WASHINGTON, D.C. Poland's Foreign Minister Pays Strategic Visit To Washington. Radoslaw Sikorski, Foreign Minister of Poland, pictured below at his reception in the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, had an intense and crucial four-day official visit here beginning on January 31, 2008.
Min. Sikorski met with U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. As a result, Poland has agreed "in principal" to allow the United States to place 10 interceptor missiles on Polish territory as a defense mechanism to protect the U.S. and Europe from ballistic missile attack from "rouge states" like Iran. It would also be necessary to establish a linked and dedicated radar instillation in the Czech Republic in order for the missile shield to function. The overall cost of the project is estimated to be $3.5 billion.
Russia, and its leading military officials, are vehemently opposed to the defensive missile plan. They consider the very-limited interceptor missiles to be a threat to Russia's security, even thought the missiles are not equipped with explosive warheads. Lately, Moscow has made repeated threats against both Poland and the Czech Republic in an overt attempt to dissuade them from cooperating with the American initiative.
As a quid pro quo for establishing the missile base, Poland requires the U.S. to officially and seriously commit to the modernization of Poland's armed forces, and especially its air defense system, in order to adequately defend itself from a resurgent Russia - which fatefully is Poland's often bellicose and historically dangerous eastern border neighbor.
Poland, a staunch and active NATO member since 1999, now desires NATO to establish a major base on Polish soil as a significant part of a wider security relationship with NATO and the U.S., stated Min. Sikorski in the Polish press just before his arrival here. Presently, only a NATO conference center exists in-country.
During his relatively short visit, Sikorski also managed to address the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute, concerning U.S.-Polish relations. He also laid a wreath at the new Victims of Communism Memorial that remembers the 100 million victims world-wide who perished because of the heinous and tyrannical political concept, which evilly sprang forth in revolutionary 1917-Russia. Twenty-two years later, a subjugated Poland became a bleeding victim on September 17, 1939.
On the last evening of his official business jaunt, the Foreign Minister and his delegation were honored with a large reception at the Embassy of Poland, hosted by Charge d'affaires ad interim Wojciech Flera. Speaking in Polish - although he is perfectly fluent in English - Sikorski thanked America and Polonia for supporting Poland, and imparted a few amusing anecdotes about his recent life and children. The evening had the real buzz of a home-coming celebration since Sikorski is very well known and admired hereabouts. He previously lived here and worked in Washington institutions over a period of years, between his official government stints in Poland.
With its most congenial and familial-like atmosphere, the grand reception proved to be the perfect way to end a rather strenuous, consequential, and highly successful mission for Radek Sikorski.