Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the North Atlantic Council at the level of Defence Ministers

  • 08 Jun. 2011
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  • Last updated: 08 Jun. 2011 15:25

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to this meeting of NATO Defence Ministers. Our agenda over the next two days demonstrates the vitality and effectiveness of the new NATO. We are meeting the security challenges of today, and preparing for the needs and challenges of the future.

We just had a meeting with our partners in Operation Unified Protector to discuss our mission to protect the people of Libya.

It’s too early to draw the full lessons. But this mission does show how important it is for our Alliance to respond quickly and effectively to new challenges and to have at its disposal the whole range of capabilities we need.

For this reason, we are working hard to turn the commitments we made at our Lisbon summit into reality;  and to meet the capabilities targets we set, even at a time of tight budgets.

Nous sommes exposés à de multiples risques et menaces complexes qui pèsent sur notre sécurité. Nous devons veiller à ce que notre Alliance ait les meilleures structures et ressources possibles pour faire face à ces risques et menaces. Et à ce que l’OTAN dispose de  capacités adaptées, même en période de restrictions budgétaires.

Nous aborderons la question de la réforme de l’OTAN et, en particulier, la refonte de la structure de commandement et de la structure des Agences. Le nombre de quartiers généraux va diminuer et les nouvelles structures qui en résulteront seront allégées, plus efficientes et financièrement abordables. C’est l’engagement que nous avons fait à notre Sommet à Lisbonne.

Nous parlerons aussi des progrès de notre initiative de défense intelligente. Une initiative qui consiste à se doter des capacités dont nous avons tous besoin à l’OTAN. Pas en engageant davantage de ressources, mais en favorisant une coopération accrue et en développant plus de capacités ensemble. C’est une initiative qui encourage les Alliés à unir leurs forces pour consolider notre sécurité commune. Ce qui est l’essence même de notre Alliance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Someone who has played an essential role in reforms, both at NATO and in the United States, is Bob Gates. Bob will be retiring very soon and I would like to say a few words of appreciation since this is the last time he joins us around this table.

Bob, for the past four and a half years, you have served both a Republican and a Democratic President, as well as NATO, with dedication, determination, and distinction.

First and foremost, Afghanistan. You have led by example in terms of your nation’s force contributions, and your political commitment. You helped to get our approach on the right track. And you have been central in setting the stage for transition to begin next month.

Second, our relations with Russia. Bob, you have an unparalleled understanding of Russia – and our Alliance has benefitted from your knowledge.

Third, transatlantic relations. Your personal commitment to this Alliance, and to sustaining the bond that underpins it, is greatly appreciated by me, and by everyone around this table. We thank you for all this and more. And we wish you well as you leave government service and return to private life.    
I would now ask the representatives of the media to please leave the room.