Solidarity's Success Exemplifies Worldwide Desire for Freedom

State's Fried discusses Solidarity, Middle East, with Al Hurra TV

The success of Poland’s Solidarity movement offersa “tremendously important lesson” about the universal desire for freedom and justice, says the State Department’s Daniel Fried.

“I think the importance of Solidarity grows in time,” said Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, in an interview August 26 with Al Hurra Television.

“Poland and Solidarity shows that democracy can triumph, that politics – that democratic politics – can prevail over the secret police,” he said. “And that's a lesson worth remembering throughout the world.”

The Solidarity movement began in 1980 in the Polish port city of Gdansk as a labor movement. Led by Lech Walesa, Solidarnosc – Solidarity – grew into a broad anti-communist social movement with 10 million members, which after a decade of struggle ended the Communist Party's rule in Poland and replaced it with a democratic government.

In response to questions, Fried discussed the potential for a democratic future in the broader Middle East and whether the example of Solidarity can be applied to that region.

“Every path to democracy is different,” he said. “So no, I don't think Solidarity will appear in particular countries, but I do believe that freedom is universal and that people will find their own way to freedom.”
There are many voices in the Middle East that "are making demands for justice, for freedom and for democracy,” Fried said. “This is something that the people themselves are asking for” and the United States and Europe “want to support those people.”

“I take great exception to those who believe that democracy is not applicable to the Arab world or the broader Middle East,” Fried said. “I believe, frankly, that there is an element of racism in that. I believe that democracy is potentially universal. I think that justice, and a demand for justice, is basic to what it is to be human.”

Fried will be part of a presidential delegation led by former Secretary of State James Baker that will attend a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement August 31 in Gdansk. (See related article.)

Fried said he will subsequently visit the L'Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, where he plans “to talk about the relationship between freedom achieved in Poland in the late 1980s and the cause of freedom around the world, including in the broader Middle East.”

He said he hopes partnerships such as the Forum for the Future, a group representing nearly 30 nations of the broader Middle East and North Africa and their Group of Eight partner nations, can “serve as a focal point to support the cause of freedom and support reformers, both in governments and in civil society.” (For more information, see Forum for the Future.)

Fried also answered questions about Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and the Gaza disengagement.

He expressed concern over the breakdown of negotiations between Iran and the European Three – France, Germany and the United Kingdom -- over Tehran's nuclear program. Iranian authorities are now seeking a “diplomatic maneuver to avoid having to do what they promised to do,” Fried said.

He said Europeans and Americans “are united in support of the Iraqi people, of Iraqi democracy,” despite earlier disagreements about the United States’ Iraq policies.

“There is now unity that we must help the Iraqi people achieve security, achieve freedom, achieve democracy, and that is the way to achieve stability,” said Fried.

On Lebanon, Fried said the United States and France were “extremely close” in cosponsoring United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 in September 2004, which calls for a free and fair presidential election in Lebanon and a withdrawal of all remaining forces.

“President Chirac has shown real leadership on this issue,” said Fried. “We intend to continue working with France and with Europe as a whole to support Lebanese sovereignty and Lebanese freedom.”

Fried said the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is “a tremendous development” that gives the Palestinian people an opportunity to “start building their state on territory, which all parties understand is going to be part of the future state of Palestine.”

“We want to work with Europe to help the Palestinians, to help them develop the capacity to fight terror, to put an end to terror, to make a better life for all of their people. So, this is a hopeful time, if we take advantage of it,” he said.

The transcript of the interview

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