Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Jacek Czaputowicz, Polish Foreign Minister
Palace on the Isle
08/15/2020 12:25 PM EDT
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, very warm welcome to the press conference. Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, and Mr. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States of America. This conference is an occasion to take stock of today’s visit and bilateral talks between Poland and the United States.
Minister Czaputowicz, over to you.
FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon. Welcome. Thank you very much, Director. Let me tell you that I’m very happy to be hosting here in this very unique place, in this unique setting of the Palace on the Water, Mr. Mike Pompeo. The occasion is also very unique: the centenary of the Battle of Warsaw. And the presence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with us today has a very symbolic meaning. It signifies that President Trump is also in a way with us today.
Today’s visit shows that our countries are united on one hand by history, on the other hand in very common concern for present and for the future. And today we had the opportunity to discuss how to further strengthen cooperation in the area of security, defense, economy, and energy. We also spoke about the most pressing challenges to the international security, especially the extremely worrying developments in the aftermath of the presidential elections in Belarus. I want to say that we call on the Belarusian authorities to stop escalating the situation and to start dialogue with the civil society. Poland is very much in favor of sovereignty and independence of our eastern neighbor, Belarus.
Today we have signed an agreement of historic importance, the agreement on enhanced defense cooperation between Poland and the United States. And this is the crowning glory of our efforts to provide security to our home country and to lay down conditions for its stable development. It gives us the green light for a new quality of the American military engagement in Poland – sustainable, and visible – and for its practical implementation.
I want to emphasize that while we work to preserve and maintain the military presence of the United States in Europe, we in Poland, we are guided by the overriding need to strengthen transatlantic bonds. This is very much in the interest of whole Europe, our Central European region, and transatlantic region.
Another important event was the initialing of intergovernmental agreement on cooperation of our two governments for the development of civil nuclear energy. This is the result of the Strategic Energy Dialogue that was initiated by our two respective presidents back in 2017. And we do hope that in cooperation we will be able to achieve a lot in multilateral structures within NATO, OSCE, the United Nations, as well as nonformalized structures such as the Warsaw Process which focuses on the Middle East and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, as well as initiatives for democracy and respect of human rights. And here we have joint perception of our shared values and in – very much in the spirit, together we intend to convene the international ministerial conference on religious freedom in November. So this will be another platform for our close cooperation.
We also wish to thank the United States for their commitment to the Three Seas Initiative. This is very reassuring. It shows us and tells us volumes about the stability of this initiative. And it is also beneficial also to the United States.
So let me thank once again and offer my thanks into the hands of Secretary Mike Pompeo for the commitment of the United States. May I hand it over to Secretary Mike Pompeo to take the floor?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Minister Czaputowicz. I think this is the fifth time we’ve been together. Let me just personally say how much I enjoy working with you, what a pleasure it has been to work with you, and thank you for you and your team’s great work hosting us here today. We’re deeply appreciative.
I want to take a moment, too, to congratulate President Duda on his victory. As I shared with him in the meeting, I hope that this trip will further strengthen the excellent bilateral relationship that he and President Trump have cultivated. And to the Polish people, it’s truly an honor to be here as America’s Secretary of State to commemorate this historic day, this historic day for freedom from your history. A hundred years ago this month, Polish valor won an epic victory against communist tyranny during the Battle of Warsaw, the Miracle on the Vistula. It’s one of the many heroic stands the Polish people have made in the 20th century, resisting Nazi and Soviet occupation. This month will also commemorate the 1944 Warsaw uprising against Nazi occupation, and we mark 40 years – 40 years of the birth of Solidarity. All great victories for freedom.
It was wonderful to be out there today with your soldiers, to see them. I was once a soldier too. To watch their excellence, to know the sacrifice that they make as part of securing freedom and helping America partner with you to secure our collective freedom was really special for me today. And so thank you for giving me that chance to be with you all.
We had great discussions with the president and with the prime minister, and now with the foreign minister. We talked about the historic agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel that President Trump helped craft – truly the most significant step forward for Middle East peace in two and a half decades. I’m optimistic that this will catalyze further opportunities for diplomatic progress in the region.
We spent a fair amount of time talking, too, about the situation in Belarus, which we are following closely. I was glad to see the release of some protesters, but that certainly is not enough. As I said yesterday in Vienna, we are consulting with our European partners. This is now my fourth European capital on this trip, and we’ve talked about the situation in each of the places I have gone to try to help as best we can the Belarusian people achieve sovereignty and freedom.
We spent time talking about our security relationship too. We had the opportunity to sign that important agreement today. The United States and Poland have proudly executed this new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. I know it will lead to good outcomes for each of our two countries, and the work that we all do as part of NATO as well. It paves the way, centrally, for an additional thousand troops into Poland on top of the 4,500 that are here presently. That’s an important strategic move for American security, too, as we have been having discussions with the Russians on our strategic dialogue. To know that we have a friend that will help us make sure that we have strategic stability for the world is incredibly important, and we thank you for that.
Turning to energy matters, Poland has opposed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and embraced the Baltic Pipe Project, and you’ve inked deals with U.S. LNG suppliers. Thank you for that. I know it will benefit each of our two countries.
I’m pleased to note this week, too, that the United States and Poland initialed a draft memorandum of agreement to cooperate in the development of Poland’s civil nuclear program, as the foreign minister mentioned.
Staying on that infrastructure theme, I commend Poland’s leadership and investment in the Three Seas Initiative. The United States commitment of up to $1 billion to support that initiative will help build infrastructure and create important projects that have truly strategic impact on this region for many years to come. I do hope that more countries in the region will follow your lead and financially support it before we meet in Tallinn later this summer.
Poland is also joining a growing list of nations on high alert to the Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence. This is reflected clearly in the 5G joint declaration of our two countries signed a year ago. And we talked today on how we can continue to cooperate further to protect our people from the challenges that the Chinese Communist Party presents and the risks that come from its aspirations.
It should come as no surprise to anyone here that we continue to grow and expand our relationship. Poland has been a great leader in Europe, and they have been a great friend and ally of the United States. As President Trump said back in 2017, “Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails.” May it always be so, Foreign Minister.
Thank you, and thank you again for having me here today.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. May I hand it over to journalist Mateusz Roszak from the Polish Press Agency?
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) A question to Mike Pompeo for further engagement of U.S. authorities in Belarus. Considering the developments in Belarus, do you intend to not recognize the outcomes of the presidential elections, like Poland and other EU countries decided to do? Or do you consider any sanctions against Belarus, or would you like to recognize the validity of the election of the runner-up in the elections as valid? And also the same question to the Polish —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Appreciate the question. Look, we’ve said that the elections themselves weren’t free, they weren’t fair. And so we’ve spent these last days consulting with our European partners, not only the meetings that I’ve had in person but the telephone conversations that I’ve had trying to understand precisely what’s happening, and all with a common objective, as we talked about today. The common objective is to support the Belarusian people to achieve their own sovereignty, their own freedom, to build out what you’re seeing happen in these protests. These people are demanding the simple things that every human being wants: the right to have determination for themselves about the nature of their government. And so we urge the leadership of Belarus to broaden the circle, as the foreign minister said, to engage with civil society in a way that reflects the central understandings that the Belarusian people are demanding.
FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) As regards the Polish commitment and further actions to be taken by Poland multilaterally, thanks to our initiative, yesterday in the evening there was a special session of foreign ministers of European Union organized, and individual sanctions were decided on, especially on the people who committed electoral fraud and who masterminded the process and who were guilty of abuse of force against the demonstrators. And this procedure will be further on discussed in the European Union.
We also decided to what extent the sanctions should be binding in order to alleviate their potential evil impact on the Belarusian society. So we decided to target sanctions to hit only the people who are decision-makers. So this is a multilateral engagement. And yesterday, in the Polish parliament, Prime Minister Morawiecki announced the solidarity program for Belarus with 50 million zlotys set aside to this, and to support students, civil society, the victims of oppression, those who were discharged from prisons, and to free mass media in Belarus. Next to negative sanctions, we must also have a positive package to influence the civil society in Belarus. Poland is located geographically in a very special way, and therefore our interest and our preoccupation for Belarus goes without saying. This is our closest neighbor. Eight hundred thousand visas were issued last year to the citizens of Belarus; half of them were issued by Polish consulates. In Poland we have 9,000 of Belarusian students studying at various universities, and many of them benefit from scholarship programs. If young people continue to suffer oppression, they will not be left alone, they will not be left high and dry. We will certainly support them.
This is a difficult situation, challenging also in geopolitical sense. There are, of course, suggestions to organize a new round of elections. If this was fraud, election fraud, there should be a new election to legitimize new government. The question is how to organize them and how to monitor their validity and their fairness. In other words, you must take a broader perspective of that.
We would like to make sure that the Belarusian authorities are back at the negotiation table with the representatives of the civil society in order to discuss some transition arrangements until new elections are convoked. These are good ideas but they are difficult to be implemented in practice, but we continue to support the idea of independent and sovereign Belarus. We do trust that the people of Belarus themselves will work out how to get out of this problem in full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms and legitimate aspirations of the Belarus people to live in a free, democratic society, while securing also full security and sovereignty of the Belarus state.
We are ready to support the process together with other countries of the EU community. President Andrzej Duda and presidents of Baltic states pledged their readiness to support the mediation process. We wish them well, the people of Belarus. We see that the national identity is now growing in Belarus, and this will produce positive results.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) And now Morgan Ortagus, the – will invite the American question.
MS ORTAGUS: Abbie Williams, NBC News.
QUESTION: Thanks so much. To Mr. Secretary first, the UN Security Council delivered a decisive “no” yesterday on a U.S. resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran after two years of U.S. effort. Do you see any alternative to a full snapback of sanctions and will you take up the Russian call for a P5+1 meeting?
And to both ministers, you just signed a comprehensive defense agreement. It will take a lot of resources to build the infrastructure within that agreement, infrastructure that already exists within Germany. Why do you feel that Poland is in the best position to ward off Russia?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So as to your first question, there were two “no” votes precisely yesterday: Russia and China. It’s unsurprising that the Russians and the Chinese would like to sell weapons to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is unfortunate that the French and the United Kingdom members of the P5 didn’t support what the Gulf states have demanded, what the Israelis have demanded for their own security – the people who know best the risks in the region. So I regret that deeply. I regret, too, that the whole world didn’t join against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror to ensure that they can’t have weapons systems that present risk – risk to the heart of Europe, air defense systems that will prevent the access we may need in the event that Iran should ultimately move on developing its own nuclear weapons program. This was a serious mistake. We regret that.
The United States simply wanted to extend the set of rules that have been in place since 2007, and as we have said before, the United States is determined to make sure that the Iranians and this regime – this theocratic regime – doesn’t have the capacity to inflict even more harm on the world. And so we’ll continue to work on that at the UN. We’ll continue to work diplomatically to try and achieve precisely the right outcome that I think the entire world understands. I think there are a lot of people, and I’ve heard it privately on this trip, that understand that it is not in the world’s best interests to allow this arms embargo to expire. I hope they will find the courage to say so publicly and assist us in ensuring this arms embargo is extended.
As for the defense cooperation agreement, the opportunities are unlimited, the resources will be available, and the partnership will make this happen. I’m convinced of that. As for precisely the right position of our forces, the Department of Defense and the Polish military and Secretary General Stoltenberg will all make the right decisions about how best to array the forces. I always urge people in these days where the world has changed so much – troop levels matter, the number of soldiers someone has someplace. As a former tank officer, I know that. But the world’s moved on, too. Space, cyber, all the disinformation. We talked about this a great deal. This defense cooperation agreement we signed will give us the capacity to work on each of these problems in important ways. And so we’ll get our troop disposition right, but the depth and breadth and scope and scale of what we’ll be able to do alongside Poland as a result of having signed this agreement is truly important, and I am very confident that our two governments, between them, will find the resources to do this right.
FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) If I may add something to the statement, in the area of military operation, not only the physical presence and deployment is important, but it is also important to have troops deployed precisely in the locations where they should be deployed. And here we agreed, together with my colleague, Secretary of State, that the presence of American troops in Poland enhances our deterrence potential because we are closer to the potential source of conflict. That’s why we very eagerly decided to invest into our military infrastructure to make American soldiers feel at home in Poland, because we do believe their presence is important. It is important to our security and it is important that they should be deployed in Poland, and not in Germany. And here, all the scholarly knowledge of the art of war assures us that the capability of deterrence is higher if the army is deployed in the right place.
Of course, this is not hand-in-hand with the reduction of the U.S. presence on the German soil. It will be good to have also unreduced presence, American presence, in Germany. But we do understand the need for economy, and we know that the presence of American soldiers on the Polish soil contributes largely to the security of Poland and the Central European region. During his previous visit, Mike Pompeo visited troops deployed in Orzysz. I had the pleasure of accompanying him, and I want to stress how well received is the American presence in Poland.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. This brings us to an end of the conference. Thank you for attending. Thank you, Secretary. Thank you, Minister. Thank you.