by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the 9/11 Commemorative event at NATO HQ
Five years ago today, when airliners struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and when the extreme courage of passengers prevented a fourth plane from hitting its target, we all watched with a mixture of disbelief and anger.
Our hearts went out to those who died or were injured on that fateful day – to those who tragically lost relatives or friends -- and to those who bravely risked their own lives to save the lives of others.
From the moment those images flashed on our screens, most of us knew that they would sear into our consciousness, never to be forgotten. But little could we know at the time what a profound impact September 11 would have on all of us.
The immediate challenge before us then, as NATO Allies, was clear, and our response was quick and firm. We stood by our American friends, just as they had always stood by us. We invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty – which says that an attack on one is an attack on all - as the strongest possible expression of transatlantic solidarity. And we took a range of practical measures, individually and collectively, to support the United States in this time of need.
But the challenge of terrorism is global. The terrible attacks in places from Madrid and London, through the Middle East, to Kabul and Bali -- are stark reminders that terrorism remains a threat to all of us. On this anniversary of the September 11 attacks we therefore also remember all other victims of terrorism.
This is why we are in Afghanistan – the cradle of 9/11. And this is why we patrol the waters of the Mediterranean to the skies over the Hindu Kush, and why NATO is conducting operations to enhance our security.
And we must continue to strengthen our Alliance politically and militarily to meet this new scourge. To equip NATO to deal with terrorism and other new risks, wherever they may arise.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of men and women from Allied and Partner countries who have served and are serving in NATO operations. As the North Atlantic Council saw for itself during its visit to Afghanistan last week, they are doing a courageous job under difficult circumstances.
Their sacrifices, in this just and noble cause, will always be remembered.
I also want to thank all of you here at headquarters. You have risen to this new challenge and your dedication is greatly appreciated.
En tant qu'Alliés membres de l'OTAN, nous avons fait preuve au cours des cinq dernières années d'une ferme résolution - en défendant nos valeurs et nos libertés et en renforçant le potentiel de l'OTAN pour contribuer à ce qui ne pourra être qu'un combat de longue haleine.
L'OTAN doit continuer à jouer son rôle dans le cadre de la lutte contre le terrorisme au sens large, et elle le fera.
I am heartened by the support of our partners – throughout this continent, into Central Asia, and across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. But also by the support of other countries all around the globe. They have shown not just political solidarity, but also a keen desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in the fight against terrorism. Their contributions are invaluable and I want to salute them for their support.
Friends and colleagues,
Allies and Partners are united in our resolve to defend our security and protect our peoples and values. We must defeat the terrorists and the radical ideologies that inspire them. That resolve is our strong tribute to those who died so tragically in terrorist attacks – and who will remain in our thoughts forever.