Press Availability With Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz

Press Availability With Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz


MODERATOR: (Via interpreter)
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the press conference of
the Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
of Poland Mr. Jacek Czaputowicz. Minister, the floor is yours. FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ:
(Via interpreter) Thank you. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the meeting following the discussion
that I had – that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki
and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had. I would like to stress that the visit paid
by Secretary Tillerson confirms close bonds between the United States and Poland,
and we can say broader that this confirms the interest of the United States in the region
of Central and Eastern Europe. Mr. Secretary Rex Tillerson mentioned
during the talks today the importance of the Three Seas Initiative for American politics,
and we are very happy with that. Let me stress that the last year’s visit
paid by President Donald Trump and his meeting exactly in Warsaw with leaders
of the Three Seas Initiative leaders and his remarkable address given
before the Warsaw Uprising Monument stressed our joint vision of bilateral relations. We share with the United States the same values
– respect for the law, civic freedoms, democracy, respect for economic freedom – and these
values are the foundation of allied relations between Poland and the United States. The talks of the Secretary of State yesterday
with President Duda and today’s conversation with Prime Minister Morawiecki as well as the meeting
with the chairman of the Law and Justice Party that will be held today, Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski,
are follow-up and continuation of the continuous dialogue that our countries
have had for a number of years. During the talks, such issues were raised
as the assurance of security cooperation of defense industries and energy security. The stationing of American troops in the territory
of our country gives us, the Poles, the sense of security, and we are grateful for that. We want this presence to be ever bigger
and we want it to be permanent. From the talks that we had today, we can conclude
that we have got common and convergent views that there is a need to strengthen NATO through
the implementation of decisions taken at Warsaw NATO summit and their consolidation at Brussels
summit, which will be held in July this year. We appreciate the involvement of American
businesses in the process of modernization of the Polish armed forces. We hope that the ongoing talks concerning
the Patriot system and other systems – we discussed helicopters produced in Poland,
Black Hawks – we hope that these will be soon finalized. I also want to stress that economic cooperation
– we are striving to increase it. It gives to the Polish company access
to modern technologies. It contributes to the development of innovation,
and this is what we are striving at. And last but not least, the subject of conversation
was energy cooperation as well. We share the view that it is necessary to
diversify energy supplies into Europe, among others, through the exports
of American LNG gas, and also the development of energy projects also broader than in Poland as part of
the Three Seas Initiative. During the talks today, Poland presented its
criticism vis-a-vis Nord Stream 2 project as a project which serves exerting geopolitical
pressure in this region of the world. We are going to ask our American allies
to support our policy in this respect. We appreciate that the Secretary noted the
fact that Poland is a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council from January. We declare our readiness to cooperate in the
UN forum because we share the interpretation of threats facing the contemporary world. And last but not least, I want to say that
this visit is symbolic to a certain extent because it is taking place on the jubilee
of Poland’s regaining its independence, the centennial of Poland’s regaining
its independence. Three weeks ago, together we celebrated the
100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson declaring the memorable declaration,
and the 13th point of the declaration provided for the establishment of
an independent Polish state. Distinguished Mr. Secretary, we are grateful
to the United States that in the past they supported our independence aspirations and that
today it constitutes the guarantee of our security. We hope for further forging closing –
for forging closer bilateral relations. SECRETARY TILLERSON: (Inaudible) all and
I am delighted to be making my first trip to Poland as Secretary of State. I want to thank Prime Minister Morawiecki
as well as Foreign Minister Czaputowicz for our conversations today. We had very lengthy and meaningful discussions. I also congratulate them both on forming
the new government, their new positions. I also want to thank President Duda for the
time he granted me yesterday evening; we also had a very lengthy and thorough
exchange of issues, and it was very useful and productive for me in this visit. Poland, I think as everyone knows, is a great
democratic ally of the United States. Our ties go back to the days of the American
Revolution when Polish officers helped us win our fight for independence. Our discussions today built on President Trump’s
visit to Warsaw this past summer. We had a straightforward and productive conversation
on several key bilateral issues as well as items of regional and global concern. I think everyone can appreciate that security
is always front and center in all of America’s international relationships, and none any
more important than here in Poland. We appreciate Poland’s cooperation and support
on the stance that we along with the international community has taken regarding North Korea’s
development of its nuclear weapons. And Poland has been a continuing
strengthened – a strengthened member of that pressure regime that we have in place. Poland and the United States are working together
through NATO to strengthen Europe’s deterrence and defense capabilities. We particularly commend Poland for already
achieving the commitment of 2 percent defense spending, and have – Poland has set targets
that are even above the 2 percent level, and we commend them for their investment in the
defense architecture for the good of Poland as well as the NATO alliance. On other fronts, we’re increasing our collaboration
to confront cyber threats and disinformation, and coordinating our support for Ukraine’s
efforts to regain its sovereignty. Like Poland, the United States opposes the
Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We see it as undermining Europe’s overall
energy security and stability, and it provides Russia yet another tool
to politicize energy as a political tool. Our opposition is driven by our mutual strategic
interest, and we strongly believe that Poland having the means – as well as all of Europe –
to diversify its energy supplies is important to Europe’s long-term security,
and we support many initiatives to develop interconnecting
infrastructure to achieve that. The energy sector does represent fertile
ground for greater business ties between the United States and Poland. I think as President Trump made clear during
his visit, we are proud to support Poland’s energy diversification and security, and including
through sales of United States-produced liquefied natural gas, as well as support for pipeline
proposals that would give Poland and Europe greater interconnectivity to alternative supplies,
such as the Norway-to-Poland Baltic natural gas pipeline, as well as greater integration
through the Three Seas Initiatives. U.S. companies have the right products and
services to contribute to Poland’s energy security, and I was very happy to discuss
these issues with the prime minister as well. The United States is very proud of the important
role we played in Poland’s rebirth as a free, independent country a century ago, and we
celebrate this 100th anniversary with Poland. The United States was the first country to
recognize the Republic of Poland. As we celebrate this centennial, though,
we also must remember and honor victims of the dark past. Today we mark the International Holocaust
Remembrance Day and the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau
concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. This is an important day for all of us to
observe, and I’m particularly honored to be in Warsaw to recognize this day
with our Polish friends. As we’ve done in the past, the United States
is proud to stand with the people of Poland today, and we will be doing so in the future. And we appreciate their kind hospitality for
the American troops that are stationed here in Poland today, and we thank them for all
the support they give us. Thank you very much. MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) If you allow
us, we’ve got a couple of questions. Matt Lee from the Associated Press, please. QUESTION: Hello, good morning, and thank you. Mr. Secretary, I wanted to ask you if we could
briefly just recap three issues of big concern, either crises or issues of major urgency that
you’ve addressed this week in Europe. First, in London, after your meeting with
Foreign Secretary Johnson, you said – you expressed some hope that there could be an
agreement between the United States and Europe on a supplement to the Iran deal. Yet the next day, in Paris, the French foreign
minister seemed to be a little more skeptical of that and said he didn’t really understand
– or the French didn’t really understand why the U.S. was putting so much pressure
on Europe in this. Secondly, then, at the conference on chemical
weapons, you accused Russia of being responsible for, ultimately bearing responsibility for,
chemical weapons attacks in Syria since they became involved militarily. That drew a sharp Russian response. And thirdly, you met with your Turkish counterpart
to talk about the situation in Afrin and also the potential for a Turkish incursion on Manbij. I am wondering – none of these things seem
to be getting any better. Is there any hope for them? If there is, what do you see as that hope
and how soon do you think there could be a resolution, if at all? Thank you. SECRETARY TILLERSON: Thank you for that
global series of questions. As the old saying goes, it’s always darkest
before the dawn. And I don’t want to say we’re at the darkest
moment of any of those three areas that you just asked about, but I think it’s why we
have given it so much attention and are working hard with partners and allies to put mechanisms
in place to begin the very, very hard work of addressing the concerns in all three. As to the Iranian nuclear agreement, President
Trump has been quite clear on his view that that agreement has a number of flaws, and
he intends to have those flaws addressed. What we have agreed to do is work with our
European counterparts, the E3 most particularly, and ultimately the EU, to identify what areas
we believe have to be addressed and a mechanism by which we can address those. And working groups have already begun meeting
on the effort to agree principles, what is the scope of what we will attempt to address, and also how might we engage the Iranians on discussions to address these issues. But beyond that, as you well know, the U.S.’s
broader Iran policy is about much, much more than the nuclear agreement. The nuclear agreement only represents
a small part of the policy. The U.S. has greater concerns and more immediate
concerns regarding Iran’s malign behaviors throughout the region: support for the Houthi
rebels in Yemen; launching of rockets from Yemen into Saudi Arabia; supplying weapons
to militias that are destabilizing Iraq, Syria; support for Lebanese Hizballah. You know the long list of things that the
U.S. is concerned about, as are our allies. So our work group also is intended to identify
areas of greater cooperation between Europe to push back on Iran’s
malign behaviors as well. So the work is underway. If it was easy, it would have already been done. We recognize the challenges, but we think we have
to do everything we can to address those. With respect to the comments I made regarding
Russia and the use of chemical weapons in Syria, I stand by my comments. Reports were in the open-source press just
in the last 24 to 48 hours of the use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria. These are just unacceptable deployment of
chemicals in ways that violate all conventions which Russia itself has signed up for. It violates agreements that Russia undertook
to be responsible for identifying and eliminating the chemical weapons inside of Syria. I can only comment that Russia has again failed
in their commitment because the chemical weapons are clearly there, they are being used
against civilian populations, and the most vulnerable – children –
inside of Syria. And I think President Trump was pretty clear
the last time he saw this happen inside of Syria. So we are holding Russia responsible
for addressing this. They are Assad’s ally; they are a member of
those conventions and they made commitments. They need to deliver on those commitments. Finally, with the situation of Turkey and Afrin,
as we said the other day, what we hope is that Turkey is able to satisfy that it has
addressed its security concerns on its border and it can limit the amount of fighting that goes on, because clearly there are civilian casualties
every time this happened, and we’re already seeing those casualties. And we also continue our dialogue with Turkey to
address their legitimate concerns along the border. President Trump, President Erdogan had a very
lengthy phone call which I participated in the other evening, and the discussion was
very open and frank about our views. We share the same objective: defeat ISIS;
secure a whole Syria, violating none of its territorial sovereignty today; and then putting in place a process by which UN Security Council Resolution 2254
is fully implemented, a new constitution for Syria, new elections held under UN auspices, which we believe will lead to a stable Syria
for the future, one in which terrorism cannot flourish. And that is our objective, and we believe
that continues to be Russia’s objective, Turkey’s objective, and the regional
countries’ as well. FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter)
If I may also respond to this question, I would like to stress that Poland shares the
goals of the United States as regards the way we see challenges of global nature. We support the policy of the United States,
of the democratic world, vis-a-vis Iran. Ten days ago President Andrzej Duda participated
in the UN Security Council debate concerning nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We support the position of the United States
and other allies from Central Europe that this regime has to be strengthened, and we
can see the destructive role played by Russia in this conflict. We – it is also important to us to stabilize
the situation in Syria. We are committed to providing humanitarian
assistance there on the ground. This is the goal of the policy conducted by
the Morawiecki government. Let me also add that in cooperation with our
allies, we are involved in solving the conflict in Iraq; 130 Polish troops are stationed in
Kuwait. By the decision of the government, we have
increased our involvement up to 350 troops by the end of this year in order to solve
the conflict in Afghanistan. In other words, Poland, as a member, nonpermanent
member of the UN Security Council, also wants to be responsible for providing peace in the
world. MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) And a question
from the Polish press, Malgorzata Galka, Polish Television. QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I am representing
Polish Television. I’ve got a brief question on Nord Stream 2. You mentioned, both of you gentlemen, about
the positions that have been worked out. I would like to ask about joint actions which
can be undertaken in the context of this project of the construction of Nord Stream 2. And very briefly, I would like to ask you
about the common agenda in connection with Polish membership of the UN Security Council. What are the joint topic subjects
which can be raised in this forum? FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via
interpreter) As far as Nord Stream 2 is concerned, our position is unambiguous here. We believe that this project has got negative
geopolitical implications. We believe that this is not an economic project,
and we are calling on our partners to see this project in this – in this way. Talking about the negative impact of Russia
in Syria, also because it could obtain resources from the implementation of its policy
pertaining to exports of gas. It could obtain resources to modernize its
armed forces and through that to play this negative role in the world. Now, in terms of our agenda in the UN Security
Council, I would like to say that Poland – and that is what we discussed today –
will take over chairmanship of one month; we will hold chairmanship
in the UN Security Council. We want to stress our priorities, and our
priority is to strengthen international law as the basis for relations among states. In this particular case, we are understood by our allies
and other members of the UN Security Council. SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated
in my statement, the United States continues to oppose Nord Stream 2
for the reasons I said. It is important that Europe, Poland certainly,
pursues a diversified energy portfolio supply. Nord Stream 2 would continue to keep Europe
more dependent on Russia for natural gas. It also allows Russia to now use the natural
gas supply system as a political tool to create more pressure on countries like Ukraine
and elsewhere. So we think it is – it’s not a helpful piece of
infrastructure in terms of providing stability for all of Europe. As to what can be done, we will continue
to take steps as we can. I think we have to recognize, though, that
Nord Stream 2 does have significant European investment in the project, so not everyone
is likeminded on the issue of Nord Stream 2 and the impact it can have on the overall stability
of Europe and European energy security. But our position I think is very clear. On the UN Security Council, I think as the foreign
minister said, rightly so, it’s we share values. And that’s the important thing, that we
welcome Poland’s membership and its seat at the Security Council during this term because
we know we have a Security Council member that will approach every one of the issues, important
issues that come before the Security Council, with a shared set of values – a shared set of values for democracy, shared values for the treatment of human beings, shared values around dignity of human beings, and trying to de-escalate the threats
that exist in the world today. I know Poland shares our quest for peace and
prosperity for everyone, and that is generally at the Security Council is where a number
of critical issues are brought forward for discussion and decision as well. And I think we’re – we look forward to collaborating
with Poland on the Security Council. I think on almost all issues we’ll find ourselves
well aligned, but we respect Poland’s sovereignty on the Security Council. But we know we have a strong partner in terms
of the values that we share. MODERATOR: (Via interpreter)
The Wall Street Journal, please. QUESTION: Thanks. Mr. Secretary, despite the President’s trip
to Davos, transatlantic relations are not where either side would like them to be. You have vacancies across embassies in Europe,
and you’ve held the chief of missions meeting in Paris and you’re holding one later today. What is your message to the ambassadors
and charges you’re meeting with? SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, the regional meetings
I’m having with ambassadors and chief of missions is something I intend to do throughout
the year when I – as I travel to a region, I think it’s just a good opportunity to
gather everyone in that region together. And clearly, a lot of the issues that affect
the region – for instance, we’re in Poland, and so issues that affect Poland, though,
also affect the surrounding nations as well, and our ambassadors and chief of missions
that are carrying out and representing U.S. interests in those countries, I think it’s
very useful for them to have an exchange of how they’re seeing the regional issues. So part of this is facilitating greater communication
and cooperation among our ambassadors and our chief of missions regionally, and how
can we use the – our understanding and ensure that we’re sharing information with one another
on how we can advance America’s objectives. And then secondly, it’s just a good opportunity
to continue to share with the leadership team out there in our embassies what our objectives
are so there’s clarity around the direction that we’re going in the State Department,
ensure if they have questions and need clarity around what we’re undertaking back in the
United States that there’s – that they have a clear understanding of all of our principles
and objectives as well. So it’s just – it’s an opportunity to communicate
with one another – me to communicate with them but also them to communicate with each other. MODERATOR: (Via interpreter)
Polish Press Agency. QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good morning. My question is about Polish-American military
cooperation, and in concrete terms I’m asking you about military contracts which are right
now being negotiated. We heard that during the meeting, hope was
expressed that they will be soon concluded. Can you give any more details and concrete
decisions or commitments that have been taken with this regard? And a brief question to Mr. Secretary of State. What particular issues would you like to raise
with today’s meeting with the chairman of the Law and Justice Party ‎Jaroslaw Kaczynski? FOREIGN MINISTER CZAPUTOWICZ: (Via interpreter)
In terms of the military cooperation, as I said, we hope for a strong involvement of the American
industry in the modernization of our armed forces. This is the best-developed industry
in this area. Our point is – and this was mentioned by
Prime Minister Morawiecki – not only to purchase some kind of armaments which is necessary,
of course, and very much necessary, but we would also like to make sure that the Polish
industry can modernize thanks to that. Mr. Secretary of State explained to us that,
of course, our requirements connected with the equipment also impact – have an impact
on certain procedures of production and costs. This offer is being now developed in more details. Experts are talking. And this is necessary for Poland and for our
security, and I hope that these contracts will soon be concluded and signed,
let’s say. SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as the foreign
minister indicated, the – our negotiators and teams are meeting actively around the
military equipment, and I’m confident that we will resolve all outstanding issues and
we’ll have a very good outcome that will leave Poland with a much stronger defense
posture as well as contributing to the strength of NATO in doing so. As to my meeting with Chairman Kaczynski later
today, as I travel around the world in countries, if time allows, I always meet with
important leaders in the private sector, former government leaders,
current government leaders. It helps me understand the issues in the country
better, and certainly he has a long history here in Poland, an important history in the
development of Poland over the last 20 years, and I welcome his perspective. So for me it’s just an opportunity
to hear from other leaders, and whenever I have the chance to do that,
I take advantage of it. Thank you, though. MODERATOR: (Via interpreter)
That was the last question. That concludes the conference. Thank you, ministers. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen,
for your participation.

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