A leader of Poland's independent trade union federation, Solidarity, today publicly recanted a statement supporting the declaration of martial law and attacking alleged political extremism in the union.
Zdzislaw Rozwalak, the chairman of Solidarity's branch in the western city of Poznan, told a surprised group of Western journalists that his earlier statement had been made under duress. The journalists were visiting Poznan on the first organized trip outside Warsaw by the Foreign Ministry press center since the military crackdown Dec. 13.
Rozwalak's public disavowal will severely embarrass Poland's military authorities as they have been attempting to present a picture of rank-and-file Solidarity activists disassociating themselves from the excesses of the leadership. Extensive publicity was given to Rozwalak's original statement alleging that Solidarity had transformed itself into a political movement.
Poland's premier, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, and his ruling military council briefed members of Solidarity and other unions Wednesday on the situation in Poland, Warsaw television reported.
["The discussion was characterized by a feeling of patriotic responsibility for the fate of the nation and the socialist state and keen concern to lead the country out of the economic and political crisis," the broadcast said. The Associated Press, which monitored the program in London, said the names of those attending were not given.]
Talking to the journalists today, Rozwalak said that he had not been aware of what he was doing when he made the statement. "I regret it. I was not aware of what I was doing and acted under duress," he said.
Rozwalak, a member of Solidarity's decision-making national commission, said that he had made his loyalty pledge two days after the imposition of martial law at a time when only three on Solidarity's 11-man regional board remained at liberty. Security men gave him a choice of signing the declaration or being detained.
Local Communist Party officials accompanying the journalists watched aghast as Rozwalak said he lacked experience in dealing with security men.
He added that the pressure applied to him had been psychological rather than physical.
Rozwalak also described a meeting with the minister for trade union affairs, Stanislaw Ciosek, on Dec. 17 in which he was asked to start negotiations on behalf of Solidarity. He refused to participate in the absence of Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, who is being detained in a villa in Warsaw.
The union official quoted Ciosek as saying that he personally favored a meeting between government representatives and most of Solidarity's 17-man presidium, including Walesa. But Walesa was reported to be insisting on the presence of two close advisers, Bronislaw Geremek and Tadeusz Mazowiecki--and this was unacceptable to the authorities.
Officials have made clear that if Solidarity is to be allowed to operate in the future, it will have to cut all links with dissidents and intellectuals such as Geremek and Mazowiecki.
Meanwhile, Polish authorities, in another bitter attack on the Reagan administration, said today that the United States had exerted undue pressure on its West European allies to support economic and political sanctions against the Soviet Bloc.
A series of commentaries in the officially controlled media accused Western countries of attempting to interfere in Poland's internal affairs in response to American displeasure at the imposition of martial law here. The Communist Party daily, Trybuna Ludu, said that a communique issued by NATO foreign ministers following a meeting in Brussels Monday amounted to the declaration of "a propaganda war" against the Polish government.
A commentary by the official Polish news agency PAP said that initially West European governments had shown no desire to join the United States in imposing restrictions against Poland and the Soviet Union.
"Pressure was brought to bear on the NATO allies to force them to accept America's cold-war policies," the commentary said.
The harshly worded commentaries reflect a concern here at the apparent hardening in the West European stance toward Poland over the past week. Polish officials have already said that U.S. economic sanctions may seriously damage the country's already virtually bankrupt economy.
At a reception last night for foreign ambassadors, President Henryk Jablonski, said that economic sanctions would hurt the Polish population most. "It remains a secret known only to the authors of these moves how they may be justified by concern for human rights and sympathy for our people," he said.
The reception was boycotted by most NATO ambassadors, including the U.S. envoy, Francis Meehan, in protest against the imposition of martial law.
Exactly a month after the suspension of Solidarity and the mass arrests of its leaders, the situation in Poland remains unclear. Government officials have insisted that all industrial plants in the country are now functioning normally.
Independent accounts from travelers, however, suggest that the government has managed to quell most open resistance. In many factories, little work is being done--either because of passive protests by workers or, more frequently, because of severe shortages of raw materials.
Several senior Solidarity activists remain at large despite an intensive police effort to find them.
[A new national newspaper will appear Thursday to help "promote the idea of national accord," PAP reported. According to The Associated Press, PAP said the Rzeczpospolita (The Republic) will be under the editorship of Jozef Barecki, once chief editor of the official party paper Trybuna Ludu and former government spokesman.]