Polish deadlock: neither side dares bend
Both the Polish military government and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa would like to find a way out of their present political deadlock through negotiations. But both sides have become trapped by their own intransigence or that of their supporters.Skip to next paragraph
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That is the central dilemma facing Poland as the country moves into its third week of martial law. And it is this same Catch-22 situation that is stalling the efforts of leading members of the Roman Catholic Church as they search for a solution to the crisis.
Ever since the emergency was declared Dec. 13 - including immediate detention of virtually all Solidarity's national and regional leaders - the government has pressed Mr. Walesa to make a radio appeal to his millions of rank and file followers to accept the situation and allow him to enter into negotiations.
But church sources say that Walesa, although he recognizes the wisdom and necessity for negotiations, is refusing to consider them until both he and his associates can take part as independent agents and representatives of the union. To anyone who knows him, it is doubtful if he could ever be budged from that position.
The government, on the other hand, is caught in a situation of its own creating, however justified it may claim its actions were: It is now so committed to the elimination of what it saw as ''counterrevolutionary'' forces allegedly bending Solidarity to their own ''antisocialist,'' ''anti-Soviet'' political designs that it cannot reverse itself. Indeed, their eradication was one of the first objectives of its emergency decision.
It cannot, therefore, bow to demands by Walesa, the Catholic Church, or anyone else for the immediate release of these ''counterrevolutionary'' elements - let alone agree to their participation in talks to end the crisis.
Yet, to survive, the government must negotiate. It could conceivably persuade the Catholic primate, Archbishop Josef Glemp, to meet with General Jaruzelski by lifting its present restrictions on Walesa so that he could take part (as the primate insists) in a three-way meeting with the church and the regime.
Again, however, it may be assumed that Mr. Walesa would refuse to enter into any substantive negotiations without first consulting his former colleagues and having some of them by his side.
All this is the picture that can be pieced together from reports filtering out of Poland. In particular, Walesa's position emerges (via sources close to the church) from the reports given to Pope John Paul II by the secretary of the Polish Bishops' Conference, Msgr. Bronislaw Dabrowski, and by the Pope's personal envoy and adviser on Eastern Europe, Archbishop Luigi Poggi.
Msgr. Dabrowski visited Mr. Walesa before his departure for Rome to brief the Pope. He was the only non-regime person allowed to do so and was also in close touch with the authorities in Warsaw. Similarly, Archbishop Poggi went to Warsaw and met with the head of the military council, General Jaruzelski.
So far the Polish church's public statements since the emergency have been muted. But a statement from the bishops that has not yet been read in the churches described Solidarity's existence as an instrument for defending the workers' rights as ''indispensable to restore balance to social life.''
Another thorny issue at once arises: What sort of Solidarity?