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Poland and the UK: partners for a secure Europe

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited Warsaw on 28 July for foreign & defence policy talks.

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Foreign Secretary and counterparts in Warsaw

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak hosted this year’s annual UK - Poland talks on foreign and defence policy in Warsaw. The following joint communiqué was agreed:


The Russia-Ukraine crisis is the most serious test yet of European security in the 21st Century. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its continued interference in Ukraine strikes at the heart of our rules and values-based international system and threatens the security and prosperity of all nations by violating the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia’s actions are completely unacceptable and so it is absolutely right that the international community has stood up to the use of force and such a profound breach of international agreements.

Poland and the United Kingdom stand side by side at the forefront of these efforts. We have worked together within the EU supporting sanctions against Russia; and with Sweden we championed enhanced assistance to Ukraine. This resulted in the agreement of an EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform Ukraine - announced on 22 July, which will provide practical support and advice on policing, judicial reform and rule of law, and complements the work of the OSCE in Europe mission. And working together at NATO, we have sent an equally strong message to Moscow, and taken concrete steps to reaffirm the indivisibility of our common security by committing to a package of Immediate Assurance Measures. Poland values the UK’s concrete commitments to these.

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July is the latest appalling tragedy in the Ukraine conflict. Poland and the UK extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones. We are determined to get to the bottom of what happened and agree on the importance of establishing the full facts through an independent, international investigation. But the weight of evidence increasingly suggests that MH17 was shot down by an SA-11 missile fired by pro-Russia separatists. President Putin now faces a stark choice: either he can use his influence to end the conflict undertaking concrete actions, including by halting supplies and training for the separatists or, he will face a new range of hard-hitting economic sanctions. We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and its people’s right to choose their own future.

Events in Ukraine have shown the importance of energy security for the EU. Poland and the UK agree that a key medium to long-term objective of EU energy security policy should be to ensure that neither the EU collectively, nor any member state individually, is vulnerable to disruption from any single energy supplier. This means reducing demand, increasing indigenous resources and production, diversifying energy supplies and sources, and improving infrastructure and implementing the single energy market to allow for a free flow of energy among EU Members. In this context, we welcome the ongoing analysis of measures to strengthen EU member states bargaining power, in line with the internal market and competition policy, as proposed in the European Energy Security Strategy and exploring ways to reduce carbon emissions to facilitate climate change mitigation.

Looking ahead, we will continue to work in tandem to respond to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, including within NATO. September’s gathering of NATO Heads of State and Government in Wales will be one of the most important in NATO’s history, and comes at a key moment for the Alliance. NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan is drawing to a close and, as events in Ukraine have shown, the world faces more complex threats than ever before. So the Wales Summit must serve to ensure that NATO remains the world’s most powerful and successful political–military Alliance able to continue to build stability in an unpredictable world through delivering its three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security in full. Poland and the UK see four ways that this is being achieved:

First, NATO Allies are reaffirming their continued support to the Afghan government as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission draws to an end. Over the last decade, our two countries have made significant contributions and worked hard to stabilise and re-build Afghanistan, for which we have both paid a heavy price. So it is only right that the Summit presents and recognise the sacrifices made by the Alliance’s armed forces, and commit to safeguarding the welfare of our veterans and their families.

Second, NATO Allies are examining the long-term implications of the Ukraine crisis and how the Alliance will continue to provide for the collective security of all Allies. Specifically, Allies are reaffirming the indivisibility of their security by agreeing a strategic package of follow-on and longer-term assurance measures, backed up by concrete commitments from all 28 members. Stronger visibility of the Alliance on the Eastern flank should be a part of the solution. Poland and the UK agree that a strategic blueprint for the future should include improvements to Alliance readiness and responsiveness including through a sharpened NATO Response Force, more comprehensive advanced planning, and a persistent NATO presence. It should also set out how Allies can work better together including through more information-sharing and military exercising.

Third, Allies are taking concrete steps to ensure that NATO remains ready and able to uphold the security objectives of all its members whenever they are at stake. This forms a fundamental part of effective deterrence. To do this, it is vital that Allies adequately invest in defence. The UK commends Poland’s commitment to reach and exceed NATO’s 2% of GDP guidance, which the UK already does. We call on all Allies to commit to do so by the Wales Summit. The Russia-Ukraine crisis has reinforced the need for all Allies to have deployable, interoperable forces under NATO’s permanent command structure. So Poland and the UK commit to invest in capabilities and forces necessary for NATO to meet the whole spectrum of missions including to counter any aggression. The NATO guidance to spend 20% of resources on new equipment also has an important role.

Fourth, Allies are committing to building and expanding NATO’s network of partnerships with third countries and international organisations. The Summit should agree increased cooperation with Ukraine. It should also re-affirm NATO’s Open Door policy and future path to membership of aspirants, as well as deepening cooperation with all NATO’s partners. We want the Summit to facilitate a broad discussion on Euro-Atlantic security, including ensuring that other European security instruments like the EU’s CSDP develop and act in a way that complement NATO and do not duplicate one another.

Poland and the UK have a proud history of standing together against aggression, demonstrating strength through unity. We are determined to do so again, whenever and wherever our security is threatened.

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Published 29 July 2014