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Updated 10:00 AM October 16, 2006




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Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to visit U-M

Former Polish Republic President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who led Poland through the crucial post-communist years of 1995-2005, will visit the University at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25.
He will give a public lecture, “Democratic Revolutions, International Conflict and Global Citizenship,” at Rackham Auditorium and also will meet with students and faculty in various U-M schools and programs. The visit is sponsored by the Center for Russian and East European Studies, the Center for European Studies-European Union Center and Office of the President.

Kwasniewski (Courtesy Center for Russian and East European Studies)

A strong proponent of east European regional cooperation, he pushed for the admission of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the EU along with Poland and played a key part in mediating the peaceful resolution of the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2004.

Kwasniewski was born in Bialogard, Poland, on Nov. 15, 1954. At Gdansk University (1973-77), where he was head of the local chapter of the Socialist Union of Polish Students (SZSP). His burgeoning political career pulled him away from the university before his graduation, and in 1977 he joined the ruling Polish United Workers' Party and rose to become a member of the national committee of the SZSP.

In the late 1980s, Kwasniewski was one of the leaders of a reformist faction within the government, and he played a major role in negotiating the famous “Round Table Accords” that led to the peaceful transfer of power to a Solidarity-led government in 1989.

In 1995 Kwasniewski crowned a political rebirth by defeating the incumbent, Lech Walesa, to become president of Poland. He worked to get Poland admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. In Poland his greatest accomplishment was the adoption of a new national constitution in 1997.

Since his retirement from office in 2005, Kwasniewski has been in demand as a lecturer. He is a visiting faculty member at Georgetown University. For more information call 764-0351.

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