Polish top officials pay tribute to late PM Olszewski

Olszewski died on February 7, 2019, at the age of 88. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Representatives of the presidential and prime minister's offices, and government officials laid flowers and lit candles at the tomb of Former Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, who died one year ago today.

The wreath laying ceremony was attended by, among other Polish politicians, PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, head of PiS's executive committee Krzysztof Sobolewski, PiS caucus leader Ryszard Terlecki, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki's office head Michał Dworczyk, Agriculture Minister Jan Ardanowski and President Andrzej Duda's advisor Zofia Romaszewska.

Others attending the ceremony included PiS senior member Antoni Macierewicz, who was Internal Affairs Minister in Olszewski's government, and Piotr Naimski who was head of Poland's Office for State Protection (UOP).

Macierewicz said that Olszewski "was the creator of Polish independence thought, and his government began to implement these changes, this reconstruction of Poland, which is now continued by the United Right."

He added that independence was the highest value among national values for Olszewski, and without it "it was impossible to shape an independent national entity."

Commemorating Olszewski on Facebook, PM Mateusz Morawiecki wrote that Poles will never forget his warnings for the country. Recalling Olszewski's memorable query "whose will Poland be?" Morawiecki wrote that Poland "deserves the best care."

Jan Olszewski headed the Polish government from December 6, 1991 to June 5, 1992. In the communist era, notably in the 1960s and 1970s, he was a defence attorney in the political trials of oppositionists. In the 1980s, when the nationwide Solidarity movement emerged in defiance of the communist authorities, Olszewski became an advisor to what was the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc and to its leader Lech Wałęsa.

When communism collapsed in 1989, Olszewski became a political leader and, later, an advisor to the late President Lech Kaczyński. He was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's top distinction, in 2009.

Olszewski died on February 7, 2019, at the age of 88.