”We intend to keep the record-breaking level of defence expenditure the same, we want this money to be spent efficiently”, the PM said, when asked about the concern expressed by the Korean media, worried that the Polish-Korean contracts may undergo cuts.
Tusk added that the matter of defence budget was not discussed during the meeting, after which the Council of Ministers announced that a new budgetary bill would be drafted after the previous 2024 Act was vetoed by President Andrzej Duda. PM also stated that the differences between the bill prepared by the government led by Mateusz Morawiecki, and the budget prepared by the Minister of Finances, Andrzej Domański would be closely examined. ”The intent is, and the Minister of Finances shall have no doubts here, is to increase the defence expenditure”, he noted.
As the PM said, an „issue emerged”, following the agreements signed with South Korea, as no loan was available in Korea, that would be used to finance some of the procurement. „I don’t know who misled who, whether it was erroneously calculated by Minister (Mariusz) Błaszczak, or whether the Koreans stepped back”, the PM noted. ”Finally it turned out that some sort of a misunderstanding emerged; I don’t want to blame anybody”, he added.
As he said “the Korean equipment had a big advantage”, being immediately available, but “it is not free of deficiencies”.
“Our task is to clarify and explain all doubts, especially when it comes to long-term contracts worth billions of dollars, or euros”, he explained.
He noted that over the last 18 months, the opposition had been repeatedly asking for information on the nature of the grand contracts, ”regardless of who was the other Party, whether everything’s fine, whether there are any gaps”. „We have been unable to gather that information”, he added.
“Considering the scale of expenditure, and the security matters, we will be trying to do a very honest, rapid review (of the procurement done so far), with an intent to press on, not to leave any doubts here. I do hope that nothing will force us to review some of that procurement”, he stated.
He also expressed a view that the National Security Council (RBN) shall be a forum that would allow for discussion of defence matters, without the divisions between the parties coming into play. “This is the purpose of the National Security Council, this is the role of the president - to make efforts aimed at keeping the defence matters, defence procurement contracts included, outside of the ongoing political disputes”, Tusk elaborated. “I really would like the matters of security, defence, armament, Polish Armed Forces, to remain as transparent as possible. I would like everyone, PiS included, to feel as co-hosts of this grand project, the grand project of secure, and well-prepared (in a military sense) Poland”, he declared.
”I was telling this the President that it would be good to have the National Security Council, with my and the Minister’s of Defence involvement, work more intensely, and also be devoted, from time to time, to the information pertaining to the contracts”, PM said.
In his opinion, the NSC is ”the best place, as the confidentiality is maintained, and representatives of all parties are present”. He also noted that during the latest meeting, not all party representatives were present. ”During the first NSC meeting that I have been invited to by the President, for many years, no representative of PiS (Law and Justice) was present. The President needs to arrange it with President Kaczyński, whether PiS is questioning the power of Tusk, or whether it is also questioning the power of Duda. But it is their problem”, he said. ”I will remain at your disposal, should the President want to make the body that he leads to become a field of mutual information and a field of discussion on defence matters - I am ready, all the time”, he assured.
The Prime Minister said that he wants “everything that can be disclosed to be known to the general public”.
Korean Yonhap outlet reported that the South Korean government is engaged in talks with the new Polish authorities, on keeping the contracts concluded by the former government valid. The representative of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cited by Yonhap, noted that he received no information that may suggest that the change of power in Warsaw could have an impact on the agreements signed. Yonhap noted that the value of armament sales involving Poland last year was as high as USD 17.3 bn., constituting 72% of the Korean defence exports, with contracts with a value of 13-14 bn. dollars also being signed this year.
In 2022 Poland procured 48 FA-50 jet trainers (USD 3 bn.); 180 K2 main battle tanks (USD 3.37 bn.); 212 K9 self-propelled howitzers (USD 2.4 bn.), and 212 K239 Chunmoo MLRS systems (USD 3.55 bn.). A few weeks ago the Polish Ministry of Defence announced that another 162 K9 howitzers would be procured. Last year’s framework agreements envisage the procurement of 1,000 main battle tanks and 672 howitzers.
The contracts signed during recent years, also include the procurement of F-35A MRCA, M1A1FEP, and M1A2SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks, and M142 HIMARS MLRS systems - from the United States.