Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Olszowski said his country and the West "should meet halfway" to resume the normal relations that would end three years of diplomatic isolation and economic punishment.
In an interview yesterday, Olszowski, an influential member of Warsaw's ruling communist Politburo, voiced hopes of improved ties with the United States during President Reagan's second term, although he said the initiative would have to come from Washington.
The tone and substance of Olszowski's remarks were conciliatory and somewhat in contrast to comments by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Polish leader, at a news conference last night. The general, while saying that Poland wanted better relations with the West, insisted that it would be unrealistic to expect that his country "would pay for this with concessions."
Western diplomats here observed today that Jaruzelski's statements were probably designed for a wider audience -- numerous Soviet Bloc journalists were present -- and that his tone was consistent with Warsaw's previous public utterances.
It is apparent, however, that a shift in U.S.-Soviet relations and the forthcoming meeting between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko have raised modest hopes here that eased tensions between the superpowers could open the way for an improvement in American-Polish relations.
Senior Polish officials differ in their assessment of what Washington's policy toward Poland would be if the new U.S.-Soviet discussions proceed. But there is little doubt that the Poles are hoping for improved East-West ties, which could allow the government to break out of a political and economic quarantine that followed Jaruzelski's crackdown in December 1981 on the Solidarity trade union movement.
Olszowski professed to be "cautiously optimistic" about prospects for improved East-West relations in 1985. He conceded at the same time that Poland's already complex ties with the West had become unexpectedly more complicated as a result of the slaying last month of the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko, a champion of the banned Solidarity movement.
West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher called off a planned visit last week, giving as one reason opposition from Polish authorities to his laying flowers on Popieluszko's grave in Warsaw.
The Polish minister, citing the visit this week of the Netherlands' deputy foreign minister and planned visits later this year by senior Spanish and Italian officials, confidently asserted that Genscher's postponement would not stop "the process of normalization of relations between Poland and Western Europe" begun this autumn. He raised questions about the "real reasons" for Genscher's move, suggesting that the trip was put off primarily due to "very major pressure" on the Bonn government from "extreme rightist forces" in West Germany.
Olszowski said U.S. sanctions against Poland definitely remained "a factor complicating our external relations and hampering our efforts aimed at reforms, national dialogue and agreement." But he rejected what he termed "attempts at political diktat" -- a reference to U.S. efforts to link the lifting of sanctions to human rights in Poland.
The United States is understood to have made clear privately to Polish officials that one of the three remaining sanctions -- the American veto of Polish membership in the International Monetary Fund -- would be dropped if Poland freed the two most prominent Solidarity activists still in jail, Bogdan Lis and Piotr Mierzewski. They were arrested in June on suspicion of treason, a charge not covered by the broad amnesty of last July.
Asked if the Warsaw government might free the two men soon, Olszowski said he doubted their release would bring an end to the sanctions.
In August, in response to the amnesty, the United States announced that it was lifting a suspension of scientific exchanges and ending a ban on landing rights for regularly scheduled flights by the Polish airline.
But the Reagan administration has left in place the three most severe sanctions -- the IMF veto, suspension of preferential tariff status, and a freeze on new trade credits. Washington has proposed a step-by-step approach toward removal of the sanctions, linked to political conditions in Poland.
Olszowski rejected what he called this "policy of partial steps" as unwarranted interference in Poland's internal affairs and insisted on the lifting of all sanctions as a first step toward normalization.
"We have the impression in Warsaw," said the minister, "that the West would like to impose a certain model for resuming relations with Poland. Within the framework of this model would be discussed such things as political prisoners, human rights, dialogue with the church, without paying attention to the realities in this country. We also have a certain model of relations with western countries. I suppose those two models should meet halfway.
"I can express the hope," he went on, "that if a real political will toward improvement of relations with Poland is ripe in the United States, then both the contacts and the possibilities of agreement can be easily found."
Olszowski said the Warsaw government was watching with "great interest" the resumption of high-level U.S.-Soviet contacts. "We think the current improvement in Soviet-U.S. relations will have positive bearing on Polish matters," he added.