A member of the Polish leadership told Communists gathered here from all over the world today that his country is attempting to "advance the development of socialism."
Polish Politiburo member Kazimiez Barcikowski told the 10th congress of the East German Communist Party that counterrevolutions are attempting to disturb the "renewal process" begun in his country. He gave no indication, however, that the Polish government planned to modify its reform program.
Barcikowski made no mention of the Solidarity independent labor movement that has emerged as a major political force in Poland. Instead, he suggested that the Polish Communist Party itself had "begun the process of socialist renewal."
In effect, the Polish leader was suggesting that the party rather than the trade union movement was the true author of the political evolution that has come under sharp attack in recent months from other members of the Soviet Bloc.
Many Communists in Poland have joined the Solidarity movement since it began last year.
Barcikowski achknowledged that the "renewal process" was facing disruptions from "counterrevolutionary elements that allow themselves to be supported and inspired by imperialist centers." He also said that "we understand your concern and we are thankful for the economic assistance that you have provided us with."
Earlier in the day, the Soviet Union's representative to the congress, Politburo member Mikhail Suslov, skipped any mention of the Polish situation during a speech that repeated the standard Soviet position on the need for arms control in Europe.
Observers here describe the Polish representative's speech as a cleverly worked one that sought to reassure the East European delegations without making any rhetorical concessions. All indications are that Poland's allies in the Soviet Bloc and the Soviet Union itself have decided to provide the leadership in Warsaw with a breathing spell during which the Polish government will take unspecified steps to restore order.
"The present difficulties are for our party a severe test," Barcikowski said. "They damand a great effort and a complicated political struggle -- a struggle aimed at creating the conditions for the further development of socialism." The Polish official went on to say that it was his country's patriotic and international duty to press ahead, but he added that the Polish party "is and remains the leading force of the people and the socialist state."
Barcikowski, in describing the roots of the current crisis, blamed it on the previous Polish government's down-playing of the "economic laws of socialism," and also on the worsening social and economic crisis in Poland. This description differed somewhat from other statements of East European commentators who have suggested that outside forces and counterrevolutionaries are solely to blame for the current unrest.
Suslov today played up earlier Soviet demands for negotiatons to slow down the world arms buildup, particularly in Europe. He said that unnamed reactionary forces "want to turn Europe again into the marshaling area for the preparation of a new war," an apparent reference to recent NATO decisions to modernize and add to current medium-range missiles in Western Europe.