Poland’s celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the peaceful transition from communism to democracy brought to Warsaw delegations from 50 nations and a number of world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and the presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and Ukraine.
Poland’s first partially free elections after WWII were held on June 4, 1989. The elections, wherein Poles were able to elect 35% of the lower house (Sejm) and a full representation in the Senate, ended with a crushing victory of the ‚Solidarnosc’ trade union-turned electoral committee and led to Poland’s peaceful transition from a communist state to a parliamentary democracy.
Speaking at the main anniversary ceremony held in Zamkowy Square
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said that on June 4, 1989 the entire Polish people decided about the country’s future.
„Poland’s fate was decided by the entire nation, who won by means of voting cards, without using violence or spilling even one drop of blood”, Komorowski said.
„For the first time on that day elections were no longer a propaganda hoax but true elections. It was then that we chose a life in freedom”.
The Polish president also paid tribute to communist-era freedom fighters.
„I wish to pay tribute to those who had the courage to fight for freedom of thought and freedom of speech. First we numbered tens, then hundreds, then thousands. In 1980, after the victorious strikes initiated by shipyard workers, we numbered 10 million”, Komorowski said.
Polish President also reminded that after the 1945 Yalta Conference
Poland and many other countries found themselves under the domination of the Soviet Union.
“The Iron Curtain divided Europe for several long and dark decades. But our dreams and freedom ambitions survived. The source of our strength was national tradition”, Komorowski said.
The president reminded that the overthrow of communism in Poland inspired similar processes in the rest of east Europe, which led to the disintegration of the Soviet empire.
„The wish for freedom is contagious, that’s why all tyrants fear it. Freedom seen from close up inspires human strivings. Its triumphant march began in Poland”, Komorowski said.
During the celebrations US President Barack Obama made a special address to the Polish nation in which he said that he fall of communism in Poland, 25 years ago, was “a triumph of the human spirit”
“Thank you Poland. Thank you for your courage, thank you for reminding the world that no matter how long the night, the desire for freedom and dignity never fades,” President Obama said.