New defence pact stands for higher level of cooperation with US - Duda
The Aug. 15 signing of the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between Poland and the United States takes the two countries to the next stage of reinforced military cooperation, President Andrzej Duda said on Saturday.
The new defence deal, agreed in late July, will see the number of US troops in Poland rise to at least 5,500.
A declaration of September last year, signed by Duda and US President Donald Trump in New York, also indicated the locations for US land and air forces in Poland. In late July, the Pentagon, announcing plans to reduce and change the deployment of US forces in Europe, declared the establishment in Poland of the forward command of the US 5th Corps, which is to consist of around 200 soldiers.
"Not only will there be more US soldiers, not only will there be more American infrastructure in our country, but also the guarantee that our soldiers will stand shoulder to shoulder in case of any threat, be it to Poland or the US," Duda said.
In his opinion, this means "a measurable strengthening" of Polish security and translates into other aspects of Polish-American cooperation.
"What is extremely important, not only do we benefit from this cooperation - strengthened military cooperation as well as cooperation in energy - but we also bring security to our part of Europe," Duda said.
Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, the Polish signatory of the new defence pact, told PAP that Poland had "negotiated more than we assumed." He said that thanks to the development of infrastructure, also to be used by the Polish army, it will be possible to receive up to 20,000 US soldiers on Polish territory.
Błaszczak also said that in cases deemed important, American soldiers would be subject to Polish criminal jurisdiction, with the exception of acts committed while on duty.
"There is also no question of extraterritoriality of the facilities where American troops will be stationed," he added.
According to the defence minister, the Polish share in the costs of stationing Americans is to reach PLN 0.5 billion (EUR 114 mln) more per year "bringing benefits to the domestic economy."
The US State Department, according to a statement sent to PAP, said that the EDCA provides a mechanism for the sharing of logistical and infrastructure costs for US forces present in Poland.
"For its part, the United States will continue to bear the costs of training, equipping, and deploying US forces to Poland, which is significantly higher than the cost of support Poland invests in support of US forces once they are in the country. Together, these efforts improved security and stability for both nations in a cost-effective way," the statement read.