Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano

  • 02 Mar. 2010
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  • Last updated: 03 Mar. 2010 11:28

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesperson):  Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary General and the President will each make opening statements and then we'll have time for questions.  Secretary General.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO Secretary General):  Good afternoon, it's really a great pleasure for me to welcome the President of Italy to NATO headquarters.  The President has had an opportunity to address the North Atlantic Council this afternoon. 

Let me start by commending Italy's contribution to our Endurance efforts in Afghanistan and by extending my solidarity to the family of the Italian agent who died in Kabul on the 26th of February.

I'd like to thank the Italian government for its determination.  The recent decision of your government to send 1,100 additional troops and trainers in 2010 is a testimony to Italy's strong solidarity with the Afghan people and with NATO. 

Italy is playing a very important role on the ground, in particular in the West, in Herat and training and men training capability for both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Police.

Let me also commend the Italian troop's human approach.  They're focussed on performing military tasks while at the same time interacting with the local community.  That is, actually, the essence of our new population centric approach.  Our priority now is training.  Training is an investment in transition and our training mission is still short of personnel.

Italy has proved its professionalism in terms of training both the army and police.  And I'm asking all troop contributing nations to continue to look at what more they can do in terms of trainers, equipment and resources for this essential mission. If Italy can do more in this brighter field this will help speed the moment when the Afghans can take full responsibility for their own security.  Mister President.







JAMES APPATHURAI:  Last question...?

Q:  My name is Passa Regna (?). I'm an Italian journalist.  Mister Rasmussen, you just thanked Italy for its commitment in Afghanistan.  But in an interview to an Italian newspaper you said that Italy must do more.  Do you think that Italy is doing enough in Afghanistan now?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN:  Yes, I can tell you that Italy is really among the significant contributors to our mission in Afghanistan.  And in addition to the already strong contribution, Italy has pledged 1,100 additional troops to our mission in Afghanistan.  So I really think that Italy stepped up to the plate once President Obama had announced the additional American troop contribution.  What I do is to urge all Allies to contribute more to our training mission. 

But this fact should not overshadow the fact that our overall force in the region has been a huge success.  We have succeeded in increasing the number of troops to 40,000, pretty what General McChrystal had recommended.  And let me also use this to say that I don't see tensions between United States and Europe...  That transatlantic relationship is as strong as ever. 

Let me just remind you that once President Obama had announced 30 000 extra troops to Afghanistan, European allies followed suit.  Actually, 35 allies and partners pledged additional, nearly 10 000 troops, a clear majority of which comes from Europe.  And today, troops from non-US members of the International Alliance make up 40% of international troops in Afghanistan.  Again, a majority of which comes from Europe.  So the Europeans stepped up to the plate which is also a clear testament to the commitment to our Alliance.  So in conclusion, the transatlantic relationship is as strong as ever.

JAMES APPATHURAI:  That's what we have time for...