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Thursday, 11 October 2001

Special Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the participation of Heads of State and Government

On June 13, 2001 President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski took a part at the Special Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the participation of Heads of State and Government. NATO Heads of State and Government reviewed the progress made in implementing decisions taken at the Washington Summit in April 1999 and discussed the agenda for the Prague Summit that will take place in November 2002. Many other issues on the Alliance`s agenda were covered, in particular, developments in the Balkans and more specifically in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the enlargement process and ways of deepening relations with Russia. Intervention by President Aleksander Kwasniewski at the meeting: "Mr. Secretary General, Dear Colleagues, The Atlantic Alliance has passed the tests of recent history with flying colours. Poland is proud to have contributed to its mission in the last two years. Membership of NATO has changed Poland. It has made Europe more stable and secure. It has also increased my country`s responsibility for the future of the continent. It is from this perspective that I wish to share with you a few comments on the challenges NATO faces today. Two issues have recently topped the agenda of the transatlantic debate: ESDP and Missile Defence. Both projects have potential to shake the foundations of the Alliance. It is our role as leaders of NATO to ensure that instead, both become new pillars of transatlantic solidarity, unity, and cohesion. ESDP is a commendable effort, guided by vision, and implemented with courage, that Poland salutes. Without vision and courage, the idea of a united Europe would not have raised from the ashes of the 2nd World War. Without common security and defence policy, based on adequate capabilities, the European construction will not be complete; a united Europe will not be able fully to put its economic and political potentials in service of democracy, security, and stability. Missile Defence is also a visionary, courageous and logical idea. The Cold War walls have come down. They have set free the spirits of freedom and democracy, but also unleashed the demons of new threats to security. Among those threats are unconventional capabilities of the so-called "states of concern." It would be a mistake to ignore them or to let them grow unchecked. These demons do not know any borders. The Alliance must be prepared to deter them, and defend any NATO member from any threat of aggression, coming from any direction and by any means. Both ESDP and the MD are right steps, as long as their are made in the right direction. The direction has been set in the Washington Treaty: the Allies must "unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security." It is only through genuine dialogue, consultation, and participation that we can jointly steer clear of disunity, decoupling, and unilateralism. Only by maintaining our unity can we, together with other nations, conceive and build a new international structure of security and stability. Therefore, Poland continues to count on the EU`s inclusive approach to ESDP and welcomes the US commitment to consulting fully with the Allies on the Missile Defence. I agree with you Mr. Secretary General, that, while looking towards the future, we have to invest in our capabilities today. For Poland, NATO is and will remain the cornerstone of security of its members as well as a key actor in crisis management. The DCI has defined the necessary means for fulfilling both tasks. My country is only at the beginning of implementing them. However, the DCI has already helped us to overcome some of the systemic barriers on the way to the modern armed forces. It has helped us base the development of our defence capabilities on new, politically and financially stable, grounds. We will continue our efforts. Dear Colleagues, Recent history has placed the Alliance at the centre of efforts to erase the great material and mental divide between "the Europe" and "the other Europe." In the complex maze of the current international reality, it is easy to lose sight of this historic mission. However, future generations of Europeans will not admire our skills in identifying obstacles to enlargement. They will salute our determination in overcoming them. I wish to state it clearly today: Poland expects the Prague summit to extend new invitations. Geographical criteria must not influence our choice. Those who oppose enlargement are wrong. I agree that deepening of partnership between NATO and Russia is a prerequisite of stability on our continent. We must spare no words and deeds to engage Russia in a constructive dialogue and co-operation. We should try to persuade the Russians, but we cannot offer them any compensation for enlargement - a process that is morally, politically, and historically right. We are building a Europe whole and free for all nations, also for the Russians. It is for them to decide whether they want to build it with us. Ukraine has already made this decision. It would be a gross mistake not to support her choice. Dear Colleagues, I believe that when we meet in Prague next year, this great Alliance must be able to sing its gospel loud and clear. While building on our fundamental values and objectives, we should not be afraid of change. We must not be afraid of enlarging our ranks. For, as an American statesman put it 50 years ago, "the central idea of the Washington Treaty is not the static one. It is rather conceived in the spirit of growth, development and of progress."
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