French President Francois Mitterrand today defended his controversial meeting with Polish leader Wojciech Jaruzelski last week as designed to promote human rights in Poland and political dialogue in a divided Europe.
Mitterrand's decision to meet with the Polish president provoked a political storm here, with Prime Minister Laurent Fabius taking the unusual step of announcing publicly that he was "troubled" by the meeting. It was the first time that Jaruzelski had been received by a western head of state since the imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981.
Insisting in a radio interview that he would not retreat a "millimeter" because of the criticism, Mitterrand added: "It was my decision, and if I had to make it all over again, I would . . . . I made it because I thought it was in the interests of France."
Mitterrand formally denied reports that Fabius had tendered his resignation as prime minister because of the row over Jaruzelski's visit. He described Fabius, who is widely considered a political protege of the president, as a "sincere" man whose "sensitivity has been bruised."
Political analysts said that Mitterrand's determination to take personal responsibility for the meeting with Jaruzelski appeared designed to demonstrate the extent of his presidential authority. The division of power betweenfing spheres of influence after World War II.
"Destiny has ensured Soviet domination and influence in this part of Europe for a long time. All those who, through their actions, would like to push Poland out of this sphere of influence are fooling themselves and fooling public opinion," Mitterrand said.