Wroclaw, Poland- "What side of history will the world’s great democracies be on?" That question, posed by U.S. Senator John McCain, captured the essence of the 2011 Freedom Awards, presented by the Atlantic Council at its annual Wroclaw Global Forum.

In addition to McCain, other recipients included Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski on behalf of the Polish people, Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat on behalf of his people, and Solidarity stalwarts Adam Michnik and Helena Łuczywo of Gazeta Wyborcza. In recognition of the historic events in the Middle East and an ongoing crackdown in Belarus, awards were also given to the Belarus Free Theater, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and the Belarus Association of Journalists on behalf of the people of Belarus, as well as noted Egyptian blogger Esraa Abdel Fattah on behalf of the Egyptian youth. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ronald D. Asmus was honored posthumously for his role in promoting a Europe whole, free and at peace.

Sikorski declared that "Dictators delude themselves thinking they can crush the craving for liberty. Time and again, history proves them wrong." He added, "Ideals and values can be stronger than the chains of tyranny." Radek Sikorski announced the plans to launch a European Endowment for Democracy during the Polish presidency of the EU to support and encourage the consolidation of democracy to the East and South of Europe.

Michnik, referring to the freedom movements in North Africa, said "2011 feels like 1989: we are observing miracles."

Filat proclaimed that "I will only truly deserve this award when Moldova passes the point of no return on democratic development."

Belarus Free Theater’s Natalia Kaliada called on the world to "not to keep silent on Europe’s last dictator," Alexander Lukashenko.

Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe said, "This evening’s honorees remind us of the Atlantic community’s common responsibility to lend support and encouragement to those who yearn for freedom around the globe. The courage and conviction exemplified by our awardees tonight is truly inspiring."

The awards ceremony was held on the first day of the second annual Wroclaw Global Forum. Convened in one of Central Europe’s cultural and commercial hubs, the Forum brought together over 200 top decision-makers and business leaders to discuss Central Europe’s role as a critical partner in strengthening economic, political and security ties across the Atlantic.


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For more information please visit: wgf2011.eu


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