Public opening remarks
by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this meeting of ISAF Defence Ministers.
Later this month, Afghan men and women will take part in the second round of the presidential elections. Leading to the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history. The Afghan government and security forces have been working hard to prepare for this historic vote.
We have all been impressed by the enthusiasm of nearly 7 million people, young and old, who cast their votes in the first round. This was a great success for the Afghan authorities. A clear rejection of the Taliban. And a significant victory for the Afghan people.
In securing the elections, the Afghan security forces did an outstanding job. They protected over 6,200 polling centres, allowing the Afghan people to exercise their democratic rights. They deserve great credit for their effectiveness and professionalism.
In addition to the political transition in Afghanistan, the security transition to full Afghan security responsibility is on track and we will complete our combat mission at the end of the year.
At the same time, we continue to plan for a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces after 2014. The announcement by the United States of its significant contribution to our Resolute Support Mission and the continued dedication of NATO Allies and our partners demonstrates our enduring commitment to stand with Afghanistan.
I once again congratulate the Afghan people for stepping forward to shape the future of their country. We now look forward to a second round of successful elections and to furthering the partnership between Afghanistan and NATO.
And with that, I conclude the public part of our session. And I would like to express my thanks to representatives of the media for their attendance here today.