Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai

  • 18 Oct. 2012
  • |
  • Last updated: 15 Nov. 2012 12:41

Mr. President, it is a great pleasure to be in Kabul once again and to meet you. And we have had a very positive meeting this morning and I am very happy that on this visit, I am accompanied by the North Atlantic Council, which is NATO’s political decision-making body, and seven of our 22 ISAF partners. 

And our visit today is a clear demonstration of our commitment. All fifty nations within the ISAF coalition remain committed to Afghanistan, now and for the long-term. And this is a great opportunity to see with our own eyes the progress we are making. 

And so there can be no mistake, let me repeat in Kabul what I said in Brussels. Our strategy is working and our timeline remains unchanged. We are all committed to seeing our combat mission through by the end of 2014. That was what we agreed with you, Mr. President, at the Chicago Summit – in Lisbon and Chicago.

In Chicago, we also agreed to work with the Afghan government to establish a new mission after 2014. This will not be a combat mission. It will focus on training, advice and assistance. And we are now actively planning for that mission.
The Afghan security forces have already achieved much. They are in the lead for the security of three quarters of the population. And where they are in charge, violence has gone down. Violence has gone down.  Your forces are in the lead for 80 percent of all operations, and they conduct 85 percent of the training. That is progress we can all be proud of. And it makes us confident that the Afghan security forces will take full responsibility for security by the end of 2014.

We all know there are still challenges. They include insider attacks. This is a threat that our forces face, and so do yours. It is a common threat, and we are dealing with it together.

And let me make it clear. The enemies of Afghanistan may change their tactics, but they will not succeed. They will not undermine the trust we have built over the years and across this country. They will not divide us from our Afghan partners and friends. And they will not divert us from our mission, our strategy and our timeline.

The Afghan people can be proud that next year, your forces will be in the lead for security across the country. The year after that, you will hold presidential elections. I can assure you, you have the strong and long-term support of the whole international community. So you can look to the future with confidence, and build the future that you want and deserve. 


HAMID KARZAI (President of Afghanistan): Welcome to our press conference today. It's a great pleasure to welcome to Kabul His Excellency NATO Secretary General, who before, let me repeat again, before he took over as the Secretary General I have the pleasure of meeting him in Denmark where he was the Prime Minister. And after he assumed responsibility for NATO he has had several visits to Afghanistan during which he has continuously focused and made every effort on training and equipping of the Afghan Security Forces.

Today, during our meeting, we spoke about the transition and about as per the schedule, and even an early completion of transition and also talked about the need for the continued equipping and training of the Afghan Security Forces on Afghanistan's defence laws and procedures.

And I once again, welcome you, Mr. Secretary General. I extend my gratitude on behalf of the people of Afghanistan for all the efforts you have done and for the very well intention you have towards Afghanistan.

* * *

Q: Adrian Croft from Reuters. A question for President Karzai, please. In your opening statement you said that you had discussed transition and perhaps the early completion of transition. Could you expand a little on what you meant by that, whether the dates are being brought forward? Thank you.

HAMID KARZAI: Well, the transition is going on on schedule. It has taken place well. The Afghan government is ready to take responsibility and as the Secretary General of NATO said we are now more than 75 to 80 percent of our country's security is done by the Afghan Forces.

Afghans are ready to expedite the process of transition if necessary, and willing as well. So this is in all aspects good news for us and good news for NATO.

My statement was to express, or in other words, state on behalf of the Afghan people, our readiness to complete the transition and in case we do it before time we'll be ready and happy as well.

Q: First, I welcome you, Mr. Secretary General... NATO Secretary General, to Afghanistan. My question to the Secretary General is that Afghanistan forces have problem with heavy weaponry and a few times back the National Security Council decided that the Afghan Forces have to have the equipment necessary. What NATO can do in regards to such required weaponry?

And Mr. President, what would you answer to the recent meeting with the members of their Parliament? Why would you say that the two of the United Nations representatives be not in the commission? Thank you.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO Secretary General): On the provision of equipment for the Afghan Security Forces let me say the following: Individual NATO Allies have already done a lot to provide such equipment for the Afghan Security Forces. And I know that Allies are still working with the Afghan government and the Afghan Security Forces to identify further shortfalls when it comes to equipment.

It's clearly our intention to see the Afghan Security Forces fully capable to take full responsibility for the security all over Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And, of course, that also includes the provision of necessary equipment.

Let me add to that, that this is not only a question about the provision of equipment. It's also necessary that Afghan Security Forces are capable to actually manage such equipment and that has to be included in our training activities, to make sure that we not only provide necessary equipment, but also make sure that it can actually be used in a meaningful way by the Afghan Security Forces.

So we are very much focused on that aspect.

HAMID KARZAI: The issue of the presence of two internationals in the Elections Complaints Commission is a highly issue of national importance to Afghanistan's elections. For Afghanistan, as it moves toward a full self-reliance on the journey that we began following the adoption of our constitution, the presence of internationals or foreign representatives has been an issue... the issue of the presence of the three foreign or international in the Complaints Commission was because Afghanistan was transitioning to its own control of the elections issue. And we needed the backing of the United Nations.

But after we adopted a constitution, after we moved towards elections, the presence of the international... two or three international representatives for the 2009 presidential elections was an issue of heated debate between us and of the international community. Even then didn't want the presence, but we had to due to certain circumstances on conditions that their number be reduced from three to two and the Afghan number be increased and that the... and then the law stated later that we needed no foreign or international presence. Because elections in every country in the world is absolutely a national sovereign issue of those respective countries. And now that Afghanistan is a sovereign state and Afghanistan, a country, is having a constitution does not need the presence of an international within the Complaints Commission.

But that does not mean that we do not need international observers. We need their observations. But their intervention within the election process goes against the Afghanistan sovereignty.

Q: Thank you. My question is to you, Mr. President. The Pakistan government claims that Maulana Fazlullah, a senior Taliban commander, is in Kunar province of Afghanistan. He enjoys a presence there. Are you ready to hand him over if he is in Afghanistan? Are you ready to hand over Taliban commander, as Pakistan claims, if he is in Afghanistan?

And my other question is, that as you are aware that the elections will soon be held in the United States, if the Republicans become the owner what message will that convey to Afghanistan?

HAMID KARZAI: The presence of Maulana Fazlullah, as it's claimed by Pakistan on Afghan soil, or the presence of Taliban on Pakistan soil, senior Taliban leaders on Pakistani soil, is an issue that has been clearly discussed with the government of Pakistan.

So any movement by extremists or the Taliban Tariq of Pakistan or Afghanistan, goes back to the very main issue of safe havens and sanctuaries that they enjoy on the other side of the border in Pakistan and the threats that those sanctuaries and safe havens used against the security of Afghanistan and that has been an issue that the border area has been violated by the miscreants on both sides of the border.

And we hope that Afghanistan and Pakistan, as I have clearly stated in the past, join hands in sincerity, honesty and in full faith, to fight terrorism for the good and the interests of our people and of their future.

Look, it's been many years, and especially past ten years, where Afghanistan had the opportunity for progress and development, where Afghanistan was able to send millions of children back to schools. But unfortunately we saw attacks against the school students, against scholars, against politicians, against religious clerics and against community leaders. Our schools were burned by terrorists. Even mosques were burned, the holy books and the scripts, Koran, was burned by those who were sent to destroy us.

Three to four years ago the same process, unfortunately, began in Pakistan, especially in the tribal areas across from the Durand Line in Pakistan. We just saw Malala Yousafzai, a girl who just did everything and raised her voice for education and rights of children was attacked brutally and got wounded. So I hope that this better reality, which is attempt on the life of the school children is something that every one of us, our brothers and sisters in Pakistan to understand the gravity and the consequences of use of terrorism as a foreign policy, as a tool of foreign policy. This is in their own loss, this does them more damage.

Again, I call on my brothers and sisters in Pakistan to join hands with us in fighting the evil of terrorism, because this threatens the future of both our countries. So the answer to your question is that extremism should be an issue that both countries have to take joint actions against, only in sincerity and honesty. We cannot use extremism as a tool. It's just like using a snake, keeping it in the back yard and it will one day... it will one day attack yourself if you're keeping it to attack others.

We equally are happy of education and of access to education to the children in Pakistan, so we are happy to see education provided to all the two countries, and this is an important issue that the two countries have to understand.

And on the U.S. elections, I don't think the presidential elections in the U.S., whichever is the winner, Republicans or Democrats, the foreign policy is there, so whoever is in power will have to implement and act on the principles of their foreign policy. So Afghanistan does not interfere in their elections and we hope the same.

Q: (Inaudible...) attacks fatally damaged the NATO strategy to hand over to Afghan Security Forces national security?

HAMID KARZAI: Well, ma'am, this is a very important issue for us, this issue of the insider attacks is of strategic importance to Afghanistan. It's a very sad thing that we are facing. It has reasons that I'm not going to go to at this moment, but it is an issue that we are working on together with the other NATO Allies. And one that we shall, by all means, resolve. But it has not had an impact on the process of transition and the timing of transition and other aspects of our relations with NATO. Though it is a serious issue and one that we are very much aware of, and working on.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Let me just stress what the President said. We give it high priority. The President and I have discussed it. Also previously it has the highest priority to prevent these attacks. But I can assure you that they will not derail, neither our strategy nor our timeline. Our goal is to hand over full responsibility to the Afghan Security Forces by the end of 2014. Our strategy is to do it in a gradual process, province by province, and our timeline is to complete that process by the end of 2014.

And this goal, this strategy, this timeline, remain unchanged.