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Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Munich Security Conference speech, 7 February 2009

Munich Security Conference: Selected speeches

For a full list of speeches go to www.securityconference.de.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Munich Security Conference speech, 7 February 2009

In her speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded us about one of the most important anniversaries that we celebrate this year. It is the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. I come from Gdansk - the city where the war actually broke out. At the same time, it is the city where the Solidarity movement was born, the movement based on the belief that the people who want to cooperate with one another are capable of preventing horrible events, such as World War II, from happening. There is something deeply symbolic in the fact that 70 years after the Second World War breakout, just after listening to the speech delivered by the Chancellor of Germany, the prime minister of the Polish government is happy to note that his agenda includes almost identical theses. It means that the solidarity which served as a foundation for our dreams about peaceful and safe Europe has become a reality. If 70 years after the Second World War outbreak Germany and Poland, and I am quite sure France as well,  treat security issues in almost the same way, it goes to show that we have made a great, wise journey towards security and real solidarity.

I want to tell you, and I think I am saying this not only on behalf of the Polish people, that when 20 years ago - which is also a very important anniversary - the walls were falling and the chains were being cut off - when Poland was bringing the communist tyranny down and the whole Central and Eastern Europe was getting rid of its dictatorships, we strongly believed that both the European Union and NATO, as well as the whole Euro-Atlantic community, served the purposes of organizations which really stand for defending the fundamental values mentioned by Ms. Merkel. Why were the nations of Central and Eastern Europe so determined to join NATO and the European Union? Because for them freedom, independence, human rights, market economy and religious tolerance meant much more than simply words. Those were our dreams for which we were all prepared to pay a high price. We would like to share our values with the others today. We would like to share our belief that there is a defense alliance, that there are political and cultural communities for whom those fundamental values are not only slogans, that we stand together in order to be able to seriously, not just on paper, defend all the values and the people who wish to follow them. Today we need to undertake specific actions. First of all, I agree with the theses presented by the leaders of Germany and France before the conference stating that what we need today is an immediate and substantial strategic council. The world has changed and we definitely need a new strategy for the North Atlantic Alliance. I have already spoken about the values that we share. Please forgive us if we talk about them too much. Some people might say that these are mere clichés, but since there are strong forces which question those values I believe the important clichés need to be repeated over and over again. If they are not, the people who question them will have a chance of winning. Today we have to test the partners who should cooperate with us in the field of the strategic security of our continent and the world.

Here in Munich, here in Europe, we - the European NATO members - but the whole issue concerns also out great friend and ally - the United States of America - must ask questions about Russia, we need to be assured that this country will act as our partner in regard to the most complicated matters of our region and the whole world. All the questions should be asked honestly, without fear, prejudice, aggression, but also without gullibility. If there is a crisis of trust in our relations with this potentially great partner, we would like to hear directly from him what he is going to do in order for us to treat the credence we place in him as something reliable, not something wobbly the way it was last year, after the events in the Caucasus or after the gas crisis. I am saying all this as the head of the Polish government who, for the past year, has been trying to improve the Polish-Russian relations and who has been convincing the other EU member states to treat Russia in the fairest possible manner. No serious improvement, however, will be possible without the full trust. It must be built on clear principles and honest rules.

I would also like to point out something which has already been mentioned in terms of an extremely important issue by Chancellor Angela Merkel that we should not talk about NATO without having a detailed plan for its neighbors. The states and nations which are willing and able to, I repeat which are willing and able to, become members of our defense community, and at the same time members of our community of glorious political culture and of this specific political civilization whose backbone is formed by the Euro-Atlantic alliance, should be offered a clear plan of joining NATO. Event if it cannot be quick and easy, the plan must be concrete. This year we should spend time on drawing it up for those countries which aspire to become members of our community so honestly and, sometimes, so bravely.

I would also like to underline something which is quite obvious for Poland. I spoke about it today during my short meeting with the US vice president and somebody will say it is also a cliché, but I want to repeat it again, as not everybody seems to remember it - the most important foundation of the North Atlantic Alliance is the friendship and very close cooperation - the closer the better - between the European Union and Northern America, i.e. USA and Canada. Nothing is capable of replacing this hard backbone, this core of the Euro-Atlantic community - the proven friendship between Europe and America. Therefore I hereby confirm the Polish consent to build the anti-missile shield. We are willing to participate in all the projects, also the difficult ones, strongly believing that they constitute the defense and preventive capacities of the whole Euro-Atlantic community, not only individual countries which belong to it.
Thirdly, it is my last point and I cannot omit it, the European countries, particularly those situated in the central and eastern parts of our continent, suffer from time to time from the effects of hot or energetic crises. The recent moment of truth in regard to natural gas supplies was a kind of test checking the solidarity of our community. You will surely agree with me that if we were not able to pass a test on our solidarity and bravery during a natural gas crisis, we would most certainly not pass the exam on solidarity during a much serious, or hotter, emergency situation. That is why I believe we should learn our lessons from the recent events and come to specific conclusions. One of these conclusions is putting on our ambitious agenda, related to the climate and energy and described by means of the 3x20 algorithm, a fourth goal - a real diversification. Frankly speaking, Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community will be a friendly and open-minded partner for countries like Russia when we are not excessively dependent on their energy sources. That is the reason why the need to draw up a real diversification project for Europe is more urgent today than at any time before.

The Poles are very fond of the word solidarity. It is precisely this very word and the value it describes that made up the foundations for the North Atlantic Treaty. We know quite well that in today’s world solidarity stands for courage. Should selfishness replace solidarity, the real winner will be cowardice. Our dreams about global peace and safety would be shattered. I firmly believe that we all cherish solidarity and courage today and it is not going to change in the future.

Source: Munich Security Conference, www.securityconference.de.

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