by the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen following the meeting on Afghanistan at the level of Heads of State and Government - Opening remarks
Today, we paid tribute to all those who have served our countries in NATO operations. They have made immense sacrifices, and put the needs of their nation and their service above all else.
In return, we reaffirm our support to them and their families, during and after their service, now and in the future.
We also paid tribute to our partners and the Afghan Security Forces.
Their courage, effort and sacrifice have made all our nations safer and improved global security. We have achieved our overall goal: Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for international terrorism.
This is the right time to remember what we have sacrificed and what we have achieved.
It has been an unprecedented international effort. For over a decade, NATO and partner nations from across the world have stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan.
We have contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children.
At the end of this year, our ISAF mission will come to a close as planned, and as we agreed with the Afghans. 350,000 Afghan troops and police will assume full responsibility for the security of their own country.
They have been in the lead for combat operations for over a year. And despite all the challenges, they have proved to be an effective force, respected by the Afghan people.
With the end of ISAF in December, we will change the nature and the scope of our involvement in Afghanistan. But our commitment will endure. Because stability in Afghanistan also means security for us.
We will continue supporting Afghanistan in three ways.
First, NATO Allies and partners stand ready to launch a new non-combat mission. To train, advise and assist the Afghan forces from next year. When the required legal framework is in place. But we stand ready.
Without a signature, there can be no mission. Although our military commanders have shown great flexibility in their planning, time is short. The sooner the legal framework is in place, the better.
Second, we are also willing to assist the Afghan forces financially, as part of the broader international efforts. Today, we renewed our financial commitments to support the sustainment of the Afghan forces, including to the end of 2017.
The Afghan government has also committed to making an increasing financial contribution itself.
We urge the rest of the international community to stay engaged, and to support Afghanistan’s future stability. This is in all our interests.
Managing the money will require transparency, accountability and openness. We need to know where our funding is going, and how it is being spent.
And third and finally, we reaffirmed today our commitment to an enduring partnership between NATO and Afghanistan. That partnership provides a framework for political consultations and practical cooperation. It is already in place, and we are determined to strengthen it.
Afghanistan today is a very different country from what it was a decade ago. And the vast majority of Afghans do not want to return to those dark days.
So today we call on Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates to work together. To swiftly deliver a peaceful outcome of this election, acceptable to the Afghan people and to conclude the necessary security agreements as soon as possible, as they have said they will.
We remain determined to support the Afghan people in their efforts to build a stable, sovereign, democratic and united country. An Afghanistan where rule of law and good governance prevail, and where human rights for all are protected.
This is what Afghans deserve. It is key to regional stability. And it gives the Afghans the best opportunity for a better life, while maintaining security.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO Secretary General): (...) And with that, I'm ready to take a couple of questions.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): TOLO in the middle.
Q: Thank you, Mister Secretary General, we heard that the two candidates have sent a letter today to the session. What are the details of that? Second, you don't say any figures of ANSF funding. And are you reaffirming the $4.1 billion which was committed in Chicago? Or are there any changes in that, thank you?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I based on the announcements we have heard today and the announcements we have heard in the run-up to this Summit. I'm confident that we will reach our goal as it was set out at the Chicago Summit in 2012. Yes, I can confirm that we received a message from the two presidential candidates indicating that they will do all they can to reach a political agreement. And if that materializes, we will warmly welcome it. Afghanistan deserves a rapid completion of the electoral process with an outcome that can be accepted by the Afghan people.
OANA LUNGESCU: Afghan Media over there.
Q: Thank you, Mister Secretary, a roll-up of NATO, post 2014-2015, how is it going to be? And in terms of numbers, do you have a figure that you are... that you have agreed upon? And will NATO ever engage in combat missions if the security situation deteriorates in Afghanistan?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: On the latter, let me stress that the mission...the training mission we're going to deploy from the 1st of January 2015, provided the legal framework is in place, will be a non-combat mission. And we feel confident that the Afghan Security Forces will be able to take full responsibility for the security.
So for the rest, it's a hypothetical question; because we do believe that the Afghans will take care of their own security. We will be there to assist them; to train; and to give advice. And the first...
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: On numbers, we are in the process of generating forces for the training mission to be established by the 1st of January 2015. But I'm not able to announce any exact figure at this point; also, because the political process in Afghanistan has not yet been finalized! And this is the reason why not all countries have come forward with final contributions. But I'm confident that if the legal framework would be put in place very soon; then we will also be able to establish a training mission that is fully resourced and fit for purpose.
OANA LUNGESCU: One final question, over there.
Q: Sobytie (?) (inaudible) from Ukraine, Europe on Pravda. It is already announced by some Allies and by NATO that some decisions will be taken today on NATO Trust Fund on Ukraine. When do you expect this money to be disbursed to the Ukrainian government and then, accordingly, could it reverse current lobby development in the Ukraine?
And second issue, would you suggest NATO Allies to go further with military support to the Ukrainian government, thank you?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Hum, on the latter, let me stress that NATO as an Alliance is not involved in delivery of equipment; because we do not possess military capabilities. These are possessed by individual Allies; so such decisions are national decisions. And we're not going to interfere with that.
On the first part of your question, I can confirm that we will announce the establishment of trust funds. But actually, I will revert to that issue in my press conference following the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission which will start in a few minutes.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much!