Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
at the start of the NATO Defence Ministers meeting
Today, NATO defence ministers will discuss how we can keep NATO capable – making sure we have the capabilities we need to deal with the challenges we face.
We will look at ways to address key capability shortfalls. And to redress some of the imbalances within the Alliance.
In particular, we will have our first ministerial discussion dedicated to cyber defence. NATO already protects the networks which we own and operate, and we will continue to do so.
But I believe we can do more to assist individual Allies if they come under attack. That would show NATO solidarity. And we will discuss that today.
Tomorrow, we will meet with all 50 members of the ISAF coalition, and with the Afghan defence minister, to discuss progress in Afghanistan. Soon, Afghans will take the lead for security across the country. And at the end of next year, our combat mission will be completed. We are preparing a new and different NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces after 2014.
I expect that at this meeting we will take an important step forward, by endorsing the concept of our operations. This will guide our military planners as they finalise preparations in the course of the coming months.
Finally, let me turn to Libya. Last week, the Libyan government requested NATO’s advice in the security field. We have already moved fast to respond. Allies yesterday decided to send an expert-level delegation to engage on the details of the request. The delegation will identify the areas in which NATO could add value and we are intent on coordinating closely with other national and international efforts. I expect the team to report back by the end of June, so we can decide on the way ahead.
I believe that this would be a fitting way to continue our cooperation with Libya, after we successfully took action to protect the Libyan people two years ago.
With that, I am ready to take a couple of questions.
Ana Pisonero, EuropaPress : On Libya, so when is the expert team going there and if we put together a training mission for the Libyan forces, can you guarantee that there will be no deployment on the ground there and that the training will be done in NATO countries or in NATO centres, thank-you.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen : The expert team will go to Libya as soon as possible. The decision has been made. So they will go as soon as possible. And together with the Libyans identify the areas in which the Libyans think they need advice and areas where we do believe we can add value. I think three principles will guide our efforts. Firstly to ensure a strong Libyan ownership. Secondly that our task will be to provide advice in areas where we do have particular expertise and as you know we do have a lot of expertise within building security institutions. And thirdly let me stress this is not about deploying troops to Libya, if we are to engage in training activities such activities could take place outside Libya.
Farida Nekzad, Wakht News Agency, Afghanistan : Will this defence ministerial meeting provide more details on the number of troops that will be included in the NATO post-2014 mission?
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen : I wouldn’t expect this meeting to make decisions on the exact number of troops and trainers after 2014. We will adopt what we call a concept of operations and a concept means broad guidelines for how we will shape the future Resolute Support mission from 2015. Certain elements are clear. It will be very different mission; it will be a non-combat mission. The number of troops and trainers will be significantly lower than in the current ISAF mission and it’s also our intention to ensure a regional foot-print, that is a number of regional training centres. So within this framework our military planners will continue preparations of this mission and then at a later stage we will make decisions on the exact number.