President Yudhoyono meets Lech Walesa on Wednesday


Jakarta - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with former Polish President Lech Walesa here on Wednesday at the Presidential Palace.

Walesa, a 1983 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is scheduled to deliver a presidential lecture at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday noon.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa and Presidential Spokesman Dino Patti Djalal were accompanying President Yudhoyono during the meeting with Walesa.

Polish Ambassador to Indonesia, Tomasz Lukaszuk, said Walesa`s visit to Indonesia reflected the close relations between the two countries. On his ten-day visit to Indonesia, Lukaszuk said, Walesa would not only hold discussions with senior Indonesian officials on global issues but also propose a cooperation in the shipping sector.

"Walesa is very experienced in the shipping industry. He once worked in a dockyard in Gdansk and led a labor organization there," Tomasz said.

Walesa, now chairman of Lech Walesa Institute, is also scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting democracy with a representative of the Bali Democracy Institute at Udayana University, Denpasar.

Born on 29 September 1943 in Popowo, Poland, Walesa is known as a humanitarian and co-founder of `Solidarity`, the first independent labor union in Soviet-oriented Poland.

In 1980 when Poland was ruled by the communists as an ally of the Soviet Union, the government signed an agreement allowing the establishment of independent labor organizations in the country. The government also agreed to stop restraining the pro democracy group movement.

As a result, the first independent labor union in a communist country, Solidarnosc, was established with Walesa as chairman. The organization was set up with the ultimate aim of securing workers` rights, including the right to strike and organize their own independent unions for which Walesa, along with his colleagues and co workers, organized and led free non-communist trade unions and gained support from across the country.

Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his distinguished services in 1983.

In December 1990, he was elected Polish president until he lost the elections in November 1995.

Walesa has been granted many honorary degrees from universities, including Harvard University and the University of Paris. Other honors included the Medal of Freedom (Philadelphia, USA.); the Award of Free World (Norway); and the European Award of Human Rights. (Source: ANTARA)