General who crushed Solidarity backs EU membership for Poland
THE FORMER communist strongman who imposed martial law in Poland 22 years ago to crush the Solidarity movement will vote "yes" in this weekend’s referendum on joining the European Union.
General Wojciech Jaruzelski said backing EU entry was an "act of patriotism", just as serving communist Poland was before 1989.
"I see no moral contradiction here. We were once in the Soviet sphere of influence and had to live with it. This was the historical logic. Joining the West is now best for Poland," he said yesterday.
"EU entry is the completion of the transition from the old system to democracy, in which I did play my part," he added.
The general, 79, living in retirement in Warsaw, said the introduction of martial law was needed to avert the threat of a Soviet invasion.
Dozens of people were killed in 1981 and hundreds jailed after a military crackdown crushed Solidarity, the first free trade union in the Soviet bloc.
Eight years later he allowed talks that led to the creation of the first non-communist government in eastern Europe.
Surveys show three in four Polish voters back EU entry in this weekend’s vote. But it is feared bureaucratic errors could stop many of Poland’s 29.5 million voters from casting their vote. More than 50 per cent of eligible Poles must turn out to make the ballot valid.
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