17th Jan 2019

Walesa to campaign in Ireland for the Lisbon Treaty

  • Lech Walesa at the EPP congress in Warsaw earlier this year (Photo: EUobserver)

Former Polish president and anti-Communist dissident Lech Walesa will next week travel to Ireland to campaign for the Lisbon Treaty, in a move underlining his disassociation from the No camp.

Back in May, Mr Walesa came under fire in Polish media when he acknowledged receiving money to participate in political rallies with Declan Ganley, an Irish anti-Lisbon campaigner and head of the now defunct "Libertas" political party.

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Mr Walesa during the weeks leading up to the EU elections also made pro-Lisbon speeches, causing confusion over his ultimate allegiance.

A famous Polish dissident, Mr Walesa was the founder of the Solidarity movement in Poland which helped bring down the Communist regime 20 years ago and organise the first free elections in the former Eastern bloc.

He is a frequent speaker in European events, mostly organised by the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which is strongly pro-Lisbon and which is the largest political family among EU governments and in the bloc's institutions.

Mr Walesa will travel to Ireland next Thursday at the invitation of the Finna Gael party, an EPP affiliate, marking his come-back to the centre-right establishment.

"Mr Walesa has no problem of credibility. He always told Libertas that he is in favour of the Lisbon Treaty," Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, the leader of the Polish delegation within the EPP told this website.

In Mr Saryusz-Wolski's view, Mr Walesa could be "even more credible" in the eyes of the Irish voters when supporting the Treaty, because he has a critical stance towards the European establishment.

As the referendum date approaches and the polls suggest that the Yes-camp is losing ground to undecided voters, European "personalities" have already starting touring the island in a bid to bend hearts and minds.

The new president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, also a Pole, was in Ireland this week, as well as EU communication commissioner Margot Wallstrom.

As for Mr Ganley, he remains determined in his opposition to the document, and especially to the re-run of the referendum.

"The Irish people had a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. They voted No," he told the Wall Street Journal. "But - hey, presto! - 15 months later we're being told to vote again on exactly the same treaty. Not one comma has changed in the document."

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