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Australia Urges Poland To Allow Walesa Visit

March 2, 1988

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Foreign Minister Bill Hayden today urged Poland to allow Lech Walesa, leader of the outlawed Solidarity labor federation, to visit Australia.

He said he cabled Poland’s foreign minister, urging him to approve Walesa’s application to travel to Melbourne to attend a four-day World Congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions starting March 14.

The Polish government said Tuesday it would bar Walesa and three aides from attending the congress, citing the protection of Poland’s ″basic political interests.″ Walesa and the three other Solidarity leaders have been trying to obtain passports to allow them to attend the congress.

They were invited by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

But Jerzy Urban, the government spokesman in Poland, said the Solidarity delegation would be prevented from going to the congress as representatives of ″a Polish trade union which was dissolved and ceased to exist legally.″

″Walesa’s and his colleagues’ trip and their participation in the Australian congress would be contradictory to the basic political interests (of Poland) and would be a mockery of our legal order,″ Urban told reporters.

″Polish law regulating passport affairs orders denials of passports in such cases. Poland has the sovereign right to protect its legal order.″

Urban criticized some Australian trade union activists for threatening to cut off water and electricity to the Polish consulate in Sydney and the Polish Embassy in Canberra if Walesa and his aides are refused passports, saying that such threats are only ″inflaming the atmosphere.″

He said Poland would not yield to the ″pressure of hooligan threats″ toward its diplomatic missions, adding that it was Australia’s duty ″to guarantee the functioning of Polish consular offices.″

Walesa has not traveled abroad since the December 1981 imposition of martial law that crushed Solidarity.

Also invited to Australia were Wroclaw Solidarity leader Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, Gdansk leader Bogdan Lis and senior adviser Bronislaw Geremek.

Walesa, contacted Tuesday at his Gdansk apartment, expressed surprise and disappointment. ″Now I can see that as long as Urban and company are in power I have no chance. Please let me know as soon as you hear about Urban’s end,″ said Walesa, the 1983 Nobel Peace prize winner.

″I have no further comment,″ he said. ″We have to wait for the reaction of trade unions and other organizations.″

In Australia, trade unionists reacted angrily to Urban’s comments.

″We have a moral duty to protest against the Polish authorities’ actions and to back up our verbal condemnation with a bit of action,″ said Michael Easson, assistant secretary of the Trades and Labor Council of New South Wales.

″We reject the accusation by Polish authorities that Australian unions were behaving like hooligans for insisting that Mr. Walesa by granted permission to visit Australia,″ he added.

Charles Weyman, ethnic affairs director for the Federated Iron Workers, told his members to boycott Polish ships and cut off water, gas and electricity supplies to the consul in Sydney and the embassy in Canberra.

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