The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Tusk of Poland

Chancellery of the Prime Minister
Warsaw, Poland

2:25 P.M. CET

PRIME MINISTER TUSK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, I’m very happy that again here in Warsaw we had the opportunity to talk about Polish-American relations.  And with great satisfaction, I observed that so much has changed around us, but our relations and the nature of our relations remain the same -- it remains so very good and of such fundamental significance as it was in the past when we spoke for the first time.

It was no coincidence in the fact that we began our meeting with my thanks to the very speedy and also very effective reaction of the United States to the Ukrainian crisis.  And we’re talking about the American reaction to the very situation in the region, but also in terms of support for Poland, which is both political -- and we do remember that on this key day, when Crimea was subject to annexation, we remember the visit of Vice President Biden here to Warsaw, but we also highly appreciate your practical decisions about the support given to the Polish defense capabilities.  And for that we’re truly thankful, because that’s not always so frequent in contemporary times.

We’ve exchanged information of our strategic cooperation.  I informed Mr. President about our readiness and something that President Komorowski has also mentioned about our readiness to strengthen the Polish defense capabilities.  We will also try to convince our European allies -- also at the meeting at the NATO Summit in Wales – we’ll try to convince them to a common European effort for a common European defense and solidarity.

It was with great satisfaction that we welcome the announcement of Mr. President about the readiness to increase the engagement and the plus-billion dollars dedicated to this part of the world.  It was also with satisfaction that I heard from Mr. President this is just another step and that this is not the end, and that in terms of the strategic perspective we will continue to talk about the evermore intense cooperation and presence in this part of Europe -- the presence of NATO in this part of Europe.

Our relations really, really do not require any repair, so we really did not have the need to talk about Polish-American relations.  But our opinions about Ukraine and the situation in the entire region, and also in terms of energy cooperation, these opinions are in line.  I’ve informed Mr. President about our Polish mission of the European energy union so as to increase the independence of Europe in terms of a single energy supply point.  And I think that is also a domain where we see possibilities of practical cooperation.  And I’m very happy that Mr. President has also declared his personal engagement so as to increase this possibility of energy diversification in Europe.

Again, thank you very much, Mr. President.  I did say at the beginning that a friend in need is a friend indeed.  And I reiterate I’m sure that the experiences of recent months and also our talks here on the symbolic date of our 25th anniversary of freedom, these talks were not just symbolic and were not referring to the history.  And I think that this is the most important thing in our relations -- that we appreciate the same values and we like the same symbols, but at the same time we both want to go in the similar direction.  And the United States is the best partner we could ever imagine.

Thank you so very much, Mr. President. 

And now, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Dzień dobry.  I want to thank you, Prime Minister Tusk, for your warm welcome.  It’s good to be back in this hall.  I’ve said a lot today already about why we think Poland is so important, why the alliance between the United States and Poland is so important, but perhaps during my remarks here I can say a little bit about why the economic progress that we’ve seen in Poland is so important.  Economic growth wasn’t inevitable just because Poland achieved its political freedom.  It wasn’t easy.  Reforms here in Poland have been hard and have not been without sacrifice.  But as you drive through Warsaw, you see that Poland is a country on the move, one with one of the largest and fastest-growing economies in Europe, a manufacturing powerhouse, and a hub of high-tech innovation. 

In fact, the last time I was here, Donald gave me a gift -- the video game developed here in Poland that’s won fans the world over, “The Witcher.”  I confess, I’m not very good at video games, but I’ve been told that it is a great example of Poland’s place in the new global economy and it’s a tribute to the talents and the work ethic of the Polish people, as well as the wise stewardship of Polish leaders, like Prime Minister Tusk.

As I did with President Komorowski, I reiterated to the Prime Minister our rock-solid commitment to Poland’s security, outlined for him the announcement I made earlier today about bolstering security to our NATO allies in Eastern Europe, and made clear that the United States is ready to deepen our defense cooperation as Poland modernizes its military.

As the Prime Minister indicated, we spent a lot of time on Ukraine.  Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve been a strong voice in conveying Poland’s solidarity to the Ukrainian people.  And Poland has been a great partner to Ukrainian civil society groups, and Polish diplomacy has played a critical role earlier this year in preventing even more violence. 

Poland is joining us in providing Ukraine with critical economic assistance.  And my conversation with the Prime Minister illustrated again that our countries are absolutely united in the need to stand with the Ukrainian people as they move forward, and that is not just with respect to their territorial integrity and security, but also with respect to the kinds of economic reforms that are going to be needed. 

As Ukrainians undertake the hard work of political and economic reform, Poland is going to have an important role to play in sharing the lessons of its own success, as Poland has with other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Europe and around the world. 

And one of the areas we discussed was energy.  Obviously, this has created significant vulnerabilities throughout Europe, particularly Eastern and Central Europe.  And we highlighted the need for greater energy security in Europe, which Prime Minister Tusk has championed, but we also agreed that it’s going to be critical for Ukraine to embark on effective efforts to reform its energy sector and diversify its supply of natural gas.  Just to give one example, Ukraine’s economy requires about three times as much energy to produce the same amount of output as Poland’s does.  And it’s very hard for Ukraine then to be competitive and to be successful if, in fact, it is that inefficient when it comes to energy.  So these are areas where I think we can make great progress.  Donald’s ideas on how Europe can reduce its energy risks by diversifying, investing in renewables, and upgrading energy infrastructure are ones that I think are important for everybody to listen to.

Poland is, for example, making an important investment that will allow the world’s liquefied natural gas, LNG, to travel to Europe.  For our part, the United States has already approved licenses for natural gas exports, which will increase global supplies and thereby benefit partners here in Europe.  I also mentioned to the Prime Minister the importance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, T-TIP, the trade agreement that we are negotiating currently between the United States and Europe.

Poland has been a supporter of an ambitious T-TIP agreement.  And I indicated to him one of the benefits of a strong trade agreement is that it is much easier for me to approve natural gas exports to countries with which we already have a free trade agreement. 

So, last point -- we discussed in the context of energy the issue of climate change.  The United States just took major steps to propose new standards that would result in significant reductions in carbon emissions from our power plants.  This has to be a global effort.  Poland hosted a successful U.N. climate summit conference last year.  As we work to shape a strong global climate agreement this year -- or next year, rather -- it’s important for the United States and the EU to set an example by committing to ambitious goals to reduce emissions beyond 2020.  And if we’re thinking seriously about energy diversification, energy efficiency, we can combine those two efforts in ways that make us not only more politically secure and economically secure but also more environmentally secure. 
                                            
So let me just thank once again Prime Minister Tusk for his outstanding leadership, and let me thank the Polish people for their outstanding example.  I’m confident that the friendship that we’ve established over the years will only be strengthened.   And although it’s wonderful to have friends when things are going good, the Prime Minister is absolutely right that it’s especially important to have friends when things are tough.  And we don’t have a better friend anywhere in the world than Poland.  So we’re grateful for that.

Thank you.

END               
2:32 P.M. CET

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