Australian Institute of Polish Affairs

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Australian Institute of Polish Affairs also known as AIPA,[1] is an independent, non-political voluntary organisation, established in 1991 in Australia to inform the Australian public about issues related to Polish history, politics, society and culture. AIPA aims at strengthening and expanding the relations between Australia and Poland through organizing discussions,[2] inviting distinguished guests and commemorating important anniversaries.[3]

The immediate trigger for establishing the Institute was strong public interest in the historic changes that swept Central Europe in 1989 and led to the collapse of communism. Due to the leading role Poland played in these events, there was a considerable demand for authoritative information on Poland, which the establishment of AIPA has met. Liaising regularly with leading Australian universities, AIPA has sponsored numerous lecture tours around Australia of important public figures who have made a significant contribution to the transition of Poland from communism to democracy. The list of AIPA guests includes, among others, former Prime Ministers Hanna Suchocka, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and Marek Belka,[4] principal architect of Poland’s economic reforms Leszek Balcerowicz, former Solidarity advisers and Foreign Affairs Ministers Bronislaw Geremek and Adam Rotfeld, former director of Radio Free Europe Jan Nowak Jezioranski, prominent film director Krzysztof Zanussi, 2008 Templeton Prize winner, Professor Michal Heller [5] and Archbishop of Lublin Jozef Zycinski.

Another stream of AIPA’s activities focuses on fostering Polish-Jewish dialogue.[6] Australia is home to a substantial number of Holocaust survivors, including a large number from Poland. The purpose of the dialogue is to build and maintain harmonious relations between the communities that have had historical ties with Poland, and to dispel hostile myths and stereotypes. This objective has been served by organizing the visits of distinguished guests, such as Jan Karski, a clandestine courier of the Polish Government in exile, who first informed the Western governments about the horrors of the Holocaust and appealed for help in arresting German atrocities, the distinguished human rights activist and journalist Adam Michnik, former Foreign Affairs Minister and advocate of Polish-Jewish friendship Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, and a prominent historian of the Holocaust, Gunnar Paulsson.

The current and past presidents of AIPA: Prof. Jerzy Zubrzycki (1991–95)[7] Prof. Andrzej Ehrenkreutz (1995–97),[8] Prof. Martin Krygier (1997–2001), Prof. Jan Pakulski (2001–2005), Adam Warzel (2005–2009), Prof. Jan Pakulski (2009 – present).

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