MCCS - Opening remarks by General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
at the start of the NATO Military Committee Conference in Tirana, Albania
Monsieur le premier ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs, bonjour et bienvenue aux chefs d’Etat-major des armées de l’OTAN et aux commandeurs stratégiques, rassemblés ici, à Tirana, en Albanie, à l’occasion de la conférence du comité militaire de l’OTAN de 2017.
Je voudrais commencer par souhaiter la bienvenue aux trois nouveaux membres de notre club, le comité militaire. Je salue chaleureusement le général Kollçaku. Je sais que vous connaissez l’OTAN et nous sommes heureux de vous voir tenir cette fonction clef de commandement dans votre pays. Je tiens à vous remercier de nous avoir invités en Albanie et d’être notre hôte pour cette conférence. L’hospitalité que vous nous offrez est exemplaire en tous points et nous ne pouvons qu’apprécier le formidable travail fourni par votre Etat-major pour cette occasion.
Après avoir aussi récemment souhaité la bienvenue au sein de l’alliance, à votre pays voisin, le Monténégro, je ne pouvais pas penser à meilleur endroit pour tenir la conférence de cette année.
The Alliance is grateful for Albania’s contributions to our shared security and your continued involvement in our Mission and Operation in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
You play a valuable role in promoting cooperation and stability in the Western Balkans as well as in the fight against ISIL by contributing equipment to the Global Coalition against ISIL and the Special Forces trainers in Iraq. Albania has, also, offered to host a NATO Centre of Excellence on Foreign Fighters. NATO and Albania are coordinating the way ahead.
I would also like to welcome two other new colleagues: the first comes from France, General François Lecointre and the second is General Ljubisa Jokic from Montenegro. Welcome to you.
François, welcome. France is known for playing a leading role in our debates and we recognise your substantial operational commitments, which contribute significantly to the security of the Alliance.
And welcome to you, Ljubisa. At the last MC Conference in Split, we officially recognised Montenegro as an invitee. Now that your country and your armed forces are officially part of the Alliance, it gives me a great pleasure to highlight your permanent seat at the right alphabetical order at the table.
I wish you all the best in your new appointments and endeavours and I look forward to hearing your ideas and remarks which will no doubt, greatly enrich our discussions.
Before we start today, I would like to offer my condolences to the United Kingdom for the recent terrorist attack on the London tube that took place yesterday morning. I would also like us to honour the Romanian soldiers killed and wounded in the attack against their convoy in Kandahar yesterday.
Let us take a moment now and pay tribute to all our serving military personnel and remember the sacrifice of those men and women killed or wounded in the line of duty.
In the presence of media, I would like to make some introductory remarks, before I ask Prime Minister Rama to formally open our conference.
This Conference, which brings together all twenty-nine Allied Chiefs of Defence, enables us to deliberate and discuss the challenges and threats facing the Alliance. The wealth and experience gathered here today allows for a frank exchange of views and delivers unequivocal military advice to the North Atlantic Council.
As you are all aware, change is everywhere at the moment whether we apply that to the fluid security environment or to the ongoing adaptation within the Alliance. We are challenged by both state and non-state actors - from military forces, terrorist, cyber, and/or hybrid attacks which seek to exploit any perceived opportunity.
It is part of our task to understand, anticipate and deter any possible threat or challenge to the Alliance as our greatest responsibility remains to protect and defend our territory and populations. We need to ensure that we continue to be ready and able to deliver the strategic effects required by our Heads of State and Government.
Our deterrence and defence posture is being enhanced whilst remaining open to dialogue with Nations, and we are increasing our efforts to project stability. The Alliance must retain its ability to respond to crises beyond its borders while maintaining its core tasks – collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.
With this said, Prime Minister Rama, I will now hand over the floor to you for your formal opening.
Prime Minister, Mr Edi Rama’s opening remarks
Thank you very much Prime Minister for sharing with us your valuable national as well as regional assessment that will help set the scene for our deliberations.
We will start today’s discussions with a session dedicated to Projecting Stability. With our expertise, partnerships and commitment, we have the ability to make a real difference. NATO’s role in countering terrorism, our Training and Capacity Building initiatives in Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, Moldova and Georgia as well as our involvement in the Western Balkans and the Middle East regions are all part of Projecting Stability.
By reviewing our existing capabilities and matching those with strategic objectives, we can greatly increase coherence across all our initiatives. We need to work even more closely with our Partners to focus cooperative activities to mutual benefit.
There are many regional and global challenges. Increasingly, we realise that no single organisation or Nation can solve them. We are stronger if we work together and learn from each other.
Ensuring the NATO Command Structure remains robust and agile and, crucially, fit-for-purpose in order to take quick and decisive action is paramount. This will be a key point of discussion in our second session of the day.
This afternoon, our focus will turn to both our largest and longest Operations and Missions respectively, RESOLUTE SUPPORT and KFOR.
Our presence in Afghanistan remains conditions-based and our commitment is unwavering. Hard won gains have been achieved and many of our men and women have paid the ultimate price. The security situation on the ground remains extremely challenging. Nevertheless, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are working hard to secure their country and deny a safe haven to the terrorists.
An increase in troop presence will assist us with our train, assist and advise mission so that NATO and its thirty-nine Partners can continue to ensure that the Afghan security forces and institutions develop further and become sustainable in the long term. But we alone cannot bring lasting security to Afghanistan. We count on our Afghan partners to make good on their commitments and reforms. And our efforts must be part of a regional, collective, approach in which we call on all actors to take an active and positive part, especially on achieving a negotiated settlement towards peace and reconciliation.
Turning back closer to home and to the Alliance’s borders, we will then discuss KFOR and the Western Balkan security situation.
Over the past eighteen years KFOR has helped transform Kosovo into a safer place. This mission to preserve a safe and secure environment and guarantee freedom of movement will continue, for as long as necessary, as security and stability in this region benefits stability and security in Europe.
In our final session of the day, the Chiefs of Defence will elect their new Chairman of the Military Committee, who will take office in the summer 2018.
In each of our sessions we will be supported by our Strategic Commanders; SACEUR, General Scaparotti, and SACT, General Mercier, who will provide the detailed military strategic assessment on the issues we discuss.
At the end of the day, General Kollçaku and I will brief the media on the outcomes of our discussions.
I would like now to thank the media for attending this opening session and kindly request that they depart so we can proceed with our meeting. Thank you.