VÁCLAV HAVEL EUROPEAN DIALOGUES 2021 - THE OTHER EUROPE On-line conference 11 - 12 May 2021

Lech Wałęsa

Lech Wałęsa is a Polish statesman, a leading figure in the Polish opposition against the totalitarian communist power and a political prisoner during martial law, the leader of Solidarity Trade Union (1980-1990) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1983). A shipyard electrician by trade, he led a successful pro-democratic non-violent fight for freedom which in 1989 ended the communist rule in Poland and ushered in the end of the Cold War. In 1989, Wałęsa was the first foreign non-head of state to ever address the Joint Meeting of the United States Congress. He served as the first democratically elected President of Poland from 1990 to 1995 and presided over Poland's successful transition from communism into a free market liberal democracy. He remains an active advocate of human rights and freedoms. Since 1980, he has received hundreds of prizes, honours and awards from all over the world. The Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport bears his name since 2004.