On 4 June 1989, the dream of the Polish people and the countries of East Central Europe came true. After a long, determined battle we regained our freedom.
Now we could begin to work alongside other free Europeans in building a joint future for our continent.
On 4 June 1989, we were filled with belief in our good future together. Confident in our strength and abilities, we were proud of our generation for overcoming the tragic legacy of the Second World War and the subservience that had followed.
That’s why today it worries us to see how Europe is beginning to lose faith in its own vision and its strength. Fear of outsiders in our societies is growing. Young people especially are uncertain of their future and their safety.
The spectre of military aggression is beginning to loom once more from an empire-building Russia. In the places where walls had come down, new ones are being built.
The unity of the Union is under threat, and so is its cornerstone: solidarity. People’s anxieties are being played on by populist and nationalist politicians. Spreading fear and making empty promises, extremist parties are reaching for power.
Only a united and integrated Europe is capable of undertaking the difficult tasks facing the world today. Divided, broken apart, we will become just a relic of the past, not a continent of progress and hope.
Wake up, people of Europe! Now is the time to defend our values, our nations, and a shared Europe for us all. Now is the time for solidarity.
In September 1981 the first Delegates’ Meeting of the independent trade union “Solidarity” made a historic “Appeal to the Nations of Central and Eastern Europe”, calling on them to be strong and have faith in our joint victory.
At that time, it seemed like a fantasy to talk of freedom and human rights. But how quickly it came true.
Let us believe once more, that today, just as then – everything is in our hands.
From the squares and the streets where Solidarity was born, once again we call on all Europeans to stand in solidarity together.
We call from a country which has fallen into its own unexpected problems, a country where the most important values of all are now under threat: democracy, the rule of law, individual freedoms.
We call with the voices of hundreds of thousands of people – free citizens of Poland, who for half a year have been coming out on the streets, demonstrating our commitment to democracy, law, and a shared Europe.
It’s time to believe that, together, as citizens acting in solidarity, Poland and Europe can see off the threat of oppression once more with the strong hand of freedom.
4th June 2016
Lech Wałęsa, President of Poland 1990 to 1995
Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of Poland 1995 to 2000 and 2000 to 2005
Bronisław Komorowski, President of Poland 2010 to 2015
Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Prime Minister of Poland 1996 to 1997,
Andrzej Olechowski, Minister of Foreign Affairs 1993 to 1995
Radosław Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs 2007 2014
Grażyna Staniszewska, leader of Solidarność, imprisoned during martial law
Władysław Frasyniuk, leader of Solidarność, political prisoner
Bogdan Lis, leader of Solidarność, political prisoner
Jerzy Stępień, leader of Solidarność, imprisoned during martial law, President of the Constitutional Tribunal 2006 to 2008