On November 30, the German Marshall Fund (GMF) Warsaw office and George C. Marshall Center organized a joint conference on ‘Defense Spending in the Era of Economic Crisis’. Guest speakers included Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein. Special guests included GMF President Craig Kennedy and Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, Director of the George C. Marshall Center, who made welcoming remarks.
Minister Sikorski highlighted the fact that Poland is among the few states who have no decreased defense spending as its GDP has grown, while Ambassador Feinstein stressed the need for stronger and more integrated cooperation among European Union member states to address military gaps and redundancies.Dr Jack Treddenick, Chairman of the Department of Outreach and Special Programs of the George C. Marshall Center, delivered the keynote lecture, drawing attention to the drastic reduction of defense spending in both the United States and European Union. He remarked that in this era of economic hardship, the United States is strategically re-orienting itself towards the Asia-Pacific region to build partner capacities, but would like to see an increased cooperation with the EU in terms of military spending and capacity building. He stated that a fiscal union would be the first step necessary to transform the EU into a political union, and eventually a military one.A panel discussion with Lukasz Lipinski, National Desk Editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, and Dr Andrzej Karkoszka, moderated by GMF Warsaw office director Dr Andrew Michta, followed the keynote speech and explored current trends of defense spending cuts in most Western states, the possibility of fiscal union within the EU, and its potential role in developing a stronger military union.Gen. Mieczyslaw Cieniuch, Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, made a speech stating his belief that the best way to spend defense funds is to spend them on increasing capabilities, and that states should look for ways to create and strengthen partnerships as they provide for more capabilities and more security. This is particularly important amid current closings of offices and military bases and of relocations of units.Closing remarks were made by General Dayton, who made his first visit to Poland in 1979 and closed the conference by stating that over the past 20 years, Poland has become a great benefit to Europe.