The Unbreakable Polish-American Bond
President George H.W. Bush once said: “Poland should be strong and prosperous and independent and play its proper role as a great nation in the heart of Europe.”
Poland has lived up to those words. On Thursday, as an active member of NATO and the European Union, Poland hosts President Donald J Trump on his second international trip.
This visit will demonstrate the unbreakable bonds between Poland and the U.S. and address the challenges facing our neighborhood and the broader Euro-Atlantic community.
Polish-American relations are thriving, and for good reason. Poland has been a reliable partner to the U.S. since our democratic transformation. In the Middle East we answered America’s call for action, deploying more than 40,000 Polish military personnel to Afghanistan and Iraq.
With instability just beyond our borders, we welcome the deployment of U.S. and other NATO troops to our region. Thanks to the decisions made at the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit and bipartisan support in Congress, Poland now hosts thousands of U.S. military personnel, as together we train to be ready to meet any threat.
Poland also continues to be a security provider. We understand that solidarity is our strength. From the 2% of gross domestic product we spend on defense to our contribution of F-16s to the fight against ISIS, Poland continues to approach NATO membership and our alliance with America not as a handout but a commitment that must be honored every day.
As President Trump declared recently, we must all take our defense and security obligations seriously. No one understands this better than Poland. That’s why President Andrzej Duda announced that Poland will further increase its defense spending, to 2.2% of GDP by 2020 and 2.5% by 2030.
President Trump’s visit indicates that the new U.S. administration is taking the challenges of our region and their global ramifications seriously, and is steadfastly committed to strengthening NATO’s collective defense.
America’s renewed interest in our region is also visible in last month’s delivery of American liquefied natural gas to Poland. Central and Eastern Europe have long been dominated by an energy monopoly left over from the Cold War era. We no longer have to be victims of geopolitics. Thanks to the newly constructed LNG import terminals on the Baltic coast and a system of interconnected pipelines, LNG delivered by ship to Świnoujście, Poland, can be transported throughout our region and beyond. These terminals allow us to exert greater energy independence, and we look toward our American partners for continued LNG gas exports.
The need to reassert our region’s influence is the underpinning of the Three Seas Initiative, a forum that includes 12 countries from our neighborhood. President Duda and his Croatian counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, have invited Mr. Trump to meet with leaders from the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea region.
America’s commitment to liberty and democracy has captivated the Polish people for generations. Even more than four decades of forced Communist rule could not shake our appreciation of American values. We will see that appreciation manifested as the American president is welcomed in Warsaw.