Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the new Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill

  • Last updated: 27 Jan. 2010 11:17

Joint Press Point Left to right : NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Mark Sedwill, new appointly SeniorCivilian Representative in Afghanistan

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): Good afternoon. I'm pleased today to announce that I have selected Ambassador Mark Sedwill to be my new Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Sedwill is eminently qualified to take up the post as Civilian Representative in Kabul. Currently Ambassador Sedwill serves as the British Ambassador to Afghanistan. He knows the country, the Afghan people and the Afghan government very well. He's also very well acquainted with the region. He has been British Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan, which of course also is a very important aspect. So all in all I have confidence in Ambassador Sedwill. You will have my full support.

Ambassador Sedwill will be faced with very important challenges in the coming time. One of the big challenges will be to strengthen the organization and coordination of the civilian assistance to Afghanistan.

We need a reinforced interaction between our military efforts and our civilian reconstruction and development, and that will be a core function for my Civilian Representative in Afghanistan.

You're well equipped for this job and I look very much forward to cooperating with you.

Ambassador Sedwill will follow in the footsteps of Ambassador Fernando Gentilini, who, until now, has served as the NATO Civilian Representative in Kabul. Ambassador Gentilini has done a great job in Kabul and I would like to thank him very much for what he has done. I congratulate him on his strong determination and professionalism in executing his job in Kabul. And now I look forward to cooperating with my new Senior Civilian Representative. Ambassador.

MARK SEDWILL (Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan): Secretary General, thank you very much. First, it's a great honour for me to have been appointed to this position. I'm very grateful to you, Secretary General, for your confidence. I hope I can continue to earn that over the months and years ahead.

Like you, I'd also like to pay tribute to the work of my predecessor, Ambassador Fernando Gentilini, with whom I've worked closely over the past year. He's become a good friend, and on his work I look forward to building.

As the Secretary General has indicated, there is a great deal to do in Afghanistan over the next year to bring together the military, political and civilian efforts in support of the government of Afghanistan, to really turn around this campaign and achieve success. We need to regain the initiative against the insurgency, strengthen the Afghan institutions, military and civil, and tackle some of those underlying political tensions, at all levels, that fuel the insurgency.

And I look forward to playing my part in doing that and to trying to help a more coherent international effort, civilian alongside the military, to achieve that goal, and I'm, again, very, very grateful to you, Secretary General, for your confidence and I look forward to working for you and with you over the next months and years as we seek to achieve success in this campaign that is vital to us all. A stable Afghanistan will deliver for us all a safer world.

Thank you.

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Questions.

Q: Ben Nimmo from the German Press Agency, DPA, for both gentlemen. On the question of governance and corruption, is President Karzai solely part of the solution, or is he also part of the problem given the performance in the elections last year? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Well, President Karzai has committed himself strongly to a determined fight against corruption. He made that very clear in his inauguration speech last year. He will at the upcoming London conference present his plans as to how the Afghan government will strengthen the fight against corruption. I feel confident that he will live up to pledges.

MARK SEDWILL: I have nothing to add. I would agree with everything the Secretary General just said. I think that's absolutely right. There are clear commitments from President Karzai, from the government of Afghanistan, and of course, they will need our support in tackling these matters. But as the Secretary General says, I think we'll see substantial commitments on that at the London conference later this week.

Q: Lorne Cook from AFP. Secretary General, could you tell me a little bit, and perhaps Ambassador, about how the role is going to change? What other powers, what other team members you might have?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Well, I see at least three core functions for the Civilian Representative in Kabul.

Firstly, a strong capacity to engage with the international community locally, with other international actors, notably, of course, the United Nations. We fully respect UN leadership within civilian reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. But we would very much like to improve our engagement with the international community and that will be the first important role.

Secondly, strengthen capacity to engage constructively with the Afghan government. Notably with a view to capacity building. Not least, of course, in the transition process in direction of transfer of the lead security responsibility to the Afghan Security Forces.

And finally, I would mention the strong needs for an improved coordination among our Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan.

I see these three areas as main areas for the Civilian Representative.

Q: (Inaudible...) for the BBC. Ambassador Sedwill, you spoke last week about a civilian surge going on our side to the military surge. What do you mean by that, and are you in this new role going to lead this civilian surge?

MARK SEDWILL: I don't think it's for me to lead a civilian surge. That, of course, as the Secretary General has already said, is to be led by the UN and we operate under a UN mandate in Afghanistan. And, of course, really are looking to the Afghan government themselves to develop more leadership and more capability across the range of the governance and development agenda.

But many countries, including the U.K., but particularly, of course, the United States, are matching their increase in troops and military forces with an increase in the civilian programs and, indeed, in the experts they're willing to provide.

We all understand that security is only really the first step. If we're to really stabilize Afghanistan and win over the Afghan people so that they genuinely support the legitimate authorities of Afghanistan, we have to help those authorities develop the capability to deliver real governance, strong and fair justice, jobs and other economic development on the ground out there in the villages and the towns, particularly of the south and east where the conflict is at its height, but of course, across the whole country.

And so all of that needs to come together. And alongside this increase in military resources we need to make sure that all of those other efforts on governance and development follow along and therefore the people of Afghanistan see the benefits on the ground.

JAMES APPATHURAI: I'm afraid that's all we have time for, Secretary General.

MARK SEDWILL: Thank you.