Press conference

by the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen following the meeting with Partners in Heads of State and Government format

  • 21 May. 2012
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  • Last updated: 04 Jun. 2012 10:28

Good afternoon.

At this NATO summit in Chicago, world leaders have come together to address global challenges that demand global solutions. And we have just held a unique meeting with partners from North Africa to the South Pacific and from East Asia to Western Europe.

All our partners share NATO’s desire to build security, but they contribute to our work in many different ways. They take part in our operations.  They give political support to our missions. And they provide financial support to our common causes.

Today, we thanked them for their valuable support, their commitment, and their insights. Our meeting showed how much we have already gained by working together – in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, and protecting the people of Libya. And it showed how much more we can do.

We are determined to build on our success and to take advantage of the incredible experience represented around the summit table. We agreed there is great potential to enhance our political dialogue and our practical cooperation.

We are ready to cooperate in new areas, such as cyber defence and energy security. We are ready to boost joint training and exercises, so that we preserve our ability to undertake operations when needed.

We are grateful to all our partners and today’s meeting was a step towards enhancing our unique partnership network. 

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We came to Chicago with three goals. And we have met them. We have focused on the future of Afghanistan. We have decided to invest smartly in our defence even in times of austerity. And we have engaged with our partners around the world to address the challenges we all face in the 21st century.

Here in Chicago, we have charted the course to complete our current mission in Afghanistan. And we have made clear our collective commitment to a stable and secure Afghanistan, together with our Afghan partners and the international community as a whole.

Here in Chicago, we agreed to implement a renewed culture of cooperation, so that nations can achieve together what they cannot achieve alone. We put it into practice by agreeing on projects which will provide the capabilities we need, at a price we can afford.  And we made the significant declaration of an interim NATO missile defence capability. 

And here in Chicago, we met with countries from the four corners of the world, and demonstrated our determination to broaden and strengthen our growing network of partnerships in the interest of our shared security. 

This has been a highly successful summit. Together, we have faced the challenges that needed facing. With shared responsibility and shared leadership.

Here in Chicago, we have made sure that NATO is fit to face the future – no matter what the future brings.  And we have renewed the unbreakable bond between North America and Europe, which has made NATO the most successful alliance in history.    

I would like to thank all our Allies and partners for their commitment. And I would particularly like to thank President Obama, the American government, the American people, and the people of this great city of Chicago, and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for hosting a Summit which inspired us all to look to the future with confidence and determination.

Your magnificent skyline was a fitting backdrop to our meeting. A fitting symbol of the energy and ambition which are the hallmarks of this city, this country, and this Alliance.

Chicago is famous for thinking big and for doing great things. You have just organised the biggest summit in NATO’s history and you have done it with great style. The decisions we have taken here in Chicago will reinforce the vital bond between North America and Europe and strengthen NATO for the years ahead.

And with that, I am ready to take your questions.

OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson) : OK, over there.

Q: Secretary General, Paul Hackett, Euro News. I'd like to ask you about Pakistan and the relationship between the US and the Pakistanis. We've obviously seen lots of problems. The US want the supply routes open.

You said you're… you said you're quite optimistic a deal will be done in the future. But do you think an apology from the Americans for what happened in November would go a long way to progressing things? Do you think the Americans should apologize?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): I'm not going to comment on or interfere with the bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

On behalf of NATO, I can tell you that we will do what we can to strengthen our partnership with Pakistan. And I had the opportunity to exchange views with President Zardari of Pakistan today, and we agreed that we… we should continue a positive dialogue between NATO and Pakistan.

OANA LUNGESCU: And over there.

Q: Thank you. Phillip Crowther, France 24. Secretary General, can I ask about the ISAF meeting this morning? Francois Hollande, the French President was there. He has repeated over the last few days that he wants all French combat troops out by the end of this year.

Can I ask you how the leaders in that meeting reacted to this? And did he have to give you something in return for that to be accepted? Is that where missile defence possibly comes in? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: No. I mean, it's not been a bargain in the way you described it.

I think all Allies and partners have appreciated that the newly-elected President Hollande of France has made it clear that of course he will keep his election promises. So he will withdraw French combat troops from Afghanistan during this year.

But at the same time - and that's a very important element in this - at the same time, he has made clear that France stays as a member of ISAF. And France will continue to contribute in different ways, and that includes a continued contribution to our training mission in Afghanistan.

And that whole package is very much in the… accordance with the strategy we outlined already in Lisbon in 2010. We will gradually hand over lead responsibility to the Afghans, including in the Kapisa province where the French soldiers operate.

And actually, the Kapisa province is part of the third tranche to be transferred now to lead Afghan responsibility. And as we transfer lead responsibility to the Afghans, our troops, including French troops, can step back. We can reduce the number of troops, we can change the role of our troops.

The… the important thing is that all Allies and partners will stay committed to our mission throughout the transition period to the end of 2014, and the French President has confirmed that's also his position. And I think all Allies and partners have appreciated that.

OANA LUNGESCU: Lady in front.

Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary General, Parichehr Farzam. I'm from Voice of America. Do you think the Iranian government a problem (inaudible) to establish this community of peace in Afghanistan?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Which government?

Q: The Iranian government.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: The Iranian government?

Q: Iranian government.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Well, we encourage all Afghanistan's neighbours to contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region. Actually, that's also was what the United Nations has stated in the Security Council Resolution. So actually, it's an obligation for all Afghanistan's neighbours to make their contributions to peace and stability in the region.

I'm not in a position to make any assessments of the… the sincerity of the Iranian leadership in… in that respect. But I would expect it to be also in the interests of Iran to ensure stability and peace in Afghanistan and in the region.

OANA LUNGESCU: Over there, please.

Q: William Blanchette (inaudible) based in Brussels, working for Pakistani Bangor.

Sir, I want to know that the blockade of… I… it is a repeat question, but the blockade of the supply line is because of (inaudible) incident. And Pakistani Parliament demands apology. What is the current situation in this regard?

And the second thing is today the international media feels that Pakistan is not a good position in… in the summit. So what do you think, a marginalized Pakistan is better for the region and for the… America?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: As I said before, I… I'm not going to comment on or interfere with a bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

As regards NATO, our… our position is… is very clear. We need a positive engagement of Pakistan if we are to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region.

Pakistan plays an important role, not only when it comes to our transit routes, but also in the fight against terrorism in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Pakistan can also play an instrumental role in a possible reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

So for all these reasons, we are interested in a positive engagement of Pakistan.

OANA LUNGESCU: Kuwaiti News Agency there.

Q: Nowab Khan (ph) from the Kuwait News (inaudible). Mr. Secretary General, the Chicago Declaration calls for a closer cooperation with the countries of the ICI, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and the Mediterranean Dialogue countries.

So what concrete steps have you in mind to boost these relations? Thank you, sir.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: You're right. It's part of our Declaration that we want to further enhance our partnerships with countries within the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

We will now engage with our partners within the two partnerships, discuss with them how we can possibly enhance our political dialogue, but also our practical cooperation.

We have launched an initiative as part of our defence package called the Connected Forces Initiative. The aim of that initiative is to improve what we call the interoperability between our forces. That means their ability to work together. And we would also like to include partners in… in that Connected Forces Initiative because we realize how important it is that the armed forces of partner nations can work closely together with the armed forces of Allies.

And… and this is an area where we would like to explore how we could further enhance our cooperation with partners, also partners within the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

OANA LUNGESCU: Gentleman over there.

Q: Global Television Canada. Secretary General, at this summit specifically you asked Canada to extend its military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Canada agreed to a financial contribution, but said a flat no to extending its military presence there. Is that a little disappointing, frustrating, or what?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: First of all, I… I really appreciate the… the announcement of a significant Canadian financial contribution to sustaining the Afghan security forces after 2014. It's highly appreciated.

Secondly, at the end of the day, it… it is a national decision whether a country wants to deploy troops or trainers, and… and we fully… we fully respect that.

I have given a general answer as Secretary General of this organization. When… when I am asked whether I would appreciate contributions from Allies or partners to NATO-led operations, then of course I have only one way to answer, and that is yes, indeed, I would appreciate such contributions.

But I… I fully respect that, at the end of the day, it is a national decision. And I'm fully aware of the fact that Canada has contributed to major NATO operations for many years, and Canada has contributed in a very valuable way to NATO operations.

OANA LUNGESCU: The lady over there.

Q: Emma Dallimore (ph) from Channel 10 Australia. In terms of Afghanistan post-2014, why should Australia, as a non-NATO member, be contributing more financially than some NATO members?

And also, would you like to see Australian Special Forces posted in Afghanistan post-2014?

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: First of all, it is a national Australian decision whether Australia wants to provide Special Operation Forces now or later. It is fully a national decision, as I stressed earlier.

But we appreciate very much the strong Australian commitment to NATO-led operations.

And you're right, we… we fully acknowledge that Australia has contributed in a very significant way to NATO operations.

I think it's also in Australia's self-interest to be an active partner in an international cooperative security network, so to speak, because, in a globalized world, security is also globalized. And Australia is also affected by global security challenges. And this is also a reason why Australia has intensified her relations with NATO during recent years.

And in today's meeting with particular active partners, we discussed how we could further expand our cooperation in a number of areas, for instance when it comes to cyber defence or energy security or maritime security. And I think Australia has a vital interest in cooperating with the world's strongest military alliance when it comes to addressing the 21st century security challenges.

OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much for your hard work in covering this summit. I think you still have some work to do now. Thank you.