Updated: 26-Sep-2001 NATO Speeches

of Defence
26 Sept. 2001
Audio file

Opening Remarks

by 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 operations there.

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.

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