Opening statement

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the North Atlantic Council meeting in Defence Ministers session

  • 14 Oct. 2010 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Oct. 2010 10:02

North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Defence Ministers Session Opening Remarks by NATO Secretary General Left to right: Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero (Deputy NATO Secretary General) next to NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Ted Whiteside (Council Secretary)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is highly unusual to have NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers here together on the same day. But we are here to shape decisions of unusual importance.  We are just a few weeks away from the Lisbon Summit, which I believe will be one of the most important in NATO’s history.

Starting today, and over the course of the next few weeks, we will shape and agree the new Strategic Concept.  The Strategic Concept will guide the Alliance through the next decade.  It is critical that we get it right.  NATO’s core mission, to protect the 900 million citizens of NATO countries from attack, must never change – but it must be modern defence, against modern threats.  NATO is the world’s most effective peacekeeper – but to stay effective, we need to be better engaged with our civilian partners.  And we must reach out to countries around the world that want to work with us to make the world safer.

We must also decide if we want NATO to be able to defend all of Europe against the threat of missile attack.  The threat is clear. The capability exists.  And the costs are manageable.  I believe we can and should make missile defence for Europe a NATO capability.  Because defence of our nations is what NATO is all about.

Enfin, nous devons faire en sorte de bien mener la réforme de nos forces armées.  Supprimer d’infrastructures non nécessaires ; des quartiers généraux allégés et plus efficaces ; des forces plus facilement déployables ; procéder aux réductions budgétaires inévitables de telle sorte que nous conservions les moyens dont l’Alliance a besoin afin de conserver ce dont notre Alliance a besoin ; et une meilleure mutualisation des ressources, afin d’acheter et d’utiliser ensemble ce que nous ne pourrions pas nous permettre seuls.  Tel est l’agenda de réforme qui doit guider la transformation de l’OTAN, tout au long et au-delà de cette période d’austérité. 

Starting today, NATO is in the sprint to the Summit.  The decisions we take over the next few weeks will shape the future of the world’s most successful Alliance.   And I have absolutely no doubt that we will get it right.