Warsaw Embassy Cable, Bronislaw Geremek Explains Next Steps Toward a Solidarity Government
Following the historic semi-free elections in Poland in June 1989, which resulted in a near total defeat of the Communist regime, Polish Communist and Solidarity leaders engaged in ongoing and significant negotiations in the hope of establishing stability in Poland. On August 24, 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, journalist and Solidarity activist, became the first non-Communist prime minister in Eastern Europe since World War II. This document, a report from the American Embassy in Warsaw to the U.S. secretary of state, describes Solidarity activist Bronislaw Geremek's explanation of the steps that leaders in Poland were taking to form a new coalition government, with Solidarity at the head. This report clearly points to the difficult task of forming a new government in the midst of political and economic crisis; it shows the cooperation that took place between the opposing sides; and it indicates the process by which communism was disintegrating in Poland.
U.S. Embassy Warsaw to U.S. Secretary of State, "Bronislaw Geremek Explains Next Steps Toward a Solidarity Government," 19 August 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).
2. SUMMARY: BRONISLAW GEREMEK HAS TOLD US THAT TADEUSZ MAZOWIECKI WILL BE ELECTED PRIME MINISTER ON AUGUST 23. HE WILL PRESENT HIS LIST OF MINISTERS PROBABLY ON AUGUST 30; THE SEJM COMMISSIONS WILL BEGIN THEIR HEARINGS ON SEPTEMBER 2; AND THE SEJM WILL VOTE ON THE NEW GOVERNMENT PROBABLY NOT BEFORE MID-SEPTEMBER. THE LIST OF MINISTERS ALLEGEDLY WILL INCLUDE FIVE COMMUNISTS, RATHER THAN THE TWO OR THREE WIDELY ANTICIPATED. GEREMEK WANTS TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE PZPR [Communist Party in Poland] IN ORDER TO CONVINCE THEM THAT THE SUCCESS OF THIS NEW GOVERNMENIT IS ALSO IN THEIR INTERESTS. [Lech] WALESA'S [Solidarity leader and eventually president of Poland] INFLUENCE AND SUPPORT FOR THE SCHEME SHOULD BE ENOUGH TO WIN OVER MOST OF SOLIDARITY. GEREMEK HIMSELF HAD NOT SOUGHT THE PREMIERSHIP BECAUSE HE WAS NEEDED IN THE PARLIAMENT; THE OKP [Citizens' Parliamentary Club] WOULD NOT SURVIVE TEN MINUTES WITHOUT HIM, HE CLAIMED. GEREMEK'S OPINION ABOUT FORMING A SOLIDARITY GOVERNMENT NOW HAD ALTERED, HE SAID, BECAUSE OF THE SPEED WITH WHICH BOTH THE OLD COALITION AND THE PZPR HAD DISINTIGRATED. HE EXPECTED THIS DISINTIGRATION WOULD BE DEMONSTRATED AGAIN AT THE AUGUST 19 PLENUM. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS THERE, HE SAID, THE INCREASINGLY IMPOTENT PARTY WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO BLOCK [Wojciech] JARUZELSKI'S [Communist Party leader and president of Poland at this time] DECISION, "AS LONG AS JARUZELSKI RETAINS CONTROL OF THE ARMY." BOTH THE MARSHAL OF THE SEJM AND THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF TOLD US THAT THE PARTY WOULD BE POWERLESS TO HALT THE PROCESS NOW UNDERWAY. JARUZELSKI'S "PRESIDENTIAL" BEHAVIOR, FIRM DETERMINATION IN THE FACE OF PARTY RESISTANCE, AND HIS APPARENT EFFORTS TO "DEPOLITICIZE" BOTH THE PRESIDENCY AND THE ARMY HAVE HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON SOLIDARITY LEADERS, INCLUDING SOME WHO HAD BEEN STRONGLY CRITICAL OF JARUZELSKI EVEN RECENTLY. HOWEVER, SOME WITHIN THE SOLIDARITY UNION WILL CONTINUE TO OBJECT THAT THE NEW ARRANGEMENT WILL WEAKEN UNION ACTIVITIES. GEREMEK TOLD CODEL CRANSTON THAT THE OPPOSITION HAD GONE TOO FAR, STOPPED, AND RETREATED TO A MORE DEFENSIBLE POSITION. BY NOW AGREEING TO INCLUDE COMMUNISTS -- MORE THAN HAD BEEN EXPECTED -- IN A SOLIDARITY-LED GOVERNMENT, THERE WAS A CHANCE TO BUILD A REAL COALITION, THE SURVIVAL OF WHICH COULD SERVE EVERYONE'S INTERESTS. END SUMMARY.