Shaping the Course of History
October 31, 2013
Twenty-five years ago, the communist government in Poland and the Solidarity trade union, which at the time was still banned, were preparing to hold unprecedented talks, with the Roman Catholic Church acting as moderator. The Round Table Talks, as they came to be known, made history and produced a result that surprised both the communist authorities and Solidarity activists. Faced with a widespread economic, social and political crisis, the communists decided to share some of their power with the democratic opposition. Soon afterwards, the country’s communist regime was ousted completely and Solidarity took over the reins of government.
Solidarity was headed at the time by Lech Wałęsa, who had led Poland’s factory strikes in 1980 and who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. In an interview in this issue of the Voice, we ask Wałęsa about the changes Poland has undergone during the last quarter of a century and about his hopes and fears for the future.
In the months ahead we will publish interviews with other key figures who, through their role in the momentous events that started 25 years ago, have helped shape the course of Polish history.