity again. It needs this idea and the bond that it creates, as well as the fruits that it brings forth.
This was spoken of by our great fellow Pole, Pope John Paul II, the man whom all of us shall remember as an indefatigable pilgrim for peace, goodness and fraternity among people. It was right here on the Seacoast in the difficult years, as in 1987, that he spoke:
 “In the name of the future of man and mankind, this word “solidarity” had to be spoken out. Today it is flowing in a broad wave across the world, which understands that we must not live by the rule:  »everyone against everyone«,  but by the rule: »everyone together with everyone«,  »everyone for everyone«. (…) Solidarity is a way of being for the human multitude, such as a nation, in unity, in respect for all differences, all distinctive characteristics that occur among people, and thus unity in multiplicity and hence pluralism – all of that falling within the scope of the notion of solidarity.”   
And I am convinced that this exactly kind of solidarity – as John Paul II described it – is what the world today needs. And this is applicable to such spheres as: development, the fight against poverty and injustice, the assurance of universal security, the joint, solidary fight against terrorism, the opening up of the borders, structures and organisations for those, who are still outside of them and who aspire whether to NATO or the European Union, or other organisations that broaden the area of freedom, security and development, that bring respect for human rights and that respect human dignity. This is the most up-to-date message of the great idea of 25 years ago. I am happy that over the past 16 years Poland has been able to do so much for materialising this idea. I am happy that I, too, have been able to do this over the 10 years of my presidency and to meet so many magnificent allies on this way. I am convinced that today we are here together in the most proper place and at the most proper time to tell everybody in the world that solidarity is the value which we should faithfully serve, that we can accomplish a great deal by acting over and above divisions, that the heritage that this great movement bequeathed to us 25 years ago is continuously alive that we can continuously go back to it and draw strength from it..
And therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is from here, in Gdańsk, from this place and the city where 66 years ago the hitlerite crusade began against Poland and the world, but also the city where 25 years ago an impulse to the rebirth of common Europe did flow – I am making this appeal and let us make it together: Let us be in solidarity! Let us be in solidarity in Poland as well as in Europe as well  around the world. Let us be in unity against evil and violence, against terrorism, against poverty and injustice. Let us, the 21st century people,  be at one with each other! And never against each other! May this day of 31 August be, as we state it in the appeal: enshrined in the memory of the world as the day of freedom and solidarity.
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