Washington, DC - The U.S.-Polish relationship is buttressed by our peoples’ centuries-long pursuit of liberty and freedom--values that unite us as we strive together to create a Europe whole, free, and at peace. Americans and Poles have provided crucial help to each other at the most challenging times in our countries’ histories as far back as the American Revolution; Poles Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski are honored as heroes of that struggle.
In 1989, Americans celebrated Polish liberation from communism, the culmination of the Polish people’s long struggle against oppression and authoritarianism. Since that time our shared values and commitment to democracy have allowed us to build deep and comprehensive security, economic, and societal relations.
The United States views Polish democracy as the foundation of our strong bilateral ties. As stated in NATO's founding document, our collective defense is “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” In this regard, we are closely following the dispute over the Constitutional Tribunal and other issues relevant to the well-being of Poland's democratic institutions.
Strengthening Military Cooperation in Defense of Shared Values
Security is a fundamental pillar of the U.S.-Poland bilateral relationship and our defense ties have never been stronger. Poland’s 10-year, $35 billion defense modernization program is an important investment in the country’s defense capabilities and will increase the Polish military’s interoperability with NATO allies—allowing us to jointly enhance NATO’s collective defense, deterrence, and resiliency. Poland has committed to be a Framework Nation for NATO’s Very High Readiness Task Force, established a NATO Force Integration Unit, and hosts the enhanced NATO Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast, whose chief of staff is a U.S. brigadier general. Poland is contributing to NATO’s rotational presence in the Baltic States with the Visegrad Group and supports regional security through the Lithuania-Poland-Ukraine Brigade. Poland contributes to overall Alliance and U.S.-led efforts through the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, entry into NATO’s humanitarian efforts in the Aegean Sea, and support for the Counter-ISIL Coalition through its upcoming deployment of F-16s and Special Forces trainers to Kuwait and Iraq to help combat ISIL.
Through Operation Atlantic Resolve, the United States undertakes intensive military exercises with Poland and other Allies. The United States maintains a full-time aviation detachment at Łask Air Base, which hosts regular joint training rotations combining U.S. and Polish F-16s. In May 2016, the United States broke ground on construction of phase three of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to missile defense. The missile defense site in Redzikowo, Poland, will integrate with NATO to protect Europe and U.S. forces on the continent from ballistic missile threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
Beginning in fiscal year 2017, The United States plans to augment its force presence in Europe through a heel-to-toe rotational deployment of an armored brigade combat team, as well as pre-positioning the equipment for a second armored brigade combat team in Europe. We will deploy the armored brigade combat team headquarters and elements of the rotational brigade in Poland. We have also committed to serve as the Framework Nation in Poland for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in the east.
Building Prosperity Through Deepened Economic Cooperation
U.S.-Polish economic ties are dynamic and wide-ranging, and both governments are committed to identifying additional trade opportunities. During the Obama Administration, bilateral merchandise trade with Poland has more than doubled, from $4.3 billion in 2009 to $9.3 billion in 2015. More than 200,000 Poles are employed directly by U.S. companies, and U.S. firms are some of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in Poland, having invested more than $30 billion in the country. In June 2016, approximately 20 Polish delegates participated in the third SelectUSA Investment Summit, a demonstration of Poland’s growing interest in the U.S. market.
The conclusion of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty (T-TIP) will deepen our bilateral commercial relationship. The United States government has identified six critical areas for U.S. companies’ engagement in Poland: infrastructure, green-building, intelligent transportation systems, energy, defense, and information technology.
The United States prioritizes energy cooperation with Poland to promote a more secure, cleaner, and more sustainable energy future. The opening of the Swinoujscie liquefied natural gas terminal is a necessary and welcome step in Poland’s efforts to improve its energy security. Poland’s investments in innovative technologies such as unconventional gas extraction, nuclear power, and renewable energy could also provide new, more secure energy sources as well. U.S. firms that are developing the latest high technology in wind and solar equipment are also invested in Poland’s renewable energy sector.
People-to-People Ties an Enduring Feature of Bilateral Relations
Some of the first settlers at Jamestown Colony were Polish craftsmen brought by Captain John Smith in 1608. Almost 10 million Americans today claim Polish ancestry, providing unwavering support for close U.S.-Poland relations. The Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission has funded more than 1,900 Poles and 1,000 American exchanges over its 60-year history. Poland is also part of the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) student program, which will send 30 Polish high school juniors to live and study in the United States this year. A robust International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) sends about 30 Polish professional grantees annually to the United States, and recent programs focused on such issues as cybersecurity, LGBT issues, and women in foreign affairs. American Corners throughout Poland bring American history, culture, arts, and values to young Poles, and an active sports diplomacy program, partnering with Polish NBA star Marcin Gortat to support summer youth camps, further expands youth outreach. In cooperation with the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, five Polish high school teachers each year attend teacher training programs administered by the U.S.-based Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO).