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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

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  • “The example of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland testifies to the great importance of belonging to the free world, of which NATO is a part and a symbol. The Alliance has become the essential pillar of our security,” reads a joint article by Polish Ambassador Stefan Czmur, Czech Ambassador Milan Dufek, and Hungarian Ambassador Gézy Jeszenszky. The op-ed “NATO Enlargement 1999 – a Turn in the History of Europe” was published by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten. As the diplomats point out, thanks to NATO guarantees “we were able to implement reforms in order to catch up with the rest of Europe,” which could develop freely while our countries struggled for freedom and sovereignty. The authors also underscore that rather than being mere NATO beneficiaries, from day one of their presence in the Alliance Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have never shirked their responsibilities and obligations stemming from the membership. “We want an active role in the defense of European peace and democracy,” stress the envoys, quoting Vaclav Havel.

     

    “At times, voices can be heard in Europe that NATO should be dissolved, as a relic of the Cold War,” write the diplomats. In their view, though, this argument is simplistic and naïve, as it fails to account for changes in the international security system that have taken place since our accession to NATO, and ignores the new role of the Alliance. The ambassadors go on to say: “In Europe there are still unstable regions, whose security is not sufficiently assured. Recent events in Ukraine have demonstrated that, even on our continent, there are still politicians ready to use military force in disregard of international law and obligations they have accepted. To this we must add the whole range of non-military threats, including those emanating from the regions in the vicinity of Europe. NATO is the only effective military pact, able to stand against these threats.”

     

    “Fifteen years ago, on 12 March 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland signed the instrument of accession to the Washington Treaty,” recall the authors, and go on to quote Bronisław Geremek, who on that occasion underlined the significance the event carried for Poland and millions of Poles living on all continents, as “for Poland, the Cold War comes to an end.” The ambassadors point out that shortly before Geremek similar words had been spoken by the foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and Hungary. The authors argue that these comments could be difficult to grasp for an outsider who knows little about the history of our countries. Yet they were deeply meaningful at the time, and “continue being so, even nowadays, as evidenced by the recent events in the Ukraine.” “In order to fully understand the significance of Bronislaw Geremek’s speech, let us go back to the end of World War II, when Central Europe, as a result of the Yalta agreement, unwillingly fell under the  Soviet rule and the whole continent found itself divided by the Cold War,” they write, adding that it was then that Poland disappeared from Western consciousness and became a part of the communist bloc, or “Eastern Europe.” “Our nations expressed their disagreement with the dictatorial regime in demonstrations, strikes and uprisings,” they emphasize. “Today we remain grateful  to our allies for having defended their part of Europe against communism. Norway played a key role in this struggle,” write the diplomats.

     

    The ambassadors also recall the collapse of communism in 1989, and the decision by new, non-communist governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary to establish the Visegrad Group on 15 February 1991. “We knew that our own stability and that of the rest of Europe required that the heart of Europe should not be left as a no man’s land, but join NATO, as the anchor of security. [. . .] It took a lot of patient arguing until NATO finally agreed to invite our three countries to sign the Washington Treaty,” they explain.

     

    “We greatly value the principle of equal security for all member states. Security is indivisible,”  say the authors, writing in conclusion “The door to NATO must remain open for every nation that [. . .] should wish to become part of the free and secure world.”

     


    Source: Aftenposten

     

     

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