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The first patriot would arrive in Poland in the spring, unarmed

(BRUSSELS2) Poles and Americans finally agreed on Friday on the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) which sets the status of the American troops who will serve the Patriot rockets deployed on Polish soil in future years, as well as the future anti-missile batteries of the new US device. The agreement was signed on the American side by the Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, and, on the Polish side, by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Deputy Minister of Defense, respectively Radoslaw Sikorski, Bogdan Klich and Stanislaw Komorowski.

The negotiations stumbled, according to my Polish colleagues, on three difficulties: liability, the jurisdiction of Polish justice and taxation. The whole question was, in fact, who would pay for the damage in the event of fallout on the ground. According to the Sofa agreement, it is 75/25 (75% for the Americans, 25% for the Poles). Concerning the question of the primacy of local justice, claimed by the Poles, the principle will be jurisdictional immunity except during periods of rest or closure of the base. In this case, the guilty American could be judged by Polish justice. But the latter can always withdraw and refrain from transferring the individual to Polish soil. Finally, in terms of taxation, it's simple: the American will pay his taxes in the USA.

The first Patriot battery – a Polish request to serve as compensation for the delay in the anti-missile shield – and the first American soldiers (there would be around 100) could arrive in Poland as early as next spring (2010). It would first be installed on a non-permanent basis, several times a year, before becoming permanent from 2012. The first Patriots could not be armed, the press reported. Pure speculation replied Sikorski, with this strong argument: “If we send troops to Afghanistan, the Patriots will be armed."

(NVP)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).