- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

POLISH PATRIOT

U.S. diplomats in Poland on Monday mourned the death of Bronislaw Geremek, whom U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe called a “great Polish patriot.”

Mr. Geremek, one of the leaders of the anti-communist Solidarity movement in the 1980s, died Sunday in an automobile accident near the western Polish town of Lubien. He was 76.

“Bronislaw Geremek was a statesman recognized throughout the world for his contribution to the cause of peace and freedom,” Mr. Ashe said in comments posted at http://poland.usembassy.gov. “On behalf of the American people, I would like to express our condolences to the Polish people and to the Geremek family over the loss of such a great Polish patriot.”

The ambassador added that the staff of the U.S. Embassy was “stunned to learn of the death.”

Dan Fried, assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to Poland, called him a “fearless patriot.”

Mr. Geremek was “one of the fathers of Poland’s regained sovereignty, a fearless patriot who believed that Poland’s freedom was bound up with its democracy and a leader who realized his ideals by helping bring Poland from communist and Soviet domination to freedom and security,” Mr. Fried said.

Mr. Geremek, a professor of medieval European history, served as foreign minister from 1997 to 2000 and, at the time of his death, was a member of the European Parliament.

He was key adviser to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa during the pivotal Gdansk shipyard strike in 1980 that helped rally opposition to the Polish communist leadership. He later helped steer Poland’s transition to democracy in 1988.

In Washington, the Polish Embassy invited guests to sign a book of condolences, which will be opened Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the embassy at 2640 16th St. NW.

‘GREAT COUNTRY’

Greece’s deputy foreign minister praised the United States for its hospitality to Greek immigrants, as he addressed a Greek Orthodox Church conference Monday in Washington.

The United States is a country that “not only embraced you, the Greek immigrants, but also assisted our homeland in times of hardship, a country that stood by us in all our struggles for democracy, for freedom and for human dignity,” Theodore Kassimis told the 39th Convention of the Clergy and Laity of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Greece and the United States were allies in Word War II, the Korean War and the Cold War. Greece also is supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan. After World War II, the Truman administration supported the Greek government forces against communists in the Greek Civil War from 1946 to 1949. The victory of the government forces helped lead Greece into NATO in 1952.

Greeks fled to the United States in the 1850s, settling mostly in New Orleans where they established the first Greek Orthodox Church in 1866. Today, the State Department estimates 3 million Americans claim Greek heritage.

Mr. Kassimis referred to later waves of immigration that followed hardships under Ottoman Turkish occupation and Balkan conflicts during World War I, as he talked about modern-day Greece.

“Nowadays, you can be proud of the homeland that your forefathers were compelled to leave,” he said. “Greece is one of the most developed countries of Europe and the strongest democracy in the Balkans.”

He added, “I would like to thank this great country, the United States of America, for having assisted you to find another Greece far from Greece.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.