(CNN) – Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who went on to inspire the Solidarity trade union and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain, said in Poland Monday he wanted U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to be successful in November's general election.
"I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Gov. Romney, get your success – be successful!" Walesa said, according to a translation of his remarks provided to a small group of journalists allowed into the meeting between Romney and the Polish leader.
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Romney's stop in Poland came after an invitation from Walesa, who in 1989 helped form the first noncommunist government in the Soviet bloc. Walesa later was elected president.
Romney and Walesa met in Gdansk, where the Solidarity movement began. The presumptive GOP nominee also toured historic sights in the city, including the World War II Westerplatte memorial, and met with Poland's current Prime Minister, Donald Tusk.
In the brief meeting viewed by journalists between Romney and Walesa, the Polish leader criticized the current direction he saw America heading, and suggested new leadership was required to re-establish the United States' position in the world.
"I wish we could still be establishing something new and something better," Walesa said, according to the translator. "I'm very confident we can accomplish it."
He continued, "Poland and many other countries will certainly do their best to help the U.S. restore its leadership position."
Romney, he said, shared the viewed of "individuals who have struggled all our lives."
Walesa's warm embrace of Romney is not a surprise, given his apparent coolness toward President Barack Obama, Romney's rival in November's general election.
In May 2011 Walesa declined to meet with Obama, telling Agence France-Presse the meeting "would only amount to a photo opportunity." And in 2009, Walesa – who won 1983's Nobel Peace Prize – was quoted in The Wall Street Journal expressing surprise that Obama had also won the award.
"Who, Obama? So fast? Too fast – he hasn't had the time to do anything yet," the Wall Street Journal's website quoted Walesa as saying.
Obama's image in Poland was further shaken in May when his use of the term "Polish death camp," rather than Nazi death camp, sparked outrage.
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