Seeking Western Aid, Polish Leader Reaffirms Commitment to Reform
POLISH leader Wojciech Jaruzelski has claimed that his government's desire to be ``super-democratic'' led to the Communist Party's defeat in Poland's elections last week. In interviews with the British press this weekend, the Polish leader blamed the party's humiliation at the polls on the fragmentation of the communist coalition. He also accepted the possibility that the party could be voted out of power in the next national elections in 1993.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
``Perhaps because we are burdened by a kind of complex guilt for so far not having sufficiently applied all sorts of democratic procedures, we wanted to be super-democratic, super-pluralist,'' General Jaruzelski said in an interview with Britain's Independent Television Network.
In another interview with the Independent newspaper, the Polish leader reaffirmed his commitment to reform and said that the election had been a ``difficult school'' for the Communist Party.
``No single force on the Polish political stage is capable of solving the problems facing our country,'' he told the Independent. ``It is logical that if you talk about free elections, one assumes any outcome is possible,'' he said.
After the freest elections in Poland in 40 years, Jaruzelski visited Brussels and London last week to gain Western support in Poland's economic crisis. He met with Jacques Delors, president of the European Community, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a two-day ``working visit'' to Britain. The Polish leader was greeted in London by antigovernment protesters, who displayed banners declaring ``From Poland to Peking, Communism Brings Death'' and ``Jaruzelski Go Home.''
During more than three hours of discussions at Mrs. Thatcher's country residence at Chequers, the prime minister approved the democratic changes in Poland and promised to support Poland's bid for an early rescheduling of its $38 billion debt with Western creditors. But she tied any substantial economic assistance to Poland's acceptance of a program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for restructuring its economy.
The British government promised it would ``play a helpful and sympathetic role in IMF discussions of Poland's problems'' and would encourage other Western nations to assist Poland's economic reforms, according to a statement issued after the meeting. Among other proposals, Britain offered 25 million (about $40 million) over five years to set up a ``know-how'' fund for management training to help develop a market-oriented economy.
Members of the Polish delegation to London were pleased with Britain's stand, even if it fell short of the large-scale assistance which Poland needs. Wieslaw Gornicki, Jaruzelski's chief adviser, said Britain had taken on ``an entirely new role'' toward Poland. He said it had become a ``leading force in aiding our way to full normalization of our financial relationship with the Western countries.''
``This is positively a very big and very significant step forward in the direction of our Polish expectations. We are particularly happy that it was Great Britain that took this step,'' Mr. Gornicki told the press.
According to Gornicki, the Polish leader quoted to Thatcher a comment made by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: ``Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.'' Gornicki said that Thatcher was impressed that Jaruzelski, who imposed martial law in Poland in 1981, would mention this statement from the British leader she most admires.
Poland's leaders expect further support from French President Fran,cois Mitterrand, who visits Warsaw this week, and from President Bush, who is scheduled to visit Poland in July. Both Mr. Bush and Mrs. Thatcher are in agreement, however, that economic assistance to Poland depends on its acceptance of an IMF program and comprehensive economic reforms.
``They have got to have in hand an effective economic reform program of their own and continue discussions with the IMF before we will play our part,'' said a British government source. The British official said it was unlikely that Poland would have an IMF program in place before September.