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A negotiated revolution: looking back at the heritage of Polish “SOLIDARNOSC”

By Inga Kakulia
Tuesday, June 11
To commemorate the 30 years since the demise of communism, the Polish embassy organized a dedicated event for the polish movement Solidarnosc and the values it brings to contemporary Europe.

The conference was held in premises of EU & NATO Information Center in Tbilisi, on June 10th.

Some speakers of the panels have been part of the movement itself and shared their personal experiences and thoughts with the audience. Georgian counterparts include the Deputy FM Lasha Darsalia, as well as Nikoloz Antadze, Head of the National Agency for the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of Georgia.

The conference discussed polish migrants in Georgia and our close friendship, highlighting his gratitude for the Poles urgently helping Georgia with the restoration of the old Georgian monastery in Israel.

The co-founder of the Solidarnosc movement Krzysztof Wyszkowski shared his memories and experiences with the attendants. During his speech, Wyszkowskki said that Polish people also learned from the Caucasus countries and their fight for independence. The Caucasian countries also served as an example to the poles in their fight for freedom. Wyszkowski shared the idea behind the name of the movement and how it aimed to represent something opposite to totalitarian regime. The polish people wanted to unite the nation in their fight against the totalitarian regime instead of causing more division between them.

Wyszkowski highlighted that even though the movement Solidarnosc consisted of workmen while their leader, Lech Walesa was an academic

Wyszkowski also mentioned and honored the memory of Anna Walentynowicz and highlighted the role of women who fought alongside men. Wyszkowski doesn’t subscribe to the idea of thinking about the Solidarnosc movement as a miracle. He says that the result they worked for was a logical continuation of their hard work.

Another interesting perspective was shared during the event by Markus Meckel from eastern Germany. During his speech, Mr. Meckel said, that even though the west had won the cold war, it certainly didn’t feel like that in the eastern parts of Europe. What has truly happened was that the traditional western values have seized victory for which the European countries fought for as well but the true victory could mostly be felt in the U.S

The audience seemed very impressed with Meckel’s comment about his experience as a student in Eastern Germany where schools taught the history of the Second World War as primarily West Germany’s responsibility. Meanwhile considering itself to be the Soviet Union. Meckel called for taking the responsibility from East Germany’s side as well and highlighted the common heritage and responsibility for building common future off of that.

Alexander Podrabinek also shared the Russian perspective.

He talked extensively about the absurdity of trying to negotiate with the communist regime. As Podrabinek put it, the opposition is even more important for the country that it’s government because it provides the alternative for the people, it keeps the government in check and observes their every move with a critical eye. Podrabinek provided the extensive historical context from Russia’s perspective and analyzed through which Russia tried to hold on to the power even after the dissolution of the soviet union.

"Solidarnosc" came to be as an organization devoted to defending workers’ rights. However, the organization soon turned into a massive civic movement, with some 10 million members a year later.

At the height of its worldwide popularity, which came in 1981-1983 the Martial Law was introduced in Poland while Solidarnosc was banned.

The organization returned in the late 1980s to pave the way for the peaceful political transformation in 1989.