Solidarity grew from desire for dignity - president

Duda stated that the protesters wished a life of dignity and were prepared to demand it. Adam Warżawa/PAP

The Solidarity trade union grew out of a desire and a demand for dignity, President Andrzej Duda said in Gdańsk, northern Poland, on Monday, at ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of the union.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the signing of the 1980 August Agreements between protesting workers and Poland's communist government, which led to the union's official inception, Duda stated that the protesters wanted to live a dignified life and were prepared to demand this.

"Solidarity grew from a huge desire and demand for dignity. The participants of August 1980 wanted normality and human dignity for all - for their countrymen, and not only," said the president.

Duda stressed that the Solidarity union brought freedom not just to Poles, but to the entire Soviet bloc. "It was Solidarity that led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Yes, it was Solidarity that enabled Germany to unite," the president said. He added that the union gave Poles the possibility to live in a free, sovereign and independent country, and that they should always bear this in mind.

In his address, PM Mateusz Morawiecki said the emergence of the union was not only "a lesson in history" but also carried "a huge task and obligation for years and generations."

"Solidarity is our greatest ideal, our pearl. We wish to live according to these ideals, as they mark the path for our government and people, they also determine the sense of life and the essence of being Polish," Morawiecki said.

Solidarity leader Piotr Duda pointed out that the union was also founded on Christian ideals, which still play a major role in it today.

"Every union ceremony or meeting is preceded by prayer, because Christian values and the social lore of the church are our testament, written into our union's statute. All who join us know which trade union they are in, what its history and values are," Duda declared.

After the speeches, President Duda and PM Morawiecki laid flowers at the Gdansk Shipyard's Gate No. 2, the central site of the 1980 protests.