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The Polish Round Table. A bird’s-eye view

Today, the 1989 Round Table is still a topic of an important discussion in Poland, one that in the last years has become more intense than before. Many participants of the discussion are still active in Polish political life, including former presidents and prime ministers. A majority of them stress the positive aspects of the negotiations. Yet the Round Table has always had fierce critics.

The Polish Round Table negotiations, which started in February 1989, were one of those events whose meaning was not clear from the very beginning. In a way, we can compare this moment of Polish history to Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 BC, after he ignored the order of the senators who were well aware of his high ambitions and wanted to keep him away from Rome. It marked the beginning of the end of the Roman republic, while from that moment on, the phrase “crossing the Rubicon” refers to a decision, or a historical event, which brings about irreversible consequences.
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May 2, 2019 - Paulina Codogni - History and MemoryIssue 3-4 2019Magazine

May 1st 1989, Gdynia campaign rally for candidates of the Solidarność trade unity running for parliament in the first semi-free elections after the Round Table discussions. Photo: Leonard Szmaglik / European Solidarity Centre Collection

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