“A World Without Walls“:

An International Congress on "Soft Power", Cultural Diplomacy and Interdependence

(Berlin; November 6th - 9th, 2009)
An Interview with Mr. Cimoszewicz »

Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz

Former Prime Minister of Poland; Former Foreign Minister of Poland

Dr Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz was born in Warsaw in 1950. He began his higher education at the University of Warsaw, studying at the Department of Law and Administration. He obtained his MA in 1972, then a Ph.D. in Public International Law in 1978 at the University of Warsaw, where he was also an assistant and lecturer.

In 1980 he was awarded the U.S. State sponsored Fulbright scholarship, and spent one year studying and lecturing at Colombia University in New York. It was here, walking the streets of Manhattan, that Cimoszewicz became affiliated with American culture and is a self-proclaimed Bob Dylan fan. From 1985 he worked as a private farmer, and at the same time his political career began to take shape.

In 1990 he became Chairman of largest political parliamentary Caucus of the Democratic Left Alliance, after which he was member of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and a rappourteur to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (1992-1993). From 1993 he served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and the Minister of Justice. During his term he launched Poland’s first anti-corruption campaign, “Clean Hands” with the objective of gaining financial transparency within the Polish government.

In 1996 he became Prime Minister of Poland following Oleksy’s resignation. Cimoszewicz had a good relationship with then president, Kwasniewski, a factor which discouraged him from running for president himself (until 2005). Cimoszewicz was a favorable politician due to his relative independence from the coalition parties (he was a member of the SLD but not of Social Democrat Party). His achievements in his short period as Prime Minister include negotiating Poland’s entry into NATO, as well as initiating major reforms of the central government and speeding up legislative procedures and privatization. He is also accredited with achieving the highest economic growth and lowest unemployment levels since the collapse of communism.

From 2001-2005 he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He made important changes to Poland’s foreign policies, and played a big part in the country’s accession to the EU. Other accomplishments include creating the Diplomatic Academy of Poland and proposing a reform model for the UN. In 2005 he ran as a presidential candidate, topping the polls, until the right-wing opposition started an investigation commission accusing the SLD of corruption. Cimoszewicz withdrew his presidency bid, fed-up with politics and propaganda.

At present he is an independent senator in the Polish parliament, and Head of the Foreign Policy Centre at the Law School of Bialystok University. He has been awarded a Doctorate Honorus Causa from three universities, and has been honorary lecturer in many more. He is married to wife Barbara, has two children Natasza and Tomasz, and three granddaughters.