Warsaw-based Polish Newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza sat down with NED President Carl Gershman to discuss whether Democracy was in retreat around the globe.
GAZETA WYBORCZA: Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain in June 1982, when President Ronald Reagan, in his address to the British Parliament, proposed that the United States undertake a bi-partisan global campaign for democracy.
GERSHMAN: In the Westminster Address, which was one of the most important speeches of Reagan’s presidency, the President recalled a marker in the center of Warsaw, showing that the distances from Warsaw to Moscow and Warsaw to Brussels are equal. The sign, he said, makes this point: Poland is not East or West. Poland is at the center of European civilization. Remember that the speech was given only months after the imposition of martial law, when Solidarity’s struggle for democracy and against totalitarianism was on everyone’s mind. When the President said that “optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy’s enemies have refined their instruments of repression,” his point of reference was martial law and the suppression of Solidarity. He added that optimism is still “in order, because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not-at-all-fragile flower.”