Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
at the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs with non-NATO ISAF contributing nations, Berlin
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to our ISAF partners and to the Afghan delegation.
I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone around this table when I begin by offering my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those ISAF and Afghan forces who have been killed or injured since we last met.
Right now we are in the process of handing over the lead responsibility on security from ISAF to the Afghan Security Forces - in seven provinces and districts. This marks a significant new phase on Afghanistan’s path to stability and security – as well as in our own engagement in the country.
But let me be very clear: transition does not equate to withdrawal. As the Afghans do more, ISAF forces will be required to take on more of a support and training role.
Successful transition will also require us to build up the capacity of Afghan local governance – to ensure that, as transition advances, local and regional government are able to support and reinforce the work of the Afghan National Security Forces.
NATO Allies are committed to the creation of a sovereign, independent, democratic, secure and stable Afghanistan. This is a long-term commitment, and it is reinforced by NATO’s Enduring Partnership Agreement with the Afghan people. Our meeting today is an excellent opportunity to hear the views of our Afghan and Non-NATO ISAF colleagues, and to move the Enduring Partnership Agreement forward.
I will now pass the floor to our host, Minister Westerwelle.