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Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan and Polish Minister of National Defence Błaszczak at a Bilateral Meeting at the Pentagon

June 11, 2019
Acting Secretary Shanahan and Polish Minister of National Defence Blaszczak

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK M. SHANAHAN:  Mr. Minister, it's wonderful to be with you again, certainly to host you here in the Pentagon, where we'll conduct a lot of important business today. 

But as you and I just discussed, a lot of the important business and work has already been accomplished.  And as Thomas here and Secretary Rood does some very heavy lifting.  And I think it also speaks to some strong cooperation.  Because the work that they've done and progress that they've made are going to have -- make a longstanding contribution to security and then our relationship. 

I would just add to that, we respect and appreciate Poland's contributions in terms of burden sharing and capacity building, readiness.  The ability to conduct joint operations.  And just a whole host of other, what I would call, model capabilities that you really serve as a good example to others. 

I look forward to our discussions today, and the chance to be with our bosses tomorrow over at the White House.  So you know, welcome.  Welcome to the Pentagon. 

MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE MARIUSZ BŁASZCZAK:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.  It's an honor to meet with you today.  Thank you very much for a very warm welcome.  We are in a pivotal moment of strengthening our defense cooperation.  

It's been 100 years since we have established our diplomatic relations.  Throughout those 100 years, our countries have experienced many examples of mutual support.  A great example of that is the 20th anniversary of Poland joining NATO, which we are celebrating this year, which would not have been possible had it not been for the United States' strong support.  

Tomorrow, we mark another important date in our mutual relations.  President Duda and President Trump will meet to discuss our defense cooperation.  

Without getting into details before the meeting of our presidents, I'm sure that we can find an optimal model of U.S. presence in Poland which will not only benefit our security, but also the security of NATO as a whole. 

This model of cooperation is a great example of the U.S. commitment to transatlantic security and collective defense.  Let me sincerely thank you, Mr. Secretary, for you and for your team's hard work on this. 

Today, we will surely discuss these topics of U.S. presence in Poland as well as other areas of our strategy cooperation.  Thank you very much, once again, for your hospitality.  

I would like to thank you, Madam Ambassador, as well for your commitment in our process of serving Polish-U.S. relations.  Thank you very much. 

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Would you like to take a question or two from the media? 

MIN. BLASZCZAK:  Sure, why not. 


Q:  Mr. Secretary, is the United States committed to completing a missile defense base in Poland?  

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Mr. Rood? (Laughter.)

JOHN ROOD:  Well, the answer is yes.  We will.  We are committed to continuing the construction of the base, the missile defense base, in Poland.  And that's our plan, to complete that in accordance with our Missile Defense Review that we recently completed.

Q:  So there will be a missile defense base in Poland next year. 

MR. ROOD:  The construction is continuing.  There were some delays that we've encountered.  But we've got a recovery plan in place that's being executed.  The Missile Defense Agency is supervising that and we're confident in our ability to complete the project. 

Q:  So what about the Fort Trump? 

MIN. BŁASZCZAK:  It's an idea, an excellent idea.  So we work very hard to do -- to strengthen relations in the field of military.  So from the U.S., John Rood is excellent negotiator.  And from our side, Mr. Szatkowski, Mr. Ambassador Wilczek.  So I would like to thank you all of this team for their commitment. 

SEC. SHANAHAN:  We've put together a strong security cooperation package.  It’s good.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, have you had any response from your Turkish counterpart -- any indication that Turkey's going to change course when it comes to S-400? 

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I think this is one of those topics we do a weekly update on.  So tomorrow, I'll have a phone call with Minister Akar, just so that we can update each other on progress. 

We've suspended some of the activities in terms of training.  We haven't suspended any of the maintenance activity.  But I'm hoping tomorrow, for he and I to exchange views and get an update on what kind of progress we've made.  That's really all I have to update you on. 


Q:  What kind of reaction from Russia do you expect after tomorrow's announcement from the presidents of Poland and the United States? 

MIN. BŁASZCZAK:  We will answer to this question tomorrow. (Laughter.)

Q:  Mr. Secretary? 

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Thank you.  I think that's good enough.