U.S.-Poland Bilateral Missile Defense Signing and Joint Press Availability With Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
City Hall
Krakow, Poland
July 3, 2010

MODERATOR: (Speaks in Polish.) Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure to announce the signing ceremony of the protocol amending the agreement concerning the deployment of the ballistic missile of defense interceptors in the Republic of Poland. The protocol will be signed by the Honorable Yatsik Naydair, Under Secretary of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland; the Honorable Lee Feinstein, U.S. Ambassador to Poland. And the ceremony will take place in presence of the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State; the Honorable Radoslaw Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland; the Honorable Bogdan Klich, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Poland.


MODERATOR: (Speaks in Polish.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a great pleasure for me to be back in Poland and in the beautiful city of Krakow. And I thank the Foreign Minister for his gracious welcome and a very substantive, productive meeting.

We are very committed to the bonds between our two nations. The United States and Poland have so many connections of history and culture, of family, of values, and that brings us closer together as we chart a new course in the 21st century. We’re also NATO allies, and the United States is deeply committed to Poland’s security and sovereignty. Today, by signing an amendment to the ballistic missile defense agreement, we are reinforcing this commitment. The amendment will allow us to move forward with Polish participation in hosting elements of the phased adaptive approach to missile defense in Europe. It will help protect the Polish people and all of Europe, our allies, and others from evolving threats like that posed by Iran.

Americans are proud to stand with Poland. Poland’s success is a testament to the power of democracy to transform lives, unleash human potential, and drive positive change. I’m especially pleased to be here to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Community of Democracies, an American-Polish initiative. And this weekend, Poland will renew its democracy by holding a second round of presidential elections. The United States applauds the commitment to democracy by the people of Poland. Whichever candidate is chosen, the United States will continue to be your friend and partner.

The strength of Poland’s democratic institutions has never been clearer. I know the sorrow is still fresh for all those lost in April’s terrible plane crash. Over the years, Poland has shed more than her share of tears. But once again, the resilience, the resolve, the recommitment by Poland has been an inspiration to the United States and the American people. We have so much to work on together.

And I am pleased we are deepening our cooperation on clean energy and energy security. Polish and American experts from both the public and the private sectors recently participated in a round table in Washington on a range of issues including clean coal technologies, renewable energy, nuclear power, shale gas, and smart grid applications.

And, Mr. Minister, I am very pleased that Poland has agreed to participate in the global shale gas initiative which is focused on tapping into unconventional gas resources to drive economic growth and lower emissions. So let me thank you once again not only for our partnership, but for the commitment that you represent to the Polish-American relationship. And I thank the people of Poland for their continuing inspiration to my country and the world.

MODERATOR: (In Polish.)

QUESTION: Thank you. I am Bob Burns from Associated Press. Minister Sikorski, I unfortunately couldn’t hear your -- the translation of your remarks and I don’t speak Polish, but I’ll just forge ahead anyway.

On the missile defense question, does your government feel this system, this new system as proposed by the Obama Administration, is really adequate for Poland, in light of the fact that the new missiles that are envisioned for Poland will not be here and operational for several years?

And if I may ask a question of Secretary Clinton as well on the same subject, do you -- is there some reason for concern that this agreement and moving ahead on this system will reinvigorate Russian opposition to U.S. missile defense in Europe in general as well as, in particular, the presence of U.S. military forces in Poland? Thanks.

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: When President Obama announced the new configuration of the system, we did say that we liked the new configuration better, but I think you didn’t believe us. But I hope now that we have signed the annex, I hope you do believe us, because it’s based on existing technology and, therefore, is more likely to be built and to be effective. And it is capable of protecting NATO and Poland and the United States, of course, from a bigger range of threats. And we uphold declarations from the time of signing the original agreement that we want the facility to as transparent as possible. We would like the Russian Federation, in particular, to have confidence that the facility is built for the declared ends and, therefore, on a reciprocal basis, we would be happy for it to be inspected.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I couldn’t say it any better myself. I think that the phased adaptive approach has so many advantages over the plan that it replaced. And the United States is very committed to going forward. The signing of the agreement today is one more indicator of that. We believe that the phased adaptive approach will effectively defend our friends, allies, and our deployed forces in Europe from evolving missile threats, primarily from Iran.

Now, the first elements of this approach will be available on the time table set forth to defend portions of Europe years earlier than the original plan could have met. And this approach provides opportunities for allied participation. So instead of it being a unilateral U.S. commitment, it is now a commitment of the alliance. And it is very important for us that we get that kind of ownership and buy-in -- which we are -- from NATO.

With respect to Russia, this is purely a defensive system. It is not directed at Russia. It does not threaten Russia. It is a defensive system to protect our friends and allies and our deployed forces. And part of the reason that the Obama Administration made the change toward the phased adaptive approach is that we did an intensive analysis of what the real threats were. And the real threats come from the development of short- and medium-term missiles on a faster time table from Iran. We continue to look to cooperate with Russia on missile defense, because we think that is in our mutual interest.

MODERATOR: (Speaks in Polish.)

QUESTION: (Speaks in Polish.) And I have question for -- to Secretary Clinton. You said that you’re going to -- it’s not going to threaten Russia and that it’s going be in cooperation. Will Russia be included in any way in this project? Will it be a part of missile defense that you’re building? And what are the chances that in eight years it will actually be realized? President Obama and your Administration will be gone by then.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, NATO has encouraged Russia to cooperate and even participate in the missile defense efforts that NATO is undertaking against what we view as common threats. Russia has not accepted that offer, but the offer stands. And the United States is beginning discussions with Russia to explore whether there are any circumstances under which the United States and Russia could work together on radar development and deployment or any other aspect of missile defense. We welcome that. We’ve encouraged that.

Thus far, there has not been a willingness by Russia to respond positively, but the door is open. And we have consistently made the case to Russia that we want a whole and free Europe. We want good relations between Europe, the United States, the Euro-Atlantic Alliance, and Russia. And we believe the threats that we all face are common ones and, therefore, we hope that Russia will orient itself more toward working with all of us in meeting those common threats.

QUESTION: What about the time table?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, the time table -- we are committed to the time table. It’s a commitment of the United States Government.


MODERATOR: (Speaks in Polish.)

QUESTION: Arshad Mohammed of Reuters. Secretary Clinton, if I might ask you to look ahead to Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia where you’ll be over the next couple of days, can you shed any light on what thoughts you have on how to try to promote resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, and also of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia disputes. These have been frozen conflicts for many years and seem likely to stay that way. What are your ideas?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there will be more time to discuss this on the rest of the trip, but let me just briefly say the United States is very supportive of the Minsk process which consists of the United States, Russia, and France working together to try to bridge the divide between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. We are working on an intensive basis with respect to that long-standing dispute. We have a full-time, American, experienced ambassador assigned to the Minsk group and I will certainly be discussing this with both the leaders in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

With respect to Georgia, we have consistently opposed the occupation by Russian troops of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and have pushed for a resolution that would restore the full territorial integrity of Georgia. I will certainly be discussing that with the leadership in Georgia. We have raised these issues consistently with Russia and certainly have not seen a lot of the progress in the Geneva process which was established to try to create observers and peacekeeping missions and border security as a stop-gap measure on the way to, hopefully, seeing the end of the Russian occupation. But that is a subject high on my list when I get to Georgia.

FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: (Speaks in Polish.) Perhaps I should say it in English. Poland also strongly supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and the need to resolve frozen conflicts because we now know how quickly they can unfreeze. And just a few days ago in Paris, we held a meeting of the Weimar Triangle, which is to say Poland, France, and Germany, which we invited Sergei Lavrov of Russia. And we made the argument to him that Russia needs to show its credibility on these issues, for example, by helping to resolve the Transnistria issue.

MODERATOR: (Speaks in Polish.)

QUESTION: Secretary of State, Polish Press Agency. Have you -- you have invited Poland to the global initiative for shale gas. How the cooperation will look like, exactly? And some details, please. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: The Global Shale Gas Initiative will bring together interested countries that have both the potential for shale gas development, as well as the will to develop the expertise in order to create the conditions that this resource can be exploited in a safe, environmentally sustainable manner.

We think that Poland, in particular, has a very good opportunity to be a leader in a full range of energy issues, including shale gas. And I was delighted that Minister Sikorsky adopted our invitation to join this initiative. This will be mostly at the technical experts level, because this is a difficult and demanding area to make sure that it is done appropriately. But at the political and national level, this is a very good sign of Polish leadership in the energy sector, because energy security and independence is one of the most important aspects of national security in today’s world.

MODERATOR: (Speaks in Polish.)

PRN: 2010/T31-10