Libertas use of Walesa set to backfire, says Tusk


POLISH PRIME minister Donald Tusk has predicted that Libertas’s recruitment of Lech Walesa in their European election campaign will backfire when he travels to Ireland.

Mr Tusk said the former Polish president had vowed to distance himself from Libertas positions at odds with Poland’s national interests, in particular on the Lisbon Treaty.

“I can say with 100 per cent certainty that Libertas will regret this co-operation – not Mr Walesa,” said Mr Tusk.

“Lech Walesa told me that in Dublin he intends to appeal to the Irish people to support the Lisbon Treaty. That gave me a great sense of relief.”

Mr Walesa’s paid appearances at Libertas rallies in Rome and Madrid caused consternation in Poland and prompted speculation that Libertas hoped to co-opt the Solidarity legend for electoral gain.

Yesterday, Mr Tusk conceded that the co-founder of the Solidarity trade union and a key negotiator of Poland’s transition to democracy in 1989 was notorious for changing his mind in public.

“On the one hand, you are quite right on that, he’s always good for a surprise. He wouldn’t have been such an effective leader in negotiations with the communists if he did not have this trait,” he said. “But on Poland’s fundamental European policy, he has never cheated, he does not change his opinion. That is my personal conviction.”

Five years after joining the EU, the Polish leader said the global economic crisis had made Poland’s planned euro zone entry in 2012 more difficult, but not impossible.

“It’s still quite a likely development, even if it is more difficult than 12 months ago,” he said. “But euro zone entry by 2012 is not a dogma. We don’t have to prove that Poland can do it at any cost.”

The Tusk government has accepted a $20 billion flexible credit facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – not to pump into the economy, he said, but to calm recent volatility in the zloty exchange rate.

“It shows that there are ways and means of maintaining our pace,” he said.

On EU affairs, Mr Tusk expressed disappointment at the cool EU reaction to the Eastern Partnership strategy, co-authored by Poland, to give an accession perspective to Ukraine, Turkey and other prospective EU members.

He was critical of member states who cast doubt on Turkey’s EU ambitions, warning that “a key value on which the EU was constructed was an agreement to abide by contracts”. “There can be no Europe without keeping to contracts,” he said.

Mr Tusk was circumspect about US plans to construct a missile defence facility in Poland and the Czech Republic as agreed by the previous administrations in Washington and Warsaw. “We have already signed agreements and are prepared to go ahead with the installation, but we will not do it without the US,” he said.

Unlike his predecessor, Mr Tusk said he was anxious any deal address Moscow’s concerns that the shield poses a security threat to Russia. “For Poland, good relations with Russia are key,” he said.

Whether on transatlantic relations, Georgia or energy policy, Mr Tusk, a Solidarity activist in the 1980s, expressed hope the EU would be able to show greater solidarity in the future.

“Lack of solidarity is a natural state, while solidarity requires ongoing effort and focus,” he said. “If you have your own gas supplies, it’s very easy to do nothing for another country with none that is cut off. Solidarity is not a condition that can be decreed, solidarity is an attitude that comes from sacrifice.”