Joint press point

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

  • 04 Jun. 2019 -
  • |
  • Last updated 06-Jun-2019 08:12

(As delivered)

Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson]: Good evening. The Secretary General and the President will make short introductory remarks and then we have time for one or two questions. Secretary General?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: President Duda, my friend Andrzej, it's a great pleasure to see you once again and to meet you here at the NATO Headquarters and we last met in Warsaw a few months ago; then we marked the 70th anniversary of NATO, but also the 20th anniversary since Poland joined the Alliance. And it's always a great pleasure to meet with you and I thank you for your strong personal commitment to our Alliance and our friendship, which we have developed over several years. Poland makes major contributions to our shared security, including forces as part of NATO’s forward presence in Latvia and Romania, regular contributions to NATO air policing; and trainers in our missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Poland leads by example on defence spending, investing 2% of GDP to defence and investing well over 20% of its defence spending in major new capabilities. And Poland hosts key NATO facilities, including our Multinational Corps Northeast and a site for our ballistic missile defence. So NATO is very present in Poland. In fact, NATO’s presence has grown in your country, with a multinational battlegroup as part of our Enhanced Forward Presence in the region and a rotational US armoured brigade. Earlier this spring, NATO agreed to invest $260million in a major project to store and maintain US military equipment pre-positioned in central Poland. This is NATO’s biggest investment in military infrastructure in more than 30 years and it takes place in Poland. It shows also the commitment of NATO to Poland. NATO has also stepped up its presence in the Baltic Sea and we conduct regular training and exercises in Poland. As we speak, Exercise Noble Jump is testing the deployment of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.

All of this shows that Poland is strongly committed to NATO and that NATO is strongly committed to Poland’s security. This is important as we continue to adapt to the most unpredictable security environment in a generation. This includes Russia’s ongoing violation of the INF Treaty. I urge Russia to show the political will to save the Treaty by returning to compliance. So, President Duda and I, we just discussed our preparations for the Summit of the NATO leaders in London this December. It will be an opportunity to reflect on how much we have achieved and the work which lies ahead. We are determined to ensure our Alliance remains the ultimate insurance policy for almost one billion people. We also discussed NATO’s relations with Ukraine; the NATO-Ukraine Commission just met with President Zelenskyy. The President’s visit to NATO Headquarters on his first trip abroad shows Ukraine’s continuous commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration. And I thank you for the support Poland is providing to Ukraine, including by providing experts to NATO’s representation in Ukraine and contributions to the NATO-Ukraine trust funds. So, President Duda, thank you once again for your leadership and for Poland's deeply valued contributions to NATO. So, once again, welcome. It's great to see you again.

Andrzej Duda [President of Poland] [Translated]: Thank you very much, Mr Secretary General. Ladies and Gentlemen, first and foremost I would like to thank Mr Secretary General for inviting me here to NATO Headquarters in Europe. I would like to thank Mr Secretary General for the meeting that we had just a few minutes ago. And I came here to share with Mr Secretary General information connected with our talks that we are holding with the United States, with Mr Donald Trump Administration, in connection with the plans to increase US military presence in our country and in our part of Europe. These conversations between Poland and the United States, which I have informed Mr Secretary General on several occasions, have been ongoing for some time now. We are willing to make sure that this hopefully increased US military presence is part of the creation of security in our region.

But, first and foremost, that it makes part of the NATO activities conducted and implemented under the auspices of the North Atlantic Alliance, of which we are all members. This presence is important to me and I informed Mr Secretary General about that just a moment ago because I have got this feeling that I can only see, in a very clear way, that the military activity which is happening in Poland, through the trainings and exercises going on there, through the presence, be it the US rotational presence or through the component which is deployed there as part of Enhanced Forward Presence, the Allied component which is deployed to our country, throughout that the feeling of security is growing also on the part of our Baltic Allies. Please believe me, you can see it very clearly that it is important to them that this is not only the presence of battalion battlegroups in their territories, but also in Poland, in a big country which is their neighbour, and they feel that there is this background there with more and more serious troops being deployed there, especially US troops. I'm not only talking about the numbers of soldiers, but also about the infrastructure and everything which is indispensable to make sure that, in case, we are able to repel aggression in an efficient way.

This is of huge importance and this is going to be one of the topics I will tackle during my conversation with President Donald Trump. I do hope that, in a sense, our top level discussions will be a complement to the talks, which have been going on at the level of the cabinet, at the level of minsters, so far. And I hope that we will be able to reach initial agreements by us and the United States. And let me reiterate once again, what is very important to me is that this is part of the NATO presence in our territory. In other words, that we can also discuss that during the December NATO Summit, as an element of meeting all the obligations which we took upon ourselves as Allies, in Wales, the obligations which we later discussed in 2016 during Warsaw NATO Summit and during that next consecutive NATO Summits which were held here in Brussels. Mr Secretary General shared with me also his remarks and observations concerning the ongoing NATO related matters and security related matters, not only in our part of Europe, but also in other places around the globe.

We are going to discuss also that. I will try to raise these topics also during my talks with President Donald Trump. We also tackled Ukraine; we spoke about the security, Ukraine is very important indeed, Ukraine is still aspiring to NATO. I will meet today President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and I will talk to him as well. This is going to be our first direct conversation. Before, we had an opportunity to briefly talk on the phone, when I congratulated Mr President on his election. And I would like to assure the President of Ukraine that Poland is a loyal Ally of Ukraine and that we are not only supporting Ukraine in all the possible international forums, that we are also ready to support Ukraine still and we hope that it will finally regain the territories which it lost, because these territories today are occupied by Russia. So, we would like international law to be respected again and we want borders not to be shifted by force. And we are going to go to lengths to make sure that we reinstate the state of normality/normalcy which was there before the Russian aggression.

Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson]: Time pressures, I'm afraid we only have time for one question, the Polish news agency, please, PAP.

Question [PAP]: Christopher Sheshenko, Polish Press Agency. Secretary General, a question for you. The President informed you about his trip to US and the plans increasing US presence in Poland. What's the stance of NATO on that? Are there any controversial regarding to that?

Question [PAP] [Translated]: You said about completing the talks which have been going on at the level of cabinets. What can we expect from the visit to the United States concretely? Are you going to sign any kind of agreement/political declaration? Thank you very much.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: I welcome the strong commitment of the United States to European security and we see that also now expressed by the fact that the United States is increasing their military presence in Europe. We have seen that over the last years, for instance with the new armoured brigade, which is also rotating through Poland, which is also present in Poland, and of course also we see increased US presence in Poland also through the US led NATO battlegroup, which is already present in Poland, and we have a NATO ballistic missile defence site which we now are in the process of establishing in Poland. We have some command and control. We have more exercises and more NATO and US presence in Europe and in Poland in different ways. We have seen that over the last years.

And then I mentioned also the fact that actually NATO will now invest US$260million in a major project to support US forces in Powidz, central Poland, which is a big and significant investment of NATO, to enable more US prepositioned equipment in Poland. So, it just shows that US presence and NATO presence in Poland is very much interlinked. We welcome the fact that Poland has briefed NATO Allies and President Duda has briefed me several times on the bilateral consultations, the bilateral dialogue between Poland and United States on further increase in US presence. That is a bilateral arrangement, but of course it will be part of the broader presence of NATO Allies in Europe, and especially then the broader presence of US in Europe, and this is part of the strengthened US presence in Europe.

Andrzej Duda [President of Poland] [Translated]: Well, my answer to your question is the following: my contact with President Donald Trump, as for standards of contacts with the President of the United States, are very intensive indeed. We have met very frequently indeed. We have had many conversations before. Every time, we talk about security of both Poland and our part of Europe. Let me stress also the Baltic States in this context, because every time this is mentioned in our conversation, but we are also talking about the security to the south and to the east, in terms of Ukraine. But we are also looking to the south. I am thinking about Bulgaria and Romania.

 In Romania, we have got also Polish soldiers deployed as part of tailored Forward Presence. And they are fulfilling their mission as part of NATO. So, we are tackling all those topics. Talking about supplementing the current talks, I'm thinking that the real US presence that we have had in Poland for two years now, this presence has been a stage and I have treated this as a kind of US reconnaissance. They wanted to see how Poland looks, how you can function in Poland, what possibilities we are offering for having the military presence, what conditions there are, and I think that this reconnaissance has been positive. And we can say that this first stage, I would like this first stage to be closed during our meeting and I would like us to open another stage.

Whenever I'm talking about closing something, then I mean that we are closing one stage and we are opening another stage, in terms of our military cooperation. And that means that this presence is a presence which is well founded, well rooted. This is positive because it demonstrates to our allies that the United States looks at us in a serious way and it looks seriously at the security in our part of Europe, just like the entire NATO. And this is the most important element. And of course, apart from that, we are also going to discuss energy cooperation in different fields, so that economic topics will also be a very serious element of our meeting.

Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson]: Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: Thank you.