NATO chief and Duda meet as Poland prepares to mark two decades of alliance membership
The secretary general of Nato met President Andrzej Duda on Thursday night at the start on an official visit to mark the 20th-anniversary of Poland’s membership of the alliance.
Membership of Nato has become the bedrock of Polish defence, and Poland has become one of just a handful of member states that hit the alliance’s unofficial target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defence.
The meeting between the president and Jens Stoltenberg touched on a number of issues including Syria, the Black Sea region and the apparent violation by Russia of the INF Treaty on medium-ranged, land based nuclear missiles.
Following his meeting with the president Mr Stoltenberg said “we are extremely grateful for the contribution Poland makes every day to Nato.”
Taking to Twitter he added later: "For more than two decades, Poland has shown again and again that it is a strong and committed Nato ally. In Warsaw, I thanked President Duda and Prime Minister Morawiecki for Poland’s exemplary defence spending and for making a significant investment in new capabilities.”
In turn, President Duda underlined Poland’s commitment to the Nato cause.
“Poland has increased its presence in Afghanistan from 350 to 400 troops, we are conducting air policing mission over the Baltic States, and Polish soldiers are present in Latvia and Romania as a part of the Enhanced Forward Presence and Tailored Forward Presence missions,” he said. “This is how we conduct our obligations as an ally.”
The anniversary and the secretary general’s arrival in the Polish capital coincide with calls for the EU to take a more pro-active role in the continent’s defence. Last year Emmanuel Macron, the French president, won the backing of Angela Merkel when he said the EU should have a European army “independent of the United Sates”.
But the idea of an EU army has only received a lukewarm response from Poland, which still regards Nato as the preeminent body safeguarding the continent’s security. President Duda, overseeing a Nato exercise in north-east Poland earlier on Thursday, said that any EU moves in defence should support Nato.
“It is important that EU-level action be complementary to Nato action,” the president stressed. “It is very important that all these actions, in which we are involved at an EU level, are consistent with the actions of the North Atlantic Alliance.”