Walesa stays; Hungarians tune in

Apart from Lech Walesa's reelection as Solidarity's national leader, the most significant event at the union's convention could well prove to be a letter from the Hungarian trade unions.

It caused a major sensation when it was read to the convention, special correspondent Eric Bourne reports. But more important, it could point to a change of attitude by the Soviet Union -- if Poland's union now takes a moderate course and confines itself to trade unionism.

It is not at all surprising that only the reform-minded Hungarians acknowledged Solidarity's invitation, addressed to all East-bloc unions, and displayed a readiness to talk with Solidarity.They have been developing a more meaningful role for their own unions for some years.

While Hungarian union chief Sandor Gaspar politely declined the invitation, he repeated the Hungarian regime's misgivings (shared by its bloc allies) about political trends within Solidarity. But he also expressed a readiness for contacts.

This first contact between Solidarity and the unions of one of Poland's Communist-bloc allies is obviously no accident. If some modus vivendi were to evolve between the Polish union under Walesa's leadership and Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski -- who, just before this convention, reaffirmed the government's pledge of reforms under the widest possible "social coalition" -- it might influence the Soviets, who want to avoid confrontations that would prejudice their own relations with the West.

A solidarity that stuck to trade unionism and cooperation with the government would ultimately be as acceptable -- however much the Russians would dislike it -- as independent private farming and the functioning of the Roman Catholic Church here have been for 30 years.

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