“In 2011, our Alliance faced many tough tests, perhaps more than ever before”, the Secretary General said. “And the good news is that we got very good results. If I had to sum it up in two words, I would say ‘NATO delivers’”, he added.
Citing examples, Mr Rasmussen pointed to Afghanistan where ISAF forces weakened the insurgency while boosting the number of Afghan security forces to over 300,000. He emphasized that Taliban attacks fell by 9 percent in 2011. Transition was on track to be completed by the end of 2014, Mr Rasmussen added.
Over Libya, NATO conducted a successful operation. “We protected the civilian population and saved countless lives. We did that with the strong political and operational support of partners and in close coordination with the United Nations, Arab League and the European Union”, the Secretary General said. In Kosovo, Mr Rasmussen underlined that NATO troops had dealt effectively with the unexpected flare-up of tensions. NATO troops maintained a safe and secure environment for all the people in Kosovo. Troops acted firmly, carefully and impartially and in full accordance with their United Nations mandate. The Secretary General also stressed successes in the fight against piracy off Somalia where NATO forces helped to half the number of vessels captured by pirates.
“These are real achievements, and we can be very proud. On land, sea and in the air, NATO forces worked to keep us all secure”, Mr Rasmussen said.
Looking ahead to the Chicago summit, he stressed that NATO will have to shape an Alliance which is capable of overcoming the economic crisis while continuing to guarantee security. “We must stay capable of dealing with current threats and future crisis. And we must become more connected with partners around the world”, he said. “Ultimately, we must renew our commitment to the vital transatlantic bond. That bond is the best security investment we have ever made. It has stood the test of time for six decades. And thanks to it, NATO continues to deliver real returns for all Allies, year after year. And we must continue to invest commitment and capabilities to keep it strong”.
Fogh Rasmussen also launched the first “Annual Report” which gives an overview of NATO’s principal achievements and challenges in 2011.