Walesa backs Belarus revolution

By Jonathan Charles

BBC world affairs correspondent

The former leader of the Solidarity movement in Poland has said he would support a people's revolution in neighbouring Belarus.

Lech Walesa who won a Nobel Peace Prize and went on to become Poland's president, was speaking on the 25th anniversary of the union's founding.

In an interview for the BBC's World This Weekend programme, he said Belarus should expect no support from the West.

He said the European Union should be ready to support a reformed Belarus.

Iconic figure

Lech Walesa likes to describe himself as a revolutionary.

Even 25 years after the founding of Solidarity, the trade union movement which eventually toppled Communist rule in Poland, he is regarded still as an iconic figure by many in central and eastern Europe.

Now he is turning his attention to Poland's neighbour, Belarus, considered to be the most repressive state in Europe.

President Alexander Lukashenko brooks no criticism and opponents are often treated harshly.

Mr Walesa says he would support a revolution there, similar to those which have taken place in Ukraine and Georgia.

However, he gave a warning that the people of Belarus should expect no help from the West, just as Poland had been left to struggle on its own in the 1980s.

But he said that if there were to be a change of regime there the European Union should immediately open its doors to Belarus as a way of encouraging democracy.