Riot police called to demonstration
31 August 2007, BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgian riot police were called Thursday after several Polish demonstrators entered headquarters of the European Union before a protest against EU plans to reduce state subsidies to the Gdansk shipyard.
31 August 2007
BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgian riot police were called Thursday after several Polish demonstrators entered headquarters of the European Union before a protest against EU plans to reduce state subsidies to the Gdansk shipyard.
About 30 protesters entered the foyer of the building where the public has free access. They left peacefully when police arrived. The workers chanted "Solidarity" as they went out - the name of the trade union that launched Poland's peaceful anti-communist revolt in 1980.
"We were just being tourists and wanted to take some photos," said Solidarity representative Karol Guzikiewicz.
Police acknowledged that they may have been called in because of a misunderstanding. About 40 officers, some in riot gear, stood in a line around the Commission entrance while the workers trooped out.
In January, dock workers caused several hundred thousand euros of damage to the European Parliament building in the French city of Strasbourg when they fought with police in a separate row over EU moves to liberalise port services.
On Friday, about 100 Gdansk workers are scheduled to protest outside the Brussels building to complain about an EU clash with the Warsaw government. EU regulators say Poland can no longer feed state money to the historic yard to keep it alive by paying its running costs because this gives it an unfair advantage over other businesses.
They insist that Poland must either work out a restructuring plan for the yard with a one-off cash injection or have it return millions of euros in government subsidies received since Poland joined the 27-member bloc in 2004.
Workers fear this could lead to the yard's closure and the loss of 3,000 jobs.
The Gdansk yard is deeply significant for Poles because it is the place where Lech Walesa led a strike that won government recognition for the Solidarity union. This sparked a protest movement that undermined the Communist regime, which collapsed in 1989 and 1990.
Walesa, a shipyard electrician who later became the president of Poland, has called the shipyard's struggles a personal blow.
[Copyright AP 2007]
Subject: Belgian news