Tadeusz Mazowiecki, one of the leaders of Poland's Solidarity movement and that country's first prime minister after the fall of communism, died on October 28 at the age of 86. Mazowiecki was the first non-Communist head of government in Central and Eastern Europe in 40 years and has been hailed as "one of the fathers of Polish liberty and independence." RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent Rikard Jozwiak talked to a former Polish prime minister and onetime president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, about Mazowiecki’s legacy.
RFE/RL: What is your immediate reaction to the news of Mr. Mazowiecki's death?
He was a man of great responsibility. We call it 'statesman.' For him, always the future of the country was more important than his own career or the result of the next free election. Now it is not very popular, such an attitude to politics, but for him it was quite natural.
Then-Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki salutes deputies triumphantly from still-empty benches of the Polish parliament in Warsaw in September 1989.
RFE/RL: You knew him for many years. How will you remember him as a person?
We have cooperated since the first Solidarity congress in 1981, when I was the president of the first national congress of Solidarity in Gdansk and he was the main editor of the Solidarity newspaper called "Solidarity." I think we felt big responsibility for everything we were doing and he was something of a role model for young politicians, so I think he was an important person for the whole generation of Polish politicians.
RFE/RL: What role does the legacy of Mr. Mazowiecki play today for Poland and other EU member states from Central and Eastern Europe?
Buzek: All the decisions of Prime Minister Mazowiecki in 89-90 were [directed] towards the most important and difficult structural reforms in our country -- towards full democracy and effective free market economy. So from this point of view his political decisions were also [unparalleled]."