by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today we mark the twentieth anniversary of the tragic events on September 11th.
A day that shocked the world.
2,977 innocent people were killed that morning.
In New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
We remember them and we honour them.
Just as we remember all those who have been killed in other terrorist attacks.
From Paris to Baghdad.
From Ankara to Christchurch.
We remember all those who have died fighting terrorism.
Whose service and sacrifice have made our world a safer place.
9/11 represents the worst of humanity.
But it also brought out the best.
From the first responders who went into those buildings.
To the medics who saved countless of lives.
And the ordinary men and women who helped their fellow citizens.
Within 24 hours of the attack, NATO Allies invoked Article 5 for the first time,
our mutual defence clause that states that an attack on one Ally is an attack on every Ally.
Shortly after, NATO surveillance planes were patrolling American skies.
The 9/11 attacks were organised by
Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
NATO went in to prevent the country from serving as a safe haven for terrorists who could threaten us once again.
And over the past two decades, no terrorist attacks against NATO Allies have been organised from Afghanistan.
The dramatic developments over the past weeks are a tragedy for the Afghan people.
And heart-breaking for all of us who have supported them over these two past decades.
We must ask the difficult questions about our engagement.
And reflect on the lessons learned.
At the same time, we must preserve the gains we made in the fight against terrorism.
We must hold those in power in Afghanistan to their commitments.
human rights, including the rights of women,
and safe-passage for Afghans at risk.
The fight against terrorism will continue.
And NATO will continue to play its part.
As the only place where Europe and North America come together every day for our shared security.
Working together in the Global Coalition, we have brought an end to ISIS control in Iraq and Syria.
We must continue to support Iraq to ensure they cannot return.
And help other partners to strengthen their own efforts against terrorism.
Terrorism comes in many different forms.
Different ideologies and religions may be used as a disguise.
But ultimately, it is always about the same thing.
Violence, hatred and intolerance.
We will never forget that morning when our world changed.
We will never forget those who lost their lives.
And we will hold in our hearts all those who have been wounded.
And all those who lost loved ones, and who are still grieving today.
Twenty years ago we stood together in solidarity.
And today, as we face a more dangerous world,
North America and Europe must continue to stand together in NATO.
Because whatever happens, we are safer when we are united.