Kerry Praises Poland’s Role in NATO

Secretary of State John Kerry and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski [A]s a NATO member now for almost 15 years and as an EU member for nearly 10 years, Poland’s influence in both organizations has grown significantly over that time.

And that is because of the smart choices that the Polish people continue to make. You are opening markets, you are embracing transparency, you are continuing with your defense modernization and building the strength of the country, you are continuing to diversify your energy marketplace, and you are generously supporting the democratic EU and have begun negotiating and recognizing our shared interest in a comprehensive economic agreement that can grow both of our countries and all of the region. Europe and the United States joined together in an economic association would be one of the most powerful economic forces on the planet, and it will raise the standards by which all countries are engaging in economic activity.

Poland is also the largest commercial partner of the United States in Central Europe, and our bilateral trade has quadrupled over the course of the last 10 years. We think we can do even better, and we believe that the TTIP is the key to being able to do that.

On the environmental front, as I mentioned earlier in my comments, Poland is not only hosting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for the 19th conference of the parties next week, but Poland continues to send a signal for all of us that we need to demonstrate our commitment to a cleaner energy base and to live up to our responsibilities to lower emissions on a global basis.

As NATO allies, our security partnership, from Afghanistan to Kosovo to Lask, all of these – right here in Poland at the air base – make our relationship even more important and stronger. I look forward to going to Lask later in the day and saluting the work of our armed forces and the work that they accomplish together.

I also want to commend Poland for its $45 billion investment in defense modernization. The United States defense industry, which we believe is the most innovative, creative, and technologically advanced in the world, is going to compete vigorously here with our government in support of the goals and the upgrades that Poland seeks.

Poland is a very important part of the European phased adaptive approach on NATO missile defense, and we will deploy a missile defense site in Poland in the 2018 timeframe.

We’re also enormously proud of our work together to promote democracy on this continent and around the world. I want to commend Minister Sikorski for his tireless efforts in particular for mentoring the Eastern Partnership countries in advance of the meeting in Vilnius. This is a very important opportunity for everybody, and I think Poland has been front and center in its efforts to help advance all of our interests through that association.

The bottom line is this: Poland is thriving and our alliance is thriving. And I look forward to celebrating here today the economic and security benefits with the leaders of Poland, and I particularly look forward to continuing to grow this partnership. We’re respectful, enormously respectful of the extraordinary history of the people of Poland, of this city, of this region; mindful that we always have to be vigilant. We know that things can change. The march of democracy is important. We believe in it, but it takes work; it takes nurturing. And all of us have a responsibility to continue to do our part in order to live up to the legacy left us by those who weren’t as lucky as we are today, some of whom gave their lives, many of whom were dislocated, all of whom have been through an extraordinary history to arrive at the place we are today. We have work to do, but the journey of the past convinces us we can get that work done.

Excerpt from press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry, November 5, 2013.

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Image: Secretary of State John Kerry and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (photo: Department of State)