Treaty is essential, says former Polish president

 

LECH WALESA VISIT:THE LISBON Treaty is “absolutely essential” for Europe, former Polish president and leader of the Solidarity trade union Lech Walesa told a press conference in Dublin yesterday.

Visiting Ireland as a guest of the Fine Gael party, the Nobel Prizewinner said the struggle against communist totalitarianism had created the current opportunity for uniting Europe.

There could be “no peace” without “good control and steering” in the European Union. “Someone has to manage it,” he said, but the “hardest challenge” was to establish the legal framework.

He said the level of technological advance was so great at this stage that, “We can no longer be confined within particular countries, these structures are too small for our development”.

Asked about his appearances at events organised by Declan Ganley’s anti-Lisbon group Libertas in Rome and Madrid earlier this year, prior to the European Parliament elections, Mr Walesa said: “You may have noticed, I am a revolutionary and I always get involved in situations where there is an opposition and there is an adversary opinion.”

He said that, when he attended the Libertas gatherings, “I declared that, as for the Lisbon Treaty, I disagreed with them. Actually, I agreed with them on their diagnosis of the situation in Europe but I fully disagreed with their way of treating the situation.”

Asked about reports that he had received approximately €100,000 from Libertas for his appearances, Mr Walesa laughed and said: “That’s absurd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen, actually, €100,000 . . . But that’s not the issue, actually. I have been involved in meetings like this press conference here, or other conferences, out of my patriotic [duty]. I have been doing it out of my feelings and sense of solidarity because I want wisdom to prevail.”

For that reason, “no money was involved”. He said he had to make his living “somehow” and there were other occasions when he was paid, “but certainly I do not make money on the ideological struggle”.

There were times when it was appropriate for him to be paid, as “a way of making some pocket-money” in addition to his “monthly wage”, which was only about €700 per month.

In an apparent reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Mr Walesa said he would favour an amendment stipulating that same-sex couples could have “all the possible rights, but you should not have the right of jeopardising the traditional family”.

The former president, at his own request, met Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin yesterday morning. Mr Walesa told The Irish Timesthe senior cleric was “a friendly soul, a brotherly soul” adding that, “I also admire him because he shows a good sense of politics”.

Describing Mr Walesa as “a powerful symbol”, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny recalled the images of the 1980s and the successful struggle of the Solidarity trade union to overthrow the Communist regime in Poland.

Pointing out that, “Lech Walesa built his career on the defence of workers’ rights”, Mr Kenny accused anti-treaty campaigners of telling a “barefaced lie” by claiming that the minimum wage would be cut to €1.84 if the Yes side were victorious.