Poland and US sign agreement on anti-missile shield

Negotiations on the matter were lengthy and tough, especially in the final stage when the government of Donald Tusk put strong pressure on the American side demanding additional security quarantees for Poland. Most had been accepted by the US negotiators at the very last moment. However, as both teams stressed, it was a hard but fair bargain conducted among friends.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who arrived in Warsaw to sign the document on behalf of the Washington administration, thanked Polish authorities for taking a positive decision on hosting the installation:

'It will deepen our defense cooperation. It will deepen our capability to deal with new threats. And it says strongly to the world what we already know. That Poland is one of America's greatest friends and allies.'

Secretary Rice stressed repeatedly that the anti-missile shield has a strictly defensive character and is not directed at any specific country.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski, on his part, underscored the historic significance of the agreement pointing to the success of both countries:

'I would like to express my deep satisfaction that the long negotiations on the shield have ended in success and with great chances for ratifying the document. In other words, that one of my main strategic goals as the president of Poland has been achieved.'

President Kaczynski congratulated the present and previous Polish cabinets as well as both sides' negotiators and their teams on efforts to secure the final version of the missile defense shield agreement.

Prime minister Donald Tusk recalled the motives guiding his government and experts in the difficult talks with the United States:

'When my government assumed responsibility for the negotiations in continuing the efforts of its predecessors, we set for ourselves a goal to incrase the security of both our countries. That is why my team concentrated on those aspects which would guarantee the future security of Poland and all its people. Let me quote a brief example from the provisions of the document: The United States are bound to assure the security of Poland and all American facilities located on its territory.'

In simple words, this means the United States are obliged to come to the aid of Poland in case of a ballistic missile attack using its full anti-ballistic potential.

The agreement signed in Warsaw provides for the installation on Polish soil of a launch site with 10 interceptor rockets of the US missile defense shield. The project should be completed within five years. In a companion agreement the American side has pledged to station one garrison armed with Patriots to reinforce the Polish rocket defense system. The battery is most likely to be located to the north-east of Warsaw to strengthen security in the sensitive capital area. The document also envisages a declaration on tightening strategic Polish-US military cooperation.

[Source: Polish Radio, Varsovia, 20Aug08]

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