Joint Press Point with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Almazbek Atambayev
Mr. President, it is indeed a great pleasure to welcome you on your first visit to NATO Headquarters. And of course, it has given me a particular pleasure to be able to participate in the celebration of your birthday today, so let me take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday.
Kyrgyzstan is a valuable partner for NATO. We appreciate your commitment to dialogue and cooperation. And we appreciate your commitment to develop your country’s democratic institutions.
Our cooperation is based on shared values and democratic principles. These are the essence of the Partnership for Peace. We addressed this today and I encourage you, Mr. President, to continue efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and ensure protection of minorities and human rights.
You are helping us to build security and stability in Afghanistan, by facilitating the transit of our equipment.
And over the last decade, Afghanistan has come a long way. Afghan forces are now taking responsibility for their country’s security. By the end of next year, they will be fully in charge. Security in Afghanistan will have a truly Afghan face.
Our combat mission will be completed at the end of next year. But NATO will remain committed to Afghanistan. We are planning a new non-combat mission, to train, advise and assist Afghan forces, to cement our hard-fought gains.
We all know that a stable and secure Afghanistan will help sustain a stable and secure region.
We also know that challenges remain. The flow of drugs for instance remains a concern to Afghanistan and its neighbours. That is why we are helping to provide training for counter-narcotics officers from Afghanistan and across the region.
I believe there is more that we can do together. I am confident that we can be more ambitious in our cooperation. For example, in disaster response, logistics, and defence reform.
These are all areas where NATO is ready to assist the Kyrgyz Republic with its expertise, and where cooperation between NATO and Kyrgyzstan would make a real difference.
So I look forward to continuing our dialogue, and building on our cooperation.
ALMAZBEK ATAMBAYEV (President of the Kyrgyz Republic): Ladies and gentlemen, we had a very constructive exchange of views on cooperation between NATO and Kyrgyzstan. We pay a lot of attention to this cooperation, to provide regional and global security, fighting against terrorism and the drug trade.
On the basis of the UN Security Council 2001, when we undertook to provide a transit agreement of humanitarian and commercial cargo to Afghanistan and as Secretary General Rasmussen has already mentioned, that has been now almost for a decade we have almost fulfilled our mandate. For the ISAF and next year the Transit Centre in the Airport Manas will be closed because it is coming to its final phase and the agreement between the U.S. and the Kyrgyz Republic is coming to an end as well.
As the president of the Krygyz Republic, being the chairman of the CSTO in the light of redeployment of ISAF and the exit of forces at the end of the ISAF meetings I suggested that we should build an enhanced cooperation between CSTO and NATO. I will say invited a representative of NATO to take part in an Afghanistan conference which will take place in Bishkek on the 10th of October.
And I would like to mention that I enjoyed our conversation. It was very friendly, and I'm grateful to you, Secretary General. Thank you for inviting me. And I hope that our cooperation in the name of peace, will continue. Thank you very much again. And for your kind words on the occasion of my birthday. Thank you.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): One question, if there is any? The lady over there?
Q: Atambayev... Secretary General. ISAF. So this is particularly interesting to us. How is NATO going to cooperate with the region in the matter of security after the end of the operation of ISAF? In the Summit of... in Bishkek you spoke about it and... that is the CSTO Summit and when Manas, it will cease to service the transit agreement, are you going to use it in any way at all, Manas airfield?
What projects? In Central Asia, what projects do you think you will continue developing?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Thank you very much. I do believe there is a potential for cooperation also beyond our ISAF operation. Let me stress once again that we are very grateful for the transit agreement. It is for individual Allies to decide whether they will use a specific transit route or not. It's not a NATO decision. It is the individual Allies that decide. And they will engage with the countries that provide such transit arrangements. But we are very grateful for the transit agreement with Kyrgyzstan.
Now, also beyond our ISAF operation, I think there is the potential for cooperation and partnership. One thing is our counter-narcotics projects. Within the NATO-Russia Council we have trained and educated counter-narcotics officers from across the region, including Kyrgyzstan, and I do believe that also beyond our ISAF mission there is a need to continue those counter-narcotics efforts.
Today I have also mentioned disaster response, logistics and defence reform as possible areas for enhanced cooperation.
ALMAZBEK ATAMBAYEV: Well, you see, Secretary General Rasmussen was absolutely right and we are going to continue and enhance our cooperation. It's absolutely obvious for Kyrgyzstan. We're very keen on our officers to speak English and we need NATO's help in logistics support. We are going to continue this cooperation.
Now, the air base in Manas. Being the president of Kyrgyzstan the military component will be finished in the airfield and that is on the basis of the agreement. This will be stopped as of the summer 2014. Manas airfield will be a civilian hub, dealing entirely with civilian carriages without any military component.