Throughout the history of our continent, popes and emperors, philosophers and dictators have dreamt about a united Europe. Our generation has been offered a real opportunity to make this dream a reality. We will do it, however, not by creating a pan-European empire or by pursuing Utopian ideologies, but by building a true community of nations culturally diverse but united in their commitment to the basic values of peace, democracy, and respect for human rights.
This will by no means be an easy task. The heritage of Europe's turbulent and often tragic history has not yet been overcome; the conflict in the former Yugoslavia is a most painful reminder of this truth. Yet, we have no choice but to hope that a community of nations can be achieved and spare no effort to do it. Europe cannot afford another war-either hot or cold.
Satisfying the security needs of the Central and Eastern European nations stands out among the critical tasks facing today's Europe. For most of modern history these countries have been pawns on the chessboard of European power politics. The bill for their weakness and isolation has been high, and has been paid by all of Europe. Locarno, Munich, and Yalta all demonstrated that security and prosperity in the West cannot be bought at the expense of the "other Europe."
We have learned this lesson well. It is clear that Central and Eastern Europe can no longer be considered a "grey zone," cannot be left outside of European security institutions. It is also clear that Poland's political and cultural development, its economic prosperity, and, ultimately, its military security depend on rebuilding and cementing its ties with the West-the cradle of our culture and statehood. Poland will feel fully secure only as an integral and indispensable element of the European family of nations, whose cultural roots, values, and aspirations we share. This is the main reason why political, declarative guarantees of security are of no interest to us-they simply fail to provide what we are looking for.
For us, NATO enlargement means much more than extending security guarantees to new nations. In Poland's view, enlargement is the only realistic way to build a new, effective security architecture for Europe and to overcome the divisions of the continent.
The sense of security and fulfillment of national aspirations that enlargement will give new members will also help develop their constructive and fear-free cooperation with Russia. Thus, enlargement will not isolate our great neighbor. On the contrary, it will forge stronger bonds of cooperation between Russia and its western neighbors and between Russia and NATO as a whole.
Poland has been watching with satisfaction the development of NATO's dialogue with Russia, and hopes to see it intensified in the coming months. Russia's contribution to IFOR illustrates the potential of the Alliance's strategic partnership with this country. For example, we expect Russia's cooperative experience in the name of peace in Europe will help to eliminate the remnants of its Cold-War perception of NATO as an anti-Russia war machine, a perception that still lingers among the Russian political and military elite. We believe that when this occurs, Russia, with its great culture and material potential, will be able to contribute better to the common goal of lasting peace and stability on our continent.
Poland includes Russia among our most important political and economic partners. And we welcome Russia's growing interest in developing closer relations with Poland and other Central European states. A recent visit to Poland by Mr. Primakov and a visit to Moscow by President Kwasniewski have helped to strengthen our bilateral ties. We are determined to develop dialogue and cooperation with Russia, but this does not change our position regarding our membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
In Poland's view, the development of cooperation between NATO and Russia ought to be accompanied by a similar development of cooperation and a cementing of ties with Ukraine. When he visited Kiev last April, Secretary General Solana rightly emphasized the key role of an independent Ukraine in the European security system. It is therefore Poland's intention to develop intensive and comprehensive cooperation with Ukraine, including in the military sphere. While Poland and Ukraine share a difficult and often violent past, both are now striving to establish close and friendly ties between themselves and with the new Russia in the interest of all of Europe.
The Study on NATO Enlargement ended the beginning stage of preparations for enlargement and paved the way for the December 1995 North Atlantic Council decision to open an intensified dialogue on enlargement with interested Partner countries. Poland welcomed this initiative and hopes that by the end of this year it will have prepared a solid ground for final decisions regarding our membership in the Alliance. We expect these decisions to be in accordance with our wish to become a full-fledged member of NATO, enjoying all the rights and taking on all the responsibilities, including those related to our membership in NATO's military structures.
Security is much more than military alliance. It is also universal adherence to values such as democracy and respect of human rights. Since we are once again an independent and sovereign republic, Poland's geopolitical location, our historical experience, and our national interest will determine the guiding principles and directions of our foreign and security policies.
We have accomplished a great deal since 1989. We have established good relations with all our neighbors, based on bilateral treaties. We have become active members in regional cooperative arrangements, including CEFTA, the Central European Initiative, and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. We support the missions of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. And we are determined to continue our efforts to fulfill our agenda by becoming members of NATO, the European Union, and the Western European Union.
All of us who are gathered here have a sense of the great historical significance of the decisions facing us now. Let us not miss the opportunities that lie before us, and let us do our best to assure that the Workshop contributes to our common goals.
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