PASSING the Lisbon Treaty is crucial to continued peace, security, and progress in the EU, former Polish president and solidarity trade union leader Lech Walesa has said.
Mr Walesa, famed for his role in leading the fight against communism in Poland in the early 1980s, said Europe could not tackle major problems if it was not united. “We have defeated the Nazis and we have defeated the communist system,” a passionate Mr Walesa said through a translator.
“We will continue defeating other injustices that still occur in life, but we can do it only once we are all united. So let us all be united for that purpose and let us try to adopt this treaty and then improve it if it requires improvement.”
Mr Walesa, in Dublin to campaign for a Yes vote at the invitation of Fine Gael, said “hidden forces” feared a united and well-organised Europe.
“They feel threatened by this kind of Europe. That is why they have been trying to disintegrate us.”
He insisted that Lisbon would not impinge on workers’ rights, as claimed by opponents of the treaty.
“I would claim that it is certainly a lie that this treaty works to the disadvantage of the labour force anywhere on any single issue,” he said.
“And actually, all the [No] arguments that I have been hearing here in Ireland, they border on the ridiculous, and they border on lies.”
Mr Walesa explained why he had accepted an invitation to speak at a conference organised by anti-treaty group Libertas in Rome earlier this year.
“I am a revolutionary and I always get involved in situations where there is some opposition,” he said, stressing his eagerness to hear opponents’ views.
While he had agreed with Libertas’s argument that the citizens of Europe needed to be heard more, he disagreed with the group’s anti-treaty stance.
“I agreed with them on their diagnosis of the situation in Europe, but I fully disagreed with their way of treating the situation,” he said. He acknowledged he had been paid to attend the Libertas conference, but described as “absurd” suggestions that he had received a fee of €100,000.
While he accepted payments for after-dinner speaking engagements, he made clear he never sought money to appear at political events in which he believed, such as yesterday’s press conference.
“I’ve been involved in participating in things like press conferences… out of patriotic duty and a sense of solidarity because I want wisdom to prevail. I don’t want mine and your struggle to be wasted and jeopardised. That’s why no money is involved.”
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