French President Meets Solidarity Leader in Gdansk
GDANSK, Poland (AP) _ Lech Walesa and top Solidarity advisers welcomed French President Francois Mitterrand on Thursday and discussed the union’s proposed international rescue package to lift Poland out of economic crisis.
″We have a lot of problems and we count on France’s help,″ Walesa told reporters as he arrived for a meeting and late luncheon with Mitterrand at Helvelius Hotel near the famous Lenin Shipyard, birthplace of Solidarity.
″Vive la France, vive la liberte 3/8,″ residents shouted to Mitterrand earlier as took a walking tour of Gdansk.
Solidarity leader Walesa, accompanied by his chief economic adviser Witold Trzeciakowski and about 20 regional Solidarity chiefs, described over lunch the union’s proposed aid project seeking nearly $10 billion in credit from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the ″Paris Club″ of Western creditor nations and commercial banks.
The project was formulated by Solidarity experts and would be predicated on a program to fight Poland’s near 100 percent inflation and strengthen the zloty, the national currency.
Mitterrand told Walesa of France’s plans to reschedule part of Poland’s foreign debt, and a French offer of unrestricted loans to Poland worth $20 million immediately and an additional $14 million for specific projects later, according to French officials traveling with Mitterrand.
French Finance Minister Pierre Beregovoy signed an agreement permitting rescheduling of part of Poland’s debt to France totaling over $1 billion. Under the rescheduling, Poland does not have to make any payments on that sum until 1993.
Walesa and Mitterrand laid flowers at a monument to shipyard workers slain during 1970 strikes over food price rises. About 1,500 spectators greeted them with cheers and sang the traditional ″Sto Lat,″ (May He Live 100 Years) in Mitterrand’s honor.
The monument was erected in 1980, the year Solidarity first was legalized. The union was banned in the 1981 martial-law crackdown but was restored this year after round-table talks between the Solidarity-led opposition and communist authorities.
Earlier Thursday, Mitterrand, accompanied by Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, paid tribute at a memorial on the Westerplatte peninsula, where World War II began with a German bombardment of a Polish garrison on Sept. 1, 1939.
Economic issues have dominated the Mitterrand visit that began Wednesday. ″Poland’s debt deserves special treatment,″ he said at a Wednesday night banquet, referring to the $39 billion Poland owes the West.