NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Poland for making important contributions to the Alliance during a visit to Warsaw on Friday (25 August 2017). He highlighted Poland’s contributions to NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, training in Iraq, and thanked Poland for hosting key NATO commands and capabilities. Mr. Stoltenberg also welcomed Poland’s leadership on defence spending, by meeting the NATO benchmark of investing 2% of GDP in defence.
In Warsaw, Mr. Stoltenberg recalled the importance of the decisions taken by Allies at NATO’s 2016 summit in the Polish capital, which led to the greatest reinforcement of the Alliance’s collective defence since the end of the Cold War. “We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force, established new headquarters in the east of the Alliance and enhanced our forward presence here in Poland, as well as in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania”, Mr Stoltenberg said.
Commenting on Russia’s ZAPAD military exercise, scheduled for September in Belarus and western Russia, Mr Stoltenberg said NATO would be watching closely. He further urged Russia to respect its commitments to military transparency and the OSCE. “All nations have the right to exercise their forces, but nations should also respect their commitments to transparency,” he said.
While in Warsaw, Mr Stoltenberg held talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, and Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz. He also participated in a trilateral meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Waszczykowski, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melesșcanu, which focused on current security challenges and preparations for next year’s NATO summit in Brussels.
The Secretary General wrapped up his trip to Poland by visiting a 1,200-strong multinational NATO battlegroup stationed in the northeastern town of Orzysz. The NATO battlegroup is one of four in the Baltic nations and Poland established following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. Mr Stoltenberg noted that NATO’s forces in the eastern part of the Alliance were a key outcome of the Warsaw Summit, adding that they show Europe and North America standing united.