Duda: “Security first”. Will the new Polish President continue, or will he change the Polish security policy?

28 maja 2015, 15:15

NATO bases in Poland, strong “defensive army”, investment in the Polish armament industry – these three elements are the cornerstones of the Andrzej Duda’s new security policy. During his presidential campaign, the President-elect criticized the decision made by the Ministry of Defence regarding the multi-role helicopter tender.

During his pre-election campaign Andrzej Duda did cover the issues of the Polish defence and security problems, covering mainly three most important points. They may be simplified with the use of the following keywords: NATO, alliance cooperation with the Polish Army, status of the Polish Armed Forces and Polish defence industry.

During the first TV debate against Bronisław Komorowski, Duda stated that in his opinions NATO bases, that would also become a home for the Polish soldiers, should be created within the territory of Poland. Next step that should be taken in order to bolster the Poland’s security would be to reconstruct the potential of the armed forces, by creating a strong, well-equipped “defensive army”, along with a relevant territorial defence system. NATO bases should be treated as armament storages, that would make it possible, should such need arise, to rapidly deploy the US Army, or other allied military personnel, without the need of deploying the equipment – since it would be stored within the territory of Poland.

When asked whether the current NATO guarantees are enough for Poland not to worry, Duda said that the NATO commitments need to be enhanced and that the NATO Spearhead is not sufficient. The best solution would be to create rapid deployment units that would appear in Poland within a few days from the moment when the threat emerges. According to the president-elect, such changes would require a more active foreign policy, involving more initiative on the side of Poland, leaving the passive stance behind.

All of the countries are fighting for their own interests, particularly those which are trying to gain a significant position. I consider Poland, my fatherland, to be a country which has a significant position. Our population reaches 38 million, we are located in a strategic area of Europe – geographically. Our strategic position is also beneficial due to the interests of our allies; we need to interconnect these intentions, we need to cooperate within the NATO structure. (…) The Poles want to lead peaceful lives in peace.

Andrzej Duda, president-elect

An initiative referred to by Duda as Newport-Plus is related to the increased presence of the NATO forces in Poland. Duda described this initiative during a meeting organized by the Instytut Wolności (Institute of Freedom) in Warsaw, when he presented his five priorities related to the foreign policy. The aim of the Newport Plus initiative is to bolster the NATO military presence at the alliance’s eastern flank – in Duda’s opinion the relevant steps needed to convince the allies need to be undertaken now, so that the proper documents are signed during the NATO Summit in Warsaw. This event is scheduled to happen in the summer, next year. Not only would such bundle of proposals mention the quick reaction forces – being a repeated set of the Newport provisions – but it also should, according to Duda’s declarations, include a number of hard, specific commitments related to development of the existing and creation of the new tangible NATO infrastructure in Poland. All that has a beneficial value, both for the president, as well as for the ministerial team.

This bundle needs to be negotiated, so that it is adopted during the NATO summit in Warsaw – and then, and only then we could speak of the Poland’s success. The fact that the summit takes place in Warsaw cannot be treated as a success; for me that’s just a technical issue. Getting a set of specific guarantees for Poland, provided by the allies, would be a success for me.

Andrzej Duda, president-elect

Considering the words above, Duda’s reaction to the words said by Jean-Claude Juncker, who is the President of the European Commission, who at the beginning of march proposed that a joint European army should be created, is not surprising. Duda said that NATO is the most significant guarantor of the European safety, and that the European Army – even if it is created – should bolster the strength of NATO, in a close cooperation with the USA. The new Polish President additionally stressed the fact that should a European army be created, he cannot imagine the process, the aim of which would be to create a command that would supervise the operational activity of such force, should such command constitute a “competition” for the NATO command centres. Separate command of the European Army would constitute “a splitting factor” for NATO, creating a barrier between Europe and the US”. At the same time, Duda said that the proposal made by the European Commission is, so far, just a loose idea which is going to be refined in June, when the concept is going to be discussed at the European Parliament. Then the MEP’s would decide whether that armed formation would constitute a reinforcement of the NATO structures or whether it would be independent from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In the latter case, Duda would be an opponent of the proposed solution, constituting a competition for the NATO alliance. “I do not accept such competition”. The elected president also noted that there is a need of refining the details related to financing of the European Armed forces, along with the concepts related to the command and decision-making chain.

Duda’s declarations related to the Juncker’s initiative are compliant with the opinion of the current government. Grzegorz Schetyna, the Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs referred to the Juncker’s proposal calling it a “very risky idea”. Schetyna also said that he is a proponent of a view, in line with which NATO is the guarantor of the European security – and that bolstered NATO presence is required.

The future president also referred himself to the future of the Polish Army. In his vision the Polish Armed Forces shall have a defensive character, they should be ready to defend the territory of Poland until the allied reinforcements are deployed – being a realistic deterrent for the potential aggressor. Duda claims that this would require an in-depth modernization of the Polish Army.

Safety first – external and internal safety. This is to be realized by profiling the Polish Army. The concept of territorial defence shall be refreshed. Poland needs a well-equipped defensive army which would act as a deterrent. So that should anybody consider any military action against Poland, he would hesitate, before putting the plan into practice. The Army shall be capable of defending our country for a period needed to get help from our allies. Secondly – the problems are related to the used armament. I deeply believe that creating the military potential and armament infrastructure of the Polish army should be based on the Polish industry. This is also an element of my idea of economic reconstruction of the country. Once we had well-functioning armament industry – it still exists, however, we cannot compare the current shape to the condition of the defence sector in the past.

Andrzej Duda, president-elect

The issue of modernization of the army is closely tied with the issue of the Polish armament industry. During the debates against the current president, Duda stressed the fact that all of the tenders related to the armament acquired for the Polish Army shall be concluded in a way that would be beneficial for Poland – meaning that jobs would be created locally, and that the interests of the Polish industrial facilities would be addressed. No wonder then that the helicopter tender, concluded lately, should be realized, in Duda’s opinion, in a way that would take into account the existing aviation facilities in Poland, facilities which are already manufacturing the helicopters and the equipment. The new Polish President verbally supported the Mielec and the Świdnik facilities, criticizing selection of the H225 Caracal helicopters for the Polish Army. According to Duda’s opinion, the public assets spent on army modernization should remain within the Polish economy. 

- This tender involved two companies that are manufacturing helicopters within the territory of Poland – I mean the Mielec and Świdnik facilities. Both companies had a lot of hope related to that tender. For me it is a weird situation, considering the Polish economy. (…) Implementation of the procured technology should be realized within our own territory. The issue is also related to the national income, jobs, and, above all, to the Polish security. (...) The Airbus company – selected in the tender, along with its helicopter being accepted for the test programme - does not manufacture helicopters in Poland to any extent. No facility exists (…). Experience suggests that process needed to erect such facility in Poland and to get it running would take more than 2 years. 2 years is not enough to prepare the production of the helicopter in Poland – meaning that the money is recirculated in the Polish economy. The significant amounts of money that could be used to procure armament for the Polish Army will be extracted beyond the Polish border, instead of being recirculated in our own financial system.

Andrzej Duda, president-elect

 

One more question remains – what are the views of the future president, regarding the current situation in the eastern Ukraine and the Polish-Russian relationship? During the debate with President Komorowski, Duda stated that the Polish state’s interest requires the Ukraine to join the European Union. The fact that warfare is going on within the Ukrainian territory is not beneficial for Poland, thus NATO and EU structures are required to rectify the situation – however, as Duda states, our own interest should be of the highest priority here.

It seems that the views regarding the security and defence represented by the Polish President-elect are clear, no significant difference in comparison with the current policy shall be expected. Duda wants NATO to be strong, and he also wants it to be present within the territory of Poland. Secondly he wants the strong, Polish defensive army to tightly cooperate with the NATO alliance. The Army is to be equipped with equipment made in Poland. It seems that Duda is going to put a stronger emphasis on the territorial defence, seen as one of the important elements that create the national defensive potential. He is also going to try and realize the statement regarding development of the Polish defence industry in a way that would make it possible for us to utilize the technology transfer in order to develop and manufacture our own, modern armament. The latter issue would require an in-depth cooperation with the government.