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Tuesday, 22 February 2005

The President of the Republic of Poland at a NATO Summit in Brussels

On 22 February 2005, the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, took part in a NATO Summit in Brussels.

The Polish President participated in a meeting of NATO members with the Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, and then attended a North Atlantic Council session at the level of Heads of State and Government.

In his address to the North Atlantic Council, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski said, among other things:

The sixth anniversary of Poland’s, the Czech Republic’s and Hungary’s accession to NATO is forthcoming. Last year, our organisation was enlarged to include seven more states. The NATO star is among the most important brandmarks both in the transatlantic area and worldwide. Our allied ties are not merely an achievement recorded in the annals of history, but a living value of vital importance to our common security interests. A queue of potential candidates is standing in front of NATO’s door.

The security and stability guarantees offered by the Alliance remain attractive for a number of states working closely together with NATO. Transatlantic unity and solidarity are still necessary in the face of contemporary threats. All of us, without exception, are responsible for the effectiveness of treaty obligations. We listened with close attention to US President George W. Bush’s speech. We welcome with satisfaction his declarations concerning the willingness to strengthen transatlantic dialogue. We express our deep satisfaction at the fact that the parliamentary election in Iraq went ahead as scheduled. Its results and the high turnout attest to the broad popular support for the stabilisation process, for the democratic reconstruction of the state. Supporting the Iraqis in these efforts is a great task for the international community. Poland’s involvement in Iraq is one of our crucial foreign policy themes.

NATO presence in Afghanistan is needed to ensure a further democratic development there. There is a need to coordinate NATO activities with those of the other international forces in the region, most importantly in the context of operation ‘Enduring Freedom’. NATO involvement in Afghanistan goes beyond purely stabilising tasks; the Alliance has become one of the main international actors supporting the reconstruction of that state.

A major progress has been achieved in recent years in building the EU Security and Defence Policy. The EU is becoming an important player in the security field; it has the necessary potential to face up to the great threats we are confronted with today. Poland stresses the deep meaning of NATO-EU strategic partnership. It would be paradoxical if major difficulties were encountered in coordinating the activities of NATO and the EU: two organisations rooted in the same region and largely made up of the same countries. NATO and the European Union should be natural partners for each other. They are obviously complementary, combining ‘hard security’ mechanisms with a large political and economic potential. The Alliance’s role may change in the future. We have heard a number of ideas and suggestions on the issue, including recently. Today, the Alliance remains a reputable and much-needed organisation that has to be maintained in the name of peace and common security. NATO’s role as a defence alliance, as a key forum for political consultations and as a guarantor of international stability cannot be overestimated, today as in the past. Given future challenges, however, work is needed to adjust the Alliance to the new strategic realities.

Summing up the North Atlantic Council session, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski told the press, among other things:

A NATO summit involving all North Atlantic Council members at the level of heads of state and government is over. During its first part, a Ukraine-NATO Commission session was held and I must say, to assess very briefly what has taken place here, that it is undoubtedly a very spectacular proof that NATO has the hard times behind it, that it has overcome the differences of opinion that were noted in the past, that there is great willingness of all participants to cooperate, to work together. There is a belief in the importance of the transatlantic ties both on the US side and on the European side. There is a belief that NATO efforts in the Balkans and in Afghanistan must be continued, and that support must continue for the stabilisation process in Iraq, and for a resolution through diplomatic channels of issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme. We also discussed other regional issues, but generally all agreed that NATO had stood the test in its long history, that NATO’s transformations and enlargement had expanded both the area of democracy and security and, most importantly, built a world based on the same values in its part belonging to NATO. The meeting with President Yushchenko was very important indeed; he presented his government’s plans and Ukraines intentions, and heard, regarding these intentions, that NATO’s door was open to Ukraine. This requires really detailed talks, drawing up an adequate action plan, sorting out certain issues on the Ukrainian side and ensuring that standards are met, but one can say that the friendliness with which President Yushchenko was welcomed to this meeting was incomparable with Istanbul, where the previous summit was held. There is great readiness on the part of the United States, and of all NATO members, actually, to help Ukraine both in its internal reforms: in strengthening economic growth, in the development of democratic institutions, in building civil society, and in Ukraine’s admission into NATO on the terms to be jointly negotiated, at a realistic date. This of course depends largely on Ukraine herself. Once again, I wish to reiterate that the atmosphere at the summit was very conciliatory; it was a demonstration of a consensus of opinion without concealing the existing differences, naturally. But one can say that NATO--thanks to the meeting in Brussels, thanks to the presence of President Bush and to the earlier diplomatic offensive of Condoleezza Rice, thanks to the very constructive attitude of NATO Secretary-General--has also gained new strength here, a new impulse, and that it will act, I think, in a better shape both in 2005 and in the years to come.

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