by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the beginning of the NATO Wales Summit
Our NATO Summit here in Wales will be one of the most important Summits in the history of our Alliance.
A crucial Summit at a crucial time. We are faced with a dramatically changed security environment.
To the East, Russia is attacking Ukraine.
To the Southeast, we see the rise of a terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic State, that has committed horrific attrocities.
To the South, we see violence, insecurity, instability.
Here at the Summit we will take important steps to counter these threats and to strengthen the defence of our allies.
We will adopt a Readiness Action Plan which aims at improving our ability to act swiftly to defend our allies if needed.
On defence investment, we will turn the corner and reverse the trend of declining defence budgets.
We will discuss what individual allies and what NATO can do to counter the threat from the terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic state.
We will take steps to enhance our cooperation with Ukraine and other partners and we will open a new chapter in our relationship with Afghanistan after we complete our ISAF mission by the end of this year.
This Summit will shape future NATO.
It will demonstrate our resolve, our unity, our solidarity.
Surrounded by an arc of crises, our Alliance, our transatlantic community, represents an island of security, stability and prosperity.
And here at the Summit we will strengthen our transatlantic bond as the bedrock of security in Europe and North America.
And with that I am ready to take your questions.
Irina Somer, UNIAN: On Putin's peace plan do you really think it can help on the ground to find a ceasefire? And what will NATO provide to Ukraine beyond the four trust funds?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First on the so-called peace plan, let me stress that we welcome all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Having said that, I also have to say that what counts is what is actually happening on he ground. And we are still witnessing unfortunately Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine. So we continue to call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukrainian borders, stop the flow of weapons and fighters into Ukraine, stop the support for armed militants in Ukraine and engage in a constructive political process. That would be a genuine effort to facilitate a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
As regards our cooperation with Ukraine, we will have a meeting with President Poroshenko today, adopt a joint declaration and outline concrete steps to enhance our partnership, step up cooperation between NATO and Ukraine.
Dieter Ebeling, dpa: What role for NATO do you see in supporting Allies' action against IS?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First of all, I welcome that individual Allies have taken steps to help Iraq. I welcome the American military action to stop the advance of the terrorist organisation Islamic State, I welcome that other Allies have contributed in different ways. I do believe that the international community as a whole has an obligation to stop the Islamic State from advancing further.
As regards NATO, we haven't received any request for a NATO engagement, I'm sure that if the Iraqi government were to forward a request for NATO assistance, that would be considered seriously by NATO Allies. In that respect let me remind you that NATO has assisted Iraq in the past. We had a training mission in Iraq until 2011, and if the Iraqi government were to request resumption of such training activities I think NATO Allies would consider such a request seriously.
Rikard Jozwiak RFE: How much longer can you give Afghanistan?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Well, no reason to hide that time is of the essence. We need to know very soon whether the necessary security arrangements will be signed by the Afghan government because it is a prerequisite for our continued presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 that we have a NATO status of forces agreement in place, and that will also imply a signature on the bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan. I am encouraged by the fact that both presidential candidates have declared that they are ready to sign the security agreements soon after taking office. So still, I'm hopeful that the necessary security arrangements will be signed in due time so that we can deploy a NATO training mission, Resolute Support, on 1 January 2015. But of course we are approaching the date when that decision will have to be made so I encourage the presidential candidates to complete the electoral process as soon as possible in a way that can be agreed by both candidates.
Elena Chernenko, Kommersant: Obama spoke of adjusting the Founding Act, what do you think?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: We have made clear right from the outside that all the measures we have taken, all the measures we are going to take to provide effective defense of our Allies are in full accordance with the NATO-Russia Founding Act. It's clear to everybody that Russia has violated the fundamental principles of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. Nevertheless, we are strong supporters of a rules-based security architecture in Europe, and so far, that security architecture has been based on the NATO-Russia Founding Act, the NATO-Russia Rome Declaration that established something very special, namely the NATO-Russia Council, and we have decided that while we have suspended all practical cooperation with Russia we will keep this political channel open, keep the channel open for political and diplomatic dialog with Russia.