Gates Expresses Confidence Polish Elections Won’t Stop Defense Cooperation
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
KYIV, Ukraine, Oct. 22, 2007 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed confidence today that the reversal of power in Poland following yesterday’s elections won’t upset U.S.-Polish defense cooperation.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates listens to a reporter's question during a news conference at the Southeastern European Defense Ministerial conference, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 22, 2007. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Poland’s Conservative Civic Platform party won yesterday’s general election on a platform that included redeploying the country’s 900 troops in Iraq. The election promise, if fulfilled, would reverse strong support Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, have maintained for the Iraq mission since winning the 2005 election.
Gates is attending the Southeast Europe Defense Ministerial conference here.
He pointed to the close, longstanding relationship Poland and the United States have shared and said he doesn’t expect the election results to change that. “Regardless of the composition of the government, I expect that cooperation to continue,” he told reporters.
“We clearly are hopeful the kind of cooperation we have enjoyed recently in both Iraq and Afghanistan on one hand and in moving toward negotiations and an agreement on missile defense will continue as before,” he said.
Poland has been a coalition leader in the war on terror. In addition to its 900 troops in Iraq, about 1,200 Poles serve in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
In addition, the United States has been negotiating with Poland to place interceptors there as part of a missile defense system. The plan also seeks to base a radar station in the Czech Republic to shield the United States and Europe against rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.