The Vice President's News Conference with President Andrzej Duda of Poland in Warsaw, Poland
PRESIDENT DUDA: Your Excellency, most distinguished Mr. Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence; distinguished Minister of National Defense; esteemed Mrs. Pence, the Second Lady of the United States; all distinguished guests led by the Ambassador of the United States to Poland; ladies and gentlemen: I am delighted and we are delighted, together with my wife, to be able to host the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, together with his wife here in Warsaw.
We are happy that the visit paid by Mr. Vice President, which is connected, of course, with the Middle East conference, which will soon start, as its first item has got this political bilateral component between our two countries — between Poland and the United States.
And today, for a few hours, we have been able to touch upon important and interesting topics of interest, which, in this space between the United States and Poland today, constitute the most important issues — issues connected with our cooperation with the NATO Alliance and our economic cooperation.
Our meeting today started on a very symbolic note. It started when Minister of Defense Mariusz B?aszczak signed today an agreement on the future deliveries to Poland of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, HIMARS, which I hope are one of the most important elements of the revolution in the Polish defense military infrastructure which we have been implementing for a couple of years now, which we refer to as the modernization process of the Polish Armed Forces. This is the cutting-edge equipment from the United States, which I believe is going to serve to strengthen our security.
I am delighted indeed that, together with Mr. Vice President and our wives, we had an opportunity to meet with our troops as well. We had Polish soldiers present at the ceremony, as well as the soldiers of the U.S. Armed Forces. The meeting was very pleasant and nice. But, at the same time, it had a very symbolic element in it, demonstrating American presence — military presence — in Poland as part of the North Atlantic Alliance and as part of the alliance between our two states.
We also discussed, together with Mr. Vice President, some — precisely the U.S. military presence. I'm really delighted because Mr. Vice President said that U.S. soldiers and U.S. officers who are deployed in Poland, and those who were in Poland before, assessed very highly the conditions here, briefly speaking, that they are pleased with their stay, with their service in Poland. I heard that the conditions we have provided them with are considered to be absolutely appropriate.
I'm happy to share that they are pleased with the cooperation with the Polish military authorities and civilian authorities as well. So I'm happy that our cooperation is going on very smoothly.
I hope that our joint efforts aimed at increasing the presence of U.S. Armed Forces in Poland are going to bring effects soon. In the nearest future, first, planning decisions are going to be taken in this respect. This is what we should expect.
We also discussed other issues, which are clearly included in the Declaration on Enhanced Strategic Partnership, which myself and President Donald Trump signed in Washington. Namely, we talked about the energy cooperation. We also talked about economic cooperation.
The energy cooperation is a topic of great importance in our mutual relations. Today, we have already signed a series of agreements to import LNG to our ?winouj?cie terminal. Right now, works are ongoing, connected with increasing the capacity of that LNG terminal. We hope that the works will be concluded, with an expected effect and planned effect. In other words, we hope to increase this capacity to more than 7 billion cubic meters of gas per year. And we do hope that a large amount of that gas, which is supplied to Poland, is going to be supplied precisely from the United States.
Apart from that, we are planning to make further investments in this respect, and this is what I flagged out in my conversation with Mr. Vice President.
We also discussed the development of gas network in our part of Europe. We discussed gas security. We also discussed energy security. And, as far as other sources of energy are concerned — electricity, for instance — I also mentioned that Minister Piotr Naimski, on the 11th of March, is going to discuss about this in the United States with the Secretary responsible for energy within the U.S. administration, Mr. Rick Perry.
These are going to be talks about cybersecurity and also gas energy cooperation. But these talks will also concern cooperation on electricity. So these are going to be the topics of interest, topics of importance, in which we are going to implement this enhanced partnership in the nearest future. This is also something that we discussed today with Mr. Vice President.
Apart from that, we talked about general business cooperation. Poland right now is developing very fast. Our economic (inaudible) has been better than we expected, better than the analysts predicted, including different global agencies. So that situation is very good, and I believe that also further American investments and our investments of the Polish business in the United States are going to contribute to the development of the situation.
Of course, we also discussed cybersecurity, which is most important right now in the global space. Once again, let me stress that I'm delighted with this important visit paid by Mr. Vice President to Poland. I'm delighted with this (inaudible) in a series of meetings with top representatives of the U.S. administration.
And last year, I paid a visit to Washington, and before, President Donald Trump visited Warsaw. All of us have vivid memories of that visit. And I hope that our contacts this year, Mr. Vice President, are going to be very intensive indeed, because this is a special year in which we are celebrating the centennial of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and the United States, and between Poland, which was reborn in 1918, and the first great global superpower which acknowledged Poland back then as a reborn state. That superpower was the United States of America in 1919. And after the declaration of President Woodrow Wilson, that was another beautiful gesture made by the United States vis-à-vis the Polish State. And all of us remember that until the day.
Having said that, I also hope that also this year is going to be of special importance, but unique in our relations. Once again, thank you very much. Thank you to you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you to the Second Lady of the United States for their presence in Poland.
And I hope that to you, Mr. Vice President, it's going to be a fruitful visit, and to both of you, it's going to be a fruitful and successful visit to our country. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.
And now I would like to ask the Vice President of the United States to give his statement, Mr. Michael Pence.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, thank you, President Duda. Thank you for those very kind words and for the warm hospitality that you and the First Lady have shown to my wife Karen and me during our very first visit to Poland. I couldn't be more honored to be here representing the United States of America, to join you here in this beautiful place, in this historic year in the life of this nation, to reflect on and to celebrate the remarkable bond that exists between our peoples and our two nations.
And, Mr. President, I'm here today on behalf of a friend of yours who came to this country just two years ago, who welcomed you to the White House last September, and a great champion of the United States–Poland alliance. I bring greetings this morning from President Donald Trump.
The United States and Poland have a shared and special bond since the very earliest days of our republic. Today, Polish-Americans are one of the most vibrant threads of the American fabric. We cherish their rich heritage, we admire the great faith of the Polish people, and we continue to draw inspiration from their steadfast love of freedom.
Mr. President, our countries are friends because we share the same values — a point that you and I reflected on in all of our conversations today. And in a world that's growing more unpredictable — and, in many ways, more dangerous since the fall of the Soviet Union — our alliance has grown more vital and more important than ever before.
That's why, as you and I just discussed, our countries are working more closely together on a wide range of issues, and we will continue to. And thanks to your leadership, Mr. President, and that of President Trump, today the United States–Poland alliance is stronger than ever before.
In the last two years, our countries have made unprecedented investments in our common defense and shown the world that our commitment to the NATO Alliance is unwavering.
Last March, the United States was proud to support Poland's purchase of the Patriot missile defense system — a battle-tested, NATO-interoperable system that is used by the United States Army and many of our closest allies to protect their people and defend their sovereignty.
Last September, I was pleased to join President Trump as he hosted you at the White House. There, the two of you signed a joint declaration of strategic partnership. And under that agreement, our nations are already improving our intelligence sharing, expanding our joint military exercises, and strengthening our collaboration in the fight against cyber threats to ensure that we're prepared to face the security challenges of the future together.
And just today, it was my great honor, along with you, Mr. President, to represent the United States at a very special ceremony as your Defense Minister signed a historic agreement to purchase 20 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers from the United States, as an ongoing testament to our close security cooperation.
And now, our two countries are discussing the parameters for increased United States military presence in Poland. And I'll be carrying back your strong convictions regarding that to President Trump and to our leaders in the Defense Department when I return to the United States.
Poland is one of only eight NATO Allies who currently meet the commitment to spend at least 2 percent of your gross domestic product on defense. And today, thousands of American soldiers stand guard at the eastern flank of the NATO Alliance along with your soldier-in-arms, as well.
Just a few hours ago, I shared that moment that you just described, Mr. President, to address several hundred American soldiers in the presence of hundreds of Polish soldiers stationed near Powidz. These men and women are freedom's first line of defense in Eastern Europe. They have the gratitude of Polish people, the gratitude and admiration of the American people and of freedom-loving people around the world.
But just as important to our national security is our economic security. And we spoke much about that today, Mr. President. So last September, you and President Trump also announced a new "U.S.-Poland Strategic Dialogue on Energy." And we welcome that. That effort was designed to ensure that neither of our countries, nor any country in Europe, becomes dependent on Russia for its energy needs.
Since last October, Poland has signed three separate agreements with American energy companies, which, in four years' time, will allow you to import more than 7 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. And we welcome this collaboration.
Now we look forward to working with you as you develop other energy sources, including nuclear power, as we discussed today. And President Trump and I, and our administration, are truly grateful for your bold stand in opposition to Nord Stream 2.
The United States also welcomes Poland's partnership as we work to protect the telecommunications sector from China. The recent action that your government has taken against a Huawei executive and a Polish national accused of cooperating with him demonstrate your government's commitment to ensure our telecommunications sector is not compromised in a way that threatens our national security.
We must continue to work together to ensure that all investment review mechanisms protect critical security and economic infrastructure going forward. And, Mr. President, we are grateful for your leadership and your actions.
The United States stands behind Poland as it has stepped up and taken a leadership role as well in the Three Seas Initiative. As President Trump said not long ago, "With the expanded trade and new infrastructure" between our two countries, "we [can] unleash incredible energy innovation that's safe, responsible, and environmentally friendly."
And these actions, the relationship between our two nations, will continue to grow stronger, and the future of security in Europe will grow brighter.
But we know there is still more work to do on many fronts.
No threat looms larger in Poland than the specter of aggression from your neighbor to the east.
Despite years of negotiations, Russian forces still occupy large parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and they recently unlawfully detained Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea.
Moscow seeks to divide our alliance, with its oil and gas reserves, with its new arsenal of nuclear weapons, and with its efforts to meddle in elections across Europe and around the world.
But in the face of these provocations, and in solidarity with Poland and our European partners, President Trump has done more to confront Russia's actions than any President in modern history.
Now, the Polish people need no lecture on the dangers of an aggressive Russia. And our neighbors to the east would do well not to underestimate the capabilities of our combined armed forces or to underestimate the indomitable will of the Polish people.
In recent years, Poland has become one of our most crucial allies and a major player in world affairs. Poland sent one of the largest contingents of troops to our allied operations in Iraq and was a valued member of our 79-partner-strong coalition to defeat ISIS.
And this week, Poland is taking another leading role of worldwide significance, Mr. President, as your nation hosts the very first-ever "Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East."
Mr. President, I do want to extend the thanks of President Trump and all the American people to the people of Poland for taking this strong stand in support of peace and prosperity and the advance of human rights across the Middle East. And your willingness to host this conference, historic as it is, is a testament to your commitment to those values and those principles.
And today, Mr. President, as you stand with us, we'll stand with you and the people of Poland as we seek to build a brighter
future in the Middle East and for all freedom-loving people across the world.
And today, Mr. President, I'm here just to say thank you — thank you to you and all the Polish people, on behalf of the people of the United States of America. We're allies, yes, but more than that, we're friends. We have an abiding friendship that's grounded in the ideals of freedom and democracy, and it's grounded in generations of heritage.
With your leadership in Poland, with the leadership of President Donald Trump in the United States, with the friendship and the unbreakable bond between our two peoples, and with God's help, I know we'll continue to advance the prosperity and security of both of our countries. And together, we will forge a brighter future for all of the world.
As the great Polish hero Lech Wa??sa once said, "We hold our heads high, despite the price we have paid, because freedom is priceless."
Today, we in the United States hold our heads high — just as you do and the Polish people do, Mr. President — as we stand shoulder to shoulder with you for the priceless gift of freedom.
So thank you for your hospitality. God bless you. God bless Poland. And God bless the United States of America.
Mike Pence, The Vice President's News Conference with President Andrzej Duda of Poland in Warsaw, Poland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/334578