A spokesman for Poland's independent trade union federation Solidarity welcomed the new government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski today, saying the country now has a real chance of emerging from its political and economic crisis.
In an interview with a Warsaw daily newspaper, Solidarity press spokesman Karol Modzelewski said the union hopes for fruitful negotiations with the government without having to impose the threat of a strike. But he cautioned that much depends on the communist authorities being prepared to accept Solidarity as a respectable negotiating partner.
Modzelewski's interview with Zycie Warszawa reflected a remarkable turnaround in the Polish crisis during the last week. The widespread industrial unrest that swept the country in January and early February has subsided markedly, and a new climate of trust between government and unions appears to be slowly emerging.
Ironically, Modzelewski himself is one of the Solidarity advisers associated with the dissident Committee for Social Self-Defense, or KOR, a group under criminal investigation for alleged antistate activity. Polish communist leaders have bitterly attacked KOR as a subversive organization bent on using Solidariyt for its own ends.
With the new accent on dialogue, Warsaw authorities apparently have dropped plans for any imminent move against KOR. Solidarity has already made it plain that any action against its advisers would result in immediate strikes.
Talks began today in the southeastern city of Rzeszow, where peasants demanding an independent union have been occupying a local administrative building for the past month. The peasants have agreed to suspend their insistence on registration of a rural branch of Solidarity pending the outcome of talks on drafting a new union law.
Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, who is a member of the commission drafting the new law, said he would not agree to any new trade-union legislation unless it allows for rural Solidarity's registration.
Solidarity sources late tonight reported a temporary suspension in the Rzesow talks while authorities sort out difficulties that developed over the powers of the government negotiating team.
Besides Solidarity, support for the peasnats has also come the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which is expected to press their case in private talks with the authorities. In a private conversation, a close associate of the primate of Poland remarked that the church wants to help the new government as much as possible but expects concessions in return.
The secretary of the Polish episcopate, Msgr. Branislaw Dabrowski, recently held consultations in the Vatican with the Polish-born pontiff, John Paul II. It is thought the talks covered the possibility of the church's extending even more effective help to the authorities in Poland than it has in the past.
In his interview, Modzelewski said Solidarity wants a strong government in Poland because it would be good for the country and because the union needs a strong partner with which it could hold effective negotiations.
He said: "We must have a government that can win society's respect by its actions. Sometimes it will need to take unpolular measures because of the economic situation. But, if it wants to get the country out of the present crisis, the government must respect Solidarity as a partner."
Modzelewski criticized the lack of truthful information and what he described as "the dragging of feet" on Solidarity's access to the news media. Earlier, an interview with Modzelewski due to have been broadcast on state television was withheld without explanation.
More talks are due to be held later this week between Solidarity and television authorities.
The Solidarity spokesman said the new government, combined with the change in tone adopted by Premier Jaruzelski in his speech to parliament last week, "created a real chance of overcoming the dangerous course of events that had become apparent during the last few weeks."