Poland bids farewell to country's first post-communist Prime Minister
November 4, 2013
President Bronislaw Komorowski
Thousands of people including Polish and European leaders gathered in Warsaw on Sunday, declared a day of national mourning, to attend the state funeral of Eastern Europe’s first post-communist prime minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who died last Monday at the age of 86.
A procession, led by Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, the archbishop of Warsaw, took Mazowiecki's coffin, where it had been lying in state at the Presidential Palace on Saturday, to the St. John the Baptist Arch-cathedral for the funeral service.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, former Presidents Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso took part in the service, which began at 11 am.
“We bid farewell to ... the prime minister of the time of transition ... the architect and constructor of ... our independent and democratic state. We bid farewell to our prime minister,” President Bronislaw Komorowski said during the funeral. “Tadeusz Mazowiecki did good service for Poland.”
Mazowiecki, Polish democratic opposition activist and first post-communist prime minister, in the 1980's was one of the key advisors to the Solidarity trade union and its leader Lech Walesa.
Mazowiecki was one of the architects of the "Round Table" talks, which brought together the Polish communist authorities and the opposition and paved the way for Poland's peaceful transition to democracy in 1989.
From 1992 to 1995 Mazowiecki served as a special UN envoy to the former Yugoslavia but resigned his mandate to protest against the passiveness of the international community towards the Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim boys and men by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
From October 2010 he was an advisor to President Bronislaw Komorowski.
Mazowiecki was decorated with the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish distinction.
Messages of condolences came from President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and other leaders.
Mazowiecki was laid to rest at a family grave in Laski near Warsaw.