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Poland: Prime Minister Signs Concordat With Vatican

Warsaw, 16 February 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek signed (Feb. 13) the ratification documents of the Vatican-Poland concordat that governs his country's relations with the Roman Catholic Church.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski is expected to put his signature on the documents within the next 10 days. The signing by the President, whose Left political base has opposed the agreement, will officially ratify the agreement.

Buzek said the agreement will serve what he called "the good of the nation." He accused Poland's Left parties of having blocked the ratification of the concordat for four years. Poland's former Solidarity government originally signed the agreement with the Vatican in July 1993, prior to its defeat by the Left in parliamentary elections the same year.

Buzek also said that what he described as "grotesque disputes" about the agreement had undermined Poland's authority in the international area.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Antoni Styrczula called the concordat a "step towards reconciliation" among Poles.

The accord with the Vatican assures legal status to the Roman Catholic Church in Poland and gives it the right to spread its religion. But the agreement also says that state and church are separate and independent from another. The exchange of the ratification documents with the Vatican is scheduled to take place in Rome on March 25.