Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the joint press point with the Hungarian minister of Defence, Mr. Csaba Hende at Pápa Air Base

  • 01 Jul. 2013
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  • Last updated: 30 Jul. 2013 17:04

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

It was a great pleasure to meet the crews of the Heavy Airlift Wing and the ground maintenance crews at Papa airbase, and to take part in the ground-breaking ceremony for the new hangar.

It is a long way from Hungary to Afghanistan. But time and again, these aircraft have made that journey. They are a vital lifeline for our troops on operations.

It is a long way from Hungary to Haiti. But in 2010, aircraft from Papa made the journey to deliver much-needed supplies to the earthquake victims.

From Central Asia to the Central Caribbean, from Kosovo to Pakistan, these aircraft show that you do not have to be a big nation to make a big difference, and to have a long reach. You have to be smart, and you have to work together.

These aircraft were bought by 10 NATO members and two partners. They lease the flying hours they need, and share the costs of operating and maintaining the aircraft. And so they all benefit from having access to this key capability, without having to shoulder the costs alone.

This is a model system. A multinational project, with multinational crews, bringing benefits to all the nations involved. It is the essence of the cooperation that we call Smart Defence. It is value for money, and value for security.

So I would like say thank you to all the nations involved for their support and their participation. I would like to thank Hungary for hosting the project, here at Pápa.

And I would like to express my gratitude to all the men and women who make this important project possible with such professionalism, and to the local community that hosts them so well.