Europe and Eurasia: Press Availability With Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz

Press Availability

Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

Palace on the Island
Warsaw, Poland
February 12, 2019

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, at the joint press conference of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Professor Jacek Czaputowicz, and Secretary of State of the United States of America Mr. Mike Pompeo.

Now let me hand over to Mr. Czaputowicz.

FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, above all, I would like to thank Secretary Mike Pompeo for his visit to Warsaw for very constructive talks that we have just ended that reassured me that our relations are all too perfect. We have discussed the most important issues when it comes to bilateral relations and international issues. I would like to take this opportunity to say that we will continue our discussions tomorrow. We wish together to visit the NATO base in Orzysz, we’ll visit American soldiers deployed there, and we will continue our talks during the Ministerial to Promote Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East. But this meeting showed to us that our goals when it comes to international politics are very much aligned when it comes, above all, to the issue of security.

Even before we go to the NATO base tomorrow, I would like to thank you, Secretary, for the service of American soldiers on Polish soil. Thanks to them, we feel safe in our country. What’s more, during today’s talks, we talked about the plans of expanding and enhancing the presence of U.S. forces in Poland. I hope that the political dialogue on this matter will be continued in the months to come with our American partners.

I’m very happy to hear that the U.S. are fully committed to full implementation of the Redzikowo Aegis Ashore installation. We also touched upon energy security. We talked about the possibility of continuing diversification of energy supplies to Poland, in particular when it comes to the LNG terminal and supplies of natural gas from the U.S. We also talked about expanding the infrastructure and developing technology. We share the view that the Nord Stream 2 project does not contribute to energy security of Europe. We consider it to be an undertaking that is mismatched or actually detrimental to the energy security on the old continent.

Furthermore, we emphasized the bonds between the U.S. and Poland and the role of NATO for the security in Europe. We talked about our common undertakings. Together, we have to face the threats related to nuclear weapons, to terrorism, cyber attacks. We moreover talked preliminarily about the implications of the violation by Russia of the INF Treaty and the decision of the U.S. to withdraw from the treaty. We consider this to be a good decision. The treaty that is only obeyed by one party is not actually a binding one.

What’s more, we share the negative opinion of the – Russia’s aggression, in particular vis-a-vis Ukraine. What’s more, we talked about the most recent activities undertaken by the Russian Federation. What I have here in mind is the incidents in the Azov Sea and the fact that Ukrainian navy soldiers were kept in Russia without any good grounds.

Tomorrow, we are starting the Ministerial to Promote Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East which is co-organized by the U.S. and Poland. I hope that this Polish-American partnership is a great example of the right reply to the challenges that we are facing right now in the region of the Middle East. On behalf of Poland, I can say that we decided to be a co-organizer of this conference, which might be a chance to break their impasse in the Middle East. We will be discussing on how to contribute to de-escalation of the situation in the region. We hope that we will open new channels of dialogue and we will start new discussions in the Middle East. Perhaps we will also set new directives for future – directions for future actions.

Once again, thank you very much, sir, for coming to Warsaw. I’m all too glad to be able to meet you here.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Minister. Now let me hand over to Secretary Pompeo.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, thank you. I’m really happy to be here in Poland. Foreign Minister, thank you for hosting me. I’m happy to be here both for the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, which we are co-hosting with our Polish friends, but just as importantly, to be here for bilateral discussions that we just had.

A hundred years ago, we began our relationship, our diplomatic ties, and this makes my first visit here as the Secretary of State. Thirty years after the Iron Curtain came down, today Poland is one of the United States’s best friends on the European continent and we thank you and your president for that.

Our defense and security relationship, as the foreign minister said, is excellent. It’s clear from our joint commitment to host the historic ministerial with over 60 nations here in Warsaw. Tomorrow, I’ll get a chance to visit American troops who served side-by-side with Poland’s warriors, along with soldiers from other NATO countries. That display of NATO strength and unity tells the world our alliance is prepared to surmount any challenge from any aggressor to meet the security challenges we face and in support of our values.

Of course, our alliance cannot be at full strength without robust contributions from all allies. President Trump is grateful for Poland’s leadership in contributing its fair share to our common defense. Poland is already meeting its Wales pledge commitments and has committed to doing more. Its military modernization program is strengthening Poland’s defense capabilities.

Poland’s choice is one made out of enthusiasm, not compulsion. The Polish people know the importance of strong deterrents and America is grateful for that. Our thankfulness also extends to Poland’s commitment of troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

The energy relationship between our two countries is also growing, with Poland taking major steps to import American petroleum and natural gas, and Poland has vigorously pursued a course to reduce its dependent on Russian natural gas, which Moscow continues to use for – as a political weapon for its geostrategic purposes. We continue to work with Poland and other likeminded European allies and partners to stop Russia’s proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would undermine European energy and national security while also hurting Ukraine.

Our economic relationship, too, is growing. U.S. firms remain very interested in Poland, and we have a tireless advocate for U.S. investment in our Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher. Poland’s dynamic economy, which has sustained positive growth for 27 straight years and reached 5.1 percent of GDP growth in 2018, meshes incredibly well with America’s innovative economy.

U.S.-Polish people-to-people ties are also robust. We look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when Poland will be able to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. We are both working diligently towards that goal.

We also appreciate the importance of resolving outstanding issues of the past, and I urge my Polish colleagues to move forward with comprehensive private property restitution legislation for those who lost property during the Holocaust era.

Lastly, I want everyone to know that America will never forget the indomitable Polish spirit. Recently an American, an American named Frank Blaichman, passed away at the age of 96. He may be better known here by his birth name Franek Blajchman. Frank was one of the valiant Jewish partisans in Poland who risked life itself to resist the Nazi war machine. After the war, he became an American citizen, built a very prosperous life as a real estate development in New York. Frank’s life was a testament to the resilience of the Polish people and to the American ideal that anyone who dreams big can rise to the top of matter – no matter where you start from. He embodied what President Trump said in his visit here in 2017. Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails.

In many different eras, the Polish people have fought for independence and liberty. Today, I urge Poland to stay the course, the course of freedom and democracy that was hard-won during both the 1980s and 1990s. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you, Mr. Foreign Minister, and I look forward to seeing our close collaboration continue at the ministerial tomorrow. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. Now we have time for two questions from the journalists, one from the American journalist, one from the Polish journalist. Please. Now let me hand over it to the – Joel Gerkhe from Washington Examiner.

QUESTION: Hello. Thank you. Secretary Pompeo, China describes your Huawei allegations as immoral and has raised the specter of retaliation against Poland for playing the part of an accomplice in this controversy. Have you suggested Poland to take any particular countermeasures related to Huawei or Chinese retaliation? And on the broader subject of the partnership, what is the biggest hurdle you face to achieving particular policy success at this Middle East conference this week?

And Mr. Foreign Minister, do you worry that a failure to come to an agreement with the United States on this Huawei matter will have a negative impact on the prospects of a Fort Trump or an expanded U.S. military presence in Poland? And more broadly, has there been any consideration on the Polish side about hosting U.S. missiles deployed in the wake of the withdrawal from the INF Treaty?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So may I go first, take the first two questions? Thanks. So first, with respect to Chinese infrastructure delivered via Huawei, we’ve done here in Poland what we’ve done all across the world: we’ve made known the risks that are associated with that, risks to the private information of the citizens of the country, risk that comes from having that technology installed in network and systems. Our task is to make sure that the information that we have we can – and that we can share is widely known. It’s an educational task. The individual countries then will make their own choices. As a sovereign nation, Poland and other countries will choose the technology that they want to have deployed inside of their country.

We’ve also made clear that if they make a certain set of decisions, that it will be more difficult for the United States Department of Defense to work alongside of them – that is, we’ll never put our equipment in a place which would present risk to our technology from having Chinese technology collocated alongside of it that presents a risk. And so we’ve made that clear to each country as well, and then those countries will simply make their choices.

As respect to – you asked a second question, which is our hopes for this ministerial. It’s very plain. We laid out the mission statement for this now weeks ago. We are going to gather up to talk about the future of Middle East stability and prosperity. We’ll talk about Middle East peace plan, we’ll talk about threats to – from counterterrorism, we’ll talk about how these countries can work together. We’ll have 60 countries, over 30 foreign ministers there from every continent save for Antarctica. This is a global coalition that is built to deliver on the important mission of reducing the risk that has emanated from the Middle East for far too long.

FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) As regards your first question related to cooperation with Chinese companies, that’s a topic that is also prevalent in the EU concerning the implications and technological differences between us and Chinese companies. We are very much aware of that in the form of the EU, but also with the U.S. we try to exchange information related to that topic. Of course, EU – the EU is open to investment also when it comes to companies from outside of the EU. This is something that we cannot forget about, but on the other hand, safety and security that we are focusing on here will definitely impact any decisions taken in this respect when it comes to investments – IT – in the IT sector in Poland and the EU countries.

When it comes to the ministerial, let me emphasize that we will be focusing on the most problematic horizontal issues rather than individual states. We shall analyze the existing conflicts that are burdened or loaded with difficulties and then just for people like in Syria and Yemen. We are also expecting preliminary ideas about the Middle East peace process to be discussed. Furthermore, we wish to focus on the matters now and then continue our work on the form of working groups after the conference. We are a non-permanent member of the Security Council of the UN. We are observing the situation in the Middle East and the existing conflicts in this region. We focus on these conflicts in our everyday work. We wish to contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East, and we are happy that we are able to be a part of that in cooperation with the United States of America.

We are aware of the fact that the challenges ahead of us are huge. There are many difficulties. A plethora of initiatives voted to the peace in the Middle East have been undertaken in the past. They were, however, futile, and the conflicts there have not been solved. If, however, we don’t tackle the bull by the – grab the bull by the horns, don’t tackle the issue ambitiously, we will regret it in the future. That’s why we are happy to be able to engage – engage our diplomatic services in the realization of such a brave undertaking.

When it comes to the Middle East, I think trans-Atlantic cooperation is necessary. The EU and the U.S. share their assessment when it comes to the threat posed by the situation in the Middle East. Of course there are difference when it comes to potential solutions. Poland is a part of the EU and hence we are of the opinion and we accept the policy of JCPOA, the nuclear treaty with Iran. We consider this to be a valuable element of – on the international arena. The U.S. have a different opinion, but that doesn’t hinder us in looking for a common approach, a way to cooperate in the trans-Atlantic dimension. The EU itself in my opinion doesn’t have sufficient political power to be really able to impact the situation in the Middle East. Only together with the U.S. – or taking a broader view, only together as the community of democratic states – can we have a positive impact on the situation and to achieve peace and stabilization in the Middle East.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) A question from the Polish journalist, from Marzena Kozlowska with the Polish Press Agency.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon. My question goes to Secretary Pompeo. Department of State has earlier today announced that during your visit to Warsaw, you announced a new initiative, sir, to enhance the engagement of the U.S. in the Central and Eastern Europe. Could you give me more details? What initiatives are these?

And my second question concerns what you gentlemen have mentioned. You said that Poland and the U.S. have a negative approach towards Nord Stream 2 pipeline. How probable are sanctions, American sanctions, towards companies engaged in this undertaking? Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll go first?


SECRETARY POMPEO: With respect to initiatives that we announced – so I traveled – in my first stop I was in Budapest, and then in Bratislava, and now here. And we’ve unveiled a number of things, including a defense cooperation agreement with Hungary that is now final but still needs approval. We’ve talked about increasing people-to-people exchanges. We’re working on a HIMARS system now with Poland. There have been a number of defense cooperation agreements that we have announced during this trip.

But I must say, most importantly, what I’m hopeful that this trip will demonstrate is American engagement in Central and Eastern Europe. There’s not been a secretary of state travel to Hungary for eight years, not to Bratislava for 20. We understand that when there’s a vacuum others will seek to fill it, whether that’s the Russians or the Chinese. That’s not in the best interests of European security; it’s not in the best interests of American security. And so among my mission statements on this trip was – mission objectives on this trip was to demonstrate America’s continued resolve to work alongside countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and the EU, and NATO to deliver security for each of our countries.

With respect to Nord Stream 2, which fits into that, we don’t think that’s in the best interests of the security of Europe. We think this funnels money to Russians in ways that undermine European national security. And so while there’s certainly a commercial aspect to that kind of transaction, there is an enormous security risk that is attached to it. And I think President Trump has been very clear that America is going to do what it can within its power to see that European security is foremost when it comes to energy decisions. And we think many countries in Europe agree with us and are supportive of that, and understand that being dependent upon Russian natural gas is not in their best interests and they need to diversify those sources. Poland has chosen to do that, and we thank them for that.

FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter) I’m very happy to hear about the engagement of the U.S. in the Central and Eastern Europe. We are one of the initiators of the Three Seas Initiatives. We are actually the biggest state in this group of the countries of the Central Europe. The aim of the Three Seas Initiatives is to improve the road railroad, but also energy infrastructure to boost energy security. And we are very happy that the U.S. supports this initiatives, that you’re present in the sector of energy security, in particular when it comes to supplies of natural gas to Swinoujscie and other terminals in the future. What I mean here is also the expansion of the connections between our two countries to simply hinder the operations of Russia, to hinder using gas a political tool. We see what it was like in the case of Ukraine. We are very happy to see the engagement of the U.S. We very much appreciate your role in ensuring energy security. We are very happy to have American troops here, and we’re very happy to be able to purchase modern military equipment and to develop technologies to cooperate in high tech, highly advanced sectors.

As regards Nord Stream 2, we know that certain decisions are taken on the level of the EU, that consultations are underway. We have not changed our position. We are of the opinion that this is an initiative that is detrimental to the security of Poland and the Central and Eastern Europe in the energy dimension.

As regards to Nord Stream 2, let me draw your attention to a certain aspect, sir, of that issue. We support the European position, the position represented by the European Commission. For us, the European Commission reflects the interests of the EU. The U.S. support the position of the European Commission; both the U.S. and Poland present a very pro-European approach. Those who are against the initiative undertaken by the European Commission act against interests of the EU. Paradoxically, the U.S. is a state that is very pro-European.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. I’d like to thank the Secretary of State, Mr. Mike Pompeo. I’d like to thank Minister Czaputowicz. And thank you all, ladies and gentlemen. At the same time, I would like the Polish journalists and correspondents from foreign agencies in Warsaw to stay seated so that our guests can leave the room – in particular, I mean the American journalists who are here with the delegation of Secretary of State.