|Updated: 27-Sep-2005||NATO Speeches|
At the opening
27 Sep. 2005
by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Mr. Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is an important day both for Iraq and NATO. We are opening the NATO Training and Education Centre here at Ar-Rustamiyah.
A little over a year ago, NATO Heads of State and Government declared their full support for the Republic of Iraq and its people.
Within a few weeks of that declaration, NATO personnel were on the ground in Baghdad, working with senior officers in key Iraqi Headquarters, and laying the groundwork to build the training centre we are opening today. This Centre marks a significant step towards a more secure Iraq.
NATO is committed to help an independent and sovereign Iraq on its journey towards a better future. Part of that future is a security establishment that is well trained and professional, an integral part of society, and fully accountable to the democratic process.
NATO is an Alliance of values. We share with the Government and people of Iraq a profound belief in freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law. Like many people around the world, I was deeply moved by the scenes of millions of Iraqis defying terrorist threats to cast their ballots. NATO is here to help the Iraqi Government develop the tools to meet the security needs of its people and defend those shared values.
Iraq itself primarily responsible for the security of its people. But the Alliance is pledged to assist in the training and equipping of Iraq’s security forces.
We are determined to reinforce this success. This Training, Education and Doctrine Centre will dramatically expand our options for education and cooperation. The first Junior and Senior Staff Officer Courses have just started. Recently trained Iraqi instructors will support both courses together with NATO trainers. By the end of this year, more than 100 Iraqi officers will have been trained at this Centre. And there will be many more next year.
This Centre represents a real milestone. Its success will give us the confidence to push ahead with our Iraqi partners on other demanding projects, such as the Baghdad College for National Defence Studies and the Basic Officer Commissioning Course. We are on the right track. And committed to maintaining the positive momentum that has been generated in recent months.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Iraq is now in a challenging phase in its long and distinguished history. It will still take time and effort to make the country more stable and more secure, for democracy to flourish, and for economic growth to take off. But let me be very clear: as Iraq is coping with these daunting challenges, Iraq is not alone. NATO, the United Nations, the EU and many others in the international community are determined to help. This Training, Education and Doctrine Centre is visible proof of NATO’s continuing determination to work with the Government and people of Iraq to build a professional, and democratic security force.