03/14/2019 | Press release | Archived content
I welcome you very warmly just a moment after hearing the policy statement presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of the Republic of Poland, Mr Jacek Czaputowicz. I think that the information provided was interesting for everyone. Perhaps, it was slightly different from what we have become accustomed to so far - the Minister expanded his outline of foreign policy to include a historical perspective as well, going beyond the account of only what happened this year.
But perhaps it is a good thing that the Minister has chosen to approach the matter this way, because it has given us the opportunity to see a broader spectrum of policies pursued in recent years. Thus, we could see consistency in the implementation of this policy, which, for one thing, must have been interesting to those who have listened to the policy statement and, for another, for which I thank the Minister, it serves to illustrate that this policy has been implemented in line with long-term plans and that it has its continuity.
It can be generally concluded - looking at the issue of the so-called large-scale foreign policy - that the Minister spoke about three big international organisations in which Poland participates. What I have in mind are primarily the North Atlantic Alliance, the European Union and the United Nations. And it is against this background that we can take stock of of what Poland has been doing in recent years, in what projects it actively participated, what it has done, what we have succeeded in doing and what was underway.
If we look at the North Atlantic Alliance, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, with Poland marking 20 years of its NATO membership, what comes to foreground is , first and foremost, the NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016 and the establishment of the so-called advanced forward presence of the Allied forces on NATO's eastern flank. Well, I will not be coy here: this - thanks to our determined efforts practically throughout most of 2016, and a few months of 2015. At that time, we tried to achieve this presence arguing 'We have been in NATO since 1999, but we would like NATO to be reallay on our soil as well' - and it happened.
This was indeed a breakthrough decision. Allied units, including in particular American troops, began stationing n Poland. Of course also in other countries, especially in the Baltic States - through the Enhanced Forward Presence. But also Tailored Forward Presence in Romania, where Polish detachments also take part - we are active in this area. Our soldiers are in Romania today, as well as in Latvia. Poland is also currently carrying out the Baltic Air Policing mission.
So when it comes to security and defence cooperation within the North Atlantic Alliance, we are active also in our part of Europe. Of course, as part of our allied commitments, we are also present in other parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, where we are stepping up the number of our troops this year. Our battleship is also currently carrying out a NATO maritime mission. We are also present in other countries - such as the Balkans or Africa - all in all, our soldiers are actively involved in the North Atlantic Alliance.
In this connection, it can be mentioned that regrettably, we are today one of the few countries of the North Atlantic Alliance which fulfils the obligation of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence. This, in a sense, puts us in a privileged position within NATO. This is emphasized in NATO dimension and in the international dimension- that Poland is a responsible ally true to its word, something which is of curse gratifying. As President, I can only readily welcome the fact that such an effective policy is being implemented.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Parliament very much for adopting a law more than a year ago, that puts on us an obligation to increase this expenditure to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. I would like to stress the request and appeal which I already made a year ago, but I have reiterated it recently - that I would very much like us to try to increase our level of expenditure more quickly; this in view of lasting good economic conditions, if, I hope, will continue. Perhaps it would have been possible to achieve by 2024? This is my appeal to the Government. Why? Because the Polish army is in great need of urgent modernization. These needs have to be met.
I have said on many occasions, also yesterday at the occasion of the promotion of new generals, that we should do our utmost to move away from post-Soviet equipment and for our army to possess, have available and use for our defence only such equipment, which is commonly used in service by the armies of NATO countries: modern, meeting requirements of the modern battlefield and, above all, is in the vanguard of modern and innovative military technology. This is my point. I hope that we will act this way, buying fifth generation fighters for Polish Airforces in the future. I also hope that we will finally start modernising the Polish Navy - all this is ahead of us, such goals are numerous.
But as I was saying: today we are an active member of the North Atlantic Alliance - this is recognised and acknowledged. The NATO summit in 2016 undoubtedly ended with a success, both in terms of its substance and organisation - so one can say that it was the summit of NATO's Polish success. It took place in Warsaw and due to his decisions - I hope - it will have a historical character and will be remembered for a long time. I am pleased that Minister Jacek Czaputowicz also referred to this issue today.
But he also spoke about our presence in the United Nations. Today we are a member of the United Nations' Security Council, we have been there full year in 2018 and we will be there for the whole of this year. Of course, this is a non-permanent membership. But it happens once every few decades for some countries, so it is infrequent. This affords an opportunity to act among the countries that have the most to say in the UN. We are present there under the motto 'Peace through law'. Thus, compliance with international law is, in our conviction - and it is shared by the absolute majority of UN members - a condition for an authentic peace in the world, so that it prevails and is restored by forcing everyone to respect international law.
We have been reiterating this for a very long time in the UN fold. Now we emphasise this every time as we work in the Security Council. We are, of course, referring specifically to the problem of the occupation of Crimea today, to the problem of the territory of Ukraine ceased by Russia. We want this situation to normalise. We do not recognise anything like shifting borders by force in Europe; it is in our view the most dangerous phenomenon and no less than a blatant violation of international law.
What is important - apart from our activity in the Security Council last year, is that we also organized a great conference COP24 in Katowice. We hosted, in Silesia, a climate conference, which was undoubtedly - as everyone concluded - another Polish success. I want to dwell on this point emphatically because, very much as it had been before - in the case of the NATO summit or World Youth Day - it was a success achieved thanks to the effort, work, inventiveness and days of toil of many people.
I am very grateful to them, because we have shown ourselves to be a responsible, safe, efficient state that can organise a big international meeting, where everything goes well, where transportation is efficient, everything is delivered on time, where everything that participants need, is provided, and all this is delivered at the highest world-class level. I would like to emphasise this very strongly. In addition, to include one Polish accent, it was internationally recognized excellent Polish cuisine, which delighted our guests coming from abroad. I am very grateful for that.
On top of this, of course, an extremely important issue, namely, the substantive provisions. The NATO summit in Warsaw was very successful in this respect, and the Climate Summit in Katowice last year also achieved a lot. Of course, some people stress that not everything has been realised. But we also need to be clear: from the outset, the experts said that it would be very difficult to reach an agreement at this summit; that the tasks that were set out earlier in Paris were very ambitious; and that it would be very difficult to implement the Paris Agenda, that is to say to implement the Paris Agreement, to prepare the relevant documents and agreements to this end.
This has been achieved to a great extent, and it is also a great credit to us as organisers, and to Minister Kurtyka, who has been negotiating for a long time and now continues to be President of COP24 until the next summit. I am also very grateful for that. It has to be said clearly: we have put our best foot forward. We are active in this area, which I am very pleased about. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the effort. I am pleased that the Minister has also strongly emphasised this point today.
There is also the question of our local and regional cooperation - today, within the framework of the European Union, we are also cooperating in the format of the Three Seas' Initiative in Central and Eastern Europe, which continues to be active, we hold regular meetings. I hope that the Three Seas' Fund will be set up, which will also generate more momentum for this corporation by creating additional financial opportunities. I am pleased that this year's Three Seas' Summit will take place in Slovenia, and I hope that we will take further binding decisions.
I hope that cooperation in the area of the Three Seas will be even more active at government level, that is, between prime ministers, and also between individual ministers. It is a matter of developing both road and rail infrastructure, in terms of other types of transportation, as well as energy security. Therefore, very important issues all of them, and something that we are still lacking here in Central Europe; something that will undoubtedly bring us closer to the most developed countries in Western Europe, and thus help to balance the development within the European Union, which, not least in my view, is very much needed in the European Union.
I am pleased that this initiative is heading in this direction, and that the undoubted positive aspects of this initiative are becoming more and more visible not only here, in Eastern Europe, but also in the European Union, and therefore in Western Europe. That, in fact, this cooperation, together with our actions on the forum of the whole Union, aims at creating synergy effect and at improving the development of the European Union as a whole. I am happy about this and I hope that we will be able to implement this cooperation efficiently.
Of course, if we look at our regional cooperation from other angles, too, we must not forget about the one, which is a narrower format, i.e. within the Visegrad Four, which is doing very well. We have excellent cooperation with each other, we keep holding regular meetings - at the level of prime ministers, ministers and heads of state, that is, presidents. We have also recently met in Prague in connection with the 20th anniversary of our countries' presence in the North Atlantic Alliance. I would like to make a very strong point: of course, those who are prone to criticism will point out that there are differences of opinions between the Visegrad Community countries. But divergences are nothing unusual, and the cooperation between us is very good, we are able to discuss everything. And even if there are discrepancies, the dialogue is always constructive - I want to underscore this very strongly.
Generally, the cooperation is very good and I can say that we are friends, the point that is most important of all. We are always able to sit down at the table and talk to each other, negotiate on different topics, even if there are issues that we approach differently due to our internal, state interests. After all, each of us must look at each other's cooperation through the prism of one's own country and the expectations of our societies. It is our duty as of elected representatives, to respond to the needs of our voters, the people of the countries, being the ones who are to represent our respective countries. For me it is something completely natural.
Finally, the third format: of NATO regional cooperation, the Bucharest Nine, it has also been working very well from the Warsaw Summit through all the successive NATO summits that have been held so far. Each time a common position, each time an unambiguous joint statement on the deepening of NATO's presence in our part of Europe, on the building of a security architecture. High activity on the part of Central European countries within the North Atlantic Alliance.
Now we are talking about more activity in the Black Sea, where an incident has occurred on the Russian side in the Kerch Strait - and here too our position is clear. I hope that it will also be understood by other members of the Alliance. Once again, I would like to thank NATO Secretary General , Mr Jens Stoltenberg, for taking part in the recent summit of the Bucharest Nine in Košice, because this shows that the Bucharest Nine is a very important forum within the framework of the North Atlantic Alliance - a forum of a regional nature.
Of course, Minister Jacek Czaputowicz also spoke at length about the Polish community today. I am glad that he mentioned the subject since it is very important. I am glad that Poles are very active all over the world. Once again, I would like to thank our compatriots for organizing so many Polish and Polish-American ceremonies around the world in connection with the centenary of Poland's regaining independence. I am very grateful to you for that. I hope that my words of thanks will be conveyed to you through the media.
Thank you for remembering about your homeland. Thank you for remembering its history. Thank you for passing it on to young people. For my part, as President, I and my colleagues , we are convinced that also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Senate, parliamentary committees will do their best to serve Polish diaspora and Poles abroad, supporting you wherever it is needed and where it is possible.
I would like to thank you with all my heart for every cooperation undertaken so far and for your active promotion of Polish affairs, as well as for expressing your opinion on those matters which are important for Poland, finally for the frequent support lent to us beyond our borders in the various issues we are striving for.
And finally, the question of ambition, of what we would like to see happening in the coming years, how we look at the reality that surrounds us. My perspective is as follows: we are today a member of the United Nations Security Council, we are - I am convinced - in the vanguard of the North Atlantic Alliance, we have in store the elections to the European Parliament. A new European Commission will be formed and, in future, the new European Parliament. All this will be arranged anew. We want to play the biggest possible role here. We are very ambitious.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would put it like this: we want to participate as much as possible, to be involved and to be involved in the work of G20. Our economy continues to grow. We are one of the fastest growing economies in Europe and one of the best economies in the world. I believe that we can have such bold aspirations. For me, this is an entirely natural ambition, and I believe that Poland will be increasingly involved in G20 fold. I believe that we, as the Polish Government, will actively strive to attain this goal in the coming years, and I also believe that we will be able to deliver: both in terms of domestic economic policy and foreign policy, to the best possible extent.
I can only make one request to all sides of the political scene - we have such a politically intense year, because it is an election year. As I said: first, the elections to the European Parliament, soon, on 26 May, then there will be parliamentary elections. This is a time which is important in politics, which in entails great activity in politics. It also very often means time for a great debate. All I am asking for is that all sides of the political scene should have a constructive debate. We should speak with one voice on foreign affairs, which are important for Poland. It is important that no situations occur when Polish politicians slander Poland beyond its borders, or when talking to foreign media. It is an extremely painful situation for me, it goes beyond the framework of political debate, the debate that we could hold here, in our country, before our our voters and our citizens.
I would ask you to show moderation in this respect, because Poland is developing very well now and this creates for us a great opportunity for further advancement in various international structures, which is extremely important and which should be of fundamental importance for everyone who really wants Poland to develop, who wants Poland to become an increasingly strong player in international dimension, who wants Poland to signify more in the world. We have to do our utmost not to undercut these aspirations, but to advance them. To create a synergy effect and act together, building the strongest possible position in Poland.
It is not easy, because, as I have have insisted on many occasions before, Ladies and Gentlemen, there are no empty seats in the international space. Everything has been occupied for centuries. If someone is promoted, it always happens at the expense of others. Someone has to give way a little, someone has to move away a little in order for someone else to climb up the mountain. This entails costs. This always entails criticism, because it is an element of international competition; be it political competition, economic competition, or in any other area. That is the nature of life, that is the nature of democracy and that is the nature of the world. So don't be surprised that Poland is being criticised just as we have managed to achieve a extraordinary result in the UN Security Council vote. I will remind you: not a single vote against Poland, 190 votes in favour of Poland, which was in fact an absolutely phenomenal, long overlooked result. Criticised just as we have managed to achieve our ambitions when it comes to NATO's presence in our part of Europe - even though some countries have had their doubts about that. However, it was possible to overcome these doubts thanks to skilful diplomatic efforts. When we have higher-than-expected economic growth. When, indeed, our situation is also improving in comparison with that of some other European countries. And you can see it. And this gives us an increasingly strong position.
I would request that nobody, especially in our country, should try to obstruct these works but rather join in. This means that you have to roll up your sleeves together and work for Poland, and not against Poland, not the way it sometimes evidently happens.
Once again, I would like to emphasise my gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for a very efficient presentation of the recap of the last four years of Polish foreign policy, one could say, for showing in a systemic way that it is indeed a conscious policy, where one thing stems from the other and that certain actions are a consequence of those which have already been taken. I hope that we will continue to pursue this policy together. Once again, I urge that we should have a constructive, peaceful, good electoral campaign, first, the one preceding the European Parliament elections, and then before the general elections; so that these campaigns should further Poland's position and serve to build democracy in Poland. The campaigns thanks to which we will take a step further in our development, and not ones which hold us back or provoke disgust, especially among the citizens and those who will be watching them. I also ask you to show moderation in the language used in this campaign. I am convinced that an election campaign can be conducted with due respect shown to political competitors. I am convinced that an election campaign can be conducted in a way that will speak well for the political culture in our country, demonstrating that the basic principles of democracy are already firmly rooted in us.
Thank you very much!