Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s first post-communist prime minister, has died at the age of 86.
After decades of communist rule, Mazowiecki’s cabinet was sworn in on 12 September, 1989. His ‘Solidarity’ party inspired democracy across Eastern Europe.
Alongside charismatic trade-unionist and fellow ‘Solidarity’ co-founder Lech Walesa, he also orchestrated the now-famous ‘Round Table’ talks between communist leaders and opposition parties earlier that year. This enabled the first partially free elections in the former Soviet bloc, paving the way for a democratic Poland.
In his inaugural presidential speech, he coined the term “thick line” to denote when the country’s communist past ended and where its new democratic future began.
Mazowiecki remained in office until 1990, after which he was appointed a United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the former Yugoslavia.
Described as “one of the fathers of Polish liberty and independence” by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, tributes were paid to the former leader last year on his 85th birthday.