Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Poland, Tomasz Siemoniak at the Noble Jump visitors’ day
Thank you so much, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister.
It is great to be back in Poland. And I told you this morning that the first country I visited after I became Secretary General of NATO last fall was Poland. And now I am back again in Poland and I think that is an expression of the key role Poland is playing in our Alliance.
And Poland is playing a key role in many different ways.
You are going to host the next Summit of our Alliance in July next year.
You are investing in defence.
You are contributing to our collective defence.
And you will reach the target of spending two per cent on defence already this year.
But in addition you are hosting this very important exercise and I thank you for doing so. Because this exercise we have witnessed today is an expression of that we are delivering on the promises we made together at the last Summit of NATO last fall, because there we decided to increase the readiness and the preparedness of our forces.
And the centerpiece of this increased readiness is the new Spearhead Force or the very high readiness joint task force.
And this is the first time this force is deployed during an exercise and I am impressed by what I have seen, the professionalism and the dedication of the troops, of the soldiers but also by the way they are able to work together.
Soldiers, troops from nine different countries, working together as one. And this is really the strength of NATO that we are a big Alliance, representing 28 different Allies but we are able to stay united and to work together as one.
And this is something we need because we are facing a new security environment with new challenges, and we are adapting, and we are delivering, and we have started to adapt, and we will continue to do so. And I am looking forward to both to meet you next week at the NATO Defence Ministerial meeting in Brussels, but also to continue cooperate with you towards the Warsaw NATO Summit next year.
So thank you.
MODERATOR: We have time for a few questions. Lady over here had the first question.
Q: Deputy Prime, ahh the mic, okay thank you. German Television, ZDF. Mr. Prime Minister how would you comment on this week what we have seen what is going on between the west and yeah Mr. Putin in Russia. Is it a dangerous situation or is it just rhetoric?
Tomasz Siemoniak (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Poland): [Speaking with Translator]. First of all NATO has to carry on and we must not look at what everybody else is saying around our borders. Russia must not be judged by their words but by their actions and these actions over the past one and a half years have been not very optimistic for us. The annexation of Crimea and the activity of Russia in Eastern Ukraine mean that Eastern European States are very much apprehensive. And we are very happy to see that over the last year we have been able to see with our own eyes that the Alliance is actually working and it’s ready to defend its members. And I would like you to pass our words of thanks to the German Allies who have been very much involved in the creation of the Spearhead. We have a very special allied relationship between Poland and Germany.
MODERATOR: Okay, over there.
Q: Thank you. [Inaudible] Reuters. I’ve got a question for Prime Minister Seimoniak to ask in Polish if that’s okay. [Speaking Polish]
TOMASZ SIEMONIAK: [Speaking with Translator]. As the Secretary General has just said, in a week’s time we are going to hold the NATO ministers meeting in Brussels and one of the topics we’re going to discuss is going to be the implementation of the RAP plan. And as you saw today the exercise was about NATO reaction to hybrid threats. And I believe that the decision-making around this sort of activities should be in the hands of the military. And that the task for us, the politicians, is that we have to create a mechanism that will allow, if any challenges arise, it will allow the military to react quickly and swiftly.
Q: Associated Press for Secretary General a question. Should US Forces pre-position their heavy equipment in Poland and in other countries in, on the eastern flank, how would that help NATO in its mission? And to Minister Siemoniak, [Speaking Polish].
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): The important thing is that NATO is increasing its readiness and its preparedness and that we are able also in the future to protect and defend all Allies. And that’s the reason why we are adapting our forces and we are also implementing the Readiness Action Plan. The new Spearhead Force is important, the new small headquarters which are, which we are now establishing in Poland and in five other Eastern European Allied countries is also an important element of the increased readiness and preparedness of our forces. We’re also doubling the size of the NATO Response Force and all of this together is increasing the readiness of NATO. Part of this is also the question of pre-positioning of equipment. We are addressing that issue, no decision has been taken; we are working on the issue of the question of pre-positioning with our Allies. It’s going to be addressed next week at the Defence Ministerial Meeting of NATO and we will continue to work on the question of pre-positioning and then I foresee decisions later on regarding the question of pre-positioning of equipment in the eastern part of the Alliance.
TOMASZ SIEMONIAK: [Speaking with Translator]. This issue of the pre-position of US military equipment in Europe was one of the topics we discussed a month ago in Washington DC with Secretary Carter. And we were talking about equipment which is sufficient for one brigade and it will be pre-positioned in five member states. We are prepared both from the logistics and the organizational sides and we’re just waiting for Washington DC’s decision. I expect this decision to be made over the next few weeks. And I do hope it’s going to be a positive decision.
MODERATOR: One last question over there.
Q: Hi thank you. Terry Schulz with National Public Radio and CBS News. To both of you, last week a study came out that said that among NATO nation publics the majority in all countries except the US and Canada would not be willing if Russia were to attack to defend a NATO Ally as Article 5 demands. I’m interested in your reaction to that. Is there a disconnect between what you see inside NATO with an exercise like this and what you think your publics are expecting from you or would accept from you? Thanks.
JENS STOLTENBERG: It is an unwavering and absolute commitment of all NATO Allies to protect and defend each other. And the exercise we have seen today is a strong expression of this strong commitment of all Allies to protect each other. And that’s the core task of NATO, is that we will defend, protect all Allies against any threat and it’s one for all and all for one is the basic principle of this Alliance. So what we now are doing with more presence in the eastern part of the Alliance with the new Spearhead Force with the doubling of the size of the NATO Response Force and also with the new small headquarters in the six Eastern European Allied countries. All of this just confirms that we will stand by our commitment to protect all Allies. Then of course there will be political discussions in different Allied countries but the commitment is there, it’s strong and it’s once again confirmed by the Alliance, by the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan.
TOMASZ SIEMONIAK: [Speaking with Translator]. Yes in Poland we have heard about the opinion poll you mention, it is very widely commented. I think that both us politicians and you the media should be telling more our public about the fact that after tens of years of peace that peaceful period after the Second World War is now over. Because there are more and more crises erupting around Europe and we have to make sure that the public understands it. It’s not only the Ukraine and Russian crisis but also ISIS and a number of different crises in Northern Africa. And we cannot defend our European way of life if we don’t do more for our defence. And in doing more also means being ready to sacrifice for your Allied countries. And I think it’s a task for all of us to persuade the public that they should be ready to do more before it’s too late.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. This concludes this press point but please remain in place for the briefing of our military commanders. Thank you.