Lech WALESA

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Politician from other European country

PoleBorn Lech WALESA

Polish statesman, dissident, union organizer, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

Born on September 29, 1943 in Popowo , Poland (77 years)

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Lech Walesa born 29 September 1943) is a Polish statesman, dissident, union organizer, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1983). A shipyard electrician by trade, he became the leader of Solidarity (NSZZ "Solidarnosc"), a freedom-oriented social movement and trade union, and later served as the first democratically-elected President of Poland (1990-1995). His nonviolent struggle eventually brought the end to communist rule in Poland and ushered in the end of the Cold War.



While working at the Lenin Shipyard (now Gdansk Shipyard), Walesa, an electrician, became a trade-union activist, for which he was persecuted by the Communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdansk Agreement between striking workers and the government. He co-founded the Solidarity trade-union movement which membership rose to over ten million people.

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After martial law was imposed in Poland and Solidarity was outlawed, Walesa was again arrested. Released from custody, he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989 and to a Solidarity-led government.



After winning the Polish presidential election of 1990, Walesa became the first President of Poland ever elected in a popular vote. He presided over Poland's successful transition from communism into a free-market liberal democracy, but his active role in Polish politics diminished after he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election.



In 1995 he established Lech Walesa Institute.



Since 1980, Walesa has received hundreds of prizes, honors and awards from many countries of the world. He was named the Time Person of the Year (1981), one of Time's 100 most important people of the 20th century (1999), received over forty honorary degrees, including from Harvard University and Columbia University as well as dozens of highest state orders: Presidential Medal of Freedom, Knight Grand Cross of the British Order of the Bath or French Grand Cross of Legion of Honour. In 1989, Walesa was the first foreign non-head of state to ever address the Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress. The Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport bears his name since 2004.



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Geographical origins

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