Lech Wałęsa spoke at the 40th anniversary of the Gdańsk Agreement

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TVN24 News in English, PAP
TVN2440th anniversary of Gdańsk Agreement signing

"It was the biggest triumph in the Polish history, it was based on defeating the old regime, but at the same on convincing the defeated to become friends" - former Poland's president Lech Wałęsa said during the commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Gdańsk Agreement, which he was a signatory of. "We never had such friendship like the one we'd created then. Who had to destroy it?" - asked the former president.

40 years ago in Poland, in August 1980, the Gdańsk Agreement (also known as August Agreement) was signed. As the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk wrote on its website: "Under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa, Poles succeeded to achieve the compromise between democratic opposition and communist authorities. The Gdańsk Agreement signed on the 31 August 1980 was binding communists behind the iron curtain to respect important freedom rights".

"In August 1980, resistance of the Gdańsk Lenin Shipyard against the communist government triggered the process of transformation of political systems in Europe. Today, also through solidarity, the change is feasible" - the ECS wrote.

"The biggest triumph in Polish history"

On Monday in Gdańsk the official commemorations of the 40th anniversary of signing the historic accord were organised. One of the signatories of the act, former president Lech Wałęsa spoke at the European Solidarity Centre.

"It was the biggest triumph in the Polish history, it was based on defeating the old regime, but at the same on convincing the defeated to become friends" - Wałęsa said.

In his view, "in all this struggle and achievement (...) we never had such friendship like the one we'd created then". "Who had to destroy it?" - asked the former president.

He added that the next task would be to "build something wiser, better and more useful". "This is our task. God gave us a cross to bear worthy of our greatness, and so we have a heavy cross," said the former leader of the Interfactory Strike Committee.

"Today, we should first focus on what sort of foundation to lay under this new construction of ours. Each country, each state has its own foundation. We need to agree on something," Wałęsa said. "Once we've succeeded, we'll face the second task: what economic system to establish. Well, certainly not communism, as it never worked in any country. But, neither capitalism, not the one we have today" - he added.

The third task, according to the former president would be finding way to deal with demagogy, populism and lying politicians. "That's how I see our future," he said.

In his view, demagogical and populist politicians "are right in diagnosing, but wrong in treatment".

"I deeply believe that you will take this matter to the next level, that you will understand today's message correctly and make it all better, which in turn will guarantee healthy growth for us all. So we don't lose the chance to be remembered for centuries: not only had they fought and destroyed the old and corrupt order, but they also started to build a new, better and wiser one," Wałęsa said.

"There was only one leader"

During the ceremony, the speaker of the Poland's upper chamber of parliament Tomasz Grodzki also took the floor. He said that 40 years ago, Poles in many cities and villages "stood up for freedom, truth, decency and workers' rights".

"There was only one leader. Even if someone hopes to deny reality through illusions and falsified history. Yet, history did happen, there was one leader and he's right here, it's Lech Wałęsa. Whether someone likes it or not, we won't let it be denied. As Senate Speaker I give you my word," Grodzki said.

He also said that "erupting are walls of spite, walls of hostility, walls of division". "We must patiently keep on tearing them down. And have no doubt - we're standing on the right side, making sure that everyone feels equally respected in our country, has the same rights and responsibilities stemming from innate human dignity," Grodzki argued.

"The struggle's not easy, but we should not fear, for our heroes of August (1980) had conquered their fear". Grodzki reminded that despite the dangers of militia, persecution, harassment of families, some had paid with their health and life, but managed to conquer the fear. "We too must not fear," he said.

"Nowadays we look towards Belarus, where a proud Belarusian people stood up for their rights, they want to join the family of sovereign, democratic and free states and nations. We have no other choice but to support them and remember that they are treading the same path our ancestors did 40 years ago," he added.

He also asked "what is left today of the 21 points" put forward 40 years ago by the unions. Grodzki said he remembered one point in particular, "the one that states that managerial position should be filled based on competencies, not party affiliation". "Let's ask ourselves if that is the case today? It's hard to believe that an organisation which appropriated the name "Solidarity" goes hand in hand with the government, despite protests by members of the original organisation," he stressed.

"But the leaders of today's Solidarity must keep in mind that arrangements with those in power often end in indecent and humiliating way," said the Speaker of the Senate.

"Our generation did not mess up"

Another one to speak at the ceremony was Władysław Frasyniuk, an opposition member in the communist era.

"I stand here at this gate of equality, freedom and democracy, a gate that has opened for us, the people of Poland, in 1980. And I can say it with certainty that this humble worker, much older than me at the time, has cut through a Polish bane that says: there is no thing that we can't mess up. Let me say that our generation under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa did not mess up. We've won," he said.

In his opinion, "so far Poland hasn't produced any symbol of Poland or Polish character as strong as Solidarity".

Frasyniuk also said that thanks to workers and intelligentsia who had sat down in 1980, "we not only have free and democratic Poland, but also modern foundations for a modern state with its own constitution and rule of law, which safeguards our freedom, listens to and discusses with the citizens".

In his view, "we could say that we had achieved a great success, if only we wouldn't have ask on the 40th anniversary: 'why you, politicians of the Law and Justice party, spit on this history'". "Why do you demolish the constitution and the rule of law?" - Frasyniuk asked. "Younger generations will hold you accountable for this," he added.

The former opposition activist convinced that "all citizens, old and young, should protect democracy, values and social equality". "We all should strive to convince politicians that the legacy of Solidarity is the ability to listen, ability to engage in dialogue. We fought for our right to hold opinions and we have it now. The problem is that this hateful gentleman, who doesn't like people, Jarosław Kaczyński, has a habit of only listening to himself. He only supports his people. And that has to change," Frasyniuk said.

The director of the European Solidarity Centre Basil Kerski and Gdansk Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz also gave speeches during the ceremony.


Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP