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NATO must bolster eastern flank to deter Russia: Poland’s top lawmaker

02.06.2023 20:00
The NATO alliance must strengthen its eastern flank to curb Vladimir Putin’s aggressive ambitions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland’s top parliamentarian has said.
Polands lower-house Speaker Elżbieta Witek addresses a meeting of NATO parliamentary leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday, June 2, 2023.
Poland's lower-house Speaker Elżbieta Witek addresses a meeting of NATO parliamentary leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday, June 2, 2023.Twitter/Polish Parliament

Elżbieta Witek made the appeal in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Witek, who chairs Poland’s lower house, the Sejm, spoke at a high-level meeting of NATO parliamentary Speakers in the Lithuanian capital.

The event focused on further support for Ukraine’s war effort against the Russian invasion, global challenges facing the NATO alliance, and the transformation of the Western security pact, according to officials. 

NATO parliamentary leaders held talks ahead of the alliance's July 11-12 summit in Vilnius, the PAP news agency reported.

'NATO has proven to be a credible and effective partner': Polish lower-house Speaker

During a session entitled Global Challenges, Global Partners, Global NATO, Poland’s Witek said that “much work needs to be done” to make NATO “stronger” and “in tune with new challenges.”

She stated: “When it comes to making NATO stronger and adjusted to new global challenges, and achieving a more secure international environment, there is consensus at the level of declarations.”

The Polish lower-house Speaker added: “However, when it comes to developing concrete measures, much work remains to be done.”

Witek went on to say: “In the hour of need, NATO has proven to be a credible and effective partner.”

She cautioned: “Unfortunately, the mere existence of NATO has turned out to be an insufficiently effective guarantee and deterrent to prevent criminals such as Russian President Vladimir Putin from starting a cruel and ruthless war.”

‘We expect NATO to strengthen its eastern flank

Witek stated: “Poland expects the implementation of the decisions adopted at NATO’s previous summit in Madrid last year.”

She said: “Above all, we expect NATO to strengthen its eastern flank and increase its rapid reaction force, the NATO Response Force, to 300,000 troops.”

The Polish parliamentary leader added that her country was also in favour of “continued American commitment to the security of Europe, including through the maintenance and strengthening of US military presence, as well as participation in joint exercises and training programmes.”

Poland has pledged to spend 4% of GDP on defence this year

Witek also called on European countries to make “a greater contribution” to NATO’s defence capability and urged allies to increase their defence spending. 

She said: “Poland has pledged to spend 4 percent of GDP on defence this year, in real terms. It’s a huge effort for our country, but there is no price for security.”

Witek added: “We want to be able to rely on ourselves. And so I appeal to colleagues from fellow NATO countries to make a similar effort as Poland and Lithuania.”

‘Ukraine’s future is in NATO’

During a debate on A Long-term Support Plan for Ukraine, Poland’s top lawmaker delivered a keynote speech about "military, political, diplomatic, economic and social” support for Ukraine, according to officials.

Witek argued that "Ukraine’s future is in NATO," and spoke of "instruments that could prepare Ukraine for NATO membership, such as the Annual National Plan,” her office said. 

She also called on NATO allies “to stay united, strong and determined,” saying that unity was “the most effective weapon feared by Russia,” according to officials. 

Friday is day 464 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, polskieradio24.pl