Polish President calls for stronger NATO eastern flank
July 23, 2014
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and his counterparts from eight CEE countries who gathered in Warsaw Tuesday agreed that NATO's eastern flank must be strengthened in the light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, President Komorowski said after the meeting.
Presidents of Lithuania - Dalia Grybauskaite; Latvia - Andris Berzins; Estonia - Toomas Hendrik Ilves; Czech Republic - Milosz Zeman; Slovakia - Andrej Kiska; Hungary- Janos Ader; Bulgaria - Rosen Plewnelijew and Romania- Traian Basescu met to discuss the regional defense strategy ahead of a NATO summit in September.
"Strategic strengthening NATO's eastern flank is fundamental," Komorowski said after the meeting. He also said that the upcoming NATO summit will be the most important gathering of alliance members since 1999.
"The Russia-Ukraine conflict is Europe's most important security challenge since the end of the Cold War," Komorowski said.
The Polish President referred to the recent downing of a Malaysian jetliner in Ukraine saying that the tragedy should mobilize all the countries to seek solutions reinforcing international security.
He added that the presidents gathered in Warsaw demanded that all circumstances of the tragic shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 be investigated by an international commission with including all the concerned states and having full access to the site of the catastrophe, all evidence and witnesses.
They also condemned the military actions directed against civilians and called for "an immediate and unconditional end to military operations of Russian separatists in Ukrainian territory”.
"This dramatic incident highlights the dangers of adding armed violence, military-style aggression intended to undermine borders and territorial integrity (of a state) to political and economic pressure," the Polish president said. "This poses a new challenge that we must respond to in the NATO framework."
Last Thursday a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board, including 193 Dutch passengers, crashed near Ukraine's border with Russia. No one survived. The machine, which was probably shot down, fell on territory embraced by fighting between Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists and government forces.
Komorowski also referred to his Tuesday telephone call with US President Barack Obama when they both agreed on the importance of raising defense spending among European members of NATO, as well as on the importance of alliance-wide and credible contributions to NATO’s reassurance efforts in Central and Eastern Europe.