Andrzej Duda, Andrej Kiska and the honoured Joachim Gauck spoke at the ceremony.

 

The St Adalbert International Prize for Peace, Freedom and Co-operation is awarded by the St Adalbert Foundation to individuals who have made "an outstanding contribution to the lasting unification of Europe as a whole and the deepening and cultivation of neighbourly relations between the peoples of Western and Central Europe". Previous winners include Poland's first partially free elected prime minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

 

The President stressed the importance of the contribution of the countries in the region to the current European order. “It brought unification to Germany and freedom and democracy to the countries of the Visegrad Group (...). Perhaps everything would be different, perhaps we would not be here today, and certainly, we would not be who we are today, if not for the important events that formed us all in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany at that time," he said during Saturday's ceremony at the Royal Łazienki in Warsaw.

 

Speaking of the "freedom uprisings of our nations," he mentioned the June 1953 uprising in East Berlin, the 1956 uprising in Hungary, the 1968 "Prague Spring" in Czechoslovakia and the 1980 "Solidarity" in Poland. He emphasized that all of them had been "brutally suppressed by the communist apparatus of oppression," but they gave people - if only for a moment - "a sense of freedom, power and causative force. "

 

“However, we remember that freedom is not given once and for all. That we must vigilantly guard and defend it, and the best way to do that is to build relations based on truth, partnership, and respect between neighbours," said President Duda.

 

“As you have always done, Mr President, to whom we are all, in all our countries, immensely grateful,” he added, turning to Joachim Gauck.

 

He stressed that this became "the axis of professional and social, and later also political life" of the former German president; he also said that he acted "not only for himself but above all for other people".