Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today and tomorrow we will take decisions which will frame the future of our Alliance. These decisions will reaffirm the shared commitment by all our countries to the freedom and security of our citizens.
This commitment is the bedrock of our Alliance. And it is upheld every day by the more than 100,000 men and women who serve in NATO operations, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, and from the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.
I think it is appropriate that we begin our Summit with a tribute to them. The bravery of these soldiers, sailors, airforce personnel, and civilians give strength and meaning to our Alliance. Every day, without question, they put themselves in harms way, so that others can live safely. We owe a debt of gratitude to them.
We are privileged to be joined this afternoon by representatives of the armed services of the 28 Allied nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you all to this Council meeting and I would like to express to you and - and through you to all the other servicemen and women in NATO-led operations – our profound gratitude.
[Soldiers march in]
We honour in particular those who have given their lives on behalf of our Alliance. Their sacrifice marks a profound loss to their families and their loved ones, and to their countries. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of our fallen military and civilians, and we mourn the loss together with them. We also honour those who have been injured in the course of our common effort.
May I now ask you to join me in a minute’s silence, to pay homage to all those who have fallen or have been injured in the service of our Alliance.
[Bugles play -
Minute of silence