However, without the “Radio Free Europe” and the “Voice of America” radio stations it would not have been possible to maintain, for years and years, the independent thought and awareness in Poles. That would not have been possible – without the clear reference point represented by the United States. The country of free economy, of civil liberties and of the importance of the Constitution. The country of dreams and aspirations which everyone may fulfil. Then, the country which even at the time in which it was facing the most difficult problems (racism, the Vietnam war, social inequalities) had to learn, again and again, how to overcome them.
Without the convergence of the efforts of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher – and without the forced actions of Mikhail Gorbachev, but also without the “Solidarity” movement led by Lech Wałęsa – the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reversing of the course of the history would not have been possible. Thus, after 1989 a new era in the relations and in the friendship between Poland and the US began. The fantastic speech of Lech Wałęsa in the Congress was its symbolic beginning.
The two countries started to create the conditions of their cooperation, to look for mutual benefits and to build.
Daniel Fried, who at the end of the nineties of the XX century was an ambassador of the US in Warsaw and who had worked in the said embassy since the beginning of the transformation in Poland, was the best example of the friendship which searched for new paths of cooperation, looked for mutual benefits and set itself the task of building.
The Polish-American Enterprise Fund, announced by George H. W. Bush still in 1989, became a great school of modern entrepreneurship and management, supported the economic change and taught people how to invest in a modern way. The US AID projects contributed to the increase in the abilities regarding the conducting of self-governments and helped develop a network of citizens’ initiatives. In fact, it is simple: the Americans helped us understand how important it was to take matters into our own hands. To create and to develop the spirit of entrepreneurship and freedom in all areas of life.
It is symbolic that, after 10 years of those economic changes and the lessons of entrepreneurship received, it was possible to create the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, which still today is one of the most important institutions of supporting the civil society. That Foundation would not have been brought to life if it had not been for the work of Daniel Fried. He made every effort to convince the Americans about the need for such a foundation.
When the movie “Pan Tadeusz” by Andrzej Wajda had just been released, I gave Daniel the English translation of the epic poem of Adam Mickiewicz. And after the premiere of the film we talked about what was there in the soul and in the spirit of the Poles that they were always threatened with being at variance with one another and in the state of an internal war. Daniel warned us about that in the nineties of the XX century, although he respected all the sides of the Polish political dispute: namely, the movement towards modernization and the European identity – Unia Wolności (English: Freedom Union), the same aspirations represented by AWS (English: Solidarity Electoral Action) and by the government led by Jerzy Buzek, as well as the different views on the changes taking place in Poland held by the Kaczyński brothers. He respected the path of the Left. The basis of that respect was the recognition that the Left of the nineties of the XX century understood the essence of the freedom in the politics and for society. As a matter of fact, only that could lead to the common effort of all the significant actors in the politics of that time in order to obtain the constitutional agreement.
The entrepreneurship and freedom were two key words in the political vocabulary of Daniel Fried. As our American friend, he did his best so that we would skilfully develop in Poland the foundations of the Free World. In a text which Daniel Fried recently wrote for the “Atlantic Council”, he described the importance and the significance of the idea of the Free World (a concept of liberal democracy) in the history after World War II and also now, when the foundations of the Free World are threatened by populism.
To the concept of the Free World, to the cooperation of the entrepreneurship and freedom, Daniel Fried – an experienced diplomat – would add the importance, value and significance of another quality: security.
On one spring evening in 1998 I was with my friends on a picnic near the town of Wilga, a few dozen kilometres away from Warsaw. We waited for Daniel, who was to arrive with the news that everything was ready for signing that act: the act of the Polish accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which officially took place a dozen or so months later, on 12 March 1999. He arrived, full of emotions and joy. He shared those emotions with us and raised toasts with us to our friendship. There was something enchanting in his great diplomatic work. He was able to see the problems in a broad context. He also had a gift for building priorities and adjusting specific tasks to them. He could see both small details and great syntheses. When later in his work he was assigned the area of Georgia and the entire region plus the Ukraine, it was clear that he was creating the American politics in that part of the world. He was creating it, while understanding all the challenges. Therefore, he worked so hard not only to convince the American side, but also the European countries, in the last years, about the need for developing and maintaining the sanctions against Russia, in connection with its aggression on Ukraine. When he arrived in Brussels, many people would say: “Mr Sanctions has come”.
Today they are threatened.
Therefore, we need consideration. Daniel always knew how to concentrate and how to feel the entirety of the problems. I guess that it was – and still is – his inner equilibrium that was of help to him. Jogging – was the searching for harmony. Family love – was the particular care of the harmony. Travelling, hiking and looking for the taste of adventure – was the need for breathing harmony. Only in the inner harmony one can give profound consideration to matters. To the world, to himself or herself.
I remember that one year in August we hiked from the town or Zakopane (which Daniel likes very much) to Staw Gąsienicowy and further on. Heat, tiredness, beautiful views. We did not even enter the mountain hostel there. We went straight to the lake (Staw Gąsienicowy) to have a rest. We sat down on rocks. No words. We sat there for half an hour in silence, absorbing the world, absorbing the mountains, looking at the mountain peaks spreading before our eyes: from Zawrat and Orla Perć to Kościelec, very, very close to us. We looked at it all. And it was our consideration of the world.
On 7 July 2017, on Friday, at the Atlantic Council Conference, Daniel Fried will receive a special prize “Atlantic Council Freedom Awards”.
Dan, I congratulate you, my Friend!