Joint Press conference
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani - Secretary General's opening remarks
Good afternoon. First of all, I’d like to express that I am very pleased to be here in Kabul and also to be together with the President.
And thank you so much, President Ghani, for the warm welcome and for the excellent meeting. It lasted a bit longer than planned but that’s just an expression of the close relationship we are developing between Afghanistan and NATO. And we are building on the relationship we have developed for so many years.
I am also grateful to the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah for our very productive meeting earlier today.
And you have both shown great leadership in setting up the national unity government. And you have both shown your commitment to a partnership on behalf of the Afghan people.
And I salute your leadership. And I strongly welcome your commitment. These are key for the democratic, and united, and stable development of Afghanistan.
NATO and our partners have stood with Afghanistan for more than a decade. The ISAF mission brought together 50 nations – the largest coalition in recent history.
And that’s great for all of us that we have been able to work so close together.
And together, we have done what we set out to do.
Our nations are safer. And Afghanistan is stronger.
We owe this to the courage and the sacrifice of our troops.
We have made our nations safer by pursuing the international terrorists who used Afghanistan as a safe haven to launch horrific attacks.
And we have made Afghanistan stronger by helping building capable national security forces.
And together, we have created the conditions for a better future for Afghan men, women and children.
This progress has come at a great cost.
To NATO, to our partners, and to Afghanistan.
We will hold those who lost their lives in our memory. And we must honor by remaining committed to our joint efforts all those who lost their lives, and which we are going to honour by staying committed to our common cause.
At the end of this year, Afghan forces will assume full responsibility for the security of this country. And I am confident that they are ready.
I have seen some of your commando units today – and they are very impressive.
And you can be truly proud of them.
And of all the three hundred and fifty thousand soldiers and police who will continue to protect Afghanistan every day.
Next year, we will open a new chapter.
The future of Afghanistan will be in Afghan hands.
But our support will continue.
We will start a new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.
We will also continue our financial support.
And, as President Ghani and I discussed, we want to further develop our long-term partnership with Afghanistan.
At the same time, we count on our Afghan partners to play their part. And to live up to the commitments they made.
I look forward to the timely completion of the parliamentary process of our Status of Forces Agreement. And to further progress on good governance, the rule of law, and human rights, including the rights of women.
And I commend you, Mr. President, for your strong personal leadership as you move forward on all these vital issues.
I invited you, Mr. President, to our NATO ministerial meeting in the beginning of December. And I am honoured to announce that you have accepted our invitation, and that the President will join us at our NATO ministerial meeting on the 2nd of December. I also invited the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah to attend the same meeting
The Afghan people have chosen the path of peace and democracy. And I am here to confirm NATO’s continued commitment to stand with you.
So, thank you so much Mr. President, and also thanks to Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah, for welcoming me today. I wish you well. And I look forward to working closely together with both of you at this decisive time of Afghanistan.