Remarks With Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 17, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m delighted to welcome the foreign minister of Poland, our friend Witold Waszczykowski, and to underscore the very important role that Poland will be playing this year with the July summit, the Warsaw summit of NATO, which we are preparing for significantly now.

Poland has been a strong ally. We are working very closely together on any number of security issues. We also have a relationship between some of our defense industry and their defense industry, and that’s been a very solid economic rock as well as substantive – the security component of the relationship.

We’ll also discuss today some of the internal challenges that Poland is facing. Particularly, I look forward to – we are very welcoming of Poland’s decision to seek a Venice Commission opinion with respect to the tribunal law, and I look forward to having a good conversation with Witold on any number of subjects, ranging from the challenge to Europe as a whole because of what’s happening in Syria and Daesh. There is a major, obviously, pressure on all of Europe as a consequence of that, and we’re very aware of it, which is why we are pushing so hard for a cessation of hostilities and some change in the dynamic of Syria, though we all understand it is not easy.

In addition to that, Poland and the United States as NATO allies share significant commitment to the assurance program. We have increased our expenditures this year in that program from less than a billion dollars to $3.4 billion in order to be able to do more to make it clear to any country that may be thinking of any kind of destabilizing activities of any kind whatsoever that the United States, NATO, the NATO allies stand strongly together in furtherance of full democracy, in furtherance of full respect for the sovereignty and integrity of international borders and the rights of countries to be free from external interference from other countries.


FOREIGN MINISTER WASZCZYKOWSKI: Thank you. Thank you, John. Thank you very much for the invitation. Good morning, everyone. I’m also happy and delighted to be here, and thank you for invitation and for organizing my trip to United States. It’s a sentimental journey because I used to live here many, many years ago, a graduate from one of the universities. So now as a minister of foreign affairs, I’m delighted to visit first time in this capacity.

Poland and United States, we share the norms, standards, values, and the special interest – a special interest in security. We are facing the same challenges right now – certain challenges coming to Europe from eastern direction and from southern direction. And we think that commonly we can face and we can answer these challenges. Of course, we are – we concentrate in Poland mostly on the eastern dimension of this challenge because they are on the other side of our border. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is important for us, and we particularly care how to solve this conflict.

But we are – we are not neglecting also the challenges from the southern dimension. The existence of Daesh is a very difficult problem for our civilization, and we have to commonly find a solution how to fight it. We have to find a solution how to stabilize Middle East, how to stabilize North Africa, and these are the problems we are just discussing together.

And as Secretary of State mentioned, we are four or five months before the NATO summit, which is going to be in Warsaw. And I hope that in July in Warsaw, NATO will provide some answers to these threats and will stabilize security in our part of Europe.

We have bilateral issues to discuss, economic issues to discuss. We would like to enlarge our cooperation. United States is an important economic partner for Poland, so we hope that we can enlarge, expand our cooperation also in this field.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend.

FOREIGN MINISTER WASZCZYKOWSKI: It’s my pleasure to be with you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what’s your take on China deploying missile – missile system in the Spratlys?

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m sorry, what?

QUESTION: China deploy a missile defense system in Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we have said repeatedly with respect to China that the standard that should be applied to all countries with respect to the South China Sea is no militarization. When President Xi was here in Washington, he stood in the Rose Garden with President Obama and said China will not militarize in the South China Sea. But there is every evidence every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another. It’s of serious concern. We’ve had these conversations with the Chinese, and I’m confident that over the next days we will have further, very serious conversation on this. And my hope is that China will realize that it is important to try to resolve the jurisdictional issues of the South China Sea not through unilateral action, not through force, not through militarization, but through diplomacy and by working with the other countries and claimants in trying to resolve these differences. And we’ll have more to say on this in the next days for sure.

Thank you.