Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Walesa spells out what he sees for Poland

Lech Walesa has never contemplated emigration.

And he has his own concrete proposals for discussion with the government about the revival of the Polish trade union movement whenever he is released.

About these ads

These were the central points that emerged in an exclusive interview here March 24 with the Rev. Henryk Jankowski, longtime parish priest to the interned Solidarity leader and his principal church and family contact since his detention when martial law was introduced Dec. 13.

For the first time, Fr. Jankowski spelled out Mr. Walesa's views on the future of government-Solidarity relations. And the detained union leader's attitudes were further amplified by this correspondent's discussions with Mrs. Danuta Walesa in their home here.

Fr. Jankowski, who was speaking after a flurry of Western speculation that the government's No. 1 internee had been told he was free to leave the country with his family, stated categorically that no specific or individual offer had been made to Mr. Walesa.

''One thing, moreover, is quite certain,'' he said. ''Lech Walesa is a Pole, he was born a Pole, and here he will stay. There never was any question that he would do otherwise.''

Two days earlier Fr. Jankowski had participated in the christening of the Walesas' seventh child amid an emotional demonstration of continued public support for Solidarity and its leader.

The feeling about Walesa that animated the crowds at the church and outside his home March 22 is sensed wherever one goes in this region - especially in the shipyard where he led Solidarity to its first victory in the stormy August of 1980.

A dozen workers with whom this writer spoke during a visit there saw the future in axiomatic terms as still dependent on the restoration of the union and the return of its leader.

About these ads

Talks with regional party officials indicated they also are preoccupied with Solidarity's future and aware of its continued hold on public hearts and minds as they try to find a formula that will preclude politics from the unions yet be accepted by the workers.

According to Fr. Jankowski, Mr. Walesa's concepts of a basis on which talks with the authorities might begin turn broadly on three points:

1. Release of the union's 11-member presidium.

2. That the talks start on the basis of the original union charter. Walesa insists the government's political preconditions are adequately set forth in that charter.

3. ''Goodwill on both sides to talk, without politics, about trade unions.''

Fr. Jankowski's comments marked the first time Walesa's ideas have been disclosed even in these simple terms from his internment.

There is as yet no sign of government readiness to begin along such lines.

And yet, ''We want our union back and Walesa with it,'' workers in the shipyard said repeatedly. ''Do you think they will come back?'' one asked. ''They will, they must,'' a hard-bitten veteran of nearly 30 years in the yard said quietly.

Fr. Jankowski revealed he is to escort Danuta Walesa to Warsaw this weekend for her first visit with her husband since their seventh child was born nine weeks ago.

Two months ago the authorities offered to let interned and arrested union leaders and other activists emigrate.

Any who took up the offer, it was said, could retain Polish citizenship and would be free - subject to obvious political conditions - to visit or return to Poland at some future time, should they wish. But only a dozen or so are said to have shown any interest in the option.

When emigration was mentioned by the government, Walesa's immediate reaction was an ''absolutely emphatic 'no,' '' Fr. Jankowski said. ''For him, here is his place and nowhere else.''

All this was confirmed by Mrs. Walesa in a separate interview at the family's home in a commodious first-floor apartment on Pilotow Street.

She dismissed any suggestion that she might discuss emigration with her husband. ''He has not given it a moment's consideration, nor have I.'' she said, adding with a smile, ''nor would I agree anyway.''

She spoke of her disappointment that her husband had not been allowed to join in the christening of their third daughter - they also have four sons - two days earlier. ''After all, he is not arrested, or charged, only interned.''

The Church of Mercy itself was packed as was the vast concourse outside. The crowds watched the arrival of Mrs. Walesa and her baby in a silence punctuated by insistent repeating of the child's name, Maria Victoria, . . . and ''Free Lech.'' Hands were raised in the victory salute made famous by Winston Churchill in World War II.

Neither the regime nor the Roman Catholic Church, of course, wanted the occasion to become a demonstration. Police were present, but they kept a low profile.

Regional officials of the Communist Party were in the crowd - as one told the writer. They could have had no doubt that the appeal of ''Solidarnosc'' and its leader endures.

''Solidarity,'' said Fr. Jankowski, ''is only suspended on paper. The spirit of Solidarity lives on.''

Of Walesa's absence he said that, although obviously it was determined by the authorities, Walesa regarded himself as only one of many internees and did not wish to claim any special treatment or privileges.

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