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Walesa Tells Mitterrand of Polish Needs

June 16, 1989|From Reuters

GDANSK, Poland — Solidarity leader Lech Walesa told French President Francois Mitterrand on Thursday that Poland needs $10 billion to rescue its economy and provide stability for democratic reform.

Walesa said he handed Mitterrand a Solidarity memorandum outlining Poland's urgent economic needs during lunch in this northern port city on the second day of the French president's three-day visit.

Bystanders shouted "Vive la France!" and "Solidarity! Solidarity!" as Mitterrand toured Gdansk--birthplace of the independent trade union--after visiting nearby Westerplatte, where the first shots of World War II were fired on Sept. 1, 1939.

France on Wednesday gave Poland major new credits with a package that Mitterrand called "a realistic and concrete support for the reforms that are under way."

The package included immediate short-term credits and medium-term credits tied to Poland's acceptance of an International Monetary Fund austerity program.

France also rescheduled debts totaling $1.15 billion--about a quarter of Warsaw's debt to Paris.

Solidarity sources said Walesa spent most of the 105-minute lunch discussing with Mitterrand the importance of economic stability as Poland undergoes democratization.

Solidarity aides outlined the union's proposals to reporters on Wednesday, saying Poland needs $10 billion over the next three years in the form of credits and restructuring its $39-billion debt.

"I think we managed to convince the president of our reforming ideas. We presented him with a project of how we see foreign economic cooperation with Poland," Walesa told reporters after the lunch.

"The president understands well both the economic and political situation, and I feel he supports the idea of cooperation with Poland."

French officials described the meeting as very warm. They said Mitterrand was impressed by Solidarity's calm approach after its victory over the Communist Party in partly free parliamentary elections earlier this month.

Mitterrand's visit ended a freeze in Franco-Polish relations that began when Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in 1981 to try to crush Solidarity.

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