Walesa urges Poland's historic Gdansk shipyard be saved

3rd May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Gdansk shipyard is the "first monument to globalisation", said Walesa, a one-time electrician at the yard who went on to lead Solidarity, a movement which was key to negotiating a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989.

Warsaw -- Poland's former president Lech Walesa has appealed for a sound future for the Gdansk shipyard, the 1980s cradle of the historic anti-communist Solidarity trade union, now threatened by closure.

"This is the first monument to the magnificent struggle which allowed us to think about German reunification, the reunification of Europe and globalisation," said Walesa, Solidarity's legendary leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, speaking to delegates to the European People's Party (EPP) congress.

The Gdansk shipyard is the "first monument to globalisation", said Walesa, a one-time electrician at the yard who went on to lead Solidarity, a movement which was key to negotiating a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989.

"Doesn't this great monument deserve great support, so we can preserve it for future generations?" Walesa asked.

"I ask you: consider how not to destroy this first monument to great victory at the European and global level," Walesa said.

In 1980 the Gdansk shipyard on Poland's Baltic Sea coast became the cradle of the freedom-fighting Solidarity trade union -- the first and only one of its kind in the entire Soviet bloc.

Walesa, Poland's first post-1989 democratically elected president was speaking to the EPP congress which launched the conservative party's campaign ahead of European Parliament elections due June 4-7.

On Wednesday police baton charged a protest by several hundred Gdansk shipyard workers in front of the communist-era Palace of Culture in Warsaw where the EPP congress was being held. Workers were demonstrating against restructuring plans for the yard that the Polish government is negotiating with the European Union.

Officers also used pepper spray against the demonstrators who burned tyres and threw firecrackers at riot police.

Several protesters and police officers required medical attention.

AFP/Expatica

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