Polish independence centenary commemorated worldwide

Polish communities and state and local authorities worldwide commemorated Poland's independence centenary on Sunday, which also marks Polish Independence Day (Nov. 11).

In Budapest, Polish diaspora representatives, the Polish ambassador and representatives of local authorities laid flowers at a memorial plaque to Poland's inter-war leader and one of its independence architects, Józef Piłsudski. In his address at the ceremony, Ambassador Jerzy Snopek recalled Poland's path to independence and voiced contentment over Poland's sovereign statehood today.

"Today both we in the mother country and our foreign diasporas are happy that, despite all the turbulence of the present times, we can decide about ourselves, our fate and our further development to the extent that befits an independent country," Snopek said.

Subsequently the ceremony participants moved to the nearby Gesztenyes Park for the consecration of a Piłsudski bust unveiled there on September 26.

Punctually at noon the ceremony participants collectively sang the Polish national anthem.

A special concert at the Quirinal Palace in Rome commemorated the Polish centenary in Italy. Present were the Polish ambassadors to Italy and the Vatican, Konrad Głebocki and Janusz Kotański, diaspora representatives, Italian politicians, and the head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni.

Aired by Italian radio broadcaster RAI3 in Italy and abroad, the concert featured pianist Aleksandra Świgut and cellist Jakub Lewandowski. On the programme was music by renowned Polish romantic composer Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a world-renowned piano virtuoso and one of the main advocates of Poland's resurrection as an independent state in 1918, who also served as Polish prime minister between January and December 1919.

In Belarus, members of the Polish diaspora and Polish diplomats attended the consecration of a renovated memorial to Polish soldiers killed in northern Belarus during the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik War. Located in Smarhon, the memorial stands on the graves of unknown Polish soldiers who fell in the conflict.

Also on Sunday, Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenka congratulated Polish state head Andrzej Duda on the independence centenary in a special message.

In Vilnius, Lithuania, the Polish independence centenary was commemorated by a ceremonial hoisting of the Lithuanian and Polish flags and a rendering of the Polish national anthem. Attending the ceremony were the head of the Lithuanian lower house, Viktoras Pranckietis, Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuanian government officials and parliamentarians, Polish embassy officials and members of the local Polish diaspora.

In Britain, Polish Catholic Primate Wojciech Polak celebrated a special independence centenary mass in London's Westminster Cathedral, during which he appealed to Poles to show good will, solidarity and honesty in building their country.

"Patriotism, or our love for our country, obliges us to mutual good will, solidarity, honesty and concern in building our common home," Archbishop Polak said.

Present at the service among others were Westminster Archbishop Vincent Nicholas, the Polish government's international dialogue commissioner Anna Maria Anders and Polish Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki.

In the Far East, the Polish centenary was commemorated by an Independence Race and a concert by Poland's Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra in Seoul, South Korea, events organised around the visiting Polish tallship 'Dar Młodzieży' in Japan, and observations in China.

In the Ukrainian capital Kiev, a white-and-red eagle adorned with 2,500 candles was lit up in Polish national colours in the courtyard of the city's Kiev Fortress.

In Paris, the main centenary event will be the inauguration of a Polish chapel in the renowned Notre Dame Cathedral. On Saturday at the Polish Embassy in Paris, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz delivered an address in which he remarked that Poland was entering its second century after regaining independence.

Congratulations to Poland on its independence centenary have come in from, among others, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and PM Saulius Skvernelis, the German ambassador and foreign minister, the Lithuanian foreign minister, the ambassadors of the US, Britain, France and Ukraine, and the embassies of Israel, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden.