Remarks by President Obama and President Komorowski to U.S. and Polish Armed Forces
Okecie Military Airport
10:03 A.M. CET
PRESIDENT KOMOROWSKI: (As interpreted.) Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor for me to be able to welcome the President of the United States here to the airport against the background of the F-16 aircraft -- Polish and American aircraft.
It is [a] very significant symbol of Polish-American military cooperation. This symbol has a long history that is enough to remember the Kościuszko. Mr. President, you just visited West Point; there’s a beautiful monument to the Kościuszko there. And it is also a reminder of the special brotherhood in arms that goes back to the 18th century; I’m talking about the Polish-American brotherhood in arms.
Here, because of the F-16s here, I would like to remind you that we have already had an opportunity to host American pilots in the Polish skies. It was at a very important moment in Poland -- it was back in 1920 when the first Polish squadron was fighting against the Bolshevik wave, and it was established on the basis of the American pilots, mainly those of Polish origin from Chicago and other American towns. But these were American pilots.
That is why it is important for us to be able to really mark the lasting Polish-American brotherhood in arms. And I think that F-16 -- while “F” can stand for fighter, but “F” can also stand for freedom, Mr. President. And I’m convinced that it matches perfectly well the 25th anniversary of Poland regaining its freedom, and it’s really worthwhile being strengthened and to become a permanent, stable element to make Poland secure and safe -- the security of Poland and the whole region. It is also about Polish-American cooperation; it is also about the presence of American troops in Poland, in the Polish territory at the time when we are all experiencing this crisis that is unfolding just across Poland’s border, just across the border of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in Ukraine.
Mr. President, once again, thank you very much for coming here, and thank you very much for the opportunity to mark together the lasting Polish-American brotherhood in arms.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Dzień dobry! Good morning, everybody. And thank you, Mr. President, for the kind words. It is wonderful to be back in Poland, one of our great friends and one of our strongest allies in the world.
It is a special honor to be here as Poles celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rebirth of Polish democracy. And this year also marks the 15th anniversary of Poland’s membership in NATO. I’m starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland’s security, as well as the security of our allies in Central and Eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct.
And during my visit here three years ago, I said that the United States would increase our commitment to Poland’s security. The United States honors our commitments, which you see in the aviation detachment at Łask Air Base. It is a commitment that is particularly important at this moment in time.
We just had a chance to meet some outstanding service members -- both Americans and Poles -- who serve and train here together. They’re part of the backbone of an alliance and part of the long history, as Mr. President alluded to, of Poles and Americans standing shoulder to shoulder for freedom. And we are so grateful to all of you for your service.
Given the situation in Ukraine right now, we’ve also increased our American presence. We’ve begun rotating additional ground troops and F-16 aircraft into Poland. And this is going to help our forces train together. This is going to help our forces support NATO air missions. It’s also part of NATO’s stepped-up presence across Central and Eastern Europe. And I look forward to announcing some additional steps later today.
So, President Komorowski, it is wonderful to be here. I want to thank you and the Polish people for welcoming me. As friends and as allies, we stand united, together and forever -- na zawsze razem. Thank you so much.
10:08 A.M. CET