Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Poles get some good news, but not about Walesa or the Pope

Poland's military ruler, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, has offered his weary nation a measure of encouragement . . . and disappointment.

His speech to the Sejm (parliament) July 21 was encouraging. It offered the prospect of military rule being lifted altogether by the end of the year. And it was accompanied by the release of many internees detained since the imposition of martial law last December. But the speech was disappointing, as well. It made clear that the hard core of detained Solidarity union leaders, including Lech Walesa, and the radical political opposition are to remain under detention indefinitely.

About these ads

The 40-minute address to parliament came on the eve of the July 22 national day, marking 38 years of communist rule in Poland.

It is not known precisely how many internees are involved in the amnesty, nor just how many were being held as it came into force. But General Jaruzelski indicated that a majority is covered - including all women detainees. On the best estimates this leaves some 1,000 to 1,200 under detention.

Jaruzelski's comments on the future of the trade unions seemed to preclude any bilateral dialogue with Solidarity in anything like its former shape and form.

He acknowledged the principle of independent unions and said the principle would be preserved in the building of new unions. But he suggested they are to have a new structure.

He promised there would be no return to the party-controlled, rubber-stamp unions that were swept out of existence by the workers in August 1980. But there could be no resumption of an independent labor movement as conceived by Solidarity.

Although martial law ''must be maintained for the time being, he said, assuming that no new tensions emerge and ''normalization proceeds favorably, then the military council could suspend martial law . . . maybe before the end of the year.''

Similar reasoning seems to have applied in the sensitive question of the visit of Pope John Paul II, initially projected for next month.

About these ads

The authorities, Jaruzelski said, had always favored a visit by the Polish Pope, but ''there must be peace in the country and no threat to the state.''

He indicated that the visit is being arranged for next year. Archbishop Jozef Glemp said it is being projected for May.

The assumption is that both sides - each for its own political reasons - favor the visit but prefer to postpone it until martial law is ended and some measure of social peace returns to Poland.

How and when that will be the next few months should show.

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