Opening statement

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

  • 10 Jun. 2010
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  • Last updated: 10 Jun. 2010 10:55

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning. Let me extend a particular welcome to those Ministers who are attending their first NATO meeting.

There are fundamental issues on our agenda, today and tomorrow – with our highest priority being the mission in Afghanistan.

Our aim is to help Afghanistan stand on its feet as a sovereign country that can defend itself against terrorism. Because a stable Afghanistan means a safer world. Tomorrow, with all the ISAF contributors, we will see how to step up our training effort even further, to set a strong foundation for transition to Afghan lead.

We will also discuss missile defence. Our National Armaments Directors have confirmed that it is technically feasible to expand the system NATO is already developing to protect our troops, so that it also protects our populations and territory. And we know the extra costs are manageable: less than 200 million Euros, over ten years, spread among the 28 Allies.

We will discuss all that today, with an eye to a decision on whether to do it, which will be taken this November, in Lisbon.

Of course, in this financial climate, any investment has to be looked at carefully. And that includes defence. We must ensure that taxpayers get value for the money that is spent on defence. But our job is to guarantee that our citizens are defended. Which means spending enough on defence, and spending smart.

Today we will take a hard look at prioritising, economising and multinationalising. Prioritising on what we need most, in particular deployable capability. Economising, by cutting back on concrete and on bureaucracy. And multinationalising, to pool our money where it makes sense to get capabilities we need, and that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

Nous allons nous réunir avec notre collègue ukrainien et,ensemble, nous allons lui adresser un message très clair. L’Ukraine est un pays libre, et nous respectons ses choix. Notre porte reste ouverte, mais nous privilégions actuellement le Partenariat.

Enfin, nous nous réunirons aussi avec notre collègue géorgien. La porte de l’OTAN est ouverte à la Géorgie également, mais avec elle aussi, nous mettrons l’accent sur les réformes. Les récentes élections dans ce pays se sont bien déroulées, et elles ont envoyé un signal encourageant de progrès. Nous verrons dans quels domaines l’Alliance peut continuer à fournir un soutien, car beaucoup de réformes restent à mener.

So we have a substantial amount of work ahead of us. And we should get right to it.