Warsaw, 19 November 2010
Remarks on Security on the Eve of the Adoption of a New Strategic Concept of NATO
The end product of the upcoming summit of NATO member states’ leaders in Lisbon on 19-20 November is meant to be a new strategic concept of NATO. The previous edition of this key document for the Alliance was founded in 1999, when our country had just joined the NATO family. At that time, we had a very limited impact on the preparation of the current strategic concept, which, in the unanimous opinion of experts, does not correspond to the challenges of today.
Currently, as a full participant in NATO, Poland is not only allowed but is actually required to give its contribution to the new strategic concept, in the name of Polish and Allied security interests.
It is in part because of Polish initiatives, expressed repeated to other leaders by the late President of Poland Lech KaczyÅ„ski, that NATO is facing today’s challenge of preparing a document that is supposed to infuse new energy into the activities of the organization so that while fulfilling its fundamental task of collective defense, NATO could effectively answer today’s challenges.
In the past 11-year period that elapsed between the date of the adoption of the strategic concept that is still in force, on the one hand we had to deal with events such as terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 or cyber-attacks, and on the other – what is particularly important from the Polish perspective – we observed a progressive process of growing authoritarian power in Russia and a number of measures aimed to rebuild Russia’s communist-era sphere of influence, not only in the former Soviet Union, but also outside of it. Each chapter of the gas wars with Ukraine and Belarus, the challenge toward NATO in the form of the so-called Medvedev initiative aimed to deconstruct the current security system in the Euro-Atlantic area and, finally, the invasion of independent Georgia and the support for those political forces in the former Soviet Union that opposed the effects of the coloured revolutions, all indicate the level of determination of the authorities in Moscow, which challenged the outside world craving to get back among the big powers that determine the fate of the world, and even to revive the undemocratic concept of a concert of empires. A matter of particular importance to the security of Poland and our region in this context is the visible change in the priorities of the United States’ security policy, which clearly imply that the focus of its activities has been transferred to the Far East and reflect the belief that European security is a closed project. This is happening while, despite the passage of 11 years after the enlargement of the Alliance to include Poland and the states of our region, the placing of NATO defense infrastructure on the territories of new members has not taken place. This phenomenon, in the context of the facts described above, requires us to make inquiries into the Alliance’s actual security guarantees for Poland and other Central European countries that joined NATO. This is the most urgent issue to be resolved in the forthcoming NATO document. Any further opening of the organization to cooperation with external actors, such as Russia, cannot come at the expense of the consistency and efficiency of NATO and even more so at the expense of the security interests of the new members of the Alliance.
The status of Poland’s security cannot continue to diverge from the level of security of old members states of the Alliance. In light of the adverse changes occurring in our region, as mentioned above, Poland has to get Allied support (contingency plans) corresponding to the possible challenges. The security of the Atlantic area is indivisible.
A term that is now a permanent part of the contemporary language in the debate on security is terrorism, which may come in many forms but is always oriented on mass casualties. This includes attacks aimed at civilian population centres using conventional means as well as chemical weapons, the threat of the use of a “dirty bomb” produced with radioactive material, and cyber-terrorism. Reasons for concern are those areas in the world, which radiate potential or existing threats also for the territories of the Alliance. Therefore, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is related to the state of security of the citizens of NATO member states, while displaying a deficit in the solidarity of involvement of Member States. Let us hope that the Polish stance on this issue is not used against our interests.
In recent years the issue of energy security has also gained great importance as, for example, in the context of the above-mentioned actions of Russia, which use energy resources as a political tool. All these challenges call for a joint, Allied response. A response that should be included in the text of the new strategic concept but, above all, must become the real content of the functioning of NATO.
But whatever the final shape of the new strategic concept for NATO, the basic responsibility for national security of the Republic of Poland must be carried out by the Polish government on the basis of the Polish Armed Forces, first and foremost.
On National Independence Day, in which we respectfully honour the determination of our compatriots who in 1918 used the opportunity at hand to undertake the reconstruction of the sovereign Republic of Poland, we must inquire whether those who rule Poland today are aware of the responsibility for Poland’s independent existence. A number of facts, including our nation’s most tragic event since 1945 – the Smolensk disaster of 10 April involving the government aircraft of the 36th Special Air Transport Regiment – but also information coming from the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, such as cuts in the modernization and training of the army, undermine the competence and commitment of the current government in the sphere of national security.
Recalling the events of 1918, we also remember the recently celebrated 90th anniversary of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw of the Polish-Bolshevik War. If the Polish army had not been built from scratch by Marshal Jozef PiÅ‚sudski, after the euphoria of 1918 would come an imminent bitterness of defeat. As our history teaches us, independence once recovered calls for constant, selfless work, which often requires sacrifices so that it does not simply become a memory of a former glory. A special responsibility in this regard rests with the government.
This year’s tragic events and subsequent reactions of the ruling government repeatedly forced me to ask whether you, Prime Minister, and your government are not trying to run away from the responsibility, which cannot be avoided.
On behalf of the largest opposition party in Poland, held accountable by the will of voters to take responsibility and properly carry out obligations in the sphere of the I present to international public opinion my position on defense and security of the Central and Eastern Europe – in NATO’s new strategic concept as well as in the field of concern for our national defense potential.
Law and Justice Party