Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda

  • 18 Jan. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 19 Jan. 2016 11:38

(As delivered)

President Andrzej Duda, it is a great pleasure and honour to welcome you here at NATO headquarters.

We last met just a few weeks after you were elected as president last summer. And when I visited Poland last summer I met with you, that was in connection with the first exercise of the new Spearhead Force of NATO, which were exercising in Poland. So that was just another example of how we are working together and how NATO is adapting to a new and more challenging security environment.

And ever since Poland joined NATO, Poland has proven to be a very strong Ally. And a committed Ally.

Today, you are committing practically.

  • With hundreds of troops building security in Afghanistan and in Kosovo.
  • With exercises on land, at sea, and in the air.
  • And with contributions to Baltic air policing and maritime patrols.

You are also committing politically – including through strong support for our partners.

You lead our logistics Trust Fund for Ukraine, and help with defence education.

And Poland is committing financially.

You devote 2% of GDP to defence, with 30 % of that to be spent on investments in modern equipment.

This is significant, and it shows Poland’s leadership. And we thank you for that.

There is a lot of Poland in NATO, and a lot of NATO in Poland.

You host our Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin. And one of our new Force Integration Units small headquarters.

Both will make rapid deployment of our forces easier, and will support planning and exercises.

You also host the Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, which is part of the NATO command structure.

This spring, we will break ground for a key site in Poland for NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence.

And a significant number of Allied exercises have taken place in Poland, with many others underway.  

Over the past year, we have been implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.

NATO now has a persistent military presence in the region of which Poland is part.

And I trust that after the Warsaw Summit, we will see more NATO in Poland than ever before. 

Today, we discussed the preparations for the Warsaw Summit, which are well on track.

We are fundamentally adapting our Alliance to the challenges we face, to a more challenging security environment.

We all must ensure that when we leave the Summit, the Alliance is stronger and more flexible.

And committed, as firmly as ever, to the values on which NATO was founded: democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. 

These values are a vital source of our unity.

And unity is our greatest strength. 

So, Mr President, I look really forward to working with you to make the Warsaw Summit a great success.

So once again, welcome to NATO Headquarters and we are looking forward to working closely with you and your staff in the preparations for the Summit in July.


OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson):  Just a few questions, I’ll start with the lady over there.

Q:  Dorota Bavoik (Televisia Polsat)  [Speaking through interpreter] The first question, to both gentlemen. The more and more allies who due to other challenges to NATO or fight against terrorism and the Syria conflict, see their next ally in Russia, try to build a coalition with Russia in order to combat those threats together. So therefore is there a chance to implement the Polish Postulate in terms of increasing the presence of NATO on the eastern flank without, without tickling Russia? Will other allies…[Begins speaking English without interpreter]. For sure, are you sure for 100 % about that? Because there are some signals from the United States that there are some doubts. You said that the countries of NATO should respect the rule of law, the rule of law in Poland is currently under supervision of the European Commission. If, until summer, there will be some more signals of unhappiness from the EU institutions, some more doubts about it, is it possible that the place of the summit will be changed?

JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General):  The decision to have the next summit in Warsaw was taken by 28 heads of state and government at our last summit in Wales in September 2014 and there is no issue at all to discuss to change that decision. So that decision stands and we are actually looking very much forward to have the summit in Warsaw and the preparations are on track and the President and I, we discussed a wide range of issues which are related in different ways to the preparations for the next summit in Warsaw.

So I’m looking forward to the summit in Warsaw in July. When it comes to your first question I think it’s important to underline that NATO faces a changed and more challenging security environment, both because of the behaviour of Russia, a more assertive Russia, a Russia which is investing heavily in defence which is exercising its troops and which is able and willing to use force to change borders in Europe as we have seen in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and the policy of destabilizing Eastern Ukraine and also having forces in Georgia. So NATO has to respond to a more assertive Russia which is conducting a substantial military build-up close to our borders.

At the same time we have to respond to the turmoil, to the violence, to the instability we see to the south with terror and the threats stemming from North Africa and the Middle East. And NATO does not have the luxury of choosing between either responding to the challenges stemming from the south or the challenges stemming from the east, we have to do both at the same time. And that’s the reason why we are adapting, that’s the reason why we have implemented the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence since the end of the Cold War and that’s the reason why we are increasing the readiness and the responsiveness of our forces so we are able to defend, protect all allies against any threat whether they come from the east or the south or wherever they come from.

ANDRZEJ DUDA (President of Poland):  [Speaking through interpreter]. Madame let me answer you right away. Of course within the North Atlantic Alliance there are 28 nations and often those nations have got different interests, nevertheless I am convinced about one thing, namely that some issues are obvious for all. It is an obvious thing that Russia over the last years has conducted a series of activities which cannot be called differently than an aggression. It is also obvious that Russia is building up its military potential and in a very clear way it has been demonstrating it through different exercises, through such actions which are named by some in North Atlantic Alliance as activities of provocative nature, of testing nature, they are testing the resilience both political and to a certain extent also psychological resilience of those who are taking important decisions in the North Atlantic Alliance countries.

That is why I strongly believe that all these phenomena are being followed by all the nations of the North Atlantic Alliance. If Russia today is building up its military potential, for instance in the Kaliningrad Oblast or near the borders of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and other places the following question arises, why is it doing that and whether such actions which are clearly, well because no provocative actions are exercised against Russia in those areas, there are no offensive weapons there. So the question is why is Russia engaged in such an activity? Quite logical answer is that unfortunately these actions are not purely of defensive character and if so then taking into account the nature of the North Atlantic Alliance, which I want to stress very strongly, the North Atlantic Alliance defence alliance, purely defence alliance, it is absolutely not aimed at any kind of expansion or any actions of offensive nature, it is only defensive in nature and natural consequence of that is strengthening the defence potential.

And I hope that every single member of the alliance following what is happening in the international space is seeing those phenomena and understands them. Of course also we are seeing situations with decreased level of security at the southern flank of NATO and we also need to take adequate action there, action which will strengthen us as far as anti-terrorist actions are concerned which will strengthen our security vis a vis the ISIL. All of these are the elements which in a natural way are outlined in front of NATO, NATO has to face up in an adequate way to all those challenges and I count on common sense in this respect on part of the member states and I count on their approach of understanding even from those nations which geographical location is distant from the places which are facing problems and threats today.

Q:  (Wall Street Journal)  … the multinational core northeast or do you want to see an actual combat troop presence, persistence presence in Poland or the Baltics? And if they don’t will that weaken deterrence? Mr. Secretary General I wonder if you are worried about the rule of law issues in Poland, challenges to the independent judiciary and press and do you think that these controversies will weaken the support for increasing a troop presence in Poland at the Warsaw summit?

ANDRZEJ DUDA:  [Speaking through interpreter]. Let me answer in the following way, yes in such a way that the security of eastern NATO flank is provided, is truly provided. Today there are indications showing that what we need to do is both to have significant presence of both infrastructure and troops on the ground in Central and Eastern Europe and we also need a well-developed system for supporting those troops, for supporting defence.

If any kind of an aggressive act happened we want NATO forces to be visible which means common exercises, improving coordination of actions and I believe that this is the direction in which we should be developing our cooperation and in this direction we should also be taking decisions at the Warsaw summit. Let me stress once again we very much count on this summit to be a decision making summit, a forward looking summit which will be a universal summit so that it builds the infrastructure of the North Atlantic Alliance in the sense of its adaptation to the current security circumstances.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  President Duda and I we had full and wide ranging talks covering many different issues and of course, naturally, we also discussed the importance of adhering to the core values of NATO. And I think we all understand that the core values of NATO being democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law are important for all allies and are important for the alliance.

They were important when the alliance was established and they are still important for the alliance. And for me these values are important because they are key for the unity of the alliance and the unity is the most important strength of the alliance because the whole alliance is based on the idea of 28 for 28, based on some core values which we all share.

OANA LUNGESCU:  Thank you very much.