Opening statement

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations, Brussels, 4 December 2009

  • 04 Dec. 2009 -
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  • Last updated: 04 Dec. 2009 19:06

Head of the table: Centre: NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen Centre left: Ambassador Claudio Bisogniro (Deputy NATO Secretary General) Centre right: Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola (Chairman of the NATO Military Committee)

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this morning’s meeting of 43 ISAF countries.  Let me extend special welcomes to the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea whose nation will soon formally become an ISAF contributor with a significant contribution; Foreign Minister Spanta of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Baroness Ashton, the EU’s new High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, and Kai Eide, the UN Special Representative in Afghanistan

There is no doubt that 2009 has been a difficult year.  International and Afghan forces have suffered many casualties.  And the political process in Afghanistan did not meet our expectations, or those of the Afghan people.   That much is clear to everyone.

But today’s discussions and decisions are part of the launch of a new phase in our mission.  In 2010, we will have substantially more forces on ground, from NATO Allies and Partners across Europe and beyond.  There will be millions more in development assistance, and better delivery of that aid, to help the Afghan people live better lives.  The Afghan Government will be held firmly to the commitments it has made to improve governance and to fight corruption, so that the Afghan people turn to their elected leaders, rather than to extremists.  And starting next year, we will move forward with transition, as we begin to hand over security responsibility to the 180,000 Afghan forces we have already trained – while training more new Afghan forces than ever before.

Because of all of this, the Afghan people, and the citizens in all troop-contributing nations will see a new momentum in this mission next year.  Of course, there are no silver bullets, no magic solutions.  It will still take more time, more commitment and more patience to reach our shared goal.  We will also work even more closely with all our partners on the ground – first and foremost the Afghan Government, as well as with the UN, and all our civilian Partners.  Because if this international effort is to succeed – and it will – it must be a true team effort.

The fact remains that what happens in Afghanistan has a direct effect on our own security.  Which is why this Alliance, and our Partners will do what is necessary, for as long as necessary, to finish the very necessary job we have taken on.