AmCham Annual Gala
December 5, 2022
Thank you, Tony! To begin with, I want to say: “I LOVE AMCHAM!” I have worked with American Chambers around the world. Poland’s AmCham is among the very best.
I am so pleased to be here with Olga Leonowicz at this beautiful event. Thank you for inviting us.
To Minister Counselor Oleh Kutz, on behalf of the US Government and the American people, we admire the steadfast determination of Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine. We are profoundly impressed by the resilience, by the fight, of the people of Ukraine. We will see this through. Ukraine will be free and independent.
2022. What a year it has been. President Biden has called it a great inflection point. He’s right!
2022 will go down in history as a defining moment, just as 1989 was for Poles and for so many around the region. Just as 2001 was for a generation of Americans, because of 9/11.
2022 is a year when important transformational change got underway, in Poland and for the American – Polish special friendship.
At bottom, what is happening in this part of the world is a battle between autocracy and democracy. There is only one “right side.” There is only one choice. Freedom. Human rights.
Strength in Unity. Resolute, ironclad commitment to the brave people and sovereignty of Ukraine. From the start, Poland’s generous heart, its “goscinosc”, and decisive, unifying action, have led the charge.
Over the Railroad Station in Przemysl, Poland, there hangs a big banner, that says it all: “Tutaj Jestescie Bezpiecznie”. “Here you are safe” What a great, glorious statement, that says it all. That is the statement of 2022: “Tutaj Jestescie Bezpiecznie” because it captures what we all want, and what Poland did.
This is an audience that understands balance sheets – every country has a balance sheet of assets and liabilities. We learned this year about one of Poland’s assets: Poland’s capacity for rapid mobilization in response to Russia’s aggression literally saved lives – is it thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We will never know.
But we do know this: The hope and refuge that millions of Ukrainians found in homes and hearts of Poles is an example for the world. You, Poland, you inspire support from every corner of the globe.
This reminds me of the Polish spirit and how, against great odds, this country has never stopped fighting for freedom. Just like in 1944, just like in1989, Without a doubt, this year – 2022 – through grit and determination, it’s the Polish people who made a difference.
One of the most personally evocative experiences I had this year was hiking Mt. Rysy, almost to its summit. At 2,500 meters, one of the highest points in Poland, Mt. Rysy is menacing. The terrain is rough and at times scary, but we kept going.
I reached a moment when it was quit, or persevere. And I said to myself, look at the sacrifices and the generosity of the Polish people this year, they give so much every day, Gosh, on this hike, I can do just a little more to get to our destination. It is almost a petty comparison, but the point is that the Polish people inspire through their actions.
Poland has made more visible an important part of its identity, by sharing great kindness and generosity, by this country’s unwavering support of Ukraine.
Everyone in this room played a part. This crowd rose to the occasion. Through the “Corporate Aid for Ukraine” fund, AmCham was able to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to refugees.
The American business community found countless ways to help. You gave money to local organizations and donated critical medical supplies. You provided office space for legal and psychological services.
Many of you opened your own homes to complete strangers. As needs shifted, so have you, jump starting programs to hire refugees and offer job training.
This provided safety and security. It provided reassurances to the world and to Ukraine. But not only that — it further solidified our Trans-Atlantic bonds and values.
The next generation has been inspired to act and give back. I’ve seen so much warmth and generosity, at the border crossing in Korczowa to welcome centers and assistance points here in Warsaw. It wasn’t just adults volunteering: young people are there, in droves.
One day those young people will grow up and follow in your footsteps. They’ll become CEOs and leaders in their communities.
And my dream: When she becomes President – elect of Poland 20 years from now, or as soon as possible, she will have been informed by organizing a soup kitchen in Bydgoscz, or a clothing drive in Krakow, she will have done something bigger than herself, and that will inform her world view for Poland and its role in the world…..
What happened in 2022 will guide the decision-makers of tomorrow; it motivated them to do the right thing and help when others are in need.
This is a wonderful moment in tune with so many things we went through together. I wanted to share some of the images that highlight how the U.S.- Polish strategic relationship is stronger and more dynamic than ever before.
This friendship is nurtured and cared for by the American business community that is investing in Poland and in our shared future. This year, we’ve seen expansion and growth, allowing for more opportunities for both of our countries.
Corning’s new optical fiber facility in Mszczonów and Google’s $700 million investment in the Warsaw Hub office complex, are just two examples.
We also celebrated major milestones like the 50th anniversary of Coca-Cola Polska. McDonald’s rang in 30 years in Poland by opening their 500th store!
In the defense sector our bilateral relationship is thriving. Poland has been busy implementing its defense modernization program at lightning fast speed.
Billions of dollars are purchasing U.S. military equipment: Abrams tanks, Patriots, HIMARS, F-35s, and nearly 100 Apache Helicopters.
Plus, Poland and the United States kicked off a new partnership last month: for the first time a U.S. F-16 is undergoing maintenance in Poland.
We trust Poland with this critical job because Polish workers have the technical prowess capable of performing at the highest of levels.
Our security, and the security of NATO, is intertwined through much more than military equipment. Right now, there are thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Poland—which have been further bolstered by the permanent presence of the U.S. Army V Corps Command Headquarters.
All of this sends a clear message to Russia that we are united. It signals that Poland is safe. It signals we are not war makers — we are friend protectors.
And the United States is investing in Poland in another special way. A landmark achievement of 2022 is Poland’s official selection of the U.S. government and Westinghouse for the first part of its civil nuclear project.
We are now working on detailed plans to construct Poland’s first nuclear power plant. This enables us to strengthen Polish, and even regional, energy security, help address the climate crisis. It will create lucrative jobs for both of our countries.
And because we are so committed to Poland, the United States Department of Energy is offering a way to get workers and young people up to speed. We are opening a Regional Training Center for Nuclear Energy and Clean Energy Technology in Poland. Planning for this facility is underway right now.
We intend to run courses in person and online to help build capacity and interest in the nuclear power industry. This will connect Poland to our great universities and to our national labs. This isn’t just for nuclear engineers.
A variety of technical specialists, IT experts, people from the broader power sector, and others can learn how to apply their existing experience at a nuclear power plant.
In so many ways this is just the first step. Our hope is to support Poland as it becomes a hub for civil nuclear technology.
As we continue to look toward the future, we can also build on our success through the U.S.-Poland Economic and Commercial Dialogue, which was relaunched just a few months ago.
We have an opportunity to further deepen our already robust commercial relationship by focusing on the challenges our world faces together.
The energy transition, partnering on infrastructure projects, and fostering digital policies that support trade and inclusion are all part of the conversation.
Building a more diverse and inclusive workforce, where differences are valued and celebrated, is also a central focus for us moving forward. Thank you AmCham for your commitment in supporting unique voices by joining the EMPOWERHER initiative.
President Biden thanks you because gender equity and equality is a priority of the Biden administration. In signing up for this pledge, you have joined many other AmCham companies in Europe promising to create and implement programs to improve opportunities for women in the workplace.
Finally, I have my own goal for 2023. I want to give life to the words I often share: “We want Poland to Prosper and Thrive.”
Economic security is national security. There are so many opportunities out there that we have just scratched the surface on – science and technology, energy transformation, outer space, and beyond.
The American-Polish partnership is booming, and we’ve just gotten started. AmCham, with your help – 2023 will be a superb year.
I can’t wait!