President, PM recall communism-ending Round Table Talks

The Round Table changed Poland's political system and today we are in the EU and NATO, President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday, the eve of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 talks between Poland's communist government and the then-banned Solidarity Union.

In the talks, launched on February 6 1989 in a bid to appease mounting strikes, the communist side led by Poland's strongman General Wojciech Jaruzelski hoped to draw prominent oppositionists into the ruling elite without changing the political power structure. In reality, the talks led to radical changes in the Polish government and society, the events in Poland quickly snowballed into the fall of the entire Soviet bloc. The Yalta arrangement collapsed soon afterwards.

Addressing school youth during a debate on the Round Table talks in the Presidential Palace, Duda said that the talks indeed changed Poland's reality.

"One can take different views of those historical events. Today we see them through the effects they brought (...). One thing is sure: Poland's political system and our situation changed. Today we are a member of the European Union and (...) NATO," Duda said.

He added that the talks also symbolised peaceful dispute among equal partners and the will to compromise despite differences.

PM Mateusz Morawiecki recalled that as a member of a radical wing of Solidarity he was against the talks at the time, but admitted that they opened a new dialogue platform and introduced democracy into public life.

He added that he was happy that events in Poland evolved they way they did, but suggested that a more uncompromising stand by Solidarity could have perhaps forced bigger concessions from the communists.