Polish President Duda visits Estonia on Remembrance Day to call for stronger NATO presence in region
Andrzej Duda, the new President of Poland, made his first foreign trip to Estonia on Sunday to campaign for more NATO presence in Poland and the Baltics.
The visit was timed to the anniversary of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which today serves as the European Day of Remembrance, dedicated to victims of all totalitarian regimes.
To commemorate a shared tragedy, Duda and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves laid wreaths at the foot of the Estonian War of Independence Victory Column in Freedom Square.
"There is only one large country in Europe that understands the term mass deportations," Ilves said about Poland at a press conference. "None of the other large countries have had a historical experience with mass deportations, especially to Siberia."
President Duda spoke of the need to move NATO and US troops into the region to avoid history repeating itself. He will continue to campaign for their increased presence in Germany, Britain and the US.
Duda also met with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and Speaker of the Parliament Eiki Nestor to discuss bilateral relations, situation in Ukraine and NATO’s activities in reinforcing security in Eastern Europe.
“Poland is an important and close partner to Estonia both at the level of states and in cooperation between the parliaments," Nestor said. "We are similar and open-minded in our expressions and our direct reaction to the issues that concern the threats to the security of our region."
“In the 20th century, the people of Estonia and Poland experienced great sufferings that were caused by the ambitions of criminal states and the agreements concluded between them. This experience keeps our attention and minds alert to such tendencies also now,” he added.
Prime Minister Rõivas emphasized at today’s meeting with the newly appointed President of Poland that the cooperation between Poland and Estonia has an important role in strengthening regional security and the collaboration between the two countries is also very tight in terms of NATO, the European Union, and economic issues.
“Estonia and Poland tend to share their sense of security,” the Prime Minister said and added that this is reflected, for example, in understanding the reasons for the conflict in Ukraine and the current state. “We must continue to support Ukraine and keep in mind that the situation has not stabilized,” the Prime Minister said. Together, it was found that the imposition of sanctions against Russia should continue as long as Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is restored.
Rõivas and Duda also discussed the changed regional security situation - “The role of Poland in the field of security is important and the next NATO Summit in Warsaw has the potential to be of historical significance for our region,” Rõivas said - as well as economic and energy relations, and transport links, including the Rail Baltic project.
According to Rõivas, Poland has an essential role in ensuring the energy security of the Baltic countries. “Electric and gas connections between Poland and Lithuania is an important step forward in order to reduce the energy isolation of the Baltic countries by linking our market to Central Europe,” he said.
Both Rõivas and Duda emphasized that the energy and infrastructure projects that bring better connected countries closer together, must be given priority.
“The existence of good connections is not only economically beneficial to consumers, but also of symbolic significance in the changed security situation,” Rõivas said.