Gdansk may be in for another Walesa vs. regime power play
Warsaw — The stage is being set, with some touch of the inevitability of Shakespearean tragedy, for another trial of strength between the Polish government and Lech Walesa.
The weekend - in Oslo and Gdansk - was the overture.
The test itself will come Friday, when Mr. Walesa plans to lay a wreath at the Gdansk shipyard memorial and to announce a Solidarity program for some future discussion with the government. But for the immediate future the program's prospects are not bright.
Danuta Walesa's dignified acceptance of her husband's Nobel Peace Prize in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Saturday went unnoted by the Polish news media for 24 hours. Then the official news agency issued a few brief sentences.
In Gdansk on Saturday, Walesa's parish priest, the Rev. Henryk Jankowski, honored the union leader and four previous Polish recipients of Nobel awards.
The proceedings in Gdansk were political in terms of events before and after the mass. Beforehand, the American charge d'affaires, John Davis, chatted with Mr. Walesa in Jankowski's study for almost half an hour. Afterward, they met over dinner at the pastor's residence.
No details of their talk have been disclosed. Walesa said only that he had ''clarified and elucidated'' his position and that he felt he had been ''well understood.''
In his sermon, Jankowski avoided explicit criticism of the Communist authorities. He called for reconciliation and peaceful dialogue between workers and the government, echoing the acceptance speech read for Walesa in Oslo.
Mr. Davis's presence in Gdansk was especially noticeable, since no other NATO ambassadors from Warsaw attended the event.
Up to this writing the charge's presence had passed without comment in the official press. But it is bound to be seen by the authorities as provocative, even by those most concerned about, and hoping for, a thaw in the brittle United States-Polish relations.
Walesa's first call on Washington to halt sanctions last week was brushed off here as irrelevant. The official news agency subsequently recalled the month-old Polish note to Washington rejecting out-of-hand American conditions - such as freeing political prisoners - for ending sanctions. ''No random intermediaries'' were wanted, the note said, in an evident allusion to Walesa's appeal.
On Saturday, the one-time ''liberal'' Vice-Premier Mieczyslaw Rakowski uttered another uncompromising warning against any demonstrations that could take place Dec. 16 at the Gdansk memorial to the victims of the 1970 riots.
He insisted on the government's ''respect and remembrance'' for such occasions. But, he said, ''We need constructive action and thinking about the future'' and not ''repeated hanging-arounds in cemeteries and at monuments.''
His statement overall, however, seemed intended to preclude any kind of discussion with Walesa, even though the former Solidarity leader remains a central figure still to be reckoned with if official efforts to win the workers are to bear fruit.
Many observers here say overt American support for Walesa is not the best way to make the necessary internal Polish dialogue any more likely.
The Polish leadership condemned Walesa's ''appeal'' as a charade in which both he and Washington sought to ''save face'' over the political failure of sanctions and efforts to impose conditions. The same will doubtless be said of Mr. Davis's gesture of support in Gdansk.
But the Polish leaders themselves will need to ''save face'' if one day they finally see Walesa - the ''moderate'' Walesa of 1980 and '81 - as someone with whom they have to find a way of talking.
Walesa accepted his Nobel prize with a new commitment to peaceful struggle for Solidarity's original program. But while the government feels outside pressures, there is little prospect that it will change its attitudes.