NATO has celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of Solidarity, the 10 million strong Polish trade union which heavily contributed to the fall of communism in Central Eastern Europe in 1989, by erecting a Solidarity monument in front of its headquarters in Brussels.
The ceremony was attended by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, who emphasized that the world-renowned trade union will forever be associated with the struggle for freedom in Poland in the 1980s.
“It was a struggle for a better life after decades of dictatorship and Soviet domination," said the Deputy Head.
He added that Solidarity united Poles in difficult times, especially after martial law was imposed by the communist regime in 1981, in an effort to crack down on the swiftly growing movement.
“Solidarity inspired Poland, and Poland inspired the world", said Mircea Geoana, while also reminding the crowd that the Secretary General of NATO emphasised that it was Solidarity which initiated the political transformation in the Soviet bloc, resulting in the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Mircea Geoana also spoke with appreciation about the changes that have taken place in Poland over the last few decades. He stressed that as a NATO member country, Poland is a strong ally that takes part in the Alliance's operations and missions around the world on land, sea and air, from the Western Balkans to Afghanistan and Iraq, and that it is always swift to provide humanitarian aid where it is needed.
He concluded his speech with a request to convey "words of admiration, support and loyalty to the courageous Polish people".
The monument depicts the famous red "Solidarity" symbol and is one of the few large exhibits placed in front of the NATO headquarters. A few years ago, two concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall were erected there and a monument dedicated to the September 11 attacks with a fragment of one of the destroyed towers of the World Trade Center is also standing at the site.