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Higgins meets with former president of Poland Lech Walesa

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Tue, Apr 18th 2017 02:00 pm
Congressman Brian Higgins and former Poland President Lech Walesa.
Congressman Brian Higgins and former Poland President Lech Walesa.

Congressman Brian Higgins met with the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, in Gdansk while traveling with a congressional delegation abroad last week. Higgins, a member of the European Union Caucus, spoke with Walesa regarding domestic and international affairs.

"President Walesa was instrumental in establishing Poland during a critical and vulnerable period in its history. His career defending workers' rights and efforts to advance free and fair elections in Poland are commendable," Higgins said.

Walesa served as president of Poland from 1990-95, winning the first direct presidential election in Poland's history and overseeing the country's transition out of communism. An electrician and labor leader, Walesa co-founded Poland's first independent trade union, Solidarity, in 1980, which, by 1981, boasted 9.5 million members, one-third of all Polish working people, and contributed to the fall of Communism and the establishment of free elections in Poland.

In 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989. Walesa also has the honor of being the first nonhead of state to address a joint session of Congress. Walesa is an honorary citizen in more than 30 cities, including Buffalo.

Higgins, a newly appointed member to the subcommittee on trade of the ways and means trade committee, recently completed visits with officials in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Poland. The visit provided the congressman with the opportunity to engage in bilateral conversations with officials on issues of shared interest, including matters of trade. Of note, in addition to the congressman's meeting with Walesa in Poland, he also met with officials of the American Chamber of Commerce in Berlin to discuss worker training programs, he said which are a model of innovation.

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