Kiska with the B9 Presidents: The relationship with Russia has not improved
The North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) must clearly demonstrate readiness, mainly for action under the application of Article 5 if any member of the Alliance is at risk. The presidents of Bucharest Nine (B9) agreed at a meeting in Warsaw. President Andrej Kiska stated this after the meeting.
Article 5 states that any attack on one or several Member States will be considered an attack against all of them.
At the same time, the presidents said that, in terms of relations with Russia, nothing has changed for better.
“The continuing activities in Ukraine, what is happening in Syria, the hybrid warfare that Russia is conducting against us is still going on, and so there is no reason to change our attitude. We must think very intensively about how to face these threats,” said Andrej Kiska.
He admitted that the presidents of the countries have confirmed that their citizens are afraid of Russia and what is happening at their borders.
“They are afraid that the scenario that happened in Ukraine with Crimea can repeat itself in their own countries. Inhabitants ask how quickly the NATO can respond if Russia decides to recreate the scenario from Ukraine and the Crimea,” the President said, emphasizing that NATO must demonstrate a readiness to act.
Andrej Kiska sees the B9 format as very useful. “The world is evolving, things are changing, we perceive new messages every day, new information, and it is important to be informed, to talk about which stance we will take, what new is happening in each country, and how we perceive the situation together in the world,” he said.
On the question of the Alliance itself, the heads of the states agreed that they must remain united. “We have to remain united and clearly demonstrate to the whole world that we are ready to defend ourselves, standing up for any NATO country if it is attacked,” he said.
The presidents also discussed how to build joint defense within Europe as an integral part of NATO. They also talked about Ukraine. “Everyone who sat at this table expressed their support for Ukraine. We will count on them, if its citizens would want, in all European institutions.”
On behalf of Slovakia Andrej Kiska declared what the government has confirmed - that “we will reach a defense budget of two percent of our GDP by 2024.” “Today, unfortunately, more than half of NATO countries are not fulfilling this commitment, but I am very glad that everyone is starting to think very seriously about it, also at this table.”
The B9 brings together NATO and EU member states situated on the eastern border of these groups (Visegrád Four, the Baltic states, Romania and Bulgaria). The leaders of this informal group of countries are the representatives of Poland and Romania. The group met for the first time at the level of the heads of state in Bucharest in November 2015. Since then, besides meetings among heads of state, also meetings of national parliaments, ministries of foreign affairs and defense ministers have taken place.
The goal of Friday’s negotiations was to coordinate the positions of the Member States at the eastern border ahead of NATO’s upcoming summit, to be held in Brussels (11-12 July), and to affirm shared positions on the main topics of the summit.
President Kiska attended a memorial event on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence. He gave a gift to Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Belweder Palace - a letter by General Milan Rastislav Štefánik from 1919.