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Europe

Past Catches up with Polish PM

Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka has rejected opposition calls to resign following the publication of a file from the 1980s indicating his agreement to work with the communist secret service.

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How communist is his past?

The file held on Belka by Poland's communist-era intelligence agency, which was made public Wednesday, states that before leaving for the United States in 1984, Belka signed a document agreeing to seek potential informers for Poland and to inform the Polish secret services if he were approached by US intelligence officers.

Right-wing opposition parties responded to the document with calls for Belka to resign on the grounds that he had lied to a government committee of inquiry in March, when he said he never signed anything in which he agreed to collaborate with the communist secret services.

"It is sure that Belka signed a document agreeing to collaborate," said Donald Tusk, head of the opposition Civic Platform party. He said such a person "should not hold the post of prime minister."

Speaking at a press conference, Tusk said that Poland needs a strong leader during these times of EU crisis. "In this difficult moment, it would be good for the government to be led by someone not facing such charges."

No plans to step down

With just three months to go before legislative elections in Poland, Belka has rejected the calls for his resignation, saying the case on his past is closed. He has accused his opponents of "making light of the law" by reviving the story of the document, dubbed "travel instructions."

16.05.2005 tt Tagesthema kwasniewski.JPG

President Aleksander Kwasniewski

Before Belka was appointed prime minister last year, he was vetted to see whether he had collaborated with Poland's erstwhile communist regime. That inquiry turned up nothing against him.

The opposition on Wednesday urged President Aleksander Kwasniewski to put pressure on the prime minister to resign, but the president, who was on an official visit to Germany, said he had "neither the time nor the personnel solutions" to make any changes to the government at the moment, according to Poland's PAP news agency.

"In my opinion, these documents do not compromise or disqualify Marek Belka," said Kwasniewski. "Marek Belka did not collaborate with the secret services."

"No important information"

The final report in the 70-page file said that Belka provided Polish intelligence with "no important information" on his return from the United States, PAP said. The intelligence officer who compiled the final report called for it to be archived, given the limited information Belka had provided or was likely to provide.

Another secret service agent who worked on the file said Belka deemed collaboration with the communist secret services in the 1980s "a necessary evil", because refusing to sign the document would have meant he would meant being barred from travelling abroad.

Signing the so-called "travel instructions" was an obligatory rite of passage for many Poles who went abroad during the communist era.

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