Kaptur Meets With Former President of Poland and Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) released the following statement after joining the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the National Endowment for Democracy to honor the former President of Poland and Solidarity movement leader Lech Walesa and to reflect on and discuss democratic achievements and challenges facing Poland going forward. The event corresponded with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Poland’s Independence Day. Event photos available here.
“It is such a privilege to join the National Endowment for Democracy for this momentous celebration honoring the former President of Poland, statesman, dissident, union organizer, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa,” said Rep. Kaptur. “This week, the world celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall and Poland’s Independence Day. What an honor it is to celebrate this historic occasion with President Walesa, whose leadership of the Solidarity Worker Movement played a central role in bringing democracy to millions in Central and Eastern Europe during the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
“As an American of Polish heritage, who represents thousands of Polish Americans, I am keenly aware of Poland’s heroic struggle toward liberty. I was proud to celebrate with the Polish people their liberation from the Soviet empire. It is why I have fought to strengthen U.S., Poland relations and advance legislation to carry on Poland’s steady progress, including the Enterprise Funds, increased development assistance, civil society exchanges, and inclusion in the defense security perimeter of free nations.
“As we look to counter increased Russian influence and democratic erosion, we must look to the inspiration and example of President Walesa’s leadership to map the way forward. We must increase U.S. funding and exchanges for civil society organizations on the front lines of today’s struggle for liberty. Let this reminder of the fall of the Berlin Wall serve as a testament to what’s possible when we join our democratic allies with a shared vision for the world — one of liberty, justice, and equality for all.”
Earlier this year, Rep. Kaptur, the longest serving woman in the United States Congress, senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Poland Caucus, introduced the “Paweł Adamowicz Democratic Leadership Exchange Act of 2019”, which would establish increased democratic exchange between the United States and Poland.
The program would grant elected officials and civil society leaders from both countries the opportunity to travel to the partner nation for 1-2 weeks, participate in educational conferences, gain important leadership skills, and build transatlantic networks between the two NATO allies. These valuable experiences would further strengthen the historic partnership between the U.S. and Poland and equip participants with the relationships and experience necessary to enrich their home country’s democratic institutions upon their return home. Gdansk, Poland is the sister-city to Cleveland, OH.