Joint press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Polish President Andrzej Duda

  • 30 May. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 31 May. 2016 11:09

(As delivered)

Thank you so much, President Duda.

It’s great to be back here in Warsaw and great to meet with you again.

And as you’ve just said in a few weeks Poland will host the NATO Summit and then we will gather here again for a landmark Summit of the Alliance and I’m looking forward to that Summit, because we meet at a crucial time.

When we face the most serious security challenges in a generation.

From the east and from the south.

NATO is responding, and Poland is playing a big role in our response.

You make an outstanding contribution in many ways.

Hosting our Multinational Corps Northeast and one of our new small headquarters.

Contributing to collective defence with exercises on land, at sea and in the air.

Helping protect the airspace of your Baltic neighbours with a Polish plane conducting Air Policing.

And breaking ground on a new site for NATO's missile defence system, to protect against missile attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

Poland is also a major contributor to our different operations.

With hundreds of Polish military serving in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, to project stability beyond our borders.

Poland is also leading by example on defence spending.

You devote 2% of your GDP to defence. And you are making significant investments in new capabilities. And I welcome that very much.

All of this shows Poland’s leadership and commitment to NATO. 

Today, we discussed the preparations for the Warsaw Summit.

This will be a landmark Summit.

We will strengthen our deterrence and our defence. And we will step up our efforts to project stability beyond our borders.

We have agreed to enhance our forward presence in the eastern part of our Alliance. This will be a multinational presence. It will be a rotational presence.

We have clear proposals on the table from our military planners.

We are discussing the exact numbers and locations on this enhanced forward presence of NATO troops.

And we will make decisions by the Warsaw Summit.

So let me be clear: there will be more NATO troops in Poland after the Warsaw Summit.

To send a clear signal that an attack on Poland will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance.

We will also expand our efforts to project stability beyond our borders.

By supporting partners like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in the east.

And Iraq, Jordan and Tunisia in the south. 

We are helping them build stronger defence institutions and train capable forces to secure their own countries.

The Summit will cement our cooperation with key partners. Above all the European Union.

We are complementary.

And closer cooperation is essential in responding to the challenges we see related to hybrid, cyber and maritime security.

Because together we are stronger in upholding our values and protecting our citizens.

So we have done a lot.

We still have a lot to do.

But we are as committed as ever to keeping our people safe.

So once again, President Duda, thank you for hosting me and thank you for hosting my delegation.

With your support, we will make the Warsaw Summit a clear demonstration of our Alliance’s unity, solidarity and strength. 

Thank you

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have time for four short questions.  Polish Radio …

Q: Good evening.  The first part of the question goes to Mr. Secretary General.  From the information that you have so far and the information from the media, we understand that as far of the contribution on the eastern flank is concerned, it was declared by the United States, by Germany, also Great Britain has made such a declaration and during your last meeting of the ministers of defence, you mentioned that you are considering a battalion, you are considering a battalion sized component.  From the calculations, it means that we could have about 4.5 thousand soldiers deployed along the entire eastern flank.  Is it all that the countries of central and eastern Europe can count on or can we expect more soldiers?  And a question to President Duda. Given the fact that we would have 4.5 thousand soldiers along the entire eastern flank of NATO, would that be satisfactory for Poland? Thank you. 

JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO SECRETARY GENERAL): ... to increase our forward presence in the eastern part of the alliance and we have decided that this enhanced forward presence is going to be a multinational presence and it’s going to be a rotational presence.  We have not made the final decisions on the exact numbers and exact locations because these decisions will be made by heads of state and government at our summit here in Warsaw in a few weeks but we are now working on the concrete proposals we have received from our strategic commanders, from our military planners and they have proposed several battalions in different countries, the Baltic countries and in Poland, and again we will make final decisions.  But I can say that there will be more NATO presence in Poland and exact numbers is something we will have to announce when we have made the final decision.  But let me add to this that forward presence or enhanced forward presence is only one element in our deterrence and defence because you have to add to that that we are also investing more in forward presence related to equipment, pre-positioning, supplies, infrastructure.  The United States has announced that they will quadruple the funding for what they call the European Reassurance Initiative, $3.4 billion U.S and that will be additional funds for exercises, for troops, for equipment and they also announced that they will have an additional new armoured brigade in Europe.  Add to that, that our presence and our deterrence is based on the combination of forward presence of troops combined with enhanced ability to re-enforce if needed.  So therefore, we have tripled the size of the NATO response force, now counting 40,000 troops and this reinforcement, if needed, is also an important part of our response.  So it is about forward presence of a battalion sized forces battle groups but it’s also about much more, equipment, pre-positioning, infrastructure and also then the ability to reinforce if needed.  

ANDRZEJ DUDA (POLISH PRESIDENT) (THROUGH INTEPRETER): Well, I think that Mr. Secretary General actually has exhausted the topic answering this question.  Ladies and gentlemen, as Mr. Secretary General observed in the beginning, please remember there’s just one element which is of crucial importance namely that we will have multi-national forces, we will have the forces of NATO and because of that, we’ll have the forces of several member states. However, if we look at the entire component, the broad allied component, then as a matter of fact, it’s going to be much bigger because add to this additionally all the investments and all the announcements that have been made such as the one that we have started, the Redzikowo base, the construction of that base, which will, of course, also have its military protection.  If we add to that, the announcements made by the United States concerning the armoured brigade which will be deployed in our part of Europe and part of that brigade will also be deployed in Poland. If we add up all that, we have got thousands of soldiers.  So to me, it is important that as I have just said, it is not only Poland that is in NATO but also NATO now in the strongest allied sense and from the point of view of the equipment and from the point of view of the personnel, from the point of view of soldiers, it is going to be deployed in our country. Additionally, we’ll host exercises here. So if we sum up all of that, then we will have really a lot of allied soldiers present in Poland. Thank you very much. 

Q: I want to ask both the president and Secretary General about the last words of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, and his reaction to missile defence in Poland and Romania. He said that both these countries will feel what it means to be at the sides of Russia.  How do you receive those words on the threshold of strengthening the eastern flank of NATO?

JENS STOLTENBERG: I think it is important to understand what missile defence is all about. It is a long term investment against a long term threat because we have seen over many years that the number of countries which are developing their ballistic missile capabilities have increased and we see the proliferation of ballistic missiles to several countries.  So therefore, NATO decided at our summit in 2010 to develop missile defence.  It’s not directed against Russia. It is directed against threats coming from outside the Euro-Atlantic area and the numbers are too few, the locations are either too far south or too close to the Russian border to be able to shoot down Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles. So this is just not directed against them at all and you also have to remember that this is missile defence.  It is a defensive system.  Defence is defensive and actually, the interceptors we have, they don’t have warheads.  They are not armed.  It’s interceptors which are only capable of intercepting incoming ballistic missiles from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.  So this is in no way directed against Russia.  This is about defence against the threat coming from outside the Euro-Atlantic area from nations which are developing their missile capabilities.  So any action from Russia will be absolutely without any reason.  It will be unjustified because they know that this is not directed against them. 

ANDRZEJ DUDA (THROUGH INTEPRETER):  Ladies and gentlemen, let me say the following.  Looking from the political perspective, this announcement, or statement of President Putin is a ritual character, I would say. This is his comment but facts are as follows.  First and foremost, this investment is nothing new and it comes as no surprise because it was announced many years ago that first and foremost, what is most important and what has just been said in a very clear way by Mr. Secretary General, this is an investment in a defensive system.  This system is not directed against anybody.  It is supposed to protect against a possible missile attack.  This is the task that it fulfils and because of that, it does not have anything in it of an aggressive character, of an offensive character.  It is not hostile in nature. Simply said, it is a system which is supposed to guarantee security, just security.  This is, once again, let me repeat it, a defensive system and that is why I believe that President Putin is perfectly aware of this fact and that is why I understand this statement as a ritual comment on the current situation and let me stress again, this comes as no surprise whatsoever.  It is something that has been discussed for many years now and now, in accordance with a timeline, with a time scheduled it is being implemented and it was implemented in Romania some time ago, the first part of this system.  Thank you very much. 

Q: Yes, hello.  A question maybe for both but maybe directed to the Secretary General. President Duda can jump in if he wants to.  On the subject of Afghanistan, Poland about two weeks ago confirmed that they were going to send 200 advisors to the country. With the further pullout of American troops from Afghanistan, I wanted to know how much of let’s say a backbench would Afghanistan take in the upcoming NATO summit? Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG: Afghanistan will be an important issue on our agenda at the summit here in Warsaw in a few weeks and the reason is that Afghanistan is our biggest military operation ever. It’s important to continue to support the Afghans and we have decided that we will sustain our military presence in Afghanistan.  What we are discussing is the composition and the exact way to do it but we have decided that we will have what we call a regional, a flexible regional approach, meaning that we will continue to be in Afghanistan and not only in Kabul.  I think it’s important to remember that what we do in Afghanistan is that we project stability without deploying a large number of combat troops.  We have ended our combat mission in Afghanistan, so what we do there is training, assistance and advice.  We use our forces to enable them to do the combat and I think in the long run, this is very important because in the long run, we have to enable countries in the region, our partners in the south, to be able to defend and protect themselves. Therefore, we will continue to support them with training, assistance and advice.  We will also continue to support them with financial support because the Afghan national army and security forces are dependent on our training but also on our funding.  And the last thing I will say is that I very much welcome that Poland has decided to maintain and continue to provide forces for our Resolute Mission in Afghanistan.  That is something we really appreciate.

ANDRZEJ DUDA (THROUGH INTEPRETER): Ladies and gentlemen, I can only give you one response to this question.  As I said in my opening statement, Poland is a loyal member of the North Atlantic Alliance showing solidarity within that loyalty and solidarity framework, there is something obvious to me that is participation in those missions and operations which the alliance is embarking on to make sure that there is peace in the world. The mission which is being implemented in Afghanistan right now is a mission of this character, of this nature, this mission is supposed to stabilize the country.  It is a mission which is aimed at making sure that Afghanistan having survived all the dramatic years when it was ravaged by wars to make sure that it comes back to normal, to stabilize its situation, because the North Atlantic Alliance is acting towards that aim in a responsible way.  Poland being one of the members and wanting to show its solidarity within the alliance, wanting to show its loyalty is acting, is taking action.

Q: Mr. President, one question for you.  In the preparation in the next weeks before the NATO summit, Poland will host a large military exercise, the Operation Anaconda with 10,000 soldiers.  Could you say because clearly this operation is also connected to the summit, also some NATO troops will take part, what sort of message should be sent out from this maneuver and maybe also what sort of scenario will be the aim of the maneuver?  And Mr. Secretary General, are there any concerns that such a large military exercise, especially here in Poland, will raise more critique, more provocation in Russia in the next couple of weeks before the summit? Thank you.

ANDRZEJ DUDA (THROUGH INTEPRETER): Ladies and gentlemen, let me stress something which I believe is obvious, namely the Anaconda exercise at which we are happy to host the allied armed forces.  These are exercises of a defensive nature and of course, this indeed is a huge exercise because it is participated by thousands of forces and a huge amount of equipment which is coming here together with the allies.  However, it’s aim is to improve something that is most important, something that we are all striving at, to make sure that we live in a safe world and that in case of any aggressive act towards our partners or towards us, that we are able to collectively stand up together and to effectively defend our independence, our freedom and peace and this is the aim of this very exercise and I’m very pleased that both our soldiers and the allies forces meet, they come together, they train together, they perfect and improve their procedures because it is all aimed at boosting our security in the defensive sense.  Thank you very much.

JENS STOLTENBERG: … [inaudible] has its right to exercise its forces and the important thing is that when we exercise, we do that in a transparent and predictable way and that’s also the reason why NATO allies and NATO are so focused on transparency and predictability and that’s also the reason why we announce our exercises well in advance and also publish the plan for our upcoming exercises online so they are very available to everyone who wants to be updated on our different exercises.  Everything we do is defensive and it is proportionate and it’s absolutely in line with our international commitments.  The exercise Anaconda is a Polish led exercise where the readiness of the forces are tested, and the Polish armed forces are exercising together with troops from different NATO allied countries.  But again, this is something which is part of our exercise programme. It’s announced, it’s transparent so there is no reason that this should create any concern.