Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday in Warsaw declared increased defence spending. Komorowski wants to see military spending at 2 pct of GDP while Obama will ask Congress for USD 1 billion to support U.S. allies.
Speaking at a joint press conference with President Obama at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw, President Komorowski said that he saw his Tuesday talks with the U.S. president as confirmation of security guarantees for the Central and Eastern European region.
“It gives me great satisfaction and hope to greet the U.S. president when we are anxiously observing crisis situations across Poland’s eastern border, NATO’s eastern border and the EU’s eastern border – in Ukraine,” said Komorowski.
He also expressed “Polish satisfaction” with the fact that “the U.S. president spoke unequivocally of the need to strengthen the role of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, something that Poland has been pursuing consistently.”
President Obama said that he had come to Poland to confirm the United States’ commitment to Poland’s security as an ally within NATO. He added that the missile defence programme was being continued and pointed out that the recently deployed air unit was the first regular U.S. military presence in Poland.
Poland’s president announced that Poland would work to increase its spending on the armed forces to 2 percent of GDP (from the current 1.95 percent), as a measurable gesture of commitment to its own defence but also as encouragement to other NATO member states to follow the same path.
“I also appreciate that (President Obama and myself) have the same view as regards the need to upgrade and provide continual training to the armed forces in order to fulfil contingency plans,” Komorowski said.
President Obama said that he would ask Congress to approve the sum of USD 1 billion as support for the United States’ allies.
“Today, I’m announcing a new initiative to bolster the support of our NATO allies here in Europe,” Obama said. “Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will preposition more equipment in Europe,” he added.
He said he was grateful to President Komorowski for his efforts leading to the modernisation of the Polish armed forces and for having announced an even greater commitment.
Obama added that the United States intended to increase the number of U.S. personnel and aircraft rotations in Central and Eastern Europe.
President Komorowski remarked that increasing the U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe would act as a deterrent in continuing with a policy of pressure and aggression towards Poland’s eastern neighbours.
He emphasised that Poland and the United States wanted the September NATO summit in Wales to confirm the need for the alliance’s greater commitment to building infrastructure for receiving support forces in case of a threat to security.
“We want it to be clear that there are no second-rate NATO countries, that there are no countries which someone from outside – specifically Russia – can tell whether or not they may have U.S. or other allied troops (in their territory),” Komorowski said.
President Obama pointed to the steadily decreasing defence spending in Europe – a trend that needs to be stopped. NATO’s defence capability does not depend just on the deployment of U.S. forces in NATO countries but on the cooperation of the member states themselves, according to the U.S. president.
He also said that he had never distinguished between “old” and “new” NATO members and had always worked to guarantee contingency plans for every NATO country.
Obama praised Poland for being a leader in terms of investing in collective security and for showing such excellent leadership in the past few months in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. He added that the United States and Poland would support the Ukrainians in their political and economic reforms as well as supporting dialogue between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists.
Komorowski declared that Poland and NATO were interested in good relations with Russia, but it was necessary for Russia to abandon the use of force in contacts with its neighbours.
In Obama’s view, the Ukrainians should be able to decide about their country’s future without any external interference. He agreed with Komorowski that good relations with Russia should be pursued, but without sacrificing fundamental principles such as territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom.
The U.S. president expressed thanks for the opportunity to be in Poland again, saying that it was a great honour to be with the Polish people as they celebrated 25 years of freedom. (PAP)