The winner was announced on Wednesday by Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. “For years, Mustafa Dzhemilev has been promoting democracy and civil rights and civil liberties in Ukraine, specifically among the Tatar community. Dzhemilev demonstrated his democratic views as early as Soviet times, spending 10 years in a Soviet Gulag as a dissident,” said Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski at today’s press conference held at the MFA. The Ukrainian leader who has fought for the Crimean Tatars’ rights has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.
The Solidarity Prize was established by the minister of foreign affairs to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Poland’s peaceful democratic transition. It is the first international prize dedicated to the promotion of freedom and democracy across the globe awarded by a country with a history of successful democratic transition. “Poland has successfully shifted from dictatorship to democracy and from planned economy to market economy, and today, it shares its experiences. Warsaw is becoming a centre where people from all over the world learn how to effectively manage the transformation process,” stressed Minister Radosław Sikorski. The chief of Poland’s diplomacy recalled that Warsaw is a host city to the OSCE’s most important agenda “that is responsible for the monitoring of elections across the globe,” and to the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies. “Our government has also established the Solidarity Fund PL and convinced the European Union to create the European Endowment for Democracy that works effectively in both EU neighbourhoods,” said the foreign minister. “The Solidarity Prize is meant to recall that it all started in Poland, and that Poland’s Solidarity started crushing the walls that eventually tumbled down,” the minister underscored.
“Fifteen world authorities on democracy and human rights took part in the winner’s selection,” said Minister Radosław Sikorski. Professor Władysław Bartoszewski, Professor Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Catherine Ashton, Aung San Suu Kyi and Carl Bildt were among the personages who nominated candidates. The final decision was taken on 25 April by the Prize Committee headed by President Lech Wałęsa. It was unanimous.
“We want the prize to be named after Lech Wałęsa in the future, since we are cooperating with the Lech Wałęsa Institute,” announced the minister.
The statuette was designed by Professor Krzysztof Nitsch, a sculptor and recipient of many awards and honours.