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Monday, 28 May 2018

Address by the President of the Republic of Poland at the Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

  |   The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw President Andrzej Duda addresses the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Andrzej Duda addresses the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Andrzej Duda addresses the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw President Andrzej Duda addresses the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw The Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw

Distinguished President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,                                                      

Distinguished Secretary General of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,
Honourable Marshals,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Honourable Ministers,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Once again, on behalf of Poland and the Polish people, let me reiterate a very warm welcome to you at the session in Warsaw. You are gathered in a city, and a capital of a country, which could stand as a symbol of dramatic historical processes which finally laid the foundations for the creation of the North Atlantic Alliance; but could also symbolize the victory of the values that we all jointly advocate.


It is here, in Poland, that World War 2 began following the aggression of Nazi Germany on our country. Then, in the course of the war, in the wake of its heroic struggle in the Warsaw Uprising, Warsaw was almost completely destroyed, and yet it was rebuilt, and it could wake up to a new life. I wish to underscore the fact that you have arrived in Poland is a special moment of time: in a year of a grand jubilee of the centenary of our country’s regaining independence. The history of Poland and of the Polish people, being the history of the nation enduringly attached to freedom, the nation struggling against the vicissitudes of fate and winning historical victories, is a source of profound inspiration, also in a universal sense. See also: President after meeting with NATO chief: No discrepancies between us

It is also symbolic that here in Warsaw, in Poland, the country which was incorporated against its will to the Eastern bloc, the Warsaw Pact was signed: one of the fundamental elements of the Cold War and of subsequent divisions in the 20th century world. Equally, it was from here, from Poland, that an impulse sparked for the victory of freedom and democracy, following the bloodless Solidarity revolution, an impulse to dismantle the Cold War system, to pull down the Berlin Wall, to unite Europe. The emblem of Warsaw features a mermaid armed with a sword and a shield. This represents constant readiness to defend the city, also to defend our vision of the world, founded on human fundamental values. Such readiness, declared and maintained jointly in our fold, is NATO’s principal domain. It was strongly accentuated at the 2016 NATO Summit, the event we had the honour of hosting here in Warsaw. The Summit adopted and developed important, landmark decisions which are decisive for the shape of our common security.

I am happy to be able to address today in Warsaw the Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In the first place, I wish to express my cordial thanks to the President, Mr Paolo Alli, for the great contribution he makes in the functioning of the Assembly. I wish to thank the parliamentarians from all Allied nations.

The Parliamentary Assembly represents an essential element of democratic control of Allied activities. Being representatives of free societies, which make up the Euroatlantic community, not only do you contribute to the enhancement of credibility and strengthening of the North Atlantic Alliance but also to better appreciation of NATO’s importance for Europe’s and North America’s security by the public opinion in your respective countries.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly also plays a pivotal role in the deepening of cooperation we have with our partners. This cooperation is of key importance for the expansion of the area of stability and peace in the European neighbourhood, and also globally. It gives me satisfaction to welcome in our fold representatives of associate countries and delegations of observer nations. It is my profound conviction that we can contribute together to the improved security situation in the regions where it is challenged today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ties between North America and Europe are key in ensuring security of the Euro-Atlantic area. They underpin NATO operations, and are the basis for its strength and effectiveness. Today, perhaps even more than ever before, we should strive to improve the political climate of Transatlantic relations. This is also a task for our parliaments, especially given that one of the crucial components of the Alliance’s cohesion is growing defence spending in European countries. It is needed in order to ensure the fairer distribution of security costs borne by the United States and Europe. As a representative of the country which sets great store by the strengthening of Transatlantic relations, I trust that you will remember about this challenge as you participate in defence budgets debates in your respective parliaments. This is indeed the most pressing need, given the challenges and threats ahead of Europe.

On the other hand, I would also like to express my conviction that a stable, secure Europe is the best ever American investment world-wide. The development of the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union and intensifying cooperation between the EU and the Alliance is in our common interest. Enhancing European countries’ capabilities will also translate directly into improved operability of the whole Alliance, and also of the United States of America.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must remember about the importance of our Transatlantic unity, particularly nowadays when the system of security that we have jointly created is tested and is undermined by the entities threatening peace and stability. Russia is the most serious one as it questions the elements of international order which were built in the transformation process at the turn of the 20th and the 21st century. The world on international law and mutual respect of interests of equal states proved to be inacceptable for her. Respect of international law is one of Poland’s priorities as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Moreover, this was the main topic of my address in New York during the debate initiated by Poland in the Security Council.


It is most regrettable that Moscow has probably never come to terms with the downfall of the imperial Soviet Union, treating the period of the 1990’s, imbued with the hope for lasting peace in Europe, as a strategic break in the East-West confrontation. The invasion of Georgia back in 2008, and the lawless annexation of the Crimea, as well as military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, shed light on Russia’s genuine intentions. Recent months and years have illustrated that the Kremlin does not hesitate to try to assassinate people on the territories of NATO countries, using chemical weapons, or to interfere in democratic processes. Last year’s edition of Russian-Byelorussian exercise “Zapad 17” was carried out with deliberate omission of security building measures, which is in a flagrant contrast to the Allied practices in terms of transparency of military exercises.


It is beyond any doubt that the phenomena and processes which I have described a moment ago are of most alarming nature, especially for us in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. The second no less serious source of threat is instability along the Alliance’s Southern flank where terrorist organizations found refuge, financial support and human resources, which creates an unprecedented threat to our citizens.


Destabilization of the whole region of Middle East and North Africa also attracts the attention and provokes engagement of certain powers who in the chaos unfolding there see an opportunity for themselves to reinforce their influence. This equally applies to regional powers, such is Iran, and also to the before mentioned Russia. Their operations there only serve to deepen the problems existing in the region and inflict further suffering on the local people. They also have a negative impact on the situation in Europe, this, among others, through the growing numbers of illegal migrants.


The Allied response to those challenges is the Comprehensive Strategic Adaptation which was ushered in at the 2014 Wales Summit and was continued here in Warsaw in 2016. Decisions taken back then met equally the expectations of the Eastern Allies, confronted with the aggressive Russia, and of the Southern Allies, struggling against hotbeds of tension in the Middle East and North Africa. From the Polish perspective, a real break-through was especially the decision about stepping up security levels along the Alliance’s Eastern flank, this through institution of forward presence of the Allied forces, strengthening NATO response forces, development of Allied military planning, and intensification of Allied military exercise.


That being said I also want to emphasize that Poland has been offering and continues to offer a substantial political, financial and military contribution to the implementation of all crucial decisions taken by the Alliance in recent years, not only the ones that apply to the Eastern flank directly.


Our soldiers participate in NATO forward presence in Latvia and in Romania, but also continue with their active engagement in the Allied missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and provide training to the Iraqi armed forces. Our Air Force participates on a regular basis in the Air Policing missions in the Baltic States, but they also take part in a reconnaissance mission within the global coalition against the so-called Islamic State, engaging in air operations from the territory of Kuwait. The Polish Navy is part of NATO operations in the Baltic Sea, but it is also regularly engaging in the Allied operation in the Mediterranean.


In line with the guidelines that we have jointly adopted in NATO, Poland also increases its defence spending. As President of the Republic of Poland, previous year I signed the bill securing gradual increase of defence spending from the present level of 2% of GDP to 2.5% by the year 2030.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


The upcoming NATO summit in Brussels will come as a yet another step on the way to reinforce the Alliance. Decisions taken at the Summit should have five main thrusts: strengthening deterrence and defence, adaptation in the South, relations with Russia, NATO-EU cooperation, and Allied partnership policy.


Therefore, in the first place comes consolidation and further strengthening of Allied deterrence and defence. To this end, reform will be carried out of NATO Command structures, increasing of preparedness of Allied forces, and development of credible reinforcement strategy. NATO must be capable to take an immediate military reaction, also a mass scale reaction.


In the second place, further adaptation of the Alliance to face the threats coming from the South. Increased Allied awareness in the Mediterranean is important not only because the routes of illegal trafficking of immigrants must be duly monitored, but also due to the fact that criminal groups and terrorist groups need to be surveyed. What comes as a challenge is also stepped-up Russian activities undertaken in that basin. Also, for that reason, the Alliance should develop its cooperation with partners from the South and support them in building their defence capabilities. This goal will be also served by the much-awaited decision about the change of a presence of NATO activity in Iraq into an Allied training mission.


In the third place: NATO - Russia relations. I do believe that a two-tiered Allied policy, as it was determined during the Warsaw Summit, it is the strengthening of deterrence and defence on the one hand, and maintaining conditioned dialogue on the other hand, should be upheld. It must be emphasized, however, that the experiences of the two last years do not provide us with any reasons to return to broader cooperation between NATO and Russia, but they also illustrated that Moscow is not interested in a fair and constructive dialogue. While maintaining the dialogue offer, the Alliance must nevertheless draw rational conclusions from the situation.


In the fourth place: I am happy that following the signing in Warsaw of the Joint Declaration, the cooperation between NATO and the European Union has gathered such a great momentum. One of the most important axes in this cooperation is, in my view, that of military mobility. Joint actions in this area stand a very good chance of becoming a model example of success achieved by the two organizations in their mutual cooperation. The European defence can and should be an important support to NATO operations. This also applies to the newly conceived instruments of the European Union, such as PESCO: the Permanent Structural Cooperation of the European Defence Fund, that provided that we are going to tap the two in line with the Allied needs.


And finally, in the fifth place, Brussels summit should be also a signal of readiness to further develop relations with the partners. The Allied open-door policy and partnership policy are the crucial elements in NATO external relations, targeting the countries interested in expanding the area of security and stability existing around the Alliance. Supporting our partners in developing their military capabilities and interoperability with the Allied forces is worthwhile, as much as assistance in reforming their security system.

I do hope that the Summit will provide an opportunity to seriously reflect on further strengthening of cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia. Certainly, we will also continue our joint debate about European security with Alliance’s closest partners, i.e.: Sweden and Finland.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Our future objective should be to further strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance, in order to make it strong, credible and modern. This is an instrument which is meant to guaranteed to our nations peace and security, and to ensure stability to our immediate neighbourhood. While advocating the philosophy of defence and deterrence instead of conflict and warfare, we must realize what will ultimately predetermine its efficiency. Therefore, we must ask ourselves a question whether this philosophy is supported by appropriately prepared and organized defence capabilities, additionally underpinned by political unity across the Atlantic, as to how we see secure world. You - as parliamentarians from the Allied nations - have a pivotal role to play in this process. It will largely depend on you, democratically elected representatives of our societies, if legislative framework will be laid down, conducive to the development of the Alliance. On many occasions, it will be yourselves having a key influence on the effectiveness of a decision-making process which conditions the Alliance’s ability to quickly respond to crisis situations.

I do hope but the discussions carried out in Warsaw these days were both: fruitful and inspiring for you. On my own part, I wish to assure you that the debate at the session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is very closely followed in Poland. The conclusions arising out of it, will be used in formulating Poland’s position on key issues concerning our joint security. Once again, let me thank you very warmly for the contribution each of you makes in our joint debate. The Warsaw Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly confirms the Alliance’s responsibility and effectiveness, founded on our agreement and cooperation. I do hope that you will have very pleasant, agreeable memories from you stay in Warsaw, as well as the sense of value added that your work done here has produced for our common good and security.


Thank you very much.

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