Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General

at the working lunch of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs with Libya partners, Berlin

  • 14 Apr. 2011
  • |
  • Last updated: 14 Apr. 2011 13:01

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the months since our last meeting, a wave of change has swept across Northern Africa and the Middle East.

People across the region have taken destiny in their own hands. They have demanded freedom and choice, and a better future. In some countries this has led to political reform and change. But in Libya, it led to violent repression.

As we meet here in Berlin, NATO and partner forces are fully engaged on operations to safeguard the people of Libya. Taking every measure possible to prevent Gaddafi’s brutal and systematic attacks on his own people.

The International Community had to act. The violence unleashed against the people of Libya was intolerable.

By adopting United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, the world sent a clear and strong message to Colonel Gaddafi and his regime: we will not stand idly by while you continue to attack your own people with tanks, heavy artillery and snipers.

We acted to protect the people. To preserve their right to freedom. And to prevent Libya from becoming a failed state.
In this broad international effort, NATO is playing a key part.  For two weeks now, NATO Allies and partners have taken on full responsibility for implementing all military aspects of this historic Resolution of the United Nations Security Council. And yesterday, in Doha, participants in the Contact Group meeting on Libya welcomed NATO’s command and control of military operations.

We are enforcing a no fly zone; an arms embargo; and we are taking vigorous action to prevent attacks against the civilian population by degrading the military capacity of Gaddafi’s forces, through relentless strikes. We maintain a high operational tempo and our operations are being adjusted on a daily basis against what is clearly a rapidly changing environment on the ground. We have carried out over 2000 sorties since taking command, more than 900 of them were strike missions against units attacking or threatening to attack civilians.  We are averaging around 155 missions each day.

NATO and its partners, from the Arctic to the Arabian Sea, are working around the clock – to support UN Resolution 1973 by sea and by air. 

Our aim is the safety of the people of Libya. We are doing our utmost to avoid civilian casualties - acting with care and precision to maximise the effect of our actions while minimising the danger to citizens. This is in stark contrast to pro-Gaddafi forces – whom we have seen attack civilians repeatedly and indiscriminately.

Ultimately though – military power alone cannot provide the solution to this crisis. It is for the people of Libya to decide their future. 

And it is for the international community and the newly established Contact Group to promote a political solution. Participants in yesterday’s meeting of the Contact Group clearly affirmed that Gaddafi and his regime had lost all legitimacy. And they recalled the urgent need for a cease-fire, which is to be comprehensive and real.

NATO will continue playing its role as part of the international community efforts so long as the Libyan regime continues to attack its population. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are witnessing a new era of change – change that could generate peace, prosperity and progress.

The people who are risking their lives in Libya – remind us that the desire for freedom is fundamental. It resides deep within every human being.

We must play our role to defend that freedom, and to support the people of the region as they reform their governments and institutions.