“This is a historic day for Poland, because according to the Constitution of 3 May, the agreement at the round table is the first national consensus of all forces,” said Jozef Czyrek, a former member of the Politburo. Roundtable discussions began on February 6, 1989 and lasted two months until April 5, 1989. Nearly 600 people took part. There were three large groups of themes, also called small paintings (stoliki). These include a table where political reform has been negotiated, a table that negotiates the relegation of the Solidarity trade union and a table that has discussed economic and social issues. In addition, negotiations took place at ten sub-tables (podstoliki). Representatives of the opposition and the Communist Party also participated in the discussions. They were also representatives of state and state institutions, as well as organizations such as farmers` associations, teachers, students, Scouts and academics. There were also opposition groups representing illegal associations of students, farmers and Scouts. During the two months, participants discussed many fundamental issues concerning Polish politics and the economy, as well as more specific issues, such as the need for better opportunities for the supply of drugs and medicines in rural areas, improving the health and safety of minors and the safe transport of toxic waste by Poland.
It is significant that security and foreign policy have not been discussed at all. On the Solidarity side, Lech Walesa has regained a sense of political note that seems to have left him for several years. But he illustrated the true dialectic of common failure when he concluded, after his talks with the influential Minister of the Interior, General Kiszczak, last week that “we are doomed to the agreement”. He also accepted Prime Minister Rakowski, a major change behind the new dialogue: “We are in the same country and therefore on the same side.” For Mr Walesa, the decision to close the Lenin shipyard has also permanently closed the way for the conflict. “We will never solve our problems with strikes,” he said last week, speaking directly to his internal opposition – the Solidarity working group, which warns against a political game with the authorities. Indeed, the mainstream of Solidarity has accepted a co-optation – an agreed political piece of the next Parliament – rather than confrontation. If this proved unfeasible, it could still justify the radical wing of Solidarity, whose analysis is based on more pointed categories of class struggle and exploitation. Preparations for the roundtable were extended, in part because the authorities freed from strikes did not have to hurry.
A few interviews were held; However, they did not produce any real results. In addition, other obstacles have occurred. First, the authorities have delayed stopping the crackdown on the most active strikes. Secondly, for economic reasons – as they said – the government decided to close the shipyard of Lenin, the birthplace of Solidarity. Union leaders found the behaviour of the authorities disappointing, but understood that the weather was on their side. In a meeting with Jaruzelski`s envoy, he said: “We will wait, it won`t be long. It may take three months for the [party`] machine to understand. Three months that will shake the country.