Updated: 23-Jul-2003 NATO Speeches


23 July 2003


Press point

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
and Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative
of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Afghanistan

Lord Robertson: We've been delighted to welcome here today Dr. Brahimi. NATO will take over the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul on the 11th of August. And today, the 35 nations who will contribute troops to ISAF met to hear Dr. Brahimi's report and briefing and to ask some questions.

This is a unique operation for NATO and it's a unique coalition of 35 countries coming together to make their contribution to stability and to security in Afghanistan.

I think the very clear message that we got today from Dr. Brahimi was heard well by the 35 nations, and that is that this is a task that needs to take place. It is difficult and complex but it's one that we must succeed in and where there are good signs that if the international community remains focused and the support is there, then Afghanistan can achieve normality and start to make a contribution to security in the world.

And Dr. Brahimi brought us not only today a menu of the problems that we'll face, but also a note of optimism which I think has changed the atmosphere about this new challenge that we've taken on. So we're very grateful to you, Dr. Brahimi, for coming today with that briefing and that information and some sobering information for us as well.

NATO is not an organisation that goes into any mission other than to succeed. We are committed to success and that is what we will hopefully be able to carry out after the 11th of August. And we'll do it very much in association with and co-operation with the United Nations and the Afghanistan interim administration. We are providers, we hope, of security and stability, but we do so to the interim democratic authority and to the United Nations which carries the mandate on behalf of the international community.

Dr. Lakhdar Brahimi: Thank you very much Lord Robertson. I'm extremely grateful to you for inviting me today to meet with the NATO Council, very close to the date when NATO is going to assume the leadership of ISAF in Kabul.

I think this was a very very good meeting. I think the questions that I heard from the members indicate how keen they all are to know more about this situation, to assume this responsibility with every chance of achieving the success that NATO is used to.

I think everybody looks forward to this historic change that is going to take place and we, in the United Nations -- I think the Secretary General told you himself Lord Robertson, both here and when you met a few weeks ago and also in writing that we're looking forward to co-operating with NATO as it takes this responsibility.

Like you, we are determined to help the people of Afghanistan re-establish peace and security and stability for the benefit of their people, and also for the benefit of the region as a whole, and perhaps for the benefit of the international community.

Q: (inaudible)...Agence France Presse, a question for the Secretary General. You mentioned Dr. Brahimi gave you a note of optimism during his briefing and also some sobering information as well. Could you be a little bit more specific as to what the briefing was about... specifically on those issues?

Lord Robertson: Well, if you want to ask questions about the briefing, it would be better to ask the person who did the briefing rather than the recipient of the message.

But I think there was a combination of the messages about what is there on the ground, the complications, the neighbourhood, but also a very valuable note of optimism that if the international community remains engaged -- it's not just NATO and ISAF -- but on the financial side as well, then there is no reason why we should not be successful in helping that interim administration to becoming permanent and successful.
But Dr. Brahimi, you might want to...

Dr. Lakhdar Brahimi: No, this is exactly it. Security is the main problem but it is not... it is very serious, there are very serious problems, but it is not unmanageable at all. And as you said, Secretary General, if the commitment is there from the international community, I think soon, relatively soon, Afghanistan will stand on its own two feet.

Lord Robertson: NATO looks forward to becoming superfluous in the future.

Q: Carmen Romero from the Spanish News Agency. If... Mr. Brahimi, do you think that the mandate of the ISAF force should be extended to outside Kabul? Do you think that it's possible the stabilisation of Afghanistan with a mission only focused on Kabul? And then, I would like to know apart from the insecurity, which are your main concerns on the situation in Afghanistan please.

Dr. Lakhdar Brahimi: I think the Secretary General of the United Nations is on record as saying that it would be desirable if ISAF is expanded. But I think what we mean by that is that there is need for international support to security outside of Kabul. If it can be provided in any other way, then the expansion of ISAF, that is quite alright.
I think that there is now, an understanding in the international community that this need is there, and that if this need is provided for, you know, the day, as Lord Robertson, for us to work ourselves out of a job will come closer not later. That is one.

The other thing is, I think, your question on what are the other issues, the first one is security, the second one is security, the third one is security, and the fourth one is reconstruction.

Q: John Chalmers from Reuters. First for the Secretary General. Yesterday, we asked you about the reported death of Saddam's two sons -- now it's been confirmed -- how do you think that might change the situation on the ground for the American forces in Iraq?

And for Mr. Brahimi... Dr. Brahimi, I wonder if you could tell, if you listen U.S. officials when they go to Afghanistan, you get the impression that the war is all but over, but if you listen to people on the ground, it's obviously quite a different situation. You know, violence is still rising, the warlords are more powerful than ever.and international tension seems to be waning. How do you explain that difference in views? And with regards to the elections next year and given that situation, what do you think is the risk they will just bring in... usher in a new era of violence?

Lord Robertson: On Iraq, I don't think anybody will mourn the demise of those two particular odious torturers. And I think that it will undoubtedly help reinforce the message to the people of Iraq that things have changed permanently and for the better. I think that message getting through undoubtedly will change the climate and for those who, like Poland with the assistance of NATO is going into Afghanistan to bring... into Iraq, to bring stability I think it should have a markedly improving boost to the atmosphere there.

Dr. Lakhdar Brahimi: On... you know, I don't know what the Americans you are quoting...are saying. But the Americans I meet in Afghanistan and indeed outside of Afghanistan I think agree with us that the situation is not bad, that these security problems we are facing are not threatening the end of the peace process or anything like that. But we are just raising the alarm earlier rather than later to make sure that precisely this process continues and is successful.

The elections will certainly, as they do anywhere, will increase tensions and differences between people, but I hope that it will be... these tensions and these divisions, these arguments that are going to take place, this competition that is going to take place, will be kept within manageable limits, and that at the end of the day, the elections will complete the process of recreating a state in Afghanistan for the people of Afghanistan.

Lord Robertson: Thank you very much.

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