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Poland: martial law may ease, not economy

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There are encouraging signs that Poles may see some relaxation in martial law by May Day, but at the same time, scant hope that the nation's economic situation can be turned around soon.

These were the signals emanating from last week's two-day meeting of the Communist Party Committee, and a statement by the Polish ambassador to Sweden April 23. The ambassador suggested there may be an easing -- or even lifting -- of the nighttime curfew and the release of more internees, including Solidarity activists.

A government spokesman declined either to confirm or to deny the ambassador's statement. But observers here say there have been persistent hints that such actions as suggested by the ambassador have been contemplated for May Day, next Saturday.

But no matter what restrictions are eased, it will not mean the end of martial law.

The military regime's major actions - such asthe ban on trade unions and strikes and military controls in key centers of industrial and economic activity -- will be maintained.

But observers say that behind-the-scenes exploratory negotiations are now going on between party emissaries and former Solidarity activists seen as moderates. There have been other signs also - modest enough but pointing in a similar direction -- that efforts are at least being made to break out of the stalled atmosphere of the past four months.

Such moves are in keeping with Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's known line of working to focus the nation, as well as the party, on Poland's economic priorities rather than its divisions. They also matches his unpublicized but private welcome for the evenhanded approach evident in the Roman Catholic Church's appeal for a mood of conciliation.

The head of the military council apparently effectively exerted his growing authority to keep the April 22-23 Central Committee meeting away from standard hardline-moderate polemics and to have concentrated it instead on the most urgent, specific socio-economic problems.

An early resumption of high-level contact between church and state is expected, including a meeting between General Jaruzelski and Archbishop Jozef Glemp when the archbishop returns from a visit to Pope John Paul II in Rome.

General Jaruzelski is known to be giving strong backing to the establishment of so-called social welfare committees in the factories in the present absence of actual trade unions.

He is said to regard the committees as structures capable of creating meaningful instruments of realistic self-management without straying into the ''anarchistic'' realm of absolute workers' self-rule and direct ownership of their plants as urged on Solidarity previously by radicals.

In his closing speech to the Central Committee, General Jaruzelski offered Poles no more than the hope that, through a social accord, the decline of the economy could be turned around by the end of the year. But tangible improvement in vital areas of living standards, he said, would take the rest of the 1980s


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