Michał Matlak

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Omar Marques/Getty Images. Lech Wałęsa speaking at an event to mark the thirtieth anniversary of free elections in Poland, Gdańsk, June 4, 2019

Interviewers are not always keen to sit down with Lech Wałęsa. His answers are not always clear, his line of thought can be difficult to follow, and his self-assurance is sometimes offputting. Yet there remains something truly fascinating about this man, so full of contradictions. The simple worker with a very basic education who rose to lead the biggest social movement in the Communist bloc; the charismatic leader who attracted the leading intellectuals of his time but always considers himself the smartest person in the room.

Born in the Polish countryside and educated at a vocational school, Wałęsa quickly became a leader of workers in the Gdańsk shipyard.…  Seguir leyendo »

Niklas Hallen/AFP/Getty Images. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, speaking to the press in Downing Street, London, March 6, 2018

Guy Verhofstadt, ex-prime minister of Belgium and former leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament, is now chairing that body’s Brexit steering group. The committee’s remit was meant to be mainly advisory, but thanks to Verhofstadt’s strong personality, it has arguably been a more visible presence on the EU side of the long-drawn-out Brexit process than the European Commission’s Article 50 Task Force, which is headed by Michel Barnier (whom I interviewed for the Daily earlier this year) and which is, in fact, responsible for running the negotiations.

As Britain’s Independent newspaper noted in 2016, “he [Verhofstadt] is the last person the Leave camp could have hoped to be appointed as lead Brexit negotiator of the European Parliament”.…  Seguir leyendo »