Poland Scoffs at NATO's Offer
'We've Gone From Chamberlain's Umbrella to President Clinton's Saxophone,' Walesa Aide Says
United Press International, January 12, 1994
PRAGUE -- Poland declined to join its East European neighbors Wednesday in accepting the U.S.-sponsored "Partnership for Peace" plan, despite U.S. President Bill Clinton's package of aid to ease the pace of economic reforms.
Although Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski confirmed Clinton had accepted the invitation to visit Poland in July, the delegation was reticent over the lack of a specific timetable for membership in NATO.
"The final decision will take place during the next government session," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said after Clinton met President Lech Walesa and leaders of Hungary and Slovakia. "That decision will be undertaken after looking at all the documents." It was believed, however, from various comments by members of the Polish delegation throughout the day that the plan would be accepted.
A Walesa aide somewhat disparagingly referred to the project, saying, "We've gone from Chamberlain's umbrella to President Clinton's saxophone." Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister during the early years of World War II, has been widely remembered as having refused to stand up to Hitler's military threats.
Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia came on board with more enthusiasm for the Clinton plan.
"The Slovak Republic accepts the PFP project as an expression of qualitative change and at the same time an evoltuionary process on the road to a full membership in the North Atlantic alliance," Slovak President Michal Kovac said.
President Vaclav Havel said the Czech Republic welcomes the plan "as a good point of departure in NATO's quest for a new identity and new role in new conditions."
"We consider it logical and right that the alliance is actively opening itself up in this way to all European countries, and is thus assuming the role of a true stability core of European security," he said.
Hungarian President Arpad Gonc also said he accepted the plan on behalf of his country.
"The four countries of Central Europe have the exact same views (regaring Partnership for Peace)," Goncz said. "The difference was only in shades."
Hungary also emphasized the economic initiatives announced by Clinton during the summit.