Opening statement

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the North Atlantic Council Meeting in Defence Ministers Session

  • 18 Apr. 2012
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  • Last updated: 18 Apr. 2012 10:32

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

We have important work to do today and tomorrow to help set the stage for a successful NATO Summit meeting in Chicago next month.

At Chicago we will renew the unbreakable bond between Europe and North America.  This  bond is created by shared values and common goals.

In Chicago we will chart the course for our future engagement in Afghanistan.  We will broaden and deepen our network of partnerships with countries and organisations across the globe.

And we will agree a defence package to ensure that our Alliance remains in good shape and stays fit for the future.  Those capabilities are the focus of our meeting this morning. 

Notre réunion se déroule dans le contexte de la plus grave crise financière de mémoire d’homme. Dans bon nombre de nos pays, les budgets de défense sont donc sous pression. Il nous faut dès lors nous préparer à relever les défis de sécurité de demain tout en faisant face à la réalité économique d’aujourd’hui.

Nous devons faire en sorte que l’Alliance dispose des capacités militaires dont elle aura besoin pendant et après cette décennie pour accomplir ses tâches essentielles de défense collective, de gestion des crises et de sécurité. C’est là l’objectif que nous nous sommes fixé pour Chicago, et qui s’intitule : « Les forces de l’OTAN à l’horizon 2020 ».

We have achieved significant progress since Lisbon in meeting the most pressing capability needs.

We recently agreed to acquire an Alliance Ground Surveillance system, to provide our military commanders with a full picture of what is happening on the ground in our operations.

But we can’t be complacent.  This morning we will discuss progress in bringing together national contributions to an integrated NATO missile defence system, which is another vital capability for our Alliance.

But much more needs to be done.  As well as greater national efforts, we also need a new approach to developing and maintaining military capabilities and to linking them together.

What we call “Smart Defence” is at the heart of this new approach. It is an opportunity for a renewed culture of cooperation. It means setting the right priorities. We must specialise in what we do best and focus resources on what we need most. And we must work together to deliver capabilities that many nations cannot afford on its own.

As part of this new approach we will also reinforce the connections among our forces and their ability to work together.

Once again, NATO is determined to meet the challenge of change.  At our Summit in Chicago next month, we will demonstrate our commitment to continue to invest political, military and economic capital in a transatlantic Alliance that is fully fit to deal with the security challenges of today and tomorrow.

Thank you very much, and I would now be grateful if the representatives of the media would kindly leave the room,  so we can start our work.