Poland's 10 years in NATO
NATO’s expansion to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic was beneficial for Poland – former NATO secretary general Javier Solana has told Polish Radio, according to Poland.pl.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the bloc’s expansion eastwards. Solana, now the EU foreign policy chief, praised Poland for its good preparation for membership in the Pact.
‘I think the mood in NATO those days was of extreme satisfaction. The fact that the three countries could join NATO was good news. I think that you did very well. You worked very hard and everybody recognized that. And I was very pleased to be there and accompany you in those days. You are doing very well now. Ever since you entered NATO you have been a very important contributor.’
On March 12 1999 foreign ministers of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic initialed ratification agreements in the American city of Independence and handed them to Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration. Albright thus recalls that moment.
‘I have to say this was not planned but we were so excited that this happened that there is still a picture of me holding up the protocols as a great victory.’ Polish defense minister Bogdan Klich says that the past ten years gave Poland a sense of security. Poland also proved to be an important and reliable partner.
‘Our voice can be heard. We take part in the main military operations of the alliance as a reliable partner. The Americans speak highly of our cooperation in the crucial mission in Afghanistan.’
Events marking the 10th anniversary of Poland’s entry into NATO will be held in Poland today. President Lech Kaczynski will attend the ceremonies in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw. Later, he will meet with government ministers at a reception in the Presidential Palace.