Solidarity leaders and communist party members take part in the Round Table Talks of 1989. Photo: PAP/Jan Bogacz
The Round Table Talks were held between 6 February 1989 and 4 April 1989, leading to Poland's first democratic elections in over fifty years.
The original draft resolution, approved by deputy speakers of parliament from Prime Minister Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform party and the Democratic Left Alliance, is celebratory in tone.
“Today, on the 25th anniversary of the start of the Round Table Talks, and the start of a peaceful transition in our country, the Polish parliament congratulates the participants of the Round Table Talks, who paved the way for a free and democratic Poland.”
However, on Wednesday MP Patryk Jaki from minority conservative party United Poland declared that “we do not agree to the glorification of the Round Table Talks -we want to tell the truth about what happened 25 years ago.”
United Poland expressed their reservations in an amendment to the resolution which was swiftly rejected by Civic Platform Deputy Speaker Cezary Grabarczyk.
“Today, on the 25th anniversary of the start of the Round Table Talks, the Polish Parliament appeciates the will to find a bloodless solution to Polish affairs, but also remembers that the Round Table Talks contributed to theft-like privatisation, the impunity of communist criminals, the unsettled grievances of their victims, and the lack of decommunisation and lustration [vetting].
“It has led to social exclusion, unemployment, poverty, the emigration of millions of Poles and caused other social and economic problems that last until today.”
The Round Table Talks of 1989 are seen by many Solidarity trade union veterans as the culmination of years of anti-regime activism.
Nevertheless, right-wing hardliners have long criticised the talks as a sell-out to the communists, arguing that there has never been a thorough purge of those with links to the old system, in spheres ranging from local government to education to the judiciary.
However, supporters of the talks stress that the Round Table Agreement and the elections that followed marked a unique example of a bloodless revolution in Poland. (nh)
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