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Polish FM urges NATO unity amid Russian threat

08.03.2024 22:00
As Poland prepares to mark 25 years since joining NATO, its foreign minister has highlighted escalated global security risks, emphasizing the need for allied unity amid the threat posed by Russia.
Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski speaks at the University of Warsaw on Friday.
Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski speaks at the University of Warsaw on Friday.Photo courtesy of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs/gov.pl

Speaking at the University of Warsaw on Friday, Radosław Sikorski called for unity and determination to strengthen NATO in the face of growing security challenges.

"The world is more dangerous today than it was 25 years ago," Sikorski said in his speech.

"If Russia under Putin has become an existential threat to us, our actions must be adjusted accordingly," he added.

He reflected on the shaky but standing postwar international order and NATO's enduring appeal, as evidenced by Finland and Sweden's recent accession and the hope for Ukraine's future inclusion.

Sikorski told his audience: "I think all of us in this hall feel the gravity of the moment, the burden of history, that dark clouds are gathering on the horizon for our country once again, that we are facing dilemmas our ancestors faced."

"But there is this difference, that unlike in the past, today Poland is not alone, it is a member of the strongest military alliance in the history of the world," he said. "Therefore, we have a chance for things to go our way this time."

Sikorski urged the need for Europe and NATO to adapt their strategies to confront the arising challenges effectively.

His remarks served as a reminder of Poland's significant progress and security benefits gained from NATO membership, highlighting the importance of collective defense and cooperation in ensuring peace and stability in Europe and beyond, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Reflecting on the events of 25 years ago, Sikorski said: "We, Poles, were skeptical that the end of the Cold War would bring everlasting peace. Like other countries in the region, we saw that a historical window was opening. Successive governments, regardless of their political colors, sought to root Poland as firmly as possible in Western security and cooperation structures."

Addressing the future of European defense, Sikorski advocated for "strategic harmony" between the European Union, NATO, and the United States rather than Europe's "strategic autonomy," the PAP news agency reported.

He mentioned initiatives to bolster European defense capabilities, such as the establishment of joint rapid response forces, enhancing military mobility within the EU, and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) for developing defense capacities among member states.

He told the gathering that, from 1999 to 2021, the European Union's total defense spending increased by only 19.7 percent, while in the United States the increase was 65.7 percent, in Russia - 292 percent, and in China as much as 592 percent.

Sikorski stressed the importance of European solidarity in the face of Russia's war against Ukraine, saying that European support has already amounted to USD 150 billion, double the aid provided by the United States.

This financial support has been crucial in sustaining the Ukrainian state and covering civil services and pensions, but Sikorski highlighted the paramount need for further, concerted military assistance, the PAP news agency reported.

Commenting on the strategic conditions, Sikorski said: "The modernization of European defense should not, of course, come at the expense of engagement in NATO. By strengthening the defense dimension of the European Union, which is necessary, we do not want to undermine in any way the unique role of NATO for Poland and the entire European security system."

Poland became a member of NATO on March 12, 1999.


Source: PAPgov.pl