The Secretary General thanked the Chancellor particularly for Germany’s commitment to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and in Kosovo.
“Your troops are doing a magnificent job”, the Secretary General said. “ I saw that for myself recently in Kosovo. Over the past 12 years, KFOR, now led by Germany, has helped turned one of Europe’s hotspots into a largely peaceful place. And we will not allow recent tensions to turn back the clock.”
The Secretary General noted that Germany is the third largest troop contributor to NATO’s ISAF operation in Afghanistan.
“Thanks to German trainers and the rest of our training mission, Afghan forces are growing in numbers and capability every day”, the Secretary General said. "Transition to Afghan security lead is on track and I am confident it will be completed by the end of 2014. But our commitment to Afghanistan will not come to an end.”
The Secretary General also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle and with Minister of Defence Thomas de Maizière.
During his meetings, the Secretary General also discussed how to make sure that the Alliance remains flexible and effective in order to counter modern challenges. The Secetary General praised the reforms conducted by Germany in order to make its armed forces leaner, more capable and more deployable.
“The reforms show that Germany is committed to spending better on defence, even when we may not be able to spend more”, the Secretary General said. “This is what I call Smart Defence and it will be a key item on the agenda for our summit in Chicago next May.”
In Berlin the Secretary General also addressed the NATO Review Conference organised by the German Foundation SWP.
“We need to take care that in balancing the books we don’t compromise our security. Because our principles are precious, and our freedom is priceless”, the Secretary General said. “The way forward lies not in spending more, but in spending better. We must prioritise the capabilities we need the most, specialise in what we do best and seek multinational solutions to common problems. This is Smart Defence and it’s the key to improving our capabilities while fairly distributing the defence burden.”