President Lech Walesa invited as his first guest to Belweder Palace the man who just vacated it and who also happened to be his former jailer: Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski.
Jaruzelski skipped Walesa's inauguration Saturday as Poland's first popularly elected president because the former Solidarity union leader decided to accept the symbols of presidential office not from his predecessor but from Ryszard Kaczorowski, president of the Polish government-in-exile.But the new president met shortly before noon Sunday with Jaruzelski, who several months ago agreed to step down one year into his six-year term amid considerable public pressure.
Jaruzelski "shared his experience as president with Walesa and wished him success in his mission" during their meeting, the Polish news agency PAP said.
Walesa, 47, the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, won the presidency in an election Dec. 9, a decade after founding the labor movement that eventually took control of the government.
It was Jaruzelski, as Communist Party chief and prime minister, who imposed martial law Dec. 13, 1981, interning Walesa and thousands of other activists to crush the Solidarity movement.
But Walesa later regained his freedom and went on to engineer a roundtable agreement in 1989 that led to partly free parliamentary elections won by Solidarity. That resulted in the removal of the communist government and helped spark the fall of communist rule in much of Eastern Europe.
The Walesa-Jaruzelski meeting could help calm the fears of the former communist elite - who still control much of the Polish bureaucracy - that the inauguration of a former "enemy of the people" may not spell total disaster.
About 20 communist deputies in the parliamentary chamber where Walesa was inaugurated Saturday showed their displeasure by refusing to stand or applaud.
After meeting with Jaruzelski, Walesa returned with his family and aides to his hometown, Gdansk, where he is expected to conduct much of the affairs of state.
Walesa's first task is to name a new premier.