Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda - Secretary General's remarks and Q&A

  • 07 Jul. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 07 Jul. 2016 23:44

(As delivered)

President Duda,

Thank you so very much for this warm welcome.  And it is really an honour and a great pleasure to be in Warsaw at the eve of the very important Summit which is going to take place here tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

The first country I visited after I became Secretary General of NATO was Poland and Warsaw.  Just a few days after I started as Secretary General.  And I’ve been back several times.  But this is my most important visit so far because it is at the eve of a very important Summit for all of us. 

And this is a defining moment for our security.

The world is a more dangerous place than just a few years ago.

And NATO is responding with speed and with determination.

We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force.  We have established new headquarters in the east and further developed key capabilities like Ballistic Missile Defence against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

Tomorrow and on Saturday we will take new major steps to further modernise our collective defence and deterrence and to project stability beyond our borders.

This will include more military presence here in Poland, as well as in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Our presence will be multinational and a clear message that an attack on one Ally is an attack on the whole Alliance.

We will also step up our response to threats from the south. Boost our support for partners. Increase our resilience against hybrid and cyber threats. And take our cooperation with the European Union to an ambitious new level.

So this will be a landmark summit in Warsaw and an important Summit in the history of our Alliance.

And it is fitting that we meet in Warsaw.

A city that knows the pain of conflict and the fundamental value of security.

And a city that embodies the spirit of a proud nation and forward-looking nation. 

Poland has overcome a difficult past as it looks to the future.

And since joining NATO seventeen years ago, Poland has become a driving force within our Alliance.

You make important contributions to our operations and exercises. You host key NATO facilities like our Multinational Corps Northeast. You host one of our new headquarters and a site for our Ballistic Missile Defence system.

And you are among the top-performing Allies on defence spending.

So President Duda, Poland is an Ally that leads by example.  I commend you for your dedication to our Alliance.

And I thank you, the people of Poland, and the city of Warsaw for hosting us and the Summit.

Over the coming days, the Warsaw Summit will demonstrate the unity and strength of our Alliance.  And the strength that has characterised the Alliance for almost seventy years.

And the decisions we’ll take will make us stronger and more prepared than ever for the challenges we face.

So once again, thank you so much for hosting me and thank you so much for hosting a landmark Summit.

MODERATOR [Interpreted]: Thank you very much. Mr. President and Secretary General will respond to four questions from the press. Tomas Mika, Polish Radio.

Q: [Interpreted]. A question to both politicians. We know that after the summit, right after the summit there will be a NATO Russia Council at the level of ambassadors. The question is when will this, when will the meeting at a higher level take place and what would have to happen to make sure that such a NATO Russia meeting at a higher political level does take place? Thank you.

ANDRZEJ DUDA (President of Poland): [Interpreted]. Ladies and gentlemen the, one simple thing has to happen on the way, it, things which are most important for peace have to be reinstated. Respect for international law in other words. Russia is our great neighbour and the moment it starts to respect international law will we be able to talk about a partner adopted for a serious dialogue who fulfils that basic, the most crucial and fundamental condition which is a state with whom one can discuss in a serious way. So this is number one. Number two, another element is what NATO should do in order to be a true partner of Russia.

So it has to demonstrate what I have just referred to, that it is living, that it responds to the evolving security situation, that if a need arises it is capable of providing an adequate response and that in connection with that, it conducts such a policy which demonstrates its effectiveness, efficiency and strength and adequate measures and by doing all of that it is able to maintain the peace.

These are the two most important elements and the first link which has to be there is the implementation of Minsk Agreements. Today it is of absolutely fundamental nature. Let us see what has happened, there was an aggression against Ukraine perpetrated by Russia because I think nobody has got any doubt that so called little green men or separatists, are people who are connected with Russia, they’re inspired there. We have seen the occupation and annexation of Crimea. So I think it is quite obvious what international community especially what North Atlantic Alliance expects from Russia today, to conduct a constructive and serious dialogue.

JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): After the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia and we embarked on the largest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. But we did not suspend political dialogue with Russia, actually we decided to keep the channels for political dialogue open and we decided to maintain the NATO Russia Council as a tool, as a platform for political dialogue with Russia. Because we strongly believe that there is no contradiction between strong defence and deterrence and political dialogue. Actually we believe that if and as long as we have strong defence and deterrence then we also have a platform for engaging politically with Russia. So we have met with Russia at ambassadorial level, we did that in April, we will do that next week, before that we also met at ministerial level and we also met at the level of heads of states some years ago. I think we have to take this step by step. I think now we have to focus on our next meeting at ambassadorial level next week and then we have to take it step by step assessing whether we also should aim for a meeting at higher level, at ministerial level. But I think it’s too early to speculate on when that can take place. My message is that we never suspended the political dialogue with Russia, allies also meet on the political level with different political representatives of Russia and we will continue to also then use the NATO Russia Council as an important platform for political dialogue with Russia.

Q: [Interpreted]. Thank you very much. Victor Sharab (sp?) Reuters. You said, both of you gentlemen, that the eastern flank of NATO will be strengthened. I would like to ask you about a concrete flash point on the eastern flank, the so called Suwalki Gap. If we look at the new NATO forces in the east will they be able to secure the Suwalki Gap if there is an aggression? And how close to the Suwalki Gap the American battle group will be which is supposed to be stationed in Poland? Thank you very much.

ANDRZEJ DUDA: [Interpreted]. Ladies and gentlemen you asked a very detailed question so let me answer in the following way. The whole point is that NATO should function in such a way and NATO should build its security architecture in such a way, architecture of cooperation and its efficiency, to make sure that there are no such places which we can refer to as weak links.

Only then will we be able to say that NATO indeed is effective, that it is functional. I’m not talking only in the context of Poland, I’m talking about the whole world so that we do not have such weak links anywhere in the territory of the alliance. I am sure that thanks to the decisions which we will take tomorrow and thanks to the following decisions which will implement those decisions which we take over the next two days in Warsaw, such a state, will create such an adequate state of security.

JENS STOLTENBERG: The decision to enhance NATO’s forward presence with four robust multi-national battalions, one in Poland and one in each of the Baltic countries, sends a very clear signal that NATO is ready to protect and defend every part of our territory. And that of course also goes for every part of Poland. And I think it is important to remember that the battalions which we will deploy to the eastern part of the alliance, they are an important message because they are multi-national, sending the clear message that an attack on one ally will be met by the response of the whole alliance.

I think also it is important to remember that the battalions, the enhanced forward presence, is only one element in a comprehensive response from NATO. We have already done a lot when it comes to increased readiness and responsiveness of our forces, we have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force and we have established a new Spearhead Force which can be deployed in a matter of days. We will also have more pre-positioned equipment, supplies and we also do more training and we have increased, and increased the speed of our decision making if needed.

So all of this enables both to have more forces in this part of the alliance, in Poland and the Baltic countries, but it also enables us to reinforce forces quickly if needed. And that’s, and that sends a very clear signal that we defend the whole alliance. Exactly where the new battalions are going to be located is not yet decided, that’s an issue which is now worked on by our military commanders, SACEUR, Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the host nation Poland. So that will be decided later in a dialogue between NATO, NATO’s military commanders and the host nations.

Q: [Interpreted]. Thank you very much Petro Fiskovski (sp?) from Polsat. The question for Jens Stoltenberg. In the hall leading to the main meeting lounge of NATO there is an exhibition which is dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Smolensk Crash. Was it consulted with NATO, didn’t NATO have any objections or reservations to present such pictures which depict coffins of the victims? Didn’t NATO have any objections to showing those pictures so that all the delegates entering this room can see that exhibition?

JENS STOLTENBERG: This is a Polish exhibition and I very much understand that this is important for Poland and we were informed about this exhibition. And I understand that this is important for Poland because this is a national tragedy and we all understand the importance of this national tragedy for Poland.

Q: [Interpreted]. Thank you very much. I am [inaudible] Pieko (sp?) from Gazeta Polska. My question is about the Brexit referendum. Will this referendum have an influence of, on the UK’s participation in the summit? Will it have an impact on the solidarity which you mentioned at the beginning of the conference?

JENS STOLTENBERG: The UK vote will of course change UK’s relationship with the European Union but it will not change UK’s position within NATO.

UK will continue as a strong and committed NATO ally and the Government of the UK, David Cameron, has very clearly stated that and that is important because the United Kingdom is a key ally providing close to one quarter of the defence spending among European NATO allies and an ally which is key when it comes to many different NATO operations and missions and they are a lead nation for our new High Readiness Response Force and they will also be a lead nation for one of the battalions in one of the Baltic countries.

And the UK has strongly reaffirmed and confirmed that they will stand by all their NATO commitments and of course it will not affect their participation in the summit; they will be here as planned and they will continue in, as a full member of NATO. It in no way changed their position in NATO.

ANDRZEJ DUDA: [Interpreted]. Ladies and gentlemen not all NATO member states are members of the European Union, especially the strongest ally is not a member of the European Union. Not all members of the European Union are members of NATO. Therefore one can say in a very clear and frank way because I think it is nothing new that these are two different organizations and membership or lack of membership in a different organization does not change anything in the other organization.

Therefore the UK no matter what it’s further fate is within the European Union, and this decision will be taken by the British Parliament and the British Government first of all, so no matter what decisions will be taken the UK remains to be a member of NATO, one of the strongest armed forces within NATO and I have no doubt whatsoever that the cooperation with the UK, its potential and it’s activity within NATO will stay at least at the same level.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Mr. President, thank you Mr. Secretary General. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.