US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visits the Solidarity Monument site in Gdansk with Ann and Josh Romney. Image: Reuters
Solidarity, the trade union movement which is credited with toppling the Communist government in Poland in the 1980s, has distanced itself from the visit of Mitt Romney, accusing him of being against union activity on his home turf.
"Regretfully, we were informed by our friends from the American headquarters of (trade union federation) AFL-CIO, which represents more than 12 million employees ... that Mitt Romney supported attacks on trade unions and employees' rights," Solidarity said in a statement.
The statement was released after Romney's meeting with Lech Walesa, co-founder of Solidarity and former national president. Walesa urged Romney to "get your success - be successful" when the two met.
However Solidarity was quick to emphasise its distance from Walesa, who quit the union in 2006, saying its current leaders were "not involved in organising Romney's meeting with Walesa, and did not invite him to visit Poland."
The Republican presidential hopeful is in Poland as part of a three-nation tour to project himself as a better alternative to President Barack Obama on the international stage.
In addition to his meeting with Walesa, Romney has visited the WWII Westerplatte Memorial at the Baltic port of Gdansk, home of Solidarity, along with his wife and son Josh Romney. He placed flowers at the memorial.
The former Massachusetts governor also met Polish prime minister Donald Tusk at the Gdansk Old Town Hall, and tried to convince the Polish people that he would be a better ally for Poland than current US President Barack Obama.
Romney's visit to Poland comes after a series of controversial statements during his earlier stops in Britain and Israel. In London, he expressed doubts over Britain's readiness to hold the Olympics - prompting criticism from David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
During his Israel visit, Romney's comments on the economic superiority of the Jewish nation left Palestine political leaders fuming.
"You notice a stark difference in economic vitality [between Israel and Palestine]. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognise the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said during a fund-raising event in Jerusalem.
"It seems to me this man [Romney] lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people. He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves," said Saeb Erekat, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as quoted by Associated Press.
Romney is due to conclude his tour with a speech in Warsaw on 31 July, and is expected to lay a wreath to mark the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939.
To contact the editor, e-mail: