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Lech Wałęsa unveils statue of President Reagan in Warsaw

22nd November 2011
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The former US president is venerated by many in Poland due to his opposition to the Soviet Union

Polish and US dignitaries in front of the statue
Courtesy of the US State Department

Former Polish President and Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa unveiled a statue of late US President Ronald Reagan in Warsaw on Monday.

The 3.5 meter bronze statue, which is located on Al. Ujazdowski, opposite the US Embassy, depicts the moment in history when Mr Reagan stood at a podium at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate in 1987 and said, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

In Poland, Mr Reagan is revered by many as being one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century because of his hard-line stance against the Soviet Union and his vigorous promotion of democracy.

“I wonder whether today's Poland, Europe and world would look the same without President Reagan,” Mr Wałęsa said at the unveiling of the statue. “As a participant in those events, I must say that it's inconceivable.”

In his 1981 Christmas address Mr Reagan spoke about the situation in Poland and in particular about the persecution of the oppositional Solidarity trade union by the Soviet-imposed communist government.

“The target of this depression [repression] is the Solidarity movement, but in attacking Solidarity its enemies attack an entire people ... By persecuting Solidarity the Polish government wages war against its own people. I urge the Polish government and its allies to consider the consequences of their actions,” he said.

In a letter to Poland published on the US Embassy website, US President Barack Obama said, “President Reagan had a gift for inspiring hope in people facing difficult circumstances. He helped restore a sense of optimism in America during a period of economic and global challenges, and did the same for the Polish people through his unflinching support for the Solidarity movement.”

From Warsaw Business Journal by David Ingham

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