NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
Welcome, and a very good morning to you all. Let me especially
welcome Antonio Martino of Italy and Rui Pena of Portugal
who are with us for the first time.
I do not think we can start our proceedings today without
recalling the horror of the terrorist attacks which were
perpetrated against the United States two weeks ago, in
which so many of our citizens lost their lives. I suggest
that we stand and observe one minute of silence in honour
of the victims and their families.
These barbaric acts are an intolerable assault on humanity
and the values we all share. They are an affront to everything
this Alliance stands for and they are a direct threat
to international peace and security.
That is why the Council in Permanent Session decided
on 12 September that, if it was determined that the attack
was directed from abroad, it should be regarded as being
covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty in other
words that this attack on the United States was an attack
upon all the Allies.
The first aim of our meeting today is to strengthen further
our cohesion, cooperation and solidarity on this and on
the other key issues facing the Alliance.
Besides addressing the implications of the attacks on
the United States for Alliance security, we will review
the situation in the Balkans and the progress of our military
Over lunch today we will also discuss our relations with
Russia, which will help to prepare for our meeting with
Minister Ivanov later today.
Before I ask the press to leave, let me say a word about
the change in venue for this meeting.
As you know, we had hoped to hold this meeting in Italy.
The Italian authorities had made meticulous preparations
for the event. Needless to say, I had complete confidence
in those preparations, including with respect to the security
of the meeting.
Nevertheless, I took the decision late last week- after
consultation with Prime Minister Berlusconi- that it would
be unwise to move so many key staff away from this headquarters
at a time when we need to be functioning at full capacity.
I want therefore to thank our Italian colleague for his
patience and understanding in cooperating with this change
of venue, as well as for the immense amount of work that
went into preparing for the meeting in Naples. I also
very much appreciate the willingness of the Belgian authorities
to support this meeting in Brussels at such short notice.
As our programme is tight, I suggest we start our work
without delay. May I therefore invite the members of the
press to leave the room? Thank you very much.