NATO marks 70 years of existence next month and alliance members continue the mission of ensuring the organization is relevant and agile in a new era, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Poland over the weekend.
Stoltenberg was in Warsaw to mark the 20th anniversary of Poland joining NATO. He spoke at a conference sponsored by the Polish Institute of International Affairs and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
The secretary general discussed the changes experienced across Europe since the fall of the Soviet Union and dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were the first tranche of former nations to join NATO. “It is hard to understand the impact of the enlargement of NATO, the importance, how it has transformed Europe,” he said.
He said traveling in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall was a totally different world. “If anyone had told me back then that, not so much later, Poland and many other of the former Warsaw Pact members were going to be members of NATO, I would have regarded that as absolutely impossible,” he said.
But it did, and now these nations — including Poland — contribute to shared security in many ways. “Poland is present in one of our battlegroups in Latvia, Enhanced Forward Presence,” Stoltenberg said. “Poland is conducting air policing out from Lithuania. Poland is part of our…