Parliament passes ratification bill for Polish-US military cooperation

Poland's Sejm (lower house) passed a law on Thursday empowering the president to ratify a Polish-American military cooperation agreement, which foresees an increase in the number of US soldiers stationed in Poland.

The bill was passed with 363 votes in favour, 14 against and 69 abstentions.

An international deal strengthening defence cooperation was signed in Warsaw on August 15 by Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The contract is complementary to a declaration last year by the presidents of the two countries, which heralded an increase in US troop numbers in Poland from 4,500 by at least 1,000.

The deal foresees among other things that the USA will not pay for access to jointly used facilities, but will bear the cost of their exploitation. Poland waives its precedence in criminal jurisdiction but may withdraw this waiver.

The defence minister said the increased US military presence raised deterrence capacity and contributed to the security not only of Poland but of the region. He also argued that the stationing of US military personnel brings economic benefits to local communities.

According to Blaszczak, the value of Polish support for the US presence will stand at PLN 500 million (EUR 112.35 million) a year, not including the costs of exercises, and he added that the infrastructure investments foreseen in the deal will also be used by Polish armed forces. He said that e building out infrastructure, it would be possible to accommodate 20,000 American soldiers in the event of a crisis.

Under the agreement, Poland will become the European headquarters of the 5th Corps of US Land Forces' forward command post, to be established in the western city of Poznan.