The medals, which have been awarded since 2005, are intended to highlight those who have made a distinguished contribution to cultural life in Poland.
Five of the writers who did not appear at the ceremony had already written to the minister, complaining about the “politicisation of culture” and the alleged “breaking of democratic principles.”
The complaints followed the launch of an EU probe into the rule of law in Poland, after new laws were voted through parliament affecting the Constitutional Court and public media outlets.
Kazimierz Orłoś, Piotr Matywiecki, Tomasz Łubieński, Iwona Smolka, Adriana Szymańska, Maria Jentys-Borelowska and Grzegorz Kasdepke all rejected the medals.
Meanwhile, the honours were accepted by Krystyna Rodowska, Piotr Wojciechowski, Zbigniew Taranienko,Katarzyna Boruń-Jagodzińska, Jerzy Górzański and Grzegorz Walczak.
The only laureate to speak at the ceremony was Piotr Wojciechowski.
“This might not be the most elegant thank you, but our hearts are pained because this distinction (...) was shared by our outstanding colleagues,” he said.
He added that the arguments of those not present “were not empty words,” and encouraged the minister to initiate a dialogue with each writer.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Culture Jarosław Sellin told Polish Radio that he did not understand the reason for such “hysteria and gestures,” although he acknowledged that it was the writers' personal affair whether to accept the honours.
The Law and Justice party minister accused the writers of being “blind in one eye”over the Constitutional Court, arguing that the previous government, which was voted out in the 25 October general election, had set the judicial problems in motion.
Prior to the election, parliament voted through five new judges to the Constitutional Court, two of whom the court later ruled had been picked prematurely. President of Poland Andrzej Duda refused to swear in any of the five appointees, yet approved all five of those picked by Law and Justice, a party that he was a member of prior to his own election in May. (nh/pk)