Press briefing on Libya
by Oana Lungescu, the NATO Spokesperson and Colonel Roland Lavoie, Operation ‘’Unified Protector’’ military spokesperson
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): Good afternoon, and welcome back to NATO. A special welcome today to Colonel Roland Lavoie, who has now taken up his post as spokesman for Operation Unified Protector in Naples. Colonel Lavoie comes to us with a great amount of operational experience in public affairs in various NATO missions around the world -- he was a spokesman for KFOR in 1999, a senior public affairs advisor in Afghanistan and most recently, the director of Air Force Public Affairs in Canada.
Roland will provide us with an operational update in a moment. And also on an operational note, this briefing is being made available in Arabic for media and publics in Libya and the rest of the Arab world.
As you know, there have been significant political developments in the last week. On Friday, the Secretary General was in Istanbul, where he met Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu. He also took part in the fourth meeting of the Contact Group on Libya. The meeting took place at a key moment and the Contact group has a key role to play. While NATO is continuing its work on the military track, it is particularly important to show continued determination and momentum on the political track. And it is also important that the international community speaks with one voice and delivers one clear message. NATO supports the initiative to develop a roadmap for a democratic and free Libya.
The Secretary General in Istanbul stressed that any ceasefire among the parties must be credible and verifiable, and with clear conditions. Otherwise, he said, we would risk a rebound of violence. He also reiterated that NATO does not aspire to any lead role in the transition period, but if asked to do so, could offer support to the international community under the lead of the United Nations and the Contact Group. We will of course continue to consult with partners in that regard.
The Contact Group, as you may have seen, noted that the Qadhafi regime no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya and that he and certain members of his family must go. Until an interim authority is in place, it agreed to deal with the National Transitional Council as the legitimate governing authority of Libya.
The chair's statement of the Contact Group also appreciated the efficient and effective role played by NATO’s Operation Unified Protector in the implementation of United Nations resolutions and welcomed the extension of our operations for another 90 days.
One final word on Afghanistan. As you know, on Sunday, Bamiyan became the first district in the country to undergo the transition to Afghan security lead. And this morning, the province of Methar Lam, in the district of Laghman, also made its transition. Other areas will follow . So we expect that soon 7 districts and provinces, which are home to a quarter of the Afghan population, will be under Afghan security lead.
The handover of Methar Lam is a good example of the partnership between ISAF and the Afghan authorities. The Afghan government showed leadership by proposing this area for the first wave of transition. And that is the way it should be, because transition is about Afghans taking the lead. Transition is a process, not a single moment in time. But transition is underway and the direction is clear -- a country led by Afghans, secured by Afghans, for the Afghans.
And with that, I will hand over to Roland in Naples.