25 September 1996

Press Briefing



The President of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference Tuesday that Poland was sure to be one of the first countries to become a new member of an enlarged and fully democratic North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). All Poland's international partners supported its position, including the United States. His country was ready "to share the values and the risks" of being a member of NATO.

Focusing on some of the highlights of his afternoon statement to the General Assembly, President Kwasniewski said he had come to the United Nations to present his country's international policy and some new concepts of common activities for the international community. The pillars of Poland's foreign policy were to be members of NATO and the European Union, to have close relations with all its eastern European partners and to pursue closer relations with central European countries.

Regarding the United Nations, he said his country would continue to support all United Nations activities, especially in the field of peace- keeping. In his statement today, he had presented a Polish initiative in the form of a draft convention to fight against organized crime. The development of democracy in Poland was being threatened by organized crime. To protect democracy, it was necessary to fight against organized crime. The draft convention, which presented a good solution to protect democracy and to address citizen fears, should be discussed and analysed by Member States.

A correspondent asked if the United States was supportive of Poland's bid to join NATO. The President said that he had discussed the issue with many international partners during the last month, including United States President William Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore, presidential candidate Bob Dole and President Jacques Chirac of France. By June or July next year, NATO should decide on the inclusion of new members on the basis of negotiations. "Poland is ready to participate in the negotiations", he said. A new, enlarged NATO was an important element of world security; it was not a new division of the world. Therefore, Poland favoured dialogue with the Russian Federation, Ukraine and other States in order to agree on the concept of an enlarged NATO which would include those countries.

Asked how he would convince the Russians that NATO's expansion was not a threat to them, President Kwasniewski said it was important to show that NATO's expansion was not a threat to any State and that it was not a new concept to divide Europe. Its role was to build European security. The views on NATO of the Russian National Security Adviser, General Aleksandr Lebeid, were those on a former Europe, not the future Europe. In a changed world and

in a Europe that had experienced positive developments, it was important to be rid of stereotypes. World leaders must look for new opportunities and new prospects to move the world forward. The international community was advancing towards a very peaceful world -- without divisions.

"We should do what is possible to realize the dream of all nations working together", President Kwasniewski said. It was possible in "five or 10 historical minutes". He challenged politicians, like General Lebeid, to take a more positive approach to international relations.

Asked if he was supportive of a second term in office for Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the President said Poland had not yet made a decision on the matter.

A correspondent asked if the President thought that NATO represented "old thinking". He said NATO's willingness to increase its membership was evidence of the evolution of "a new NATO". A pragmatic approach perceived a new security system for Europe. That new organization would be very efficient and democratic and would promote peace with a well-prepared security system for Europe and the rest of the world. It represented a good solution for Europe, including for the Russian Federation. President Boris Yeltsin understood the situation very well.

When asked what could be the impact of a change in leadership in the Russian Federation, the President said President Yeltsin's leadership was an important factor for international relations in Europe. However, he would not speculate on the question of leadership. President Yeltsin's leadership continued to be very important, especially for the younger generation in the Russian Federation, which was not interested in being citizens of an isolated super-Power. Younger generations wanted to be members of an international, democratic family.

The President was asked if he could accept the proposal by Poland's eastern neighbours for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in central Europe. He said that Poland had been one of the signatories of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test- Ban Treaty (CTBT) today. Poland and its neighbours in eastern Europe had defined their conditions on nuclear weapons. In the new Europe that Poland envisaged, nuclear weapons would not be important. At present, they were technically not important. However, politically, they were dangerous. Poland had no interest in locating nuclear weapons in its territory.

Asked for his views on solving the Organization's financial crisis, the President said the Secretary-General had congratulated him today for Poland's full payment of its dues. However, regarding the position of "other partners", Member States should try to find a solution to the problem through dialogue. He observed that President Clinton had told the Assembly today that he was ready to solve the problem of his country's non-payment of dues.

Poland Press Conference - 3 - 25 September 1996

The United Nations was percieved by many as a boring, bureaucratic institution, said the President. In spite of those views, the Organization should continue to exist. The Organization's real advantage was that it represented a "fantastic opportunity to be able to go to one place in which you can be without your complexes" -- such as size and ideology. "We should protect this place and its 50 years of its tradition and experiences", he said. "It was a place to meet friends, colleagues -- and enemies."

* *** *