In Poland, Romney heralds economic freedom

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jul 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-31 10:00:38-04

By CNN Political Unit

(CNN) – Mitt Romney’s speech in Warsaw Tuesday – his last on a week-long foreign tour – offered effusive praise for Poland, the country that has proved to be the smoothest stop on his three-nation trip.

Describing the former Soviet-aligned state as an “example and defender of freedom,” Romney said the alliance between Poland and the United States was based in a common system of beliefs.

“Our nations belong to the great fellowship of democracies,” Romney said. “We speak the same language of freedom and justice. We uphold the right of every person to live in peace. I believe it is critical to stand by those who have stood by America. Solidarity was a great movement that freed a nation. And it is with solidarity that America and Poland face the future.”

Romney’s stop in Poland came after an invitation from Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who went on to inspire the Solidarity trade union and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain. Walesa later was elected president.

Romney and Walesa met in Gdansk, where the Solidarity movement began. The presumptive GOP nominee also toured historic sights in the city, including the World War II Westerplatte memorial, and met with Poland’s current Prime Minister, Donald Tusk.

On Tuesday, Romney’s stops in Warsaw included a visit to the country’s Tomb of the Unknown Solider and a meeting with the Polish foreign minister.

In his speech, Romney said Americans were “inspired” by Poland’s history, mentioning the country’s struggle against Nazi occupation during World War II and the Solidarity movement begun by Walesa.

“I, and my fellow Americans, are inspired by the path of freedom tread by the people of Poland,” Romney said.

Romney also hailed Pope John Paul II, the popular leader of the Catholic Church who

Mitt and Ann Romney visit WWII Memorial sites in Poland (CNN)

died in 2005. Romney said the late pontiff “understood that a nation is not a flag or a plot of land,” but instead a “community of values.”

Praising the Polish economy, Romney linked a history of living under communist rule to what he saw as a commitment to free enterprise.

“Perhaps because here in Poland centralized control is no distant memory, you have brought a special determination to securing a free and prosperous economy,” Romney said.

In his remarks, Romney only briefly mentioned Russia, which he has labeled the United States’ top “geopolitical foe.” Romney said in Russia, “once-promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered,” listing the country alongside Syria, Venezuela and Belarus as examples of places where “the desire to be free is met with brutal oppression.”