Embarrassing snub for President Obama as Polish hero Lech Walesa skips meeting to go to a biblical festival
Daily Mail [UK]
27 May 2011
Poland’s former president and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa has snubbed an invitation to meet with President Barack Obama.
Mr Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, had been invited by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski to attend a gathering of Poland’s leading political figures with the U.S. President in Warsaw on Saturday.
‘It’s difficult to tell journalists what you’d like to say to the president of a superpower. This time I won’t tell him, I won’t meet him, it doesn’t suit me,’ Walesa told news station TVN24.
Mr Obama will leave the G8 summit in Deauville, France, and travel to Warsaw this evening on the last stop on his European tour.
It is the President’s first time in Poland and he will take the opportunity to hold political meetings that will focus on security, energy and joint U.S.-Polish efforts to promote democracy in North Africa, Belarus and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
But hours before his arrival, Polish headlines were dominated by news that Mr Obama was being snubbed by Mr Walesa.
Solidarity was a national freedom movement under Mr Walesa’s leadership in the 1980s that helped bring down communism. It is now a major trade union.
Mr Walesa insisted that he preferred to travel to Italy for a biblical festival, and that he had no interest in a meeting that would amount to little more than a photo-op…
…Poles have felt in past years that both the administrations of George W. Bush and that of Mr Obama have neglected their concerns, and traditionally strong pro-American sentiments are in decline compared with the early years after the fall of communism. At that time, Washington was seen as both a model of democracy that helped end the Cold War and as Poland’s main guarantor of security in a region where Russia still throws its weight around.
Polish complaints have centred on a feeling that Poland’s military contribution in Iraq – and the loss of lives there – left the country with few benefits, economic or otherwise, and there is deep popular resentment that Poles still don’t enjoy visa-free travel to the U.S…
…There has also been concern that the U.S. interest in ‘resetting’ ties with Moscow could come at the cost of Poland and its neighbours, once under its influence. Anxieties were high when Obama scrapped a Bush-era plan to put a major missile defence base in Poland, with many Poles believing the step was made to appease Moscow…
The complete article is at the Daily Mail.
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