The Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Cornelia Pieper, today issued the following statement in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the Gdańsk Agreement and the founding of Solidarność (Solidarity) on 31 August 1980:
”Tomorrow sees the 30th anniversary of the day on which Lech Wałęsa signed an agreement in Gdańsk with representatives of the then Polish Government on the foundation of a free trade union.This marked the birth of Solidarność.
The pictures of the strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk in the summer of 1980 remain imprinted in the memories of many, not least in Germany.In the former GDR in particular, they inspired in people the hope that resistance against political subordination could be successful. Not even the introduction of martial law in 1981, when Solidarność was banned and many members of the opposition were arrested, could break this resistance.
In the spring of 1989, that crucial year for Europe, the opposition in Poland succeeded in bringing about the Round Table Talks, followed in June by elections which heralded the end of Socialism.Once again, Solidarność played a key role.
Last year the whole of Europe rightly celebrated the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of the Iron Curtain. Today the 30th anniversary of the Gdańsk Agreement and the foundation of Solidarność affords us another occasion to recall Poland’s wonderful contribution towards overcoming the division of Germany and of Europe. Without Solidarność in Poland, the Berlin Wall could not have fallen.
Today our neighbour Poland is one of Germany’s most important partners in the EU. Our relations are better than they have ever been.This development, too, would have been inconceivable without Solidarność.“