Democracy in Central Europe After Thirty Years Wrap-Up

Democracy in Central Europe After Thirty Years Wrap-Up


♪♪♪ Our purpose today is twofold. We want to celebrate the
momentous breakthrough for democracy that occurred 30
years ago, and we also want to examine
the present situation in Poland in Central Europe and the challenges that
lie ahead. Mr. President, I’ll begin my
remarks today with the same words that you used to introduce
your speech before Congress, “we the people.” The storm of applause from the
assembled members and senators confirmed that Americans and
Poles understand that a yearning for freedom was
written by the Creator into the design of the
human spirit. The applause confirmed as well
that we the people yearn to be free together. Not we the politician, not we
the corporation, and not we the executives,
but we the people. So let those words be our
guiding light again today. Let us be unmistakable
champions for the dignity of every human being. And let’s bring freedom to
every country on every continent. Real freedom- a free press,
free speech, free elections, and the freedom to form a union. 1989 seemed like a dawn
of a new day but 30 years later we must
remember the words of a great American labor and civil rights leader
A. Phillip Randolph: “Freedom is never given,
it is won.” You cannot hope to build
prosperity without creating an ecosystem that enables
private enterprise. Or as Lezsek once quipped, “you can’t be for milk but
against cows.” The worst catastrophes in
human history have happened because of
excessive concentration of political power, which
was communism, or socialism. And there were many, many,
million people who were killed because of this excessive concentration of
political power. You have to look at Poland and
say this was the most successful political transition
in the region. That it would have had a change
of power that has been regular and so far with little
minor exceptions, hasn’t been challenged in
regular elections following one after the other, that it would develop a sphere
of independent media, and a sphere of independent
associations, that it would have homegrown
businesses which now compete at the European level, none of this was even really
imaginable in 1989. A good part of the society in
the Czech Republic [felt like] losers, not winners
of the transformation. The success of democracy is
not [taken] for granted for us. So there is a lot of things for
which we have to fight and I think a good part of that
comes also from the mistakes which we made during
the transformation. So for us, those of us working
on Soviet policy in the US government, Poland was a miracle. Poland was an absolute miracle
and was obviously the model where by 1993, it may not have
felt like it to you, but you were clearly, you know,
Poland was clearly succeeding at real politics, at an open economy, at
integration into Europe. ♪♪♪

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