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Lech Walesa

Lech Walesa (29 September 1943 -

Briefly about Lech Wałęsa:
Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. Wałęsa had been a compelling leader with a great influence on people, determined to improve a state Poland was in in the 1980`s and 1990`s. He initiated Solidarity

 (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union; he served as President of Poland 1990–95.
Lech Wałęsa is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.

How it all started for Lech Wałęsa:
His occupation was an electrician, with no higher education. He used his skills in his first job at “Lenin” Shipyards (current name: Gdańsk Shipyards) where he became a trade-union activist. His involvement in Polish issues caused him a lot of trouble, including persecution by the Polish communist government, custody, dismissal (1976) etc. Due to his proactivity in August 1980 the animosities between striking employees and the government reached its end. Lech Wałęsa became an initiator of the Solidarity trade-union movement but it was not the end of his concerns. Wałęsa was again arrested and Solidarność (Solidarity) had no right to exist under a new martial law but all that had not stopped him from introducing his idea of an independent Poland. Wałęsa`s doings helped launch Round Table and reach an agreement of almost free parliamentary elections (June 1989) after which Solidarity led the government.
Lech Wałęsa had been keen to introduce even more changes in Poland and transform his country from a communist one to a post-communist, for that reason he ran for the office of President of Poland with a great success. Unfortunately for him his popularity had faded as the society had looked for something different after 5 years of his presidency. Wałęsa had been beaten in the presidential election in 1995 and his part in Polish politics has not been so significant any more, his influence on people and events has weakened. Nevertheless he has still kept his international recognition, travelling to places in Poland and abroad (especially the USA) to take part in conferences as an active speaker on Central European history and politics at a number of universities and organizations.

Awards and honors received by Lech Wałęsa:
• ”Man of the Year” by Time Magazine (1981), The Financial Times (1980) and The Observer (1980),
• Nobel Peace Prize (1983),
• the Liberty Medal (1989) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; he was the first person to receive it,
• the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1989),
• he has addressed a joint session of the United States Congress (1989) as the 3rd foreigner and non-head-of-state politic,
• Wałęsa carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies of the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City as a representative of Europe (2002),
• Gdańsk International Airport was officially renamed Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (2004) to dignify a prominent Gdańsk citizen,
• Wałęsa represented Poland at the funeral of Ronald Reagan (2004),
• he represented the Polish government at the funeral of Boris Yeltsin, former President of the Russian Federation (2007),
• he had an honor to speak at a conference of presidents of all European senates, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the first parliamentary elections in Poland – a former communist country (2009).