Opening statement

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Defence Ministers meeting

  • 02 Feb. 2012
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  • Last updated: 02 Feb. 2012 13:52

Opening Remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Good afternoon colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to our first meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in 2012.  This is an ideal time to look forward to the year ahead and to guide preparations for the NATO Summit in Chicago in May.

As we start, I want to highlight three issues:  Afghanistan, Smart Defence and NATO reform.

Afghanistan remains our most important operational priority.  Transition of security responsibility from ISAF to Afghan lead is progressing smoothly, successfully, and on schedule. 

But Afghans will not be left alone at the end of the transition process. We are committed to providing support to Afghanistan through transition and beyond.  Today, we will continue our work on the details of our long term partnership with Afghanistan.  And what NATO’s presence in Afghanistan will look like after 2014.

Secondly – Smart Defence.  At a time of austerity, ensuring we have the right capabilities available across the Alliance is not easy.  But by adopting Smart Defence, we can do it.

Smart Defence builds upon the cooperative approach to providing capabilities within NATO, which we already have and now need to build upon.  It means nations focusing resources on the top priorities, agreeing to specialise in certain roles, and cooperating on multinational projects.  

It should become an integral part of the way we do business.  Because it can help all of us do better with what we have, by working together.

Today, we will look at some specific multinational projects, on which I hope we can get a political commitment at Chicago.  But that is only one part of the picture. We will also address the longer term development of our critical capabilities.  So in this respect Chicago should be seen as a starting point rather than an end point.

Troisième point – La réforme de l’OTAN.  Nous sommes en train de rationaliser les agences de l’OTAN et notre structure de commandement militaire intégrée.  Nous procédons aussi à la rationalisation du siège de l’Organisation.   

Nous allons examiner aujourd’hui l’avancement de ces réformes.  De nombreux Alliés sont confrontés, au niveau national, à des décisions difficiles à prendre. Nous devons veiller à tenir compte de ces difficultés. Il faut donc réaliser, pour l’OTAN et pour les pays, d’importantes économies en termes de moyens humains et financiers.  L’Alliance pourra ainsi être plus souple, plus efficace et plus efficiente.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s an ambitious agenda.  I am confident we will deliver.  

And now, I would like to thank the media for joining us.