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Poland - NATO Membership

>Membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has expanded over the years as NATO welcomed former Warsaw Pact nations and former Soviet Republics into the Western alliance. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, which became members of NATO in 1999, were the first former communist countries to join the alliance. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, 12 countries from eastern and central Europe have become NATO members, almost doubling the alliance's number of countries from 15 to 28. [The 12 are Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.]

The participation in NATO has guaranteed Poland's security after the collapse of the old political system in Eastern and Central Europe. NATO's eastward enlargement meant a change of Poland's geo-political position. Joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 12th March 1999 was one of the most significant events in contemporary Polish history. Poland became part of the allied system of defence, which not only guarantees security and creates stable conditions for development, but is responsible for the world peace as well. It is in Poland's interest to uphold the North Atlantic Alliance as a system of mutual defence based on the permanent US presence in Europe and close co-operation between its members, which guarantees effective operation.

A turning point in Poland's co-operation with NATO was the launch of a program of Partnership for Peace at the NATO summit in Brussels in January 1994. Through its participation in the programme Poland entered a transitional stage on the road to full membership in NATO. Co-operation in the Partnership for Peace, between countries which until recently had belonged to opposing blocs, opened up new opportunities to establish political and military rapport. Having become a member of NATO, Poland continued to participate in the programme, developing a military partnership with candidate countries and supporting their Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Poland attaches great importance to the co-operation with Russia (within the Council NATO-Russia) and Ukraine (the Commission NATO-Ukraine).

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in Washington and New York questioned the existing model of international security. They led the international community to see terrorism as the most serious danger to world security and to the security of individual countries and societies. Responding to the allied obligations in the area of mutual defence of NATO, Poland sent its soldiers to Afghanistan and to the Persian Gulf, supporting the anti-terrorist coalition. Polish mine disposal, logistic and naval units, and units of Special Forces deployed there have earned the high esteem of their allies. November 2001 on the initiative of the Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and an international conference on the battle against terrorism was organised in Warsaw. One of its goals was to search for modes of regional co-operation in fighting terrorism. Its participants included the leaders of the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

Poland joined the debate on the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and its relations with the European Union. These problems are in the interest of the Warsaw Reflective Group, which first meeting took place in Poland for an invitation of the chef of Polish diplomacy (5-6 April 2004). Its members are the most prominent analysts and scientists of the problems of the international safety from Poland, France, Germany and the United Nations. The report and the further suggestions of the Warsaw Reflection Group were sent to the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to the representatives of all the members of NATO before the meeting of the heads of states and governments in Istanbul.

Polish military doctrine reflects the same defense posture as its Alliance partners. The Polish military continues to restructure and to modernize its equipment. Although budget constraints remain a challenge to modernization efforts, Poland is financially healthier than many of its neighbors, and has been able to move forward with U.S. assistance on acquiring F-16 multi-role fighters, C-130 cargo planes, HMMWVs, and other items key to the military's restructuring.

Poland continues to be a regional leader in support and participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has actively engaged most of its neighbors and other regional actors to build stable foundations for future European security arrangements. Poland has recently focused its participation in international security missions on those managed by NATO and the EU, and maintains a battalion in NATOs Kosovo Force (KFOR), is a leading contributor to NATOs International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and has deployed military forces to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and NATO Training Mission in Iraq.

There are several military arrangements in place with Poland including an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, Status of Forces Agreement, Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement, Declaration on Strategic Program and special operations forces and aviation detachment memoranda of understanding. They routinely participate in exercises with U.S. forces including: Immediate Response, Jackal Stone, Baltic Operations, and Combined Endeavor.





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