Polish FM: NATO must express solidarity to secure members' interests

Jacek Czaputowicz at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly PAP/Tomasz Gzell

NATO must express solidarity and unity to effectively defend its member states' security interests, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said as he opened the second day of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Saturday.

The Assembly, which started in Warsaw on Friday, was organised at the Polish parliament building.

In his address, Jacek Czaputowicz made a reference to the outbreak of World War II, when the growing aggression of totalitarian regimes "unfortunately did not meet a proper response from the international community."

In this context, Czaputowicz mentioned that Europe was currently facing conflicts to its south and east, both open and frozen ones. "The free world cannot afford to remain passive towards challenges, even those that seem distant," the foreign minister said.

Among the challenges for NATO he named "the danger of long-lasting hostilities", such as the war in Ukraine's eastern region of Donbas. "On the other hand, we increasingly often face new challenges of very diverse nature, like in the cyber- and disinformation," Czaputowicz said. There is also the threat of asymmetric activities, for example by terrorist groups, he added.

"Today, we must ensure that the decisions on the strengthening of the eastern flank of the Alliance that were made at the summits in Newport (in Wales, 2014 - PAP) and Warsaw (2016 - PAP) are fully and irreversibly implemented," Czaputowicz stressed.

The minister said that Poland offers its support and sends its troops wherever they are needed, including nearby locations such as Latvia but also Afghanistan and Iraq, and stressed that Polish officers also took part in civilian missions under EU auspices.

"We are aware that we can demand solidarity from others only when we ourselves show our solidarity to those who expect it," Czaputowicz noted. "NATO must express solidarity; only as a strong, political unity is it able to effectively defend its member states' security interests. Different perceptions of threats to security must not divide us in seeking solutions that are satisfactory for all the allies," the foreign minister stressed.

Czaputowicz underscored the significance of NATO's permanent enhanced presence on the alliance's eastern flank, which according to him also requires support from trained secondary response forces.

Poland wants the upcoming July NATO summit in Brussels to further improve the alliance defence and deterrence abilities, the minister went on to say.

Czaputowicz stressed the importance of transatlantic ties. "Europe needs the United States and the United States needs Europe. We face common challenges and threats and we share our security interests, and in particular our common values that NATO stems from."

A strategic partnership with the US remains a priority of Poland's foreign policy, he said, stressing the importance of US troops' presence in Poland, which according to him should be further increased.

Czaputowicz pointed to Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the "unresolved issue of the return of the wreckage of Polish (presidential) plane Tu-154 which crashed on Russian territory in April 2010," a disaster that took the life of then Polish President Lech Kaczyński.

Asked by a French delegate whether Warsaw would be willing to get involved in the works of the Normandy Four, comprising Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, Czaputowicz said that there were doubts as to the efficiency of this format in resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Instead, he suggested the involvement of EU peacekeeping forces as well as the United States and the UN.