Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations at the level of Foreign Affairs Ministers
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to this meeting of ISAF Foreign Ministers.
Only three days from now, the Afghan people will cast their votes in presidential and provincial council elections. This is another pivotal moment for Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s security forces can be proud. They have stood their ground. They have facilitated a new and demanding voter registration process. And on Election Day, Afghan forces will protect polling centres, so their fellow citizens can exercise the rights they have fought to protect.
It is now crucial that these elections are credible, inclusive and transparent. That their outcome is broadly acceptable to the Afghan people. And that any alleged violations are addressed swiftly through established institutions.
That is what the Afghan government has committed to deliver. That is what the International Community expects. And that is what the Afghan people deserve.
Today, we will discuss our continued support through the ISAF mission and our plans for a new train, advise and assist mission beginning next year. Questions remain open with respect to the legal arrangements for that new mission and we will continue to assess the impact of delays in their conclusion.
We stand by our commitments to Afghanistan. But the longer it takes for the agreements to be signed, the less we may be able to do. It is not our desired outcome. But if there is no agreement, there will be no mission.
We have stood with the Afghan people for more than ten years. I congratulate them as they take another step forward this week in shaping their country’s future.
And with that, I would like to conclude the public part of our session and I thank the representatives of the media for their attendance.