NATO:1949-1999-2019/ The 20 Years of Poland in the 70 Years of the Alliance” presentation in Tallinn

The 20th anniversary of Poland in NATO and the importance of the Baltic states region in the Alliance was discussed by the panelists of the debate ” NATO:1949-1999-2019/ The 20 Years of Poland in the 70 Years of the Alliance”, which took place on 20th November in the capital of Estonia.

The speakers of the discussion was: Kalev Stoicescu, representative of the International Center for Defence and Security from Tallinn (the Estonian partner of the project) and former Ambassador of Estonia to the U.S., Bogusław Winid, advisor to the President of Poland for Foreign Policy and National Security Permanent-Representative of Poland to NATO (2007-2011) and the United Nations (2014-2017) and Johannes Rieckmann, Senior Research Fellow from the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security (BIGS) in Germany.

The discussion was opened by H.E. Grzegorz Kozłowski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Estonia, who pointed out that in the early 1990s only a few people thought that NATO could expand, especially when it comes to the countries that had been influenced by the USSR so far.

Anna Kurowska, Program Manager for the Balkans, presented the project to the audience – its main objectives and the course of the project so far. She presented the publication, copies of which were available to the participants of the meeting.

Kalev Stoicescu, who was also a moderator of the discussion, focused on the history and importance of NATO over the past 70 years. He recalled the turning point in the 1990s, when US President Bill Clinton made it clear that Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary would soon join the Alliance. He also pointed to the memorable year 1999, when these countries – representing the former Eastern bloc – joined the NATO countries. The Baltic States’ perspective was also important in these memories, as they wondered whether they would be able to take advantage of the good international changes and also join the Alliance. Of course, the discussion also raised the question of the possibility of further expansion of NATO, including the Western Balkans.

Bogusław Winid, who represented Poland’s position during the discussion, stressed the importance of the upcoming NATO summit in London. He highlighted the main points that will be the most burning issues to be raised during the meeting in the capital of Great Britain, including relations with the USA and Canada, Brexit, relations with Turkey and the current situation in Syria. He also mentioned the strong support in Poland for the 4×30 initiative (it assumes that by 2020 the Alliance states will be able to maintain 30 mechanised battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons and 30 combat vessels ready to start operations in no more than 30 days). This demonstrates our society’s trust in NATO and its conviction that NATO is capable of fulfilling its obligations to the Allies.

Johannes Rieckmann, who represented our German neighbour, argued that NATO could change its shape in the future, but does not think that it could be replaced by a European army, for example. The European partners of the Alliance will have to increase their spending on defence. Germany is one of the countries that has not yet met the requirement of 2% of GDP allocated to defence – its result is 1.4%, and by 2024 this figure should have risen to 1.5%. He also stressed that it is important for Alliance members to think well about what these funds should be spent on.

Our publication is still available online (download here)!