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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » October 8, 2008
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Tribute to Wałęsa
October 8, 2008   
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An event marking the 25 years since former Polish president Lech Wałęsa won the Nobel Peace Prize took place at the Wielki Theater/Polish National Opera in Warsaw Sept. 29. Called the Nobel '83 ProMemoria Grand Gala, the event featured a concert by leading Polish musicians and archival films about Wałęsa as a union leader and politician.

Guests at the event included Bronisław Komorowski, speaker of the lower house of parliament, Bogdan Borusewicz, speaker of the upper house, ex-president Aleksander Kwa¶niewski, and former prime ministers Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Jerzy Buzek.

Grzegorz Schetyna, the deputy prime minister and minister of internal affairs and administration, read out a letter from Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who did not attend the event. In the letter, Tusk thanked Wałęsa for his "heroic struggle," "for years of sacrifice in Solidarity," and "for the emotional moments" when he was awarded the Nobel Prize. "A nation incapable of protecting its own legends loses its identity," Tusk wrote.

Wałęsa said after the concert, "I enjoyed myself hugely and reminisced about the days of our youth."

Wałęsa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his fight for freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe. The decision was announced Oct. 5 and the award ceremony took place Dec. 10, 1983 in Oslo, Norway. Wałęsa's wife Danuta collected the prize on his behalf because the communist authorities refused to let Wałęsa out of the country and did everything in their power to play down the news about the Nobel Prize for the Solidarity leader.

The Sept. 29 ceremony heralds the main part of the "Nobel 25" project, namely the Solidarity for the Future conference planned for December in the Polish coastal city of Gdańsk. The conference is expected to attract the Dalai Lama as well as several other Nobel Peace Prize winners, including the ex-president of South Africa Frederik de Klerk, the president of East Timor Jose Ramos Horta, and Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi.
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