Lech Walesa: Germany and France Share Blame for Iraq War | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 26.05.2004
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Lech Walesa: Germany and France Share Blame for Iraq War

The former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner says Germany and France are partially to blame for the Iraq war, because they failed to convince other EU members of their case against invasion.


Walesa opposed sending Polish troops to Iraq

In an interview with German public broadcasters ARD and Deutsche Welle, Lech Walesa said he would not have sent Polish troops to Iraq if he were still president. The former leader also pointed his finger at the two bigger EU members, France and Germany, blaming them for failing to prevent the Iraq war.

"If I had still been president of Poland at the time, I would not have sent troops to Iraq," Walesa said. "I would have met with the heads of government from Germany and France and worked for a common European position. It's not the United States that is to blame for the war, but rather the EU, and in particular Germany and France. They knew the war was coming and they failed to prevent it."

"They neglected to bring together the old and new EU member states," he added. "Such an important organization as the European Union should have spoken out with one voice against the war. If that had been the case, the United States could not have ignored it. Instead, France and Germany allowed Europe to split on the issue, and therefore we had war. France and Germany are responsible."

Poland, a staunch U.S. ally in Iraq, contributed combat troops to last year's war and now commands a multinational stabilization force that includes 2,400 of its own soldiers. After Spain pulled back its troops earlier this year, Europe looked to Poland to follow suit, but current President Aleksander Kwasniewski has said his country will not back out.

In response to the current situation Walesa said: "Some things are going wrong in Iraq at the moment. We don't have to support that."

Walesa, the founder of the Solidarity movement and a key figure in the toppling of communism in Poland, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. He was president of Poland from 1990 until 1995, when he lost his re-election bid to Kwasniewski.

In an extensive interview, Deutsche Welle asked Walesa whether he plans on running for president again and how he views the future of Poland within the EU. For the full interview, please see the link below.

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