by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the occasion of his visit to Train Advise and Assist Command - North (TAAC-N) in Mazar-e-Sharif
Thank you General Gante and Senior Civilian Representatives Yamamoto and Gugel.
It is an honor to be in Mazar-e Sharif. To take part in a remembrance earlier. And to be able to speak to you.
I have been here before as Prime Minister of Norway. But this is my first visit as Secretary General of NATO. It was a priority for me to come back in the first weeks of my mandate.
Because Afghanistan is a priority for the Alliance and our partners.
And many nations for across the world have stood with us here in the north and throughout Afghanistan.
So, on behalf of all the 50 nations that have made up this successful coalition, let me say thank you. This is my first and most important message.
Thank you for the dedicated service that you are doing here, each and every day. I know that some of you have deployed to Afghanistan more than once.
You have done your duty with great courage and professionalism. And as we prepare to complete our ISAF mission, I am very proud to be here to honor the service of our military and our civilian personnel.
I have also come here to pay tribute to all those who gave their lives in the course of their duties. We honor their sacrifice.
We keep in our thoughts those who have been injured. And we are grateful to all your families.
This has been, and remains, a tough mission. I have heard from you how challenging it has been, including here in the north. But I also heard of the remarkable progress that has been made. You have made a real difference. You have helped Afghanistan come a long way.
You have fostered development to benefit all those who live here.
With German help, the airport here has been opened to civilian flights.
You have also been a model of efficiency. This region is well-prepared for the transition to our upcoming Resolute Support mission.
You have helped to build up capable Afghan forces, ready to take full charge of the country’s security at the end of the year. And you have made our nations safer.
Yesterday, I had very good meetings with President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah. I stressed the importance of their partnership to lead this country toward a secure and prosperous future.
I told them that we remain committed to our partnership with Afghanistan.
We will launch our new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces in January. This opens a new chapter in our partnership.
The Resolute Support Mission and the international financial assistance to help sustain the Afghan Security Forces are one side of the coin. On the other side is the requirement for the Afghan government to keep its commitments.
To deliver better governance, to preserve and expand progress on human rights and to stamp out corruption.
You have played a vital role in Afghanistan in making a better future possible.
So let me once again thank you for letting me be with you today. Thank you for your service.