Former chancellor Willy Brandt of West Germany arrived here today for a three-day visit that has bolstered the Polish government's new drive to win acceptance and economic support in the West following its recent consolidation of leadership.
Brandt, marking the 15th anniversary of the treaty he signed normalizing relations between West Germany and Poland, is to meet here with Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski and Roman Catholic Cardinal Jozef Glemp. Brandt also has accommodated Polish officials by refusing an invitation to visit Lech Walesa, leader of the outlawed Solidarity union movement, in Gdansk.
The visit comes only two days after Jaruzelski met with French President Francois Mitterrand in Paris and has strengthened government hopes of ending Poland's diplomatic and economic isolation in Europe four years after Jaruzelski's imposition of martial law.
The push for western recognition follows parliamentary elections and a government reorganization last month that officials presented as proof of increasing political stability. The moves fit into a strategy to revive the economy by increasing trade and obtaining new credits from the West.
"Jaruzelski's dream is to be recognized by other heads of state as an equal, as a legitimate leader, and here he has advanced it," said Ryszard Rieff, a former member of the government's Council of State. "He thinks that normalization in Poland is completed, and he wants to establish this normalization as a fact in the international arena."
Ignoring a controversy in France over Jaruzelski's reception there, Poland's official press has treated his meeting with Mitterrand, the general's first with a NATO head of state since 1981, as a major success and linked it to a "Geneva spirit" of increased East-West cooperation.
"All those who take a realistic view of the situation in Europe and in the world and who welcomed with satisfaction the Geneva talks of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan as creating good prospects for a new detente recognize this Polish-French get-together as a significant event," a commentary in the Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawy said today.
Diplomats here said that Jaruzelski's request to meet with Mitterrand was the strongest of several recent signs that such Soviet allies as Poland, East Germany and Hungary are eager to consolidate the atmosphere of East-West cooperation incipient at Geneva and quickly use it to their own advantage.
The press in all three nations has stressed an interpretation of the Reagan-Gorbachev meeting as an opportunity for "a new detente," and diplomats said that East German leader Erich Honecker may soon echo Jaruzelski's move by seeking to revive a visit to West Germany he was forced to cancel last year.
In Poland's case, the potential for relaxed East-West tension coincides with what officials described as an urgent need to ease the burden of Poland's $29 billion debt to the West and spur a sluggish economy with new trade and loans.
Warsaw's difficulties in making debt payments, aggravated this year by a slump in export earnings, have come sharply into focus with the scheduled payments of more than $1.4 billion to banks and western governments between Nov. 30 and the end of February. Informed sources here said the government will not be able to make all the payments and will be forced to reschedule up to half the amount due, which consists of interest and principal bills already postponed once.
Beyond the short-term troubles, government officials say their plans for growth in the coming years hinge on the ability to obtain a long-term rescheduling of debt on better terms as well as new loans. Poland's effort to win $800 million in new loans during 1985 was rebuffed by western lenders.
"The main item in the solving of the Polish economic situation is the debt," said Bazyli Samojlik, a senior economic adviser to Jaruzelski. "And when there is a realistic concept for solution, you have to have a favorable political atmosphere in order to implement it." Jaruzelski's success in this week's western contacts, Samojlik said, "is one of the elements that would help" create the needed atmosphere.
However, officials and western diplomats said that concrete progress in Poland's pursuit of new western aid will come slowly, in part because of continued poor relations with the United States.
While courting European leaders in the past weeks, Polish officials have continued harsh public criticism of the Reagan administration and appear to have largely abandoned hopes of an early reversal of U.S. trade sanctions and an upgrading of diplomatic relations.
Government spokesman Jerzy Urban, writing under a pseudonym, said in an article last week that "several days after Geneva, there are no signs of any imminent fundamental change in Polish-American relations."