Poland, Czechia and Hungary joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999 as the first states from the former Eastern Bloc. This was an unprecedented step taken only 10 years after the democratic changes in Central and Eastern Europe had begun.
As reminded by the President, Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast (HQ MNC NE) was officially activated in the same year when Poland entered the Alliance: "It was the very first and, at the same time, immensely important presence of NATO in Poland. Today, this unit constitutes the most important NATO Headquarters in the region."
To support this statement, President Duda noted that the two divisional commands – North-East and North – were affiliated to HQ MNC NE. "By the same token, the command structure of the North Atlantic Alliance is being established in this part of Europe." — the President said. Furthermore, Mr. Duda declared that Poland would affiliate its 12th Mechanized Division to the Szczecin-based command.
Poland joining NATO was the final confirmation of our country's sovereignty and independence. That was a great day in our history. — President Andrzej Duda stated.
The President expressed his confidence that all the recent undertakings coordinated by HQ MNC NE contributed to strengthening the security across NATO's eastern flank. This was reinforced and elaborated by the official representatives of the Corps' other framework nations – Lieutenant General Jörg Vollmer, the Chief of the German Army, and Mr. Ole Egberg Mikkelsen, the Ambassador of Denmark to Poland. While delivering their addresses, both officials reaffirmed that the tri-national cooperation within the Corps was as strong as ever. They also indicated that the accession of Poland, Czechia and Hungary to NATO underlined one of the most heartening developments since the end of the Cold War. Many times it was emphasized that Poland, Czechia and Hungary were Allies to lean on when defending freedom, for they had learned what it meant to lose it.
Lastly, the ceremony saw the President awarding his crests to soldiers and civilians who have distinguished themselves by their remarkable service.