Former Polish President Lech Walesa met with U.S. congressmen Monday at a luncheon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Polish trade union Solidarity. Mr. Walesa called for new policies and institutions based on moral values.
The visit of the Polish democratic leader to Washington coincided with parliamentary elections in Poland that brought victory to two center-right parties with roots in the Solidarity movement. Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, who serves as the vice-chairman of the House Committee on International Relations and of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, mentioned the circumstance in his welcoming remarks.
"It is especially timely to host the former president owing to yesterday's stunning election results that brought Solidarity's soulmates back into power. Projections suggest that Law and Justice party got 28 percent of the vote and the Civil Platform 24 percent," Mr. Smith says.
Former National Security Adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said the struggle launched by Solidarity in 1980 is far from finished, and noted that even in Europe not all countries are democratic.
"And I particularly have in mind countries to the East of Poland, to the East of the European Union. The eastern boundary of Poland is simultaneously the Eastern boundary of the European Union," Mr. Brzezinski says. "And what happens in Ukraine and what happens in Russia is of critical importance to the future of Europe and to the cause of freedom. And it is particularly important that we, here in America, and our friends in Europe, and in particular countries like Poland, work together to promote the spread of freedom and the consolidation of freedom in places like Ukraine and the future Russia."
Lech Walesa said the fall of communism ushered in a new era of disappearing territorial and political divisions, an era in which intellect and information matter more than territory and force.
He said this calls for new ideas, new institutions and new policies based on shared human values. In his view, the European Union made a mistake in basing its new constitution exclusively on standard political principles.
"It was grounded on the freedom of the individual, freedom of association, economic freedoms, whereas the questions of values, of God, were relegated to the private sphere of every individual," Mr. Walesa says.
He said the principles on which the European Union operates will be unfit for the new era of advancement.
"The greater the progress, the higher the technological advancement, the more we need values," Mr. Walesa says.
Paula Dobriansky, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, said collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe underscores the instability of tyrannies.
"Despite the façade of robust control and absence of open dissent, tyrants are never more than just a step away from losing power," Ms. Dobriansky says. "Their form of government, as we well know, is the least stable of all. This was evidenced in the very rapid collapse of communism in the Central-Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and we have seen it again in recent years, as the new wave of freedom has grown stronger and stronger.
Mr. Wallesa marked the 25th anniversary of Solidarity by awarding special medals to some of the guests.