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WARSAW, Poland – Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and first democratically elected president of Poland in 1995, called for the new generation to build a new world at the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOOCU) Sixth Annual Leadership Institute. Without Walesa’s support, the credit union movement in Poland would not be celebrating its 10th anniversary. Its success makes it a role model for other nations’ developing credit union movements. Walesa, who was an electrician at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, started the labor movement Solidarity in the 1970s and `80s that eventually brought down Communism in his country. Standing in front of the 558 delegates from 31 countries attending the conference, Walesa said that in the last century the world was divided into two antagonistic economic systems. Co-operation was non-existent. But despite the changes that have occurred, there are still injustices and discrepancies. Today, although some things have changed, there are still problems that need to be solved, and credit unions are one way to bridge the gaps that still exist. Walesa talked of the past when the world was land and border based. To some extent that time is over, he said. Today he said, is the time of air, a new way at looking at the world. What is important now is “information, intellect and the Internet.” He pointed out that the richest man in the world is neither a land baron nor the owner of oil fields, but a software developer. Although conflicts of the day may still involve borders, Walesa cited anti-Semitism, terrorism as other major problems. The only way to solve the current problems, Walesa said, is through real global empowerment. “Spiritless laws are not effective,” said Walesa. He talked about conscience and building a social conscience of the future. Walesa made some statements that some might consider revolutionary – the United Nations should be considered a world government; NATO should be transformed into a World Defense ministry. For those attendees who thought his proposals extreme, they should consider that when Walesa started Solidarity and saw what it could do, no one could foresee the fall of Communism. Walesa referred to his early support of Grzegorz Bierecki, WOCCU Board member and President of the National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions Poland, who was the driving force behind the movement. Walesa promised his continued support to the credit union movement Walesa, who heads the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation, is devoted to consolidating democracy and a free market economy in Poland. -

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