"30 Years of Freedom" - summary of the US visit


On November 12-26 President Lech Wałęsa paid an official visit to the United States on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the end of communism in Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall. During his stay, President held meetings with numerous figures, including American officials. Speaking about the need for America to regain its position of democracy and freedom leader in the world, he visited, among others, US Congress and the most important universities, including Harvard.

Lech Wałęsa began his trip in Washington where, along with Professor Leszek Balcerowicz, he visited the American Congress. During his speech to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, devoted to geopolitical issues and the rule of law in Poland, the President argued for a stronger role of the US in the process of supporting democracy and freedom (video material from the speech). The event was attended by 13 congressmen, including William Keating, Albio Sires, Marcy Kaptur, Adam Kinzinger and Ann Wagner.

On the same day Lech Wałęsa took part in a reception during which he talked with the former US Ambassador to Poland, Daniel Fried. The next day he participated in a meeting at the National Endowment for Democracy, an American think tank promoting democratic values worldwide, where he gave a lecture titled "Democracy in Central Europe After Thirty Years". Video capture from this event is available here.

The next day he met with students at the Oakland University (video capture). The President then went to Cambridge, where he paid a visit to one of the world's best universities, Harvard University. In the morning, he talked with academics and students during a lunch at the Center for European Studies. In the afternoon he gave a lecture titled "Europe Was Not Always Free and United: Celebrating 30 Years Since the End of Communism" at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, remaining the only Pole to have this honour. During the meeting moderated by Professor Grzegorz Ekiert, Lech Wałęsa urged students to engage in politics and change the world. He also spoke about the challenges for democracy and freedom in the era of great technological progress.

The following day President Wałęsa met with the US Vice President Mike Pence in the White House. Both gentlemen discussed the changing global geopolitical situation. Mike Pence spoke with appreciation about the historical role of Solidarity and its legendary leader, while Lech Wałęsa spoke about the need for the USA to regain its role as a global leader. After the meeting in the White House, President Wałęsa laid flowers at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C., commemorating millions of victims of this totalitarian system. He also spoke to the representatives of the American Enterprise Institute.

The following day President attended a meeting at the American University. The trip ended with a visit to San Francisco, where President participated in a panel discussion at the ASEEES 2019 conference. The visit to the U.S. was also an opportunity to give numerous interviews, among others, for Washington Post and Voice of America journalists.



Articles in the press:

The Harvard Gazette: Need for a ‘remodeling’ of democracy, capitalism

The Washington Post: He helped end the Soviet empire. Now Lech Walesa wants to help Hong Kong

The Foreign Policy: Lech Walesa on Why Democracy Is Failing: ‘There Is No Leadership’


The Detroit News: 'Don’t waste this wonderful opportunity,' Walesa says of democracy

Oakland University News: Lech Wałęsa, former President of Poland, to present Varner Vitality lecture