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Former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana received the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award on Saturday

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Former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana received the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award on Saturday. The distinction was presented during a gala at the Ossolineum in Wrocław. – My obsession was to open NATO to new members, especially Poland – said Solana.

The winner of the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award was selected by the Chapter. In 2024, this distinction was received on Saturday in Wrocław by former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, who was at the head of this pact when it was admitted to it in 1999. Poland.

Solana: my obsession was opening NATO

– My obsession was opening NATO to new members, especially Poland, because Poland was then the most important country that should have joined NATO. A country that has shown its determination, that has fought for years. It showed that NATO values ​​were at the heart of this country. I was proud that Poland joined NATO when I was the secretary general of the pact, said Solana.

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The President of Wrocław, Jacek Sutryk, and Javier Solana, honored with the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award, former Secretary General of the North Atlantic AlliancePAP/Maciej Kulczyński

He recalled that a few years later he was the representative of the European Union for common foreign and security policy and then he could further deepen his relations with Poland. – That's why I'm so happy to receive this award. Once again: Javier Solana loves Poland – you could say it is a love affair that will last until the last moments of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, said the winner.

– Looking at the current international situation, especially the brutal war in Ukraine and Russia's imperial ambitions, we can even more appreciate the importance of our presence in NATO. Javier Solana, as NATO Secretary General, played a key role in the process of introducing Poland to this organization. His constant commitment and visionary approach ensured Poland not only security, but also strong support from allies in the face of modern threats – said the President of Wrocław, Jacek Sutryk, in his laudatory speech.

READ MORE: Conference on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Poland's accession to NATO. “The next dozen or so months will be crucial for Poland's security” >>>

Solan: It was a long, difficult negotiation

Javier Solan also spoke about being honored with the award and about Poland's accession to NATO during a joint discussion panel with former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski. The moderator was TVN24 journalist Dagmara Kaczmarek-Szałkow.

– In fact, these were quite long, difficult negotiations, because, as I said earlier, as you recognized, joining NATO is not really the only guarantee of being defended. This involves specific duties, including the duty to defend others. At that time, the Polish armed forces, infrastructure, and political forces had to be prepared for what was associated with joining NATO. Of course, Poland did its job, by all means. It has become a full member of NATO, said Javier Solan.

– Now you are in NATO, you are in the European Union. At this point, you are a particularly important player in these areas. You once tried and aspired to join these institutions, and now you are their very important members. I am overjoyed that you are in these bodies. I want you to be fully aware of your responsibility, not only in the EU, but also in NATO, he emphasized.

Javier SolanaPAP/Maciej Kulczyński

– We were lucky to have a man like Javier as secretary general at that time. (..) He is a combination of openness, courage of political thinking, but at the same time pragmatism, which results from the fact that he is a solid-state physicist. This is very serious science. There is no room for any improvisation or mistakes. It was he who combined these two features of a very pragmatic approach with an extremely brave, open and extremely kind approach to Poland. We were also lucky to have found such partners in the world, said former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski

– The American administration with (Bill) Clinton and Madeleine Albright was something extremely positive and useful for us. Madeleine Albright understood our region perfectly. She was Czech herself, and Clinton wanted to make this historic change, he said.

– I will end with this final, very timely remark. Well, while driving here, I read statements from the US presidential campaign of Donald Trump, from the British campaign of Nigel Farage, the Brexiteer, who are starting to fit into the Russian narrative. They say that the reason for everything that is happening today is NATO expansion, that it was this mistake – he pointed out.

Javier SolanaPAP/Maciej Kulczyński

– This is not the thinking that appeared today. It was also present twenty-odd years ago. Only we managed to overcome it through the Polish fight for independence, through the reforms we undertook, through building democracy, with the support of such enlightened and brave people as Javier Solana. Because even then the resistance was such that why expand NATO? From today's perspective, it is clear that if NATO had not been enlarged then, Central and Eastern Europe, to put it bluntly, Poland, would have remained in the gray zone and would probably be exposed today to what Ukraine is going through, maybe not in such a terrible warlike form, but it would undoubtedly be politically everything was done to keep the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the Russian sphere of influence. From today's perspective, this decision has an absolutely epoch-making dimension – said Kwaśniewski.

Who is Javier Solana?

Javier Solana is a Spanish politician and diplomat, from 1995 to 1999 Secretary General of NATO, and from 1999 to 2009 High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary General of the Council of the European Union. During Solana's term as NATO Secretary General, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined the North Atlantic Alliance.

Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award

The award, presented in the capital of Lower Silesia, was established in 2004 by Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, President of Wrocław, the University of Wrocław, the National Institute of Ossoliński and the College of Eastern Europe. It is awarded to people who embody “thinking about the state as a common good”, as well as to institutions that made a significant contribution to the overthrow of communism, Poland regaining independence and to shaping civil society in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

So far, among those honored with the Award: Jan Nowak-Jeziorański included, among others, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, George Bush senior, Stanisław Szuszkiewicz, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Siergiej Kowalow, Vaclav Havel, Leszek Balcerowicz, Jerzy Koźmiński, Valdas Adamkus, Literary Institute in Paris, prof. Zbigniew Brzeziński, Lithuanian prose writer and poet Tomas Venclova, Fr. Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, or former Israeli ambassador to Poland Szewach Weiss.

Main photo source: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński

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