10 grudnia 2008
The President of the Republic of Poland, Mr Lech Kaczyński, awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to Mr William R. Rhodes, a United States citizen, in recognition of his meritorious services to the promotion of Polish-American economic cooperation and development of the Polish financial market.

On behalf of the President of the Republic of Poland, the Order was presented by the Chief of the Chancellery of the President of RP, Mr Piotr Kownacki, in a ceremony on 10 December 2008. The Minister has also read out a letter of the President of RP to Mr Bill Rhodes.

The letter reads as follows:

“I have a privilege of honoring your meritorious services to our country and our nation by awarding to you, Sir, an Officer Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. Presentation of one of the highest Polish state decorations to you, Sir, is a token of recognition of your stance in the period of time which was particularly trying to us, Poles, the decade of 1980’s, and in the period of transformation of political and economic system.

The 20th century abounded in developments which were tragic for Poland. Two totalitarianisms: of the Nazi Germany and of the Soviet Union left their stigma on the destinies of my country. Thanks to the unswerving spirit of our people and the unique love of freedom and independence shown by my countrymen but also thanks to the support of many people of good will all across the world, Poland regained sovereignty and returned to the great family of free nations.

Our Home Country shall never forget the assistance and kindness you were providing, Sir, back in the days of Solidarity peaceful struggle and also after regaining of independence as we embarked on the task of building a free market economy and catching up delays in civilization development in the last half a century. Today as a member state of the European Union we ourselves are lending support to countries under transformation. This is a linkage to the idea of solidarity which is so clearly reflected in your actions, Sir, the solidarity which is so significant in further development of nations.

Today, on this solemn occasion, please, accept my warmest congratulations and allow me to express my hope that building of the world which reconciles various perspectives and interests of societies with due consideration to their aspirations and hopes will continue to be in the centre of your activities.

May you derive great satisfaction from your numerous import ant works and achievements. I wish you much more success in the future and all the best in your personal life. "

Mr William Reginald Rhodes – President of Citibank and Vice=President of Citigroup in New York in 1989 was an advisor to the Polish Government participating in an US Federal reserve Advisory Group on economic reform in Poland. Following his initiative, the first representative office of Citibank in Poland was opened in 1989 to be then extender to the first regular branch of the American Bank in Poland. In 1992, Mr Rhodes played a crucial role in the negotiations of the Polish debt with the London Club. Józef Piłsudski Institute in New York has granted Mr Bill Rhodes a special Leadership and Achievement Award in recognition of his many years’ contribution to the improvement of Polish-American relations. In 2001, Mr Rhodes oversaw the merger between Bank Handlowy and Citibank.