Tadeusz Mazowiecki

Polish politician and prime minister (1927-2013)

Tadeusz Mazowiecki (18 April 192728 October 2013) was a Polish author, journalist, philanthropist and Christian-democratic politician, formerly one of the leaders of the Solidarity movement, and the first non-communist Polish prime minister since 1946.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki in 2007

Quotes edit

Inaugural address of Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki (12 September 1989) edit

"Inaugural address of Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki" (12 September 1989)

  • We all desire to live with dignity in a sovereign, democratic, and law-abiding state, one that everybody - regardless of their worldviews and ideological and political diversity - can consider their own.
  • We want to live in a country with a sound economy, one where it is profitable to work and to save money, and where meeting our basic material needs entails no anguish or humiliation. We want a Poland that is open to Europe and to the world; a Poland which, with no inferiority complex, contributes to the creation of material and cultural goods; a Poland whose citizens will feel they are welcome guests in the other countries of Europe and the world, and are not deemed troublemaking intruders.
  • We reject a political philosophy asserting that economic reforms can be launched over and against society, above people's heads - one that pushes democratic change aside.
  • We, as a people, must surmount the sense of hopelessness and confront the challenge of the moment - namely, the tasks of extricating ourselves from economic disaster and reconstructing our state.

Speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (30 January 1990) edit

Speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (30 January 1990)

  • The Polish people are acutely aware of belonging to Europe and the European heritage. They are as conscious of this as are the other European peoples situated at the cultural crossroads adjacent to the superpowers, experiencing alternating phases of political existence and non-existence and hence feeling the need to strengthen their identity. In all these situations, Europe has always remained a beacon, an object of affection which the Poles felt ready to defend.
  • If we have managed to survive as an entity, we owe this partly to our deep attachment to certain institutions and certain values regarded as the norm in Europe. We owe it to religion and the Church, our attachment to democracy and pluralism, human rights and civil liberties and to the ideal of solidarity.
  • Our country is confronted with the enormous task of reconstituting the rights and the institutions that characterise modern democracies and rebuilding a market economy, after an interruption of several decades. Added to this, there is the need to overcome enormous economic problems. We not only have to re-create rights and institutions but, in cases where they were non-existent, we have to start from scratch. Otherwise, our two European worlds will never manage to live in harmony.

Quotes about edit

  • The 1988 strikes discouraged the Party leadership and demonstrated its failure to find a solution to Poland’s problems. Combined with Gorbachev’s renunciation of intervention on behalf of Communism, this failure encouraged the leadership to move toward yielding its monopoly of power. On 30 November 1988, there was a televised debate between Lech Walesa and Alfred Miodowicz, the head of the official trade union federation and a member of the Politburo. This was a highly significant step as the television served as a means of controlling the dissemination of opinion. On 6 February 1989, Round Table talks between government and the technically illegal opposition began, with the Church, an institution of great prestige in Poland, playing an important mediatory role. Under an agreement, signed on 5 April 1989, reached against a background of widespread strikes, elections were held in Poland on 4 June. Only 35 per cent of the seats in the lower house, the Sejm, were awarded on the basis of the free vote, the remainder going to the Communists and their allies, but all of these seats were won by Solidarity. This expression of the public will was a dramatic blow to the old order. Communist cohesion collapsed, not least with the Communist Party being abandoned by its hitherto pliant allies. Strikes and other protests meanwhile continued. The new government was headed by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a member of Solidarity and a Catholic intellectual. He became the first non-Communist Prime Minister behind the Iron Curtain. There was, however, to be a major division between those who endorsed the ‘Round Table’ political settlement of 1989 as a way to avoid bloodshed, and those who criticised it as, allegedly, a compromise providing subsequent cover for ex-Communists to pillage the state.
  • The French writer, Albert Camus, once lamented that "man eventually becomes accustomed to everything". I have always believed that this is an unjustly pessimistic view of our human condition; and in recent weeks I have seen enough to convince me that Camus, on this point at least, was wrong: 30,000 East Germans abandoning home, friends, jobs, everything, to escape to a new life of opportunity but also uncertainty in the West; thousands of Soviet miners striking not for more pay, but for better supplies; the joy of Poles as they greet their first non-Communist Prime Minister in 40 years; over a million inhabitants of the Baltic states forming a human chain to protest against the forced annexation of their nations; demonstrators in Prague braving the security forces to mark the 21st anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion; or in Leipzig calling for freedom of speech. Clearly the peoples of the East have not become accustomed to their lot. Totalitarian rule has not made people less attracted by freedom, democracy and self-determination. The opposite is true. Nor has it made them incapable of exercising these values through political organization and self-expression: look at the debates in the new Congress of the People's Deputies, the activities of the popular fronts, Solidarity in Poland or the opposition parties in Hungary. The demand for pluralism and reform can now be heard in every Eastern nation.
    • Manfred Wörner, Address given at the 35th Annual Session of the North Atlantic Assembly, 9 October 1989

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