SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good morning. And it is such a pleasure for me to welcome not only a colleague, but someone who has become a friend over the last years and whose opinion I value greatly on not just matters related to Poland and Europe, but indeed global issues as well. I look forward to a productive meeting and the opportunity to reaffirm the absolutely unbreakable friendship and alliance between the United States and Poland.
We have a full agenda that will concentrate on three essential areas: building our mutual security, expanding prosperity, and promoting democracy. On security, we will discuss America’s unwavering Article 5 commitment to Poland and to all NATO allies. As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent U.S. air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region. And I want to thank Poland and in particular the minister for the very strong contributions that you have made to the fight against extremism in Afghanistan.
As we grow our military partnership, we continue to expand economic ties between the Polish and American people, particularly in the area of energy. Yesterday, our two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in developing clean and efficient energy technologies. This and other energy initiatives will expand economic opportunities for both our people and the Polish people and reduce Poland’s and Europe’s dependence on any one source of energy.
Since the days of the Gdansk Shipyards and Solidarity, the Polish people have known that no country can be fully secure and prosperous unless its people have a voice in their own affairs. And in just two decades, Poland has built a transparent and representative government with a vital vibrant civil society. And in fact, Minister, Poland serves as a model for others to learn from. Government officials and civil rights activists from Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere have visited to learn firsthand about your inspiring transition to democracy.
I also greatly appreciate Poland’s partnership in reaching out to the people of Belarus, including holding a donors conference for civil society organizations there. And I look forward to supplementing our strategic dialogue with a democracy dialogue, which will further our cooperation in supporting emerging democracies around the world. Poland’s example becomes only more important as more people demand that their voices be heard.
So we look forward to growing our security cooperation, creating more economic opportunities, and keeping our longstanding friendship and our devotion to democracy forever vibrant.
So thank you again, Minister Sikorski, for being here with me. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: Thank you, Madam Secretary, for those kind words about my country. Thank you for the invitation and for your personal engagement in Polish-American relations. I feel that it is fitting that our meeting is taking place on the eve of Poland taking over the EU presidency. Our goal is that our tenure make Europe stronger. Poland weathered the economic crisis better than any of our European neighbors and counterparts. We are committed to making Europe’s recovery both timely and successful. Cooperation with the United States is a part of that mission.
The meeting that we are having today is being held during a crucial moment for the Middle East and the North African region. We Poles, as you mentioned, know something about starting democratic change, and I’m very glad that we together, at the Community of Democracies last year, showed that we care about this agenda and we anticipated it. I am convinced that Europe and the United States have a role to play in that ongoing struggle.
We are on the side of ordinary citizens who want to control their lives and who are at last demanding their rights.
The EU and the United States are responsible not only for EU’s southern but also for its eastern neighborhood, and this is demonstrated by Poland’s and the United States’ unified response to the rigged elections in Belarus. And I wanted to thank you for synchronizing your position with the EU and for your strong presence at the Solidarity with Belarus Conference.
I endorse every word that the Secretary of State has said. I look forward to our discussions. If I may say just one sentence in Polish for our press.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Or more than one sentence.
FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI: (In Polish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
Secretary of State
See the video of these remarks at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/03/157597.htm