Cold War hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa has some
choice words for President Obama, NATO, and the West, when it
comes to the issue of Ukraine, and for Poland's new batch of leaders.
Lech Walesa: Europe 'Cannot
Count on the United States' (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)
"If NATO gives Ukraine away to Putin, what good is NATO?
Let’s see what NATO is made of. It seems fine as long as things are going well,
but the moment something goes wrong, we are left alone in the hour of
confrontation. If NATO forces are to be stationed in Poland, let's sign an
agreement that they cannot turn tail when danger comes. ... The world cannot
let Putin have his way, because it will end badly for us. ... The U.S. is not
leading the world as it should. ... The U.S. president made a mistake and now
he needs to quickly fix it, since only the missile shield can guarantee adequate
security." -- Lech Wałęsa
with former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Wałęsa,
conducted by JacekNizinkiewicz
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski at the annual Weimar Triangle Summit, which brings together Germany, France and Poland, March 31. Former President Lech Walesa has come close to endorsing him as the next President of Poland, in this interview with Rzeczpospolita.
Rzeczpospolita: On Wednesday Rzeczpospolita wrote that a new Iron
Curtain will divide Europe, and that this time, Poland is on the good side of
it, Ukraine on the bad ...
Lech Wałęsa, former president and Nobel Peace Prize
There won’t be a safe and free Poland without a free Ukraine. Politicians,
especially Americans, don’t learn from their mistakes, and go on making new
ones. The West’s first mistake cost Poland 50 years of Communism [allusion to Yalta].Western Europe and the U.S. are now making the
same kind of error with Ukraine. If the missile shield had been deployed in
Poland, the situation would be quite different. We need to speak aloud of the
mistakes of Barack Obama. The United States failed to organize the world and
the result is that we continue to lose. Well, U.S. politicians are what they
are. I'm not satisfied with them.
solidarity isn't working. We cannot go along with this new Iron Curtain. We mustn’t
let Putin have Ukraine, nor can we allow Ukraine's division. But we should
not allow this to lead to war. Western countries should jointly resist Putin.
We need to better organize in Europe so there is more solidarity. We cannot
count on the United States or we’ll continue to lose.
Rzeczpospolita: Ukraine will soon choose a president
Lech Wałęsa: YuliaTymoshenko should not be running. She has no
chance at becoming president. Ukraine today lacks a leader who would be a
symbol of change and on whose authority a new order can be built. The chaos in
Ukraine may end in Maiden being depicted as a provocation
[EDITOR'S NOTE: What Walesa means is that if the chaotic situation in Ukraine is not brought under control - and he fears that Tymoshenko would only make matters worse in this regard, the Maidan heroes could be smeared as merely provocateurs of Putin. That is particularly likely if Ukrainians tire of the infighting among Maiden factions and condemn the whole movement. In Poland, the Maiden demonstrators are admired and compared to the Solidarity movement.]
Rzeczpospolita: So should Ukraine be quickly admitted
Lech Wałęsa: If NATO gives Ukraine away to Putin,
what good is NATO? Let’s see what NATO is made of. It seems fine as long as
things are going well, but the moment something goes wrong, we are left alone
in the hour of confrontation. If NATO forces are to be stationed in Poland,
let's sign an agreement that they cannot turn tail when danger comes.
Rzeczpospolita: It looks like the world has come to
terms with Crimea's annexation into Russia.
Lech Wałęsa: I am waiting for the world to issue
Putin a manly response. For now, everyone is trying to wriggle out of it.
Rzeczpospolita: What would you advise?
Lech Wałęsa: We should build a global Solidarity
movement, only more modern. Privately, we should ask every country: “How much
can you frankly, realistically, do for Ukraine?” Then we would know how to
fight and who is with us in it.
Rzeczpospolita: Should the world agree to Ukraine’s
Lech Wałęsa: In no case. The world should be able
to find the power of solidarity within itself, which would force Putin to
behave in a manner worthy of 21st century.
Rzeczpospolita: There are sanctions. Russia may be
excluded from the G-8, Russian oligarchs have had their foreign accounts frozen,
but Putin seems not to care.
Lech Wałęsa: This is too little. We have to review
the question of Russian natural gas and trade with Russia. As far as possible, we
have to exclude Russia economically. A High Commission of Solidarity should be formed
that would receive every country's pledge and see that it is honored.
Rzeczpospolita: So every country should, in the name of solidarity, waive imports of gas from Russia? You can't win this.
Lech Wałęsa: So far, the one winning is Putin. A
hundred killed on Maidan, and Ukraine loses part of
its territory. It is difficult to win when you are boxing and playing chess, all
on the same field. One side is playing chess, the other is boxing. The world cannot
let Putin have his way, because it will end badly for us.
Rzeczpospolita: But how to stop Putin?
Lech Wałęsa: In addition to the High Commission I mentioned,
people like Putin must be brought to trial at The Hague or another
international court. One cannot be permitted to break rules and agreements and
put nations in jeopardy. This has to be done so that everybody knows beforehand
that this will be punished.
Rzeczpospolita: Don't you get the impression that E.U.
is acting egoistically and not passing the test in the hour of trial?
Lech Wałęsa: That’s why we need to a organize a commission
for global action to deal with Russia. The U.S. is not leading the world as it
Rzeczpospolita: Are you afraid there will armed
Lech Wałęsa: Such a conflict is quite possible, because
there’s no lack of lunatics. But this is so costly it will soon be abandoned. That
doesn't mean we won't get a bruise or two in the process. Putin has suddenly recalled
he comes from the KGB, and they played a rough game.
Rzeczpospolita: What do you think of returning to the draft
because of the situation in Ukraine?
Lech Wałęsa: I am for it, provided it is limited
and more intelligently done. It was a mistake to stop it.
Rzeczpospolita: Should we spend more money on the
Lech Wałęsa: Yes, but we are not prepared for this.
Rzeczpospolita: How do you assess Poland’s involvement
in the case of Ukraine?
Lech Wałęsa: I would prefer that Poland begin organizing
what I mentioned earlier.
Rzeczpospolita: Has [Foreign Minister] RadosławSikorski grown into the role of a European
Lech Wałęsa: He is trying hard, but in the fight
for Ukraine, he has made a lot of mistakes. Sikorski
is a capable, intelligent man. He is a fast learner and has imagination. The only thing he lacks is experience. If he doesn’t get
spoiled, he is likely to be a future president.
Rzeczpospolita: Are you anointing Sikorski
as the next president?
Lech Wałęsa: It isn't inconceivable.
Rzeczpospolita: Does [Prime Minister] Donald Tusk have a chance
to rebuild his position on the Ukrainian conflict?
Lech Wałęsa: Not only because of that. He is,
generally speaking, quite a good politician. He is beginning to make mistakes,
which I do not like. He has begun to lose common sense.
Rzeczpospolita: On June 4, President Obama arrives in
Poland. What should we expect from the president of the United States regarding
Ukraine and security guarantees for Poland?
Lech Wałęsa: We should tell Obama that he is responsible for this situation, because if he hadn't backed out of the missile
shield, the reality today would be different. The U.S. president made a mistake
and now he needs to quickly fix it, since only the shield can guarantee
adequate security. Otherwise in the future, the cost may be much higher.
Rzeczpospolita: Will you celebrate the anniversary of Solidarity
on June 4?
Lech Wałęsa: No, because it wasn't a victory.
Rzeczpospolita: Is it proper for Solidarity to attack candidates
of the PO [the ruling Citizen’s Platform] in the European Parliament elections?
Posted By Worldmeets.US
Lech Wałęsa: Now I will try to get “Solidarity” to
embrace everyone, since they have problems and I would like to help them. However,
I will not change my opinion on reform and Poland. I will not employ demagogy
Rzeczpospolita: Do you support [Solidarity Chairman] PiotrDuda in his advocacy
for mothers of handicapped children?
Lech Wałęsa: Neither I nor anyone who came after me
did enough for this group, but using them in a political struggle isn't my cup
of tea. This is not a new problem ...it
has been growing for years. Today Poland is disturbed by it.
Rzeczpospolita: Was the prime minister right to meet with
these mothers in Parliament?
Lech Wałęsa: Yes, but he should have told them:
“Tell from whom I should take, and I’ll do it and give you the money, because
you really deserve it. Just find who to take it from. I will agree to do it,
but we really have to take it from someone else, since there is no other way to
public finances are like a short blanket: cover the head and your legs are left
bare, and vice versa.
Rzeczpospolita: What's your opinion about the party
lists of candidates to the European Parliament?
Lech Wałęsa: Athletes to the European Parliament?!
This just blows your mind! What is their political experience? What kind of expertise
do they have?
have an aversion to elections and politics. I have to wonder what was I
fighting for. Twenty years ago I said that the era we were headed into would
need a more transparent way of organizing. Citizens need to know where every
politician stands. Everybody who wants to be a politician should have a chip - and
on that chip everything should be stated: what kind of money does he have, who
is he sleeping with, so I know who that person is. Come election time, if he
cheats me once, neither he nor his family should be allowed to run for the next
possible to stop all this idiocy, to choose wisely, but we have to organize
better. With the old way, we won't go far. I am all for big parties, but not choosing
athletes and celebrities or those who can’t put two words together in English.
Rzeczpospolita: What chance does the PiS [Law & Justice, a major opposition party] have in
the European Parliament elections?
Lech Wałęsa: If they win, they will really lose.
They can’t keep all of their promises. They get into brawls with everyone and therefore,
that will mean their total defeat.