GDANSK, Poland (AP) — Lech Walesa, Poland's former president and the founder of the Solidarity freedom movement, insisted Wednesday that he never collaborated with the communist secret police in the 1970s and voiced deep frustration at having to constantly respond to the allegations.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Walesa, 72, said: "I never consented to collaboration, I never took any money and I never reported on anybody. Clear? Enough! Next question please."
Walesa said he has seen recently-surfaced documents that some historians say prove he collaborated. He said that they are fakes and the signatures on them are fabricated.
The 1983 Nobel Peace Prize winner also expressed concern about a tumultuous situation and "crisis of democracy" in Europe and in the wider world.
"I look with surprise at the United States where some populist may become the president, I look with surprise at France where (Marine) Le Pen supporters almost won and may win the next time," Walesa said, referring to recent regional elections in which Le Pen's far-right National Front polled strongly.
"Because there are no good solutions, no good proposals, demons are born on the left and on the right," Walesa said.
"Today the world is asking for a form of democracy that would fit the times," he said. He argued that there should be new forms of political representation for various social groups that would encourage them to become more active in politics.
Referring to suggestions by Roman Catholic bishops and anti-abortion groups that abortion should be fully banned in Poland, Walesa — a Catholic and father of eight — said he is too old to comment but lamented that the debate on the issue is "shallow," failing to take account of various reasons why women might decide whether or not to have a baby.
Still, he suggested that Poland's current law, which was adopted during his presidency, should be preserved. It bans abortion except for cases when the woman's life or health is threatened, the pregnancy results from crime like rape or incest or the fetus is irreparably damaged or sick.
Walesa spoke at his new office overlooking the Gdansk shipyard where Solidarity was born out of worker protests in 1980. In 1989, the movement peacefully toppled Poland's communist rulers, paving the way for similar change in other Soviet bloc nations.
The modern building where Walesa's office is based houses the European Solidarity Center, which charts the movement's history.
Walesa conceded, however, that the sight of the now-bankrupt shipyard, which is shutting down, is painful. He said that, while the giant shipyard became unprofitable in the market economy, it hurts to see it go.
"How can you feel looking at agony?" he asked.