Michael Danby has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Mr Radoslaw Sikorski, at the Polish consulate in Sydney today.
A crowd of several hundred witnessed the proceedings, led by Mr Sikorski. The Order is awarded by the President of Poland to foreigners or Poles resident abroad, for distinguished contribution to international co-operation, or to co-operation between Poland and other countries.
“I am very grateful to President Komorowski and to Mr Sikorski for this award.” Mr Danby said. “I am a great admirer of the Polish Foreign Minister, who often appears on the BBC program ‘Hard Talk’ with his impeccable Oxbridge accent.”
The Foreign Minister is married to journalist Anne Applebaum, who wrote the book Gulag and who was also in attendance.
Michael Danby accepting the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
Mr Danby’s father was born in the German town of Thorn, which is now Torun in Poland. Mr Danby has visited Poland several times since he has been a Member of Parliament and has worked for closer relations between Australia and Poland. As a student activist he campaigned in support of the Polish trade union Solidarity against the former Communist regime in Poland.
Mr Danby payed tribute to Jim Maher, a key figure and former Executive Leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Australia-based Solidarity activists Adam and Margaret Warzel. The Warzels introduced Mr Danby to a stream of senior Polish statesmen and intellectuals during their visits to Australia.
“As my friend Adam Warzel recounted, we were first involved in a concert to support a Solidarity bard, Jacek Kaczmarski, in Melbourne 26 years ago.” Mr Danby said
“This is a great honour, and a reflection of the strong relationship forged between Australia and Poland.”