Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Haig tries to turn spotlight from flap over sanctions back to Poland itself

United States Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. has made a strong bid to turn public attention away from differences between Western allies about Poland and back to the original crisis: the bankruptcy of Soviet-style rule in Poland.

Mr. Haig did so in what was billed as a major foreign policy speech at the International Press Center in Brussels Jan. 12.

About these ads

In his address Haig clearly cast Poland - ''a nation steeped in a thousand years of European culture'' - in the Western tradition. And he contrasted the West's ideals of individual freedom of expression, choice, and association to Poland's current illustration of ''the historic failure of Soviet-style communism to produce either bread or freedom.''

Haig noted that continued repression in Poland would necessarily threaten those East-West economic relations that Moscow desires. He also noted, however, that the US-Soviet talks on control of intermediate-range nuclear arms that resumed in Geneva Jan. 12 would not be affected, as of now.

In answer to a reporter's question he said that ''President Reagan has decided that these talks belong in a very special category of East-West relations, that we entered them with a clear recognition that they are as much in the interest of the West as clearly they are to the Soviet Union. . . . Despite Poland, we are going to continue our efforts to negotiate limits.''

Haig's Brussels speech - which was primarily an indictment of Soviet failures and only secondarily a call to allied action on sanctions on Poland - contested four ''myths about Poland.'' These were identified as: ''first, that Solidarity brought about its own suppression through excessive ambition; second, that the Soviet Union did not intervene in Poland and is therefore not accountable; third , that Poland's rulers are acting out of laudable national considerations; and fourth, that the West can and should do nothing because what happened in Poland is strictly an internal affair.''

On the first, Haig challenged the view that martial law ''was provoked by the excesses of Solidarity itself.'' He noted that for months before the declaration of martial law, Solidarity and its chairman, Lech Walesa, ''worked strenuously to halt strikes and prevent chaos. . . . After March 1981, strikes in Poland never exceeded a small fraction of the work force. After August 1981, the Polish government's own statistics recorded increasing production.'' It was the government, not Solidarity, that made confrontation ''inevitable.'' with its bill outlawing strikes, Haig charged.

On Soviet intervention, Haig referred to ''a continuous campaign of Moscow's pressures, threats, and intimidation - including military maneuvers. In answer to a question he said there was ''detailed and overwhelming'' evidence of Soviet involvement in the Polish repression, including some ''first-hand reporting from the most sensitive of sources.''

He said this evidence had been presented to America's NATO European allies and had contributed to the consensus on condemning the Soviet role in Poland in the Jan. 11 NATO foreign ministers' communique.

About these ads

On the ''third myth,'' Haig observed that ''a Soviet trained military man is suppressing his own people under the pressure of the Soviet Union.''

In contesting the ''fourth myth,'' Haig invoked the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. Since the internationally agreed Helsinki standards have been violated, he contended, ''the people of Poland are now looking to the West. . . . We must counter the external and internal pressures which impede the reconciliation and reform so clearly desired by the citizens of Poland.''

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.