This discussion with Janusz Reiter, Ambassador of Poland to the United States, and Lawrence Weschler, Writer and Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities and New York University, took place on September 12, 2007. It is the first in a series of six debates with European Ambassadors organized by the Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University during the fall of 2007. It was organized as part of ia larger project entitled “Getting to Know the European Union: Member States in Focus.” The debates focus on the question, “What does it mean, in practice, to be a member of the European Union.” While many of the Institute’s previous activities have addressed this question from the vantage point of Brussels, these debates bring the perspectives of the individual member states into focus.
Janusz Reiter was sworn in as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the United States of America on October 3, 2005. From 1977 he worked for the daily Życie Warszawy but was dismissed during martial law. He was among the founders and editors of a number of opposition magazines. In the years 1984-1989 he was a commentator of the independent weekly Przegląd Katolicki. From 1990 to 1995 Janusz Reiter served as Polish Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1996 he founded the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations and was its President until October 2005. He was a founding member of the Foreign Policy Council, member of the National European Integration Council, and other Polish and international institutions.
Lawrence Weschler was for over 20 years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award and was also a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award. His dozen books include The Passion of Poland (1984), A Miracle, a Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990), Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998), and, recently, Vermeer in Bosnia: A Reader (2004). Since 2001, Weschler has been director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, USCS, Bard, Vassar, NYU, and Sarah Lawrence.