By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA
Associated Press Writer
GDANSK, Poland (AP) — Solidarity founder Lech Walesa takes credit for setting "everything on the right course" for communist Poland’s transition to a democratic market economy.
But the former shipyard electrician, whose charisma and courage helped topple an empire, said Tuesday in an Associated Press interview that he’s no longer needed at home: A quarter-century later, he spends much of his time lecturing abroad, where he’s still a hero.
Walesa, whose bumpy one-term presidency ended with his popularity diminished, spoke as world leaders gathered to fete him and Solidarity on the movement’s 25th anniversary, bringing him back into the spotlight for the first time in years.
Walesa said he had considered running for president again in October elections but gave up when he realized he could count on support from only several thousand people.
"I used to lead 10 million people, so what use to me is just 1,000?" Walesa, 61, told AP in his office in Gdansk, just blocks from the shipyards where his revolution began. "From a logical point of view, there is no room for me here."
The Solidarity trade union-turned-democracy movement attracted an estimated 10 million in Poland – about a third of all adults – during its heyday before communist leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski cracked down on it with martial law.
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