- August 15, 2014
The Polish Armed Forces Day
„We live in interesting, but hard times. In times full of symbols, unfortunately they are often symbols of suffering and heroism” – said the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Lithuania Jarosław Czubiński when he opened the celebration of the Polish Armed Forces Day in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius.
“Polish Army has a good reputation and enjoys public confidence. Few years ago Poland began an extensive programme of army modernisation. The government is committed to create a modern Polish Army equipped with the best weapons which were designed by Polish scientists and manufactured in Polish armament factories. We are proud that Polish people support the Army” – said the Ambassador.
“We are the guarantor of stability in this region, as a member state of NATO we are obliged to defend our Baltic neighbours. We are pleased that these countries are our allies and that we implement jointly the arrangements concerning collective security (…) Every Polish diplomat pinned today a badge with the Air Force Checkerboard, which is a national marking of the aircraft of the Polish Air Force, to express solidarity with our pilots who together with the British Air Corps and Lithuanian personnel of the base in Šiauliai guard the skies of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia” – said Jarosław Czubiński.
“Not so long ago Poland and Lithuania celebrated the anniversary of the victorious battle of Grunwald in 1410 which in fact was the beginning of the Polish-Lithuanian military cooperation. Today, the brotherhood of arms is based on joint participation in NATO missions in the most difficult places in the world. Soon a Lithuanian-Polish-Ukraine Brigade will begin its service. It is a sign of our support and cooperation with our Ukrainian friends. I would like to extend a very warm and special welcome to the representatives of the Polish Air Force and those of the British Air Force which take part in the Baltic Air Policing mission. This mission is not only a military undertaking, but also a demonstration of unity of allies and of NATO collective defence. We want to thank citizens of Lithuania for understanding when they hear the roar of our modern aircrafts engines, but we know that they look up to the skies with gratitude” – welcomed all the assembled guests the Defence Attaché Colonel Zbigniew Szlęk.
Simon Hulme from the Royal Air Force, Krzysztof Stobiecki from the Polish Air Force and Gintautas Slovikas from the Lithuanian Air Force were decorated during the celebrations.
“After the crisis in the Ukraine the NATO forces were increased. Currently four countries take part in the Baltic Air Policing mission – Poland and Great Britain in Šiauliai, Danes in Estonia and a French contingent in Malbork. So far we did not have any incidents which could be regarded as typical provocations. Few times we took off to perform target reconnaissance missions, but that is all. We do not feel like strangers here. The local community during last ten years got accustomed to the presence of a contingent from Germany, Poland or any other country here. People treat us as any other soldiers. We do not feel favoured nor discriminated” – said Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Stobiecki who is a pilot in the Polish Air Force.
Translated by Maciej Jóźwiak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.