Full transcript of the Atlantic Council’s Fourth Annual Bronislaw Geremek Lecture, delivered by former Prime Minister of Poland Jan Krzysztof Bielecki.

Fourth Annual Bronislaw Geremek Lecture
Former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Frederick Kempe,
President and CEO,
Atlantic Council
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki,
Economic Council of the Prime Minister;
Former Prime Minister of Poland

Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2014

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

FRED KEMPE: (In progress) – to Prime Minister Bielecki, Senator Lugar, Ambassador Schnepf, members of the board of the Atlantic Council, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 4th Annual Bronislaw Geremek Lecture. It is an enormous pleasure to host this lecture. We do a lot of important events at the Atlantic Council. Just earlier today we had the Central Command commander, General Austin. But for me, this event is personal.

In 1980 and 1981, I was a young journalist first for Newsweek and then The Wall Street Journal. And I began to understand the forces at play in the world in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. Anyone at that stage in their career who experiences the beginnings of solidarity, and sees a country of people who are willing to fight for freedoms that I felt in my life I had some to take for granted, it is a life-changing experience. But what made it even more a life-changing experience were the people I got to know during that period of time.

Professor Geremek was, as many of you know, the crucial advisor to Lech Walesa, one of the great thinkers and actors of the birth of solidarity and the period of Democratic transformation after that. But he spent a lot of time with people like me, knowing that this whole process needed to be understood, needed to be relayed to the larger world, and particularly the United States.

And so I had many late-night chats in his attic apartment in Warsaw’s old town, surrounded by books, with that wry grin that he would have, that wink once in a while, that sparkle in his eyes as we taught me about history, about the present, about his migration from communism to what he was then. And I will never forget those periods of time with Professor Geremek and the extent to which they changed my life but, more important, he changed history – he changed the history not only of Poland and Europe, but of the world through his actions.

When the communist regime in Poland came to a fall, as the leader of the Commission for Political Reform, Professor Geremek was the indispensable force that helped enable Poland’s peaceful transition to Democracy. His courageous advocacy – (audio break) – and human rights continued through his chairmanship of the Political Council of Freedom Union to his time as minister of foreign affairs of Poland. It was in March 1999 that Bronislaw Geremek led Poland’s efforts to join NATO. And when the day came, Bronislaw Geremek declared: She – meaning Poland – returns where she has always belonged, the free world.

I was remembering also yesterday as I was thinking about this evening’s event that I met him again in May 2000 in Vilnius as the Vilnius group was coming together, the Vilnius 10, of aspirants for NATO membership. And his view was that Poland, as a NATO member – a new NATO member now had this obligation to its neighbors.

And he was – it was the Vilnius 10, they had announced it, there had just been a press release. I was writing a page one story. And he was depressed. He was downtrodden. And I asked him – I said, Professor Geremek, why are you so unhappy? And he says, because it should have been the Vilnius 11. We had an opportunity to bring in Ukraine and we missed it. It was a historic opportunity. And I don’t know when we’ll get this chance again.

Today, the impact of Professor Geremek and Solidarnosc remains visible throughout Central and Eastern Europe as we celebrate 25 years since the fall of communism, 15 years of NATO enlargement and 10 years of European Union enlargement. Former European Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen wrote this week: The Berlin Wall would not have fallen when and how it did without Poland’s Solidarnosc movement and its struggle for freedom and human rights.

As some of you know, the council has been fortunate enough to receive an iconic three-ton segment of Berlin Wall, which has been shipped to us from Leipzig – it’s landed now in the United States. And we’ll unveil it at the German Embassy next Friday – signed by individuals who played historic roles in bringing the Cold War to a successful end. Among them, Lech Walesa, Helmut Kohl, George H.W. Bush and others.

We will keep it as a reminder of both the history and the continued relevance of the trans-Atlantic bond. As Professor Geremek always said to me, the job of freedom is never done. And it is in that spirit that we established this lecture, to keep the legacy of Professor Geremek and what he stood for alive. I only wish it weren’t quite as relevant today as we look at Ukraine as it is. He would have been enormously pleased that two such great heroes of democracy who he had worked with on the issues he cared about most would be honoring them tonight – would be honoring him tonight.

But before I introduce our first speaker, Senator Lugar, I also want to thank Ambassador Schnepf, the Polish Embassy and the government of Poland for their support of this initiative. We’re grateful and honored to have had the chance to work with you so closely throughout the years. We also look very much forward to continue the council’s partnership with Poland at the annual Wroclaw Global Forum in June, where Ambassador Schnepf has been honorary co-chair of our Freedom Awards Dinner that we have each year, which we put on purpose in Poland.

We want to highlight the successes and challenges of developing freedom and democracy worldwide and, again, present our freedom awards to recognize past and present heroes of democracy. In this respect, I want to give a salute also to Prime Minister Bielecki and Marcin Zaborowski, where our partners have been PISM, the – our Polish intellectual partners. And I – this has been a really – a successful partnership. And I want to thank you for that.

With that, it’s my pleasure to introduce Senator Richard Lugar, one of the most influential foreign policy voices during his time in the Senate. Senator Lugar and Prime Minister Bielecki’s work together is a living example of U.S.-Polish relationship. Our previous speakers – the first speaker was Madeline Albright. The second speaker we had, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski together with Senator McCain. We replicated that Polish-U.S. match again with General Jones and Forum President Kwasniewski. And I think it’s only fitting that Senator Lugar and Prime Minister Bielecki are doing this tonight, keeping this – the level of this lecture at a very high spot.

Senator Lugar provided support to Prime Minster Bielecki when he was prime minister overseeing Poland’s transition to democracy and a market economy. This is not the first time Prime Minister Bielecki has been at the Atlantic Council, but he will talk about that a bit himself. After the end of the Cold War, Senator Lugar helped passed the new Lugar Act to provide U.S. funding and expertise to secure and dismantle nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union.

I won’t go through his entire CV. You know it. It’s too long to cite right here. But I will say one thing: As a young journalist at The Wall Street Journal, where The Wall Street Journal was really ahead of other newspapers in putting a stake in the ground and saying that we thought NATO enlargement was the way to go, not everybody in Washington was of that view. In fact, one could say that he consensus of the government at that time took some time to move in that direction.

It doesn’t say this in your bio, but it should, that without you I’m not sure it would have happened. And you really moved the ball in this town, probably more effectively than anyone else at that very early point, including your trips to the region. So, Senator Lugar, we thank you for your historic contributions. The podium is yours. (Applause.)

RICHARD LUGAR: Thank you. Well, thank you, Fred, for that remembrance and beautiful introduction. I’m deeply appreciative of the honor of being with the prime minster this evening, and likewise with all of you. We join together, as Fred has pointed out, to commemorate the life and work of Bronislaw Geremek, who was dedicated to bringing an end to oppression and fear in his native Poland, and throughout Eastern Europe. By helping to peacefully usher Poland into the community of democracies, his work became a model in Eastern Europe and around the world. Bronislaw’s fate and that of Poland were forever changed in 1980 when he drove in Gdansk to throw his support behind a workers’ strike led by Lech Walesa at the Lenin Shipyard. Soon, an auspicious alliance was formed between Geremek and Walesa; between Polish intellectuals and workers. Bronislaw’s growing profile in the Solidarity movement was met with harassment by the Communist authorities. He was detained on several occasions and, perhaps most frustrating for a man of ideas, deprived of his ability to publish even his most prosaic scholarship on medieval France. But, again, he would not relent. He led a four week hunger strike in a Communist prison, never surrendering his goal of freedom for Poland.

In 1989, he helped broker a peaceful transition of power which became a model for other Eastern European nations and hastened the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. When Solidarity came to power, he became its leading voice on international affairs in parliament. Bronislaw always kept an eye on Poland’s position in Europe and the world. He was committed to anchoring Poland in Europe and expanding ties with the United States and even Russia. He believed Poland, as a vibrant democracy, could be a bridge of stability between East and West. In 1997, he was appointed foreign minister, guiding Poland into NATO and laying the groundwork for its later accession to the European Union.

The consequences of his work reached far beyond the disintegration of Communist powers and rule in Poland. For Europe, his efforts and those who stood with him helped to forge a new era of stability and cooperation. Therefore, I’m so pleased this evening to have an opportunity to introduce Krzysztof Bielecki, who was a major figure in his own right during Poland’s momentous transition from communism to democracy.

In 1980, as a talented economist, he joined the Solidarity movement. Like many other leaders at the time, he paid a personal price for his ideas, suffering arrest and loss of employment. He eventually took advantage of economic reforms instituted by the communist government to establish a consulting business. During this period, he helped the government grow by recruiting and employing underground Solidarity members. He was one of the founders of the Gdansk Society for Socio-Economic Development, an organization of liberal dissidents and in 1989, he was elected to parliament.

Now, at the beginning of 1991, President-elect Walesa sought out Jan to form a government; the first government, as a matter of fact, in 47 years with no member who had served under communism. He served as prime minister during 1991, a critical year that saw massive changes in Poland as the nation attempted to adjust to a post-communist reality. Jan Krzysztof successfully negotiated substantial debt forgiveness for Poland from Western governments, giving his nation economic flexibility to test reforms. In fact, at the World Economic Conference Forum in Davos, Switzerland that many of you have attended, in February of 1991, he asked Western creditors to forgive 80 percent of Poland’s $46.6 billion debt. He secured a commitment of 50 percent from the Europeans and 70 percent from the United States. Thus these loans from the IMF and the World Bank that came along were vital to economic modernization following this economic and debt reorganization.

Meanwhile, the Bielecki government began the difficult task of dismantling the Warsaw Pact structures in Poland. Simultaneously, he strengthened ties with the West, including Germany and the United States. This began to lay the groundwork for the eventual acceptance of Poland into NATO and as a European member – European Union member. (And all the ?) latest political fragmentation within Poland, as he witnessed that, blocked the prime minister’s economic reform proposals on many occasions, most of his ideas would eventually be adopted. After his term as prime minister ended, Jan Krzysztof remained a strong advocate for close integration with Europe. He served for 10 years as the director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and another seven years as president of Bank Pekao. He currently serves as president of the Polish Institute of International Affairs and president of the Chancellory’s Economic Council.

Jan Krzysztof Bielecki comes to us from – as a representative of the generation that transformed Poland from a beleaguered member of the Warsaw Pact to a steadfast NATO ally, from a nation encumbered by the economic stagnation imposed by the Soviet system to a dynamic free market, from a young nation establishing nascent institutions of political pluralism to an example of democratic ideals that is admired throughout the world. His example provides inspiration for those of us who are intent upon advancing freedom and prosperity everywhere.

One need not look far beyond Poland’s own borders to appreciate that challenge. We must never take peace and stability in Europe for granted. Part of our diligence must be the strengthening of the bonds of the Atlantic Alliance. Along with the free flow of goods and persons across borders and prescient leadership, there has been no greater force for European peace than NATO. The alliance still possesses enormous geopolitical assets and a history of achievement that can undergird success in the future. Poland’s diplomatic and economic vitality remains essential to the future of NATO and Europe. I am confident that Poland will continue to serve as a bridge of stability in Eastern Europe and an example of what democracy and pluralism can achieve.

The work of promoting democracy and peace is never done. The coming age will require patient and selfless individuals to step forward and to go to work every day for their country and their concept of freedom. We look forward to testimony from such an advocate, such a man, such an important actor in the history of his country. We look forward to the distinguished prime minister’s remarks. I thank you. (Applause.)

JAN KRZYSZTOF BIELECKI: Thank you, Senator Lugar, for your kind words and maybe in particular for calling me Krzysztof Bielecki. I hate to be called Jan Bielecki. Jan Bielecki was the way I used to be called by the police officers or the prison officers and they refused even to include into the minutes of the hearing my second name, which is Krzysztof. So I know I always was Krzysztof so thank you. I think you are the first U.S. senator I had the pleasure to meet 23 years ago and I think the bond is still growing and it’s really fascinating.

But let me, first of all, thank the Atlantic Council and the Embassy of Poland for inviting me to give this year’s Geremek Lecture. (Also ?) Geremek, if would be with us, he would definitely have help us in making sense of what is happening. But allow me to begin with a short trip down memory lane. In 1991, so over 23 years ago, as a young Polish prime minister, a former academic who, as a result of his prodemocracy atrocities, was then forced to become a truck driver in the ’80s, I stood here at the Atlantic Council and spoke to you about my country’s aspirations to build democracy, a functioning market economy and rejoin the Western family of nations.

In fact, it was here that the Polish prime minister openly called for NATO membership for Poland for the first time. You look at that time with some skepticism, and I can’t say I blame you. Although this politician may have looked unconventional to you, Americans are known for being open-minded, and you heard me out. You took my message seriously, and followed with assistance.

So today, to the case (ago ?) – (inaudible) – I am now a former prime minister. I am no longer as young and promising as I used to be, but I feel also quite fulfilled, because my country, Poland, has achieved most of what I spoke to you about back then in 1991. And this year is a year of celebration, so we celebrated a quarter century since the beginning of our transition, we marked 15 years of NATO membership and also 10 years of being an EU member state.

Our economy has grown continuously since 1992, and that is one of the longest uninterrupted periods of growth in economic history of the world. So, in no small part as a result of our economic success, our voice is increasingly heard, and the former Prime Minister, Donald Tusk’s appointment as president of the European Union Council is the confirmation that Poland’s standing in the (EU ?) is strong, and getting even stronger.

In other words, we no longer aspired to join the West. We are the West, although it may sound (like ?) it. I am here to thank you. None of what we achieved would have been possible without America’s unwavering support. I can repeat what I said to you in 1991 word for word. America’s commitment opened the door to democracy in Poland. I am well aware that we can enjoy our stability and growing prosperity thanks to America’s investment in the security of Europe.

So we have a clear success story. We had many grand and happy occasions to celebrate this year, so perhaps we can just congrat (sp) each other and ourselves, pat each other on the back and feel good. Perhaps I should leave it at that; maybe retire or maybe even pass away. (Scattered laughter.) The problem is, I cannot. And when we look a little closer, it’s clear that we don’t have much reason to feel so pleased with ourselves.

When I spoke here in 1991, we all believed that the West’s global leadership role would go unchallenged. It seemed that the biggest test facing us would be the successful incorporation of the former communist states. That was not easy; in some countries, we managed, and we – Poland and some other countries, we joined the family of liberal democracies under the protective umbrella of NATO, as Senator Lugar just minutes ago, recalls.

And we were, at that time, embracing, like many countries, the values of the future. But it turns out, we joined the west at a time when its global role has been eroding. Meanwhile, the threats to our security and our way of life are becoming even more and more apparent. The threats to the west from Russia, in the east, and ISIS in the south, are clear for all to see, but the challenge is, in fact, greater even that it may, at first, appear. This – at this – because our liberal democratic model of governments is no longer seen around the world as the one to emulate.

In 1991, I said to you the American model of market economy is now accepted as the only sensible and acceptable political and economic system. Unfortunately, I could not say that – the same today. And the Chinese and the Russians, they speak openly about superiority of so-called soft authoritarianism – whatever that is – for achieving economic growth. More worrying still, many states around the globe – some even within the European Union, appear to be agreeing with them.

Professor Geremek already warned in 2004 of the crisis of democratic model. Ten years on, we can only confirm that he was correct, yet again. Of course, most worrying from our point of view is the change of geopolitics in Europe, as precipitated by Russia. This annexation – the violation of territorial integrity of Ukraine is nothing less than a declaration of war upon liberal democracy. I am sure many of you heard the words of Siberian rebel volunteering in Eastern Ukraine with the same trepidation as I did. But for those of you who are not familiar with his words, you are in for a treat.

He said, “people say we are in a fallen country. But we are not. This is our land. This war is not just material, it’s spiritual. It’s a fight against the values of the Western world.” And what values is he promoting, or is Russia promoting today? Values of authoritarianism, ethnic nationalism and conservative version of orthodoxy. All of them meant to serve a quite narrow, nationalistic agenda. And it does not (stop there ?); what is happening in Eastern Europe will reverberate everywhere, not just across Europe. Look no further than to recent protests in Hong Kong if you have any doubts about it.

So trans-Atlantic community of values is being seriously tested. As you know, some renowned academics’ adherence to the theory of realpolitik put the blame for the crisis in Ukraine squarely on NATO’s Eastern enlargement. They argue that Russia was provoked into invading Ukraine, and did so for defensive, not offensive purposes. They see the world as if it was still run by 19th century concept of great powers with respective spheres of influence.

There is no space for democratic will or self-determination in that perspective. It doesn’t matter what Ukraine wants. What matters is what Russia wants, because it’s bigger, and we, the West, should respect that. I recall this argument here also because it stands in absolute contrast to what Professor Geremek and other dissidents in Central and Eastern Europe stood for: the vision of a Europe whole and free, of a world in which nations have the right to choose their alliances, is now called by some academics a liberal illusion. Ladies and gentlemen, liberal illusion or not, I’m convinced that the world we (fought ?) is far more fair and just than the world of spheres of influence, and that is the values must be defended.

With this in mind, it’s time for us to act strategically. When we are presented with a unique opportunity to deepen our relationship by removing barriers to trade and investment and integrating our markets, we must take it. We simply cannot allow our – an opportunity like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership pass us by. So, completing TTIP is taking longer than we would have liked, and it’s requirement compromises from all involved. But now is not the right time to bickering about exceptions and (ring ?) fences. TTIP is needed to boost our economic growth, but it’s also vital to solidify our alliances at this difficult time. So there is no time to waste on petty arguments.

Until recently, we in the West could rely on unparalleled dominance in the global economic systems. However, this is increasingly being challenged. China has its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The BRICS are in the process of setting up the new development bank, the clearly stated aim of which is to challenge the global economic order established at Bretton Woods 70 years ago. They are also planning a reserve currency that would pose a challenge to dollar (dominance?).

I will leave it to you to make your mind what kind of substantive improvement these new institutions will make to the global governance. However, we don’t have no longer time of being – not to responding to those challenges to the West.

And also, we shouldn’t be swayed by fairy tales of Russian humiliation. As Anne Applebaum put it brilliantly in her Washington Post column, the crisis in Ukraine and the challenges within NATO are not the result of Western triumphalist. They were caused by our failure to react to Russia’s aggressive rhetoric and her blatant aggression on her neighbor – a neighbor, I might add, whose security and territorial integrity Russia herself had pledged to safeguard and respect in the 1994 Budapest Treaty. So we are no longer dealing with just aggressive posturing. We’re facing concrete aggressive acts. Let us not be caught napping again.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to act. Much has changed in two decades since I stood before you last, but the call for unity that I made then is still relevant. As some European leaders recently called on us to, as they say, recreate the hope in the European project, I agree with this. I agree with this call, but I would take it further. We must recreate the hope in the value of the West and also the Trans-Atlantic project, and then the land of the free and the home of the brave will be better. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE: Let me actually let you be in front of your flag.

MR. BIELECKI: OK, thank you.

MR. KEMPE: I want you to sit in the middle here. That will do that.

The – thank you for that powerful lecture, and thank you for honoring Professor Geremek with the thoughtfulness and depth and the power behind it. So let me ask a couple of additional – initial questions on that and then turn to the audience after that.

You said it’s time to act, Prime Minister Bielecki. You said it’s time for us to get strategic. You were talking about TTIP, but I’m sure you apply that also with Ukraine. To do what? What – where – what is your analysis of where we are right now in the Ukraine crisis? To what extent are, quote-unquote, we winning or losing? And when you say it’s time to act, to do what? And what is our – what should our strategy be?

MR. BIELECKI: Well, the good news is that finally Europe managed to stay united and to support the sanctions imposed on Russia, which is the right thing. I think it’s also an illusion to say today that the sanctions are not functioning well. On the contrary, I think the sanctions are painful, but nevertheless the message, I think, is clear. And the Minsk Agreement must be the red line for any further consideration of situation in Ukraine. Then I think Ukraine needs clear support. I would not call it a Marshall Plan because Marshall Plan happened to be many years ago, but a clear plan for economic recovery also strongly supported by the European Union must be delivered. I understand that it’s expensive or it costs – it has a cost, but still I have in mind 270 billion euros spent on recovery of Greek economy a few years ago, so I think I can imagine a few billion for recovery of Ukrainian economy to be provided. And I think that this clear message that any country has the right for self-determination is today fundamental because it’s so easy to forget it for the sake of realpolitik, which I had made a reference before. So if we stick to the best achievements of Trans-Atlantic project, which is by far the most successful institution of the new world order after the second world war, what – (inaudible) – already had to (recall ?) us, I think, you know, it’s a necessary consequence. We should win. I’m not sure if it’s – it’s a plan, but it’s possible. It’s possible and it could be done.

MR. KEMPE: You are brilliant as – in many respects, but as an economic thinker above all. If you look at what we’re experiencing – and then we’ll turn to midterm elections and whether this changes anything regarding Ukraine policy or Ukraine pressures from (the House ?) – but if you’re looking, Prime Minister Bielecki, as what we’re experiencing, it strikes me as perhaps the first time in history we’ve seen economic sanctions used as a military deterrent. Does it look that way to you, and is it an effective military deterrent? Are – is Russia, is Vladimir Putin feeling sufficient pain that this deterrence is working, or does this need to be ramped up?

MR. BIELECKI: Well, the economic sanctions as we know them from the past are not a short-term solution. So if – nobody could expect any miracle to happen in a short period of time. So the problem of the sanction also will – (inaudible) – and the timing after one year will come to expire the date. And then to have any agreement on the European side could be quite difficult.

But also, well, in the days of some more direct kind of military provocation, I think we don’t only need an economic deterrence, but also we need a military deterrence because if you have a bombers testing your air zones, then you should not only depend on the economic sanctions. But you have to show that your jets are able to protect your fly zones.

MR. KEMPE: So more direct, military support, perhaps, even lethal weapons for – from the West or from NATO, from the U.S. for Ukraine, for Poland?

MR. BIELECKI: That is probably more difficult today – in today’s mood to achieve compromise how to provide some assistance to Ukraine. However, I can only recall president of Ukraine who said, probably here, that the – thank you for the blankets. But with the blankets, I’m not sure if I can defend my country. So further assistance I think will be needed in parallel with the progress of democratic change in Ukraine.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you.

MR. BIELECKI: As it was in our case, that we could not achieve everything in one go, you know? That – in one quick step. So we have been knocking on the doors and the – when we came to Washington, just two senators agreed to meet to us. And one of them is sitting in front of the audience tonight. So it was not easy. And also, Ukraine could not expect that in one go it could achieve everything. So but you have to show your determination, your consequence, and also the homework done by yourself. This is critical.

MR. KEMPE: Very wise answer. Senator Lugar, imagine that you were back as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and you had just experienced this election where you have a democratic president, you have a majority in the Senate and the House. On the issue of Ukraine, what would you be suggesting right now? What would you be wanting the Foreign Relations Committee to be striving to achieve?

MR. LUGAR: Well, first of all, I would hope that we would have substantial hearings, not only for the benefit of the education of the members, but for the general public. One of the dilemmas right now regarding congressional debate, or lack of it, is that this has not been a topic of prime interest for people in politics. Essentially, they’ve said: That’s very interesting, but we want to talk about jobs here, about our deficit, our taxes.

There’s a little bit of change because of Ukraine and ISIL and the upcoming negotiations in Iran that may or may not work out on the 24th of November, and quite apart from the so-called pivot to Asia, what this means. So this is a beginning, but now the question will be whether the Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee – Bob Corker probably will chair the Foreign Relations, John McCain the Armed Service Committee – will have, first of all, hearings and then actually will make proposals – that is, formulate legislation.

We’re going to have, according to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, a debate now on each of the appropriation bills that will include those that deal with foreign assistance, as well as our own defense situation. And we haven’t had that debate for a couple of years. We haven’t really itemized what’s in our own defense budget, quite apart from what we’re doing for somebody else. And so hopefully we will do that. And members – the chairman or others, hopefully in a bipartisan way – will formulate legislation that will be debated so that other members become informed, as well as the public, and move ahead.

What I would just say off the top of the head, though, in response to the prime minister’s thoughts, is that one of the things that’s happened with regard to Ukraine, is that it’s revived interest in NATO. Now, for a long while people have said, well, why aren’t members – (inaudible) – 2 percent of their gross national product in terms of defense? That was sort of the general goal, as I understand it. Only 6 out of 24 or so forth are even close to that. Well, it’s because they’ve had tough economic problems in their internal situations. Their own safety nets supporting their people have led to dire circumstances.

So as a result, Ukraine finally brought attention to the fact that NATO wasn’t dying, but it wasn’t living a very vital life either. And suddenly, countries – certainly in the Baltics and Eastern Europe – are very interested in NATO, maybe to the point – and maybe the minister will have a comment on this – of inviting Americans maybe to have some military exercises in those areas, or to learn how we get to those situations in a hurry, as may be required, in addition to the trade legislation, which you did mention, which is really critical in revitalizing the economies and the ties of the United States to all the countries that are involved.

Now you know, once we begin to do these things, along with the sanctions in which the Europeans have joined us, the European – the Russian economy is weak. The billions of rubles or dollars or whatever else flowing out of Russia is enormous, including a number of their own businesspeople. And this is a situation that is going to be very difficult for Vladimir Putin. So we’re getting some intention here, but the question is on the European side, economies are weak. People are in grave difficulty. Tough to talk to each other.

And so we need to shore up the great situation we have in NATO and then we need to shore up through trade and revitalization for United States as well as European states, and get to know each other better, begin to talk to each other – talk to each other not only in the Senate but back and forth.

MR. KEMPE: On Ukraine, what is your assessment of U.S. policy thus far? Has it been enough? Would – you know, this whole issue of sanctions as the tool – would you have tried to push for something any different?

MR. LUGAR: Well, I’m not going to be hypercritical. I think those who have been handling it have done pretty well. As a matter of fact, they faced the fact that Ukraine has a government that was disintegrating even before Yanukovych fled to Russia. It was miraculous that they had a successful election and got a president who I think has a lot of credibility. But it’s the political system that had failed, where it still is bankrupt. Ukraine owes money not only to Russia for the natural gas that they’re dependent on, but to the European countries and everybody else.

So here you have an impossible predicament of the politics of a country that’s sort of disintegrated, plus they’re bankrupt on top of that. And it was no wonder that Putin or others in Russia saw an opportunity of enormous weakness. I’ll – at this particular point, the United States has worked with European countries to figure out how bank loans can occur from international banks, from American taxpayers in some cases and from European taxpayers – national interest – and try to shore this thing up.

We would like to be working with Ukrainian armed forces with regard to training. I think that will be another step. But I think they’re – the feeling is, thus far, that Ukrainian forces will have to solve their problem of that sort. In other words, they are going to have to dismantle the so-called rebels in Donetsk or elsewhere in the eastern part of the country. But we can be very helpful in, first of all, providing a shoring up economically and politically, and likewise in terms of training and even the blankets that you suggested, and the night goggles and the rest, without taking a provocative action that sending arms might do at this particular point.

Our experience has been recently, in sending arms to countries, is that frequently they’re stolen and they’re preempted by somebody else who begins to use them against the people that we wanted them for, unless the training is adequate, the logistics are adequate and so forth. So I think we’re moving steadily, and I complement our European allies for getting over the fact that it’s tough to have sanctions that are going to impact on business in European countries at a time they’re already in recession, if not worse. This is really sacrificial on their part, and yet NATO is held together, and European Union, and we’re in a stronger position, I believe, than we were a year ago.

MR. KEMPE: And you’re absolutely right. The price that Europe has to pay in terms of sanctions is so much higher than we have to pay just because of the nature of the trade relationship.

MR. LUGAR: Huge.

MR. KEMPE: One more question for each of you and then I’ll turn to the audience. I think we need to set the record straight here – and (Prime Minister ?) Bielecki started going that direction – and I’d love to get the view of the two of you both in terms of relationship toward Russia past and relationship toward Russia future. So relationship to Russia past, there’s still an argument that goes on in the United States of whether NATO enlargement is part of the reason we have problems with Russia today. You quoted Ann Applebaum’s piece that is taking quite an opposite approach to that. To what extent are we responsible for having quote-unquote lost Russia, and was NATO enlargement provocative, or is this now actually a demonstration that we were very smart to do NATO enlargement when we did? I’d like to get a short view from both of you on that, because I think it’s very important for people who are there and living that history to help settle this historic argument that still goes on in the United States.

The second point is, irrespective of how we got there, what do you do now? You know, it’s not just a Ukraine issue. This really is a Russia issue. So what do you do now about Russia? As we all know, there’s never going to be a Europe whole and free until you can actually make Russia, in one way or another, a part of that effort. Prime Minister Bielecki, perhaps you can go first.

MR. BIELECKI: Yes, I think if you ask anybody in Poland about the rationale of joining NATO and the need to join NATO, today or 10 years ago – and it would be, I don’t know, 90 percent in favor – and still in Poland we think that NATO is the most successful institution of the global new order after the second world war. So – and some like former President of Poland Kaczynski were already concerned in few years ago that the annexation of part of Georgia is a dangerous sign of an attempt to change the order (after ?) ’89. So to explain to the nations of Eastern Europe, so many of them – (inaudible) – realpolitik would not allow to extend NATO beyond German border, would be not only a mistake in security terms but also a lack of respect for so many countries for the hardships overtaken in the last 25 years to successfully build democracy, because where the mistake was done, the mistake was done during the days – (inaudible) – where the West accepted an artificial division of Europe and they said that Western Europe is OK, but this is the Eastern zone of influence. So simply we are improving something what was done wrong more than 60 years ago. And –

MR. KEMPE: Did one do enough? I think that’s a very powerful argument for why one should have done it towards Central and Eastern Europe. Did one do enough toward Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall to reach out and to integrate Russia? Do you accept that argument or, you know, where does the –

MR. BIELECKI: Well, looking at it from the past, you can always raise argument that it could be done better and – but also I think that the problem with Russia is – and this is what I tried to explain in a very shortened way – that the problem is that the Russians refused what we recognize as the cornerstone or foundations of our system, because we are saying parliamentary democracy; they’re saying no, no, authoritarian system is much more efficient, yes? They are saying ethnicity as a border indicator, then we have a problem. And you can also imagine on this continent, if the ethnicity is a border indicator, then maybe the Mexican border should be – should be move further to the north quickly, or vice versa. So – and then they – this respect to, well, as they often call it, Anglo-Saxon model, you know, including those liberties with those, as they say, rights of homosexual to speak and to – (inaudible) – in a clean society, there’s no such a problem. It does not exist. And for that purpose, they use the Orthodox Church – it’s also a very conservative church which stands firmly against any kind of let’s call it deviation or whatever – so the problem is that they are trying to prove that the world they propose is better. And what matters for me and is the subject of concern, that there are also some countries within the European continent which are saying that, yes, maybe this is not that bad because parliamentary democracy’s not that efficient, so strong government, more authoritarian is more efficient and could produce better results for the public. And this is a serious challenge, you know, because your foundations are undermined. So it’s not like by saying that, OK, you are blonde, I am gray, so we don’t like each other. No, it’s more serious, you know. So – and we have to prove, and Europeans in particular, that there is such a thing as the European project, because they like to say that it’s very important and – so to prove that it’s functioning, European project. And it’s a big challenge. That’s why we are so delighted and – with the new election of the next president of the European Council because I think that this is a very serious job to be done and – with the imagination but also sensitivity of Tusk to those challenges. And it could be, well, I would call it even refreshed European perspective.

MR. KEMPE: It would be amazing for Professor Geremek to see Prime Minister Tusk as the –

MR. BIELECKI: He’s watching, definitely.

MR. KEMPE: – this amazing – this amazing shift in history.

So the question of history, first of all, your judgment on NATO enlargement, and then the – and then if you could pivot and then we’ll go to the audience quickly, to the question of what do we do toward Russia. Are we in another situation of containment, or have – is that where we are now, where it’s this war of values and – as outlined here?

MR. LUGAR: I don’t believe it’s a question of containment. I think the current Russian government is currently going out of its way to exercise hostility and make it less uncomfortable. But let me just make the point – in 1991, the same time the prime minister was coming into the office – this was the year the Soviet Union was falling apart. It was the year of – without going into a long story, Russians that Sam Nunn and I had met at Geneva in 1986, when Ronald Reagan sent a number of senators, in a bipartisan way, over there, in case we could get a treaty with the Russians to begin to decrease the number of nuclear weapons we had aimed at each other after 40 years of mutually assured destruction.

Didn’t happen for five years, but these Russians came here; we met here in our offices in Washington, and I said, what do you need? And they said, we need your money. We need a lot of it. But you’ve got to understand that our troops are deserting, and some of the weapons that are aimed at you might not have anybody there guard them. Somebody might, in fact, take a shot or there might be an accident, what have you. You’ve got good reason to send your money and to send your technicians – you may even need to send some of your troops.

Now, this is a very different Russia in 1991, obviously – in disintegration at this point. But with our own jeopardy very clear in all this, we worked at this for quite a long while. And this has its ups and downs, but never was there a case in this period of time that Russians were on the threshold of adopting a democracy like Poland, quite apart from the democracy of any of the European countries. This was not really a part of their argument; as a matter of fact, they moved more and more toward authoritarian government of one form or another, with, maybe, some ups and downs in the process, and are still there.

What I think is interesting now – and each one of us could have a different view on this, but a problem for President Putin is that, because the economy is in bad shape, and the sanctions are hurting, but they were in bad shape before we got to the sanctions. Part of the reason, some would believe, that he took advantage of the situation, say, in Crimea, was that there was the possibility of getting by with it at this stage, and making sort of a glorious Russia theme that would bring greater population for himself, and perhaps greater longevity for himself, in the midst of citizens who may, in fact, begin to be very unhappy with him and with the Russian government, and who now are most sophisticated because they can’t keep in Russia the messages in the rest of the world out – (inaudible) – electronic media.

So he has a very considerable political problem, just sort of staying there right now, and a part of staying there, I think, are these adventures when he’s suggesting and consummating in Ukraine – we hope not others, as they become more desperate or difficult. But what is at stake is, potentially some change in the regime in Russia, but not necessarily to full-flung democracy, but something else other than Putin. And that’s sort of a quick summary, at least, of my own views.

MR. KEMPE: And you reject the notion that we’re responsible for Russia’s surly state?

MR. LUGAR: No, we’re not responsible at all. We, as a matter of fact, bend over backwards, and in fairness to the Russians, after President Obama drew his red line in Syria and then walked back from this, Vladimir Putin came forward with Assad and came up with the idea that all the chemical weapons in Syria would be sent out and deposited and so forth – and a very interesting outcome, which was a good idea, to get rid of all those weapons, but there was, at that point, rather extraordinary cooperation between Foreign Minister Lavrov and John Kerry and some negotiations there that were rather friendly.

MR. KEMPE: Questions, please.

Q: Thank you for a very interesting discussion. My name is Andrei Sitov; I am a Russian reporter here in Washington, D.C. I have one question, each, to the two gentlemen. To the Polish prime minister, sir, you mentioned that Ukraine will take a few billion dollars to mint. We’ve seen different estimates. I’ve seen an estimate from a former IMF economist up to $100 billion. So what is your opinion? How much money would it take to repair the damage? Where should the money come from? And can it be done without Russia?

And to the senator – so nice to see you, sir, again – the question is, there is a bill in the U.S. Senate that’s passed the committee – Foreign Relations Committee that aims to sort of perpetuate the sanctions regime. And we’ve been through this with Jackson-Vanik and now the Corker-Menendez bill seems to be aiming at the same thing. Does it strike you as a good idea to do this – to sort of create institutional barriers for the relationship, for the foreseeable future? And how big are the chances for its passage? Thank you, sir.

MR. KEMPE: So, Prime Minister Bielecki, first on the question of, what is going to cost Ukraine, and who does it, and then, Senator McCain on sanctions – Senator McCain, forgive me – Senator Lugar on sanctions. (Laughter.)


MR. BIELECKI: Thank you. The cost of transformation is, of course, difficult to be predicted at this stage. And then, the IMF evaluation was based on the previous situation. Today, the situation is also much more complicated, because the country is damaged by the way imposed by the neighbor, and in some regions which are disconnected from the economy of Ukraine, not to mention the transportation system and so-so.

That’s why it is so important to stick to the Minsk agreement and to find a solution as quickly as possible, and to re-establish normal conditions. We know that there is a cost also covered by the international financial institutions, but it’s – it has paid off so well in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe, so I’m pretty sure that it could be also the case for Ukraine.

One of the part of the agreement is also to establish the best possible economic and commercial cooperation between European Union and Ukraine on one side, and also with Russia on the other side, but in order to resolve the problem, they should be – the bloodshed should be stopped, and the aggression should be at least stopped as it was clearly indicated in the agreement, and nobody is saying that it – as you ask that it could be done without Russia, but Russia should respect the agreement they signed, and they signed in ’94 on the integrity of Ukraine, and they signed recently on the necessary measures to be undertaken, so I think it’s time to deliver now, by everybody.

MR. KEMPE: Senator Lugar.

MR. LUGAR: I have no way of predicting will come forward. The legislation you mentioned, sir, would have died at the end of the last Congress, so there would have to be re-initiation, but I am sure there will be discussion of sanctions. There is some damage to American business from the sanctions, quite apart from the European damage we’ve talked about.

On the other hand, it is now de minimis, but as a part of our economy – a much smaller one – what is occurring – and there has not been very good data on this, however – is the amount of Russian money that has come in – new capital into the United States that is fleeing Russia. It could very well be, on balance, that the United States economy has gained – (chuckles) – it’s the sort of data that is not easily collected, but likewise, some of the Russians who have come over here may be helpful in testifying, really, what they brought and so forth.

I think it’s not in our interest to perpetually have sanctions that are harmful to Russia, but it’s a difficult period. As we saw in the press today, the Russians already have said we’ll not come to President Obama’s conference on nuclear security, which is still two years off, in which the countries of the world have discussed how can we get rid of weapons of mass destruction in our countries? And Russian the United States have cooperated on this. But President Putin and others have said, well, we’re not coming to such a thing. We may have a bilateral dialogue with the United States, but we don’t want to in any way enhance the reputation of the president by agreeing to come to such a meeting.

MR. KEMPE: Please, yes. No, here and then back. Yeah.

Q: Hi. Matt Horn, Global Strategies. Thank you both for you excellent remarks. Quick question: It seems to me, you know, retrospectively, that everybody overlooked the fact when President Putin said the greatest calamity that Russian confronted in the – was the fall of the Soviet Union in the 20th century. How do you move forward and negotiate with an actor that some are saying is rational, some are saying is not rational? But how do you move the ball forward when he thinks the greatest crisis confronting the 20th century – or even now, the 21st century – is the fall of the Soviet Union? Thank you.

MR. KEMPE: And maybe the interesting question to draw out of that is, in your assessment – and you’ve both been in quite important leadership positions – would you be dealing with Putin right now and Russia as a rational actor? Dealing with a nuclear state, that’s a pretty important question. Senator Lugar first and then Prime Minister Bielecki.

MR. LUGAR: Well, I think we could deal with President Putin. And I wouldn’t hesitate in the event that there was a possibility of doing so. However, I recognize I’ve already stated that his problems politically are such that, for the moment, he may not want to be dealing with us or anybody else. He may want to exercise this idea, as you’ve suggested, that the fall of the Russian empire was the worst thing that ever happened. And so as a result, he’s gaining some plaudits among some sentimentalists there for some even minor restoration of this – albeit on the edges.

Now, how long he can get by with that while an economy crumbles all around – we could not have anticipated when we put the sanctions on that the price of oil would go from 110 to 80. This is huge in terms of Russia. It has even some effect on people in the United States in the oil business. But with regard to Russia, it’s so dependent upon that revenue. And this is a worldwide affair. And so he – this is beyond really just the United States and Putin at this particular point. But I would say, as I mentioned with the chemical weapons in Syria, we did have, surprisingly, an agreement and something occurred there.

MR. KEMPE: Mr. Bielecki.

MR. BIELECKI: Thank you. I think that the biggest calamity of Russian government today is not the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the fact that the – due to aggressive action – (inaudible) – so many countries within the former Soviet Union, there is a genuine threat that they could be the next in line for aggressive actions. And the – and Russia managed something which was difficult to be achieved, like also resurgence of Ukrainian national identity. And today, you have a minimum – millions of millions of Ukrainians who feel proud of their country. And they figure out that independence is of greatest value.

So probably also even in Kazakhstan and Belarus, they think that maybe this new Russia would also mean more influence in those countries. So the way the Russians dealt with the energy supplies also opened up the eyes of many in the energy union. Something impossible within the European Union now becomes more and more possible because they learned that the gas supply is a political weapon, not only a commercial transaction. So that’s a calamity, because delivering evidence is changing the views of many.

And I think that we depose of the last maybe defendants of Russia today because we – so, we were probably more sensitive than the others, but today we sound maybe not that hokey, because today even the Germans are saying that the energy union is something required for the European Union. So that is the outcome of that policy. So in the medium term, it’s a massive mistake, in my opinion, or in – from our perspective, it’s good because, well, as I said before, the energy union close to the hearts of Polish government is now becoming more and more operational because everybody is in favor of recognition that there is this problem like energy security in Europe. So that could be a calamity to turning it the other way around, you know.

MR. KEMPE: There’s also – we haven’t gone into the TTIP question, but there’s also now new talk about an energy charter within the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which we, I think, would embrace. And that’s – definitely wouldn’t have happened as – before all the Ukraine issues.

I’m really sorry. I see four or five different questions but we’re really down to the last question. Please, in the back. I think – did you have a question still? No? Yes? Please, yeah. Maybe we’ll just pick up – yeah, maybe we only have time for one more, I’m afraid. Yes, please.

Q: Thank you. My name is Yale Donfrachski (sp), I work for Voice of America. You’ve been a friend of Voice of America while you were a senator, so I’m counting on a very thorough answer to this question – (laughter) – which is the following: To some observers, the incursions that the Russian Air Force has made into NATO airspace and the sort of inferring that the borders of even Baltic states are not completely settled, is it – would you explain that as Russia’s attempt to test Article 5 of NATO?

MR. KEMPE: Excellent question. And since this is the last question, let me load that question a little bit with, you know, should we be doing more to guarantee the security of the Baltics, or is what NATO is doing right now with these NATO members sufficient? So these two questions perhaps bundled. And let’s go to Prime Minister Bielecki and have Senator Lugar close.

MR. BIELECKI: Whether it is a testing or not, and the response should proper up to the challenge. And quick reaction is a must to prove that there is a system of warning and intrusion is intrusion. And whether it’s a – yes, and if – the question then –

MR. KEMPE: The Baltics –

MR. BIELECKI: – push forward by you regarding the Baltic security is – I think it’s a – it’s an open question because what is important is to respond. If the situation is deteriorated, then – further, then some more presence is necessary because there are some serious concerns in the Baltics today regarding their sovereignty. And since they belong to the family, then they should have the strong conviction that they will be defended as it has been promised. Yes, and it has been said very clearly by the secretary-general, the past and also the incumbent one.

MR. KEMPE: Senator Lugar.

MR. LUGAR: I believe that perhaps there have been Russian exercises that were meant to indicate that Russia is still there, that Russia is a power and we ought to recognize that. Fortunately, there have not been accidents in which the Russian aircraft or ships or whatever ran into somebody else, but it’s a dangerous predicament. It’s much like the tests of the South Koreans by North Koreans from time to time. Everyone wants to sort of demonstrate they have some muscle in the – (inaudible).

I don’t see it as an Article 5 question. I don’t see any of these exercises that there has been deliberate idea of invading the country and taking over authority in the country. But at the same time, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve all become much more alert. And the United States has been visiting with other countries in Eastern Europe and in the Baltics. And they’re probably giving us some very frank opinions as to what would make them feel better in terms of the security situation now.

MR. KEMPE: The question of basing – Baltics, Poland, persistent versus permanent. You know the arguments?

MR. LUGAR: I would suspect probably the argument will be less intense in the United States if it’s a question of exercises from time to time as opposed to airfields laying down. And that may be the case in the internal politics of some of the countries, likewise. They would like to be defended, but on the other hand they still have their democracy debates about their sovereignty, about who is coming there. And we haven’t had very much of that discussion therefore. But I think we will need to be cautious.

MR. KEMPE: Yeah. Well, thank you very much.

So let me close, first of all, by again saluting Professor Geremek and everything he’s meant to us. We’re really happy that we can continue this. What a terrific couple of speakers. Senator Lugar, thank you for coming. Prime Minister Bielecki, thank you for coming to the United States. Thank you for our cooperation, also, in Poland, Wroclaw – (inaudible) – as well. And we look forward to seeing you in Wroclaw. We look forward to seeing all of you in Wroclaw.