No freedom without solidarity

These were moments that I will always remember.

Plac Zamkowy in central Warsaw. Wednesday June 4th 2014. Polish freedom celebrated. With Lech Wałęsa present, with Barack Obama present, with European leaders present. Including the President elect of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko who’s country sees its freedom seriously challenged from outside.

These precious moments belonged to Poland and Poles – so well deserving to celebrate the freedom that many thought never could materialize. But it could. With courage, wisdom and endurance Poles changed the direction not only of Poland but of Europe as a whole.

There is no freedom without solidarity, was the message from President Komorowski and it is true in so many dimensions. One of them being our joint commitment to Ukraine. The dream of Ukrainians is very similar to the dream of Poles twentyfive years ago. And the challenges are equally enormous.

I reflected upon that when I listened to the leader of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, who received the new Solidarity Award Tuesday evening. Is change possible for him and his people? And I believe the answer is yes. Poland showed the world how to transform impossibilities into realities. Freedom against all odds. The world needs those examples both for the simple sake of human dignity and for the dynamics they create, making dictatorships a lost case in the long run.

President Obama said it better than anybody could have done in his remarkable speech yesterday at Plac Zamkowy:  ”Thank you, Poland — thank you for your courage.  Thank you for reminding the world that no matter how brutal the crackdown, no matter how long the night, the yearning for liberty and dignity does not fade away.  It will never go away.  Thank you, Poland, for your iron will and for showing that, yes, ordinary citizens can grab the reins of history, and that freedom will prevail — because, in the end, tanks and troops are no match for the force of our ideals.”

And expressing his words of solidarity to a country that so many times in history has felt abandoned by its friends: Poland will never stand alone.

Many foreign guests participated, obviously also from my own country.

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was representing Sweden these two days and i.a. held a speech at the Award Ceremony on Tuesday as one of the nominators, “These times of ours demonstrate again the power of the dedication of individuals to freedom and democracy. The Maidan used to be just a square in another European country. But today the Maidan stands  for renewed belief in freedom, in democracy and in Europe. The Maidan inspires today as Gdansk inspired us a quarter of a century ago.”

But before that he participated with his Danish colleague Martin Lidegaard in a debate co-organized by our Embassies and the Polish Institute for Diplomacy, where the students got the opportunity to ask questions (which were great, relevant and very much to the point) Additionally Deputy Speaker Ulf Holm attended the celebrations (together with a delegation from the Parliament) and gave a speech at a special parliamentary ceremony yesterday afternoon.

But today things are gradually returning to normality. The normality of freedom.

Which was achieved here 25 years ago. Congratulations to Poland – and to all of us. Because what happened here, as Carl Bildt said in his speech, paved the way for a new Europe and changed the course of the world.


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