by US Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison and by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a ceremony to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States
US Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison:
I want to thank every one of you, especially my colleagues that I have served with the last two years, for being here.
We are here today because 19 years ago, a series of horrific acts changed everything for us, for all of us as individuals, as nations, and as an alliance.
On September, 11th 2001, everything changed. We walk past this steel beam, so often, entering headquarters. And each time, it reminds us why we work here. Because there are still adversaries in the world, who would stop at nothing to attack our way of life and our values. The values for which we stand. We come to this building, every day to assure those adversaries do not succeed.
Today, and always we remember those who lost their lives in September, 11 terrorist attacks in the US, and those who have died in terrorist attacks, across our alliance. And those who have died fighting the terrorists to prevent their evil from spreading. We continue to solemnly remember them.
These attacks have sharpened, our focus as an alliance. We are united in our commitment to defending freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, with allies and partners. We moved out together to face terrorist groups where they operate. We fight them there, so we will not have to fight them in our homelands.
On September, 12 2001, the NATO alliance invoked article five, our most sacred promise. We are here in solidarity today. As you were with us then. Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a new enemy. None of our countries have been spared. Every ally has been touched.
And once again, as after 9/11, we have so many inspiring stories of allies helping allies, our militaries have played an important role supporting the civilian response to COVID-19 through airlifts of essential medical supplies, transportation of patients, and the construction of field hospitals. Now, NATO is stepping forward again. Planning to be ready. If there is a resurgence of this virus, or if there is a new pandemic of a different kind. That is what NATO does, we rush to each other's aid. And we face the future together.
Since 2001. The world is becoming more and more complex at a rate, not seen by previous generations. Adversaries are stronger, threats are less visible, but increasingly dangerous. And we have adapted to protect our security. But our adversaries have also found new ways to disrupt. There will never be a shortage of challengers working to divide us and weaken us. NATO remains necessary. We guarantee freedom for one another. And we stand together to adapt to new tests as they arise. We have always, and we will always stand in solidarity against all adversaries. We are strong. We are united. We are NATO.
And now I want to introduce our great Secretary General, who has led us for so many years, to be able to celebrate our victories, and work with us to continue the fight, as long as it is necessary: Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Thank you Ambassador Hutchison.
And thank you for your strong personal commitment to our transatlantic Alliance.
Today, we gather in front of this twisted piece of the Twin Towers, the 9/11 and Article 5 Memorial here outside NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
We do so to pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 men and women who lost their lives in those horrendous terrorist attacks.
We remember the suffering and the loss.
The bravery of those who put their life on the line to save others.
And the solidarity that emerged from the wreckage.
Just hours after the attack, we invoked for the first time NATO’s collective defence clause, Article 5 of our founding treaty.
The attacks were on US soil.
But we were all hit.
We stood with our American Ally.
And we responded together to terrorism.
We went into Afghanistan,
to ensure the country never again serves as a platform for terrorists to attack us.
As they did on 9/11.
Today, we pay tribute to our troops,
to the Afghan security forces,
and the people of Afghanistan,
who have carried the burden of war for far too long.
Their sacrifices have not been in vain.
We are now closer than ever to peace.
Peace negotiations will start tomorrow.
This is no guarantee for lasting peace.
But it is an historic opportunity we must all seize.
Through Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talks, Afghans can shape their own future.
These talks must preserve the gains made in the last two decades.
For women and children.
For justice and freedom.
And for the safety and security of all.
As part of the peace process, we are now adjusting NATO’s military presence on the ground.
At the same time, we will continue our training mission.
And we will remain committed to help safeguard the Afghan people.
Because Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for terrorism.
We are also fighting terrorism together in Iraq.
With the US-led Global Coalition, we have made enormous progress against ISIS.
It has lost the territory and the people it once held captive.
But it remains a threat.
NATO is stepping up our training mission.
To help Iraqis build stronger security forces and institutions.
And ensure that ISIS never comes back.
Terrorism comes in many forms and manifestations.
Misusing different religions and ideologies.
But all have in common a belief in violence, hatred and a disrespect of human lives.
We have seen this from Paris to Oslo,
And from London to Istanbul.
Countering terrorism demands our collective commitment and our collective effort.
The effort of our societies as a whole.
And Europe and North America need each other as much as ever in the fight for our values, and our security.
As we gather at this solemn moment, we are committed to stay strong and united to keep our people safe.