Poland's Ex-Foreign Minister Awarded Russian Foreign Ministry Medal

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has conferred the 200 Years of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs medal to former Polish foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.

In remarks at the award ceremony on Wednesday, Ivanov said it was with great pleasure that he was conferring the honor.

He noted Bartoszewski's huge personal contribution to Polish-Russian relations and "the cause of elimination of intolerance between nations." Bartoszewski for his part appreciated the medal and handed Ivanov a book about Nazi victim children.

Born in Warsaw in 1922, Bartoszewski was a prisoner of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp during World War II. After the war, he cooperated with a commission investigating Nazi war crimes. In 1963, Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Authority named him Righteous among Nations.

In 1980, Bartoszewski joined a committee for the protection of prosecuted dissidents within Poland's independent Solidarity union, a step that cost him internment in the Communist-run Poland later. In 1995, Bartoszewski headed Poland's Foreign Ministry, stepping down after the defeat of then-President Lech Walesa's re-election bid. In 2000, he once more accepted the invitation to take up the foreign ministry portfolio, only to retire late in the following year.

His stewardship of Poland's foreign policy establishment saw new warmth and an end to stagnation in bilateral Polish-Russian relations.

Also on Wednesday, Bartoszewski is to deliver an international politics lecture at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. On Thursday, he is due to briefly meet with representatives of Moscow's Polish diaspora.

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