Polish MoD, president's aide praise outcome of NATO summit in London

Referring to President Duda's meeting with his French counterpart, Szczerski said that the Polish head of state had been assured by President Emmanuel Macron that there was no collision between the development of European and Atlantic security, and that they should strengthen each other. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said after the NATO summit in London that "the security of Poland and the eastern flank of the alliance have been ensured, also owing to Poland's activity." The Polish president's aide said the summit confirmed NATO's unity.

The minister underlined that "thanks to President Andrzej Duda's efforts and talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has agreed to approve a NATO crisis response plan."

Błaszczak emphasised that this happened despite fears voiced ahead of the summit. Having recalled President Duda's meeting with his Turkish counterpart, the official said that "Turkey has agreed - and this decision requires unanimity - to approve this plan."

The minister also praised the success of a NATO Readiness Initiative – the 'Four Thirties' – under which 30 mechanised battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat vessels are to be ready within 30 days or less.

"Poland is an important partner in this project, since one of the six land brigades comes from the Polish Army. We have also offered two F-16 squadrons to the air force. This means that the security of Poland and the alliance's eastern flank have been ensured, also owing to Poland's activity."

NATO's Readiness Initiative was launched during the alliance's July 2018 summit in Brussels.

The leaders attending the London summit, which marked the 70th anniversary of the alliance, confirmed that NATO is the cornerstone of their collective defence. They also underlined their commitment to Article 5 of NATO's Washington Treaty, saying "that an attack against one ally shall be considered an attack against us all."

Polish president's chief aide Krzysztof Szczerski told PAP on Thursday that "President Duda - acting on NATO secretary general's request - took the mission upon himself to convince President Erdogan to withdraw his opposition to an update of the NATO defence plan for Poland and the Baltics."

Szczerski said that "Turkish opposition against NATO's plans was not a result of Polish-Turkish relations, but of a Turkish defence plan."

"President Duda held a phone conversation with President Erdogan on Monday. On Tuesday, they talked during a reception at Buckingham Palace, and on Wednesday they met for a third time together with the Baltics," Szczerski said, adding that negotiations were also conducted by Polish and Turkish delegations, and by Polish Ambassador to NATO Tomasz Szatkowski.

"Our arguments convinced the Turkish side to withdraw its reservations. (...) Those, who wanted to show that the alliance is divided and that such countries as Poland fall victim to its internal division, have not been right. But this required a diplomatic offensive from the Polish president," he said, underlining that there was no discussion regarding any demands in return for an agreement.

Szczerski also emphasised that none of the leaders had undermined the sense of NATO's existence. He added that the summit's final declaration showed the alliance's unity, and that NATO "is today much stronger, more active and more capable to operate."

Referring to President Duda's meeting with his French counterpart, Szczerski said that the Polish head of state had been assured by President Emmanuel Macron that there was no collision between the development of European and Atlantic security, and that they should strengthen each other.

He expressed hope that in the near future it will be possible to discuss the agenda of bilateral visits. "I think that this conversation has also opened up the way to start planning President Macron's visit to Poland next year."