Walesa expected in Ireland for Libertas election rally


CAMPAIGN ADDRESS:SOLIDARITY CO-FOUNDER Lech Walesa is expected to address a Libertas European election event in Ireland in the coming days.

The former Polish president has been attacked as a “disgrace” at home for appearing at Libertas events in Rome and Madrid – for a reported fee of €100,000.

As the European election enters its final phase, Mr Walesa’s reported five-city tour is also likely to include an address in Warsaw. Any such appearance will be a controversial one for the Polish icon many of his countrymen have accused of selling out.

“Lech Walesa is a symbol of peaceful democratic changes in Poland and elsewhere in Europe, our ambassador in the world. And now this ambassador disgraces us,” wrote the influential Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, founded by former Polish dissidents in 1989.

At his second Libertas event, on Wednesday in Madrid, Mr Walesa said he agreed with the Libertas call for a more transparent Europe but that ratifying the Lisbon Treaty was the key to do so. “We must approve Lisbon so that we can change things from inside,” he said.

Mr Walesa refused to comment on claims that he was being paid to attend the meetings.

“Libertas-Citizens of Spain” is a coalition of three minuscule regional parties formed last month and has to date only named three candidates.

One, Miguel Duran, is a controversial character, blind from infancy and who, under circumstances never fully explained, shot from being a 32-year-old professional Braille print operator to head an NGO representing disabled and blind people in Spain. Under his leadership the organisation, Once, became immensely powerful with fingers in many financial pies, and Mr Duran himself became very wealthy.

He went on to become the head of Tele 5, one of Spain’s largest private television companies.

In 1998 he was charged with insider trading and other financial irregularities and was only finally acquitted by the Supreme Court last year.

Meanwhile in Austria, the lead candidate of the late Jörg Haider’s far-right Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), said Libertas approached the party with the idea of a joint election bid.

“They sounded us out about a co-operation before the election. But we always made clear that we will run as the BZÖ and not under the name of anyone else,” said Ewald Stadler to Austria’s Tiroler Zeitung newspaper.

In Germany, Libertas will today launch a joint campaign with the AUF, a year-old Christian environmental party.

After missing the deadline to submit its own candidates, the AUF’s 11 election candidates have agreed to support Libertas if elected.

The joint campaign will be launched in Frankfurt with a speech by Eva Herman, a German newsreader sacked two years ago for praising Nazi family policies.