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Remarks by the Vice President with Polish Prime Minister Tusk in Warsaw, Poland

October 21, 2009

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. President, thank you very much. You know, it's remarkable, I was thinking as I rode over to see you, that one of my last visits to Poland was to meet with your predecessors, and then to give a speech at Warsaw University, discussing -- as I was pushing very hard -- the admission of Poland into NATO. I had the great honor of leading that effort in the United States Senate, which ratifies those treaties. And to think how far we've come, how far Poland has come. You are already shouldering significant responsibility.

The reference that the Prime Minister made was I think we've moved from a relationship of only being the notion of that we would provide security, which we will, but also moving to the relationship where we work together, we work together and not for, but with one another.

And so, Mr. President, it's a great pleasure -- Mr. Prime Minister, it's a great pleasure to meet with you. To state the obvious -- and I don't think it needs restating, but its worth it anyway. To state the obvious, Poland -- Poland is one of our closest allies and critical partners in facing global challenges.

As you all -- already all know, Poland a long time ago captured the heart of the American people. But it also has the heart of our government, through Democratic and Republican administrations. The people in the United States and Poland have deep historic ties that sometimes are sort of mentioned as if they are not so consequential. They are incredibly consequential. They run deep. We share values, and ideals, and countless friendships over the years, and particularly now.

The United States, Mr. Prime Minister, deeply appreciates the service of the -- and sacrifice of your Polish soldiers, who are real warriors. I've been there, I've been in Afghanistan. I've seen them. They are genuine warriors, and they are making great sacrifices. And I know are proud of them, but we are thankful. We are thankful for your soldiers standing alongside of ours in Afghanistan, also in Iraq and the Balkans. And it's an honor -- it's an honor to stand with you in these difficult but vital deployments, Mr. Prime Minister.

Our two countries are bound together by an American commitment to Poland's security beyond the longstanding ties literally through Article 5 of the Washington treaty, NATO, and by Poland's commitment to our security, which you demonstrated I might add, through Article 5 on September the 11th. Without hesitation, you and NATO responded and said an attack on one is an attack on all. Under NATO's Article 5, an attack on one is an attack on all. And this strategic assurance is absolute, absolute, Mr. Prime Minister.

As one who championed the admission of Poland into NATO, I would also point out that we take not only our mutual commitments seriously, but I take it very, very seriously. President Obama and I consider this to be a solemn obligation. President Obama has said, and this is a promise he said not only for our time, but for all time. We appreciate Poland has stepped up and agreed to host an element of the previous missile defense plan.

And we now appreciate that Poland's government agrees with us that there is now a better way, a better way -- with new technology and new information -- to defend against the emerging ballistic missile threats. Our new phased adaptive approach to missile defense is designed to meet a growing threat not only to the United States, but first and foremost to Europe. It's going to meet it with proven technology that will cover more of Europe, including Poland, and will do it more efficiently than the previous system could have, or did. It strengthens missile defense for Europe, it strengthens Article 5, and it strengthens the alliance's deterrent capability. Mr. Prime Minister, we have -- we have a lot to do. Simply put, our missile plan is better security for NATO, and is better security for Poland, and ultimately better security for the United States of America.

Mr. Prime Minister, you and I affirmed our commitment to the declaration on strategic cooperation in 2008. And we discussed additional practical opportunities to strengthen our bilateral security cooperation beyond what we already have done. I welcome the Prime Minister's affirmation that Poland stands ready to host future elements of proposed missile defense.

Poland has done, though, much more than contribute to our mutual security. Poland is now in a position, and has been for some time, of being sort of a leader of central European countries who are not part of NATO, or not part of the E.U. Poland has championed human rights and democracy, has served as a beacon for those ideals for its neighbors, and for that matter, for the whole world.

We look forward to working with you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your government to promote democracy and stability in the region, including Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus, and to advancing the community of democracies born in Warsaw at the start of the century, this century. Our broad relationship also covers many other shared interests, and we discussed some of them -- energy security is one of them. We look forward to intensive -- intensified bilateral discussions with you and your government, Mr. Prime Minister. And we also look forward to developing new investment and trade opportunities through the bilateral economic commercial dialogue led by our Secretary of Commerce.

Mr. Prime Minister, I am confident that our alliance will continue to thrive and to expand in new directions. And let me close by saying the Prime Minister, and the great people of Poland have welcomed me and my delegation with the traditional -- and I guess it's almost come to be expected warmth you extend to Americans. I just want you to know, Mr. Prime Minister, that hospitality is waiting for you and your colleagues in America.

Make no mistake about it, our commitment to Poland is unwavering, and our desire to work with Poland in the future is something we're looking very, very forward to. So thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, and it's a delight to be here with you. Thanks for giving me all the time you have.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks by the Vice President with Polish Prime Minister Tusk in Warsaw, Poland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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