NATO Chicago Summit opens
NATO’s Chicago Summit opened on 20 May with a tribute to all the servicemen and -women deployed on Alliance operations.
The two-day summit brings together the leaders of the 28 Allies and an unprecedented number of partner countries to take key decisions on areas including Afghanistan, partnerships and maintaining security in tough economic times.
“As we meet here, over 130,000 men and women are deployed on NATO-led operations. From Afghanistan to Kosovo. From the Baltic skies to the Mediterranean sea. And to the Horn of Africa,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as he opened the summit.
“Their daily actions, often unseen and unsung, have helped to save countless lives in areas of conflict, crisis or catastophe,” he said.
On Sunday 20 May, Alliance leaders are expected to take key decisions on how to maintain and improve defence and security capabilities through difficult economic times.
“Together, we will keep NATO capable of responding to the security challenges of tomorrow. Because no country, and no continent, can deal with them alone,” the Secretary General said.
Central to these decisions will be the concept of Smart Defence, whereby nations coordinate, consult and cooperate to make the best possible use of their resources.
“We must embrace a renewed culture of cooperation to provide more security at lesser cost for all our citizens,” the Secretary General said.
On Monday 21 May, together with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, partners in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and countries from the region, Allies will take key decisions on their future engagement in Afghanistan.
“We will make sure we complete transition by the end of 2014. And we will make clear our commitment to a long-term partnership with the Afghan people beyond 2014,” the Secretary General said.
The long-term engagement is critical “so that Afghanistan never again harbours terrorists that can attack us at home, and so that Afghans can look forward to a better future in a stable region,” he said.
The summit will bring together the leaders of over 60 countries and international organisations, in the broadest meeting NATO has ever held. Partnerships are a crucial part of the Alliance’s work, so the Chicago summit will also discuss how to make those partnerships even more effective.
“Together, we will make our partnerships deeper, broader and stronger. Because today’s threats are no longer confined within national borders, our unique network of partners spans the globe – from Western Europe to East Asia, and from North Africa to the South Pacific,” the Secretary General said.