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Frontpage News 2009 Celebrating Norwegian-Polish solidarity


Celebrating Norwegian-Polish solidarity

As a celebration of Norwegian-Polish solidarity, the Norwegian folk music group Streif performed between 7 and 13 June at Polish cultural heritage sites renovated by the EEA and Norway Grants.

On 7 June, the Norwegian musicians took the stage at the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław, showcasing their eclectic mix of Nordic folk traditions with gypsy and Jewish influences. After the event in Wrocław, the tour continued to Warsaw, Krakow, Łańcut and Malbork, in each city playing at Polish cultural heritage sites renovated with support from the EEA and Norway Grants. Both Norwegian and Polish cultural traditions were in other words highlighted through the events across Poland.

The concert tour marked the 20th anniversary of the first semi-free parliamentary elections in Poland, which took place on 4 June 1989. The elections, in which the opposition movement Solidarity lead by Lech Wałęsa secured a resounding victory, paved the way for the transition from Communist rule to parliamentary democracy in Poland. As recognition of the important work done by the democratic opposition forces during those years, leading members of the Solidarity movement were invited to the celebrations. Norwegian supporters of the Polish opposition at the time also attended the events, reaffirming their support for the movement.

The concert tour was part of 'Norwegian-Polish Histories Week', an event created to emphasise the close ties between the 2 countries. Large sections of Norwegian society were actively involved in aiding the democratic opposition in Poland in the 1980s, by organising fundraisers and supporting the opposition media. After the Polish accession to the European Union in 2004, the support from Norway has continued in the form of the EEA and Norway Grants. Over the past 5-year period, Norway has together with Iceland and Liechtenstein provided more than €500 million in funding to Polish social and economic development projects.

Cultural heritage projects comprise nearly 1/5 of the support to Poland. The White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław, where the first event of the tour took place, is one of many sites where precious parts of Polish cultural heritage have been renovated. The 180-year old building has been extensively renovated thanks to more than €2 million in support from the EEA Grants.

Pictured: Norwegian ambassador Enok Nygaard (Photo: Norwegian Embassy)