In Poland the so-called "lustration" debate - concerning the secret files that were kept on Polish citizens by the Communist secret police, and which are now being made public - shows no sign of dying down. In the latest development, the career of Poland's Prime Minister, Marek Belka, looks as though it may be terminated by the lustration process.
From one point of view the opening of the secret files is a victory for democracy in Poland. But from another it demonstrates the continuing power of the secret services to influence Poland's political course.
The material that follows consists of two news items from the bulletin published by the Polish Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, and an item from today's Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, together with some comments from Marius Labentowicz.
Prime Minister: my files are used for political game
Warsaw, June 16: Prime Minister Marek Belka told the Sejm on Thursday that his files were used for a political game in which competence did not matter. Belka admitted to talking to intelligence services before he had travelled to the United States on a scholarship and to signing a "departure instruction", but stressed he had never been a collaborator of communist-era secret services. Belka said this was odd and paradoxical that he himself did not have access to his files. In this situation, though I consider this a bad solution, I asked the IPN to lift the secrecy clause from the documents gathered on me, Belka stressed. He warned that a complete disclosure of era-communist files will not result in a true openness of political and public life. This will give the entire problem as well as the history writing into the hands of former communist-era secret service agents and its interpretation into the hands of people involved in ongoing political games, he said.
Belka: I may leave politics
Warsaw, June 20: Prime Minister Marek Belka said he was thinking about leaving politics and added he might even not run in forthcoming parliamentary elections. The PM told Monday Radio TOK FM he wanted to leave politics despite the fact he was one of the founders of the Democratic Party-democrats.pl. Asked whether he was going to run in the forthcoming parliamentary elections the PM said he had not made up his mind yet. The PM admitted he was trying to convince Sejm Speaker Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz to run for president. Next, the prime minister said he still believed Poland should ratify the EU Constitution. He also said he hoped Great Britain, which is taking over the EU presidency on July 1, would feel responsible for starting a debate on the EU future and reaching a compromise on the EU budget. __________________________________________
I don't have time to translate all the reactions and comments from politicians in Poland on this particular case, and btw not the first one and not the last one (which has been called in Poland these days as "the game with the files") so just for the record, and to let your readers know how it was then.
Leaving aside all that political game in revealing this intruction from Belka's file now, and the calls for dismissal of the PM from some opposition MPs on the Polish political scene (the parlamentarian elections will take place on 25 Sep. and the presidential one on 09 Oct.) this had been always an open secret in the past. During the communist era, people who wanted to study (those who had that opportunity then, were usually from the circles linked with the Polish communist gvt and the party) in the West had to make that choice. As one of the Polish politicians said " Some were going abroad and were signing this document, others were refusing to sign it and didn't get their passports".
The Polish PM himself said that this instruction was given to him with those days practice, but "he never treated this instruction as an obligation to collaborate with the secret services".
Of course, that practice was no different in the Soviet Union and its satellites, as all citizens could get only their passports from their district police offices.
Content of departure instruction
pi, PAP 21-06-2005, last update 21-06-2005 14:19
The so called departure instruction signed by Polish premier Marek
Belka in September 1984 before his trip on his scholarship to Chicago.
Its content has been revealed by the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and the Radio Information Agency
Belka's departure instruction has three parts:
With regard to the trip to the USA, I take for realization the
following assignements for the Secret Services (Sluzba bezpieczenstwa) of the Ministry of Interior Affairs" - that's how the instruction begins. Then there's talk about some concrete assignments:
1.Identification of acquainted persons in viewv of their possible
connections with the enemy secret services.
2. Scouting and analysing persons from the opinion [think tanks]
circles and all kinds of specialists, favourably inclined towards our
country,who have real possibilities to bring us some interesting
In its second part there is some technical information: how to get
in contact with which [diplomatic] missions, there's also talk about keeping everything secret, remembering all the data, but writing down only names.
The third part of this instruction said: I undertake an obligation to keep top secret, also before my closest persons, of keeping contacts with the Secret Services [SB] of the Interior Ministry and all the informations that conclude from those contacts.
The city of Lodz,
this day of 10.09.1984
In the document's heading there also Lodz and data 10.09.1984, below
the date" Secret, spec. importance". Below: "single copy"
Update (19:00 GMT) - the BBC is covering the story: Polish PM resists calls to resign