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Solidarity Says Talks at Crisis Stage

March 17, 1989

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Solidarity said Friday that draft legislation the government sent to parliament violates commitments made to the opposition in negotiations on political and economic reform.

The outlawed independent union called it a ″serious crisis″ in the talks, which began Feb. 6. The government said it sent the bills to the Sejm, or parliament, only so discussion by the deputies could begin.

″We have to express deep fear and concern,″ Solidarity national spokesman Janusz Onyszkiewicz told a news conference.

Government and opposition delegates to the ″round table″ talks agreed to hold the first fully democratic elections in the communist bloc for a new Senate and to open up 35 percent of the Sejm to the independent opposition, whose candidates would participate in elections.

They also agreed that Solidarity and other banned groups would be made legal again and a strong presidency would be created, presumably to be filled by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Communist Party chief.

″After all these debates, we thought that we had reached an agreement on certain things that are not reflected in the draft sent to the Sejm,″ Onyszkiewicz said, but the draft legislation ″puts all of the decisions of the round table under a question mark.″

″The talks at the round table find themselves in a serious crisis,″ he said. ″We want to express our anxiety over how the talks will end. At the moment, the impasse is very deep.″

Government spokesman Jerzy Urban said Friday night he was ″surprised at this dramatizing of the situation.″

″Perhaps nerves fail my colleague or perhaps it is negotiating tactics,″ he said in a statement carried by the official news agency PAP.

Urban said the laws were sent to the parliament so deputies ″could discuss them at the same time as the debate at the round table. Nothing is prejudged, either at the round table or at the Sejm.″

Onyszkiewicz would not go into detail about problems with the draft legislation, but noted that it went to the Sejm before specifics of the law creating the Senate and presidency were discussed in the talks.

He also said the draft lacked an agreed-upon provision that each candidate in parliamentary elections, to ensure fairness, would have the right to a representative on the vote-counting commission.

″If the authorities go ahead with the draft law on electoral procedure, the Senate and the presidency, the entire contract may be broken,″ he said.

The government said Friday the parliament would meet next week for the first reading of constitutional amendments creating the presidency and Senate, election procedures for the Sejm and Senate, a law on forming associations another on trade unions and trade unions for farmers.

All the laws have been discussed in the negotiations, which are supposed end working sessions Tuesday in hopes of a final plenary session and signing of a ″social contract″ April 3.