Updated: 06-Mar-2002 NATO Speeches

6 March 2002


by NATO Secretary General
at the unveiling of the work
by the British painter Ashley Jackson
commemorating the 11 September 2001 attacks
in the United States

Friends, colleagues,

Today we are here almost six months from the terrible events of 11 September 2001 for a simple ceremony to unveil a remarkable painting of what happened that momentous and tragic day.

This is a powerful work of art born out of the personal feelings of one of Britain's most distinguished artists who reacted with emotion and passion to what he saw happening on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Ashley Jackson has given this painting to NATO as a mark of his respect for what he described to me as 'the World's Guardian Angel' - an Alliance of free nations united by the fundamental values of human rights, freedom before the law and democratic choice.

This painting has already had a deep impact on those who have seen it, and it will continually serve to remind us of what happened that day and add to our commitment to ensure that such acts of criminal terrorism do not happen again.

The painting will hang outside this Conference Room here in the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO because in this room on the evening of 11 September, the Ambassadors of NATO met, in shock, to give first consideration to the violent attack on one Ally and what it meant for the Alliance and indeed for the world. I opened that meeting with these words:
"I called this meeting this evening as an act of solidarity with the American people on this day of outrageous tragedy.

This is a day we will all remember for the rest of our lives because of the wanton savagery of what has happened in New York and Washington DC and in Pittsburg.

It is right and appropriate that this Council, the highest organ of the North Atlantic Alliance, should meet to reflect on this act and to express our sense of shock and feelings of sympathy for the millions of people who will be affected by the violence of this day.

We mourn for the people dead and we stand with those who will have been bereaved or touched by these attacks. It will take some time for the full scale of the horror to be discovered but it already seems clear that this is possibly the worst outrage of its kind ever seen.

As an Alliance we live every day in the world of defence and security and of military matters and we study and plan routinely for all possible threats - but I am sure I am not alone in saying that what has been seen on TV screens across the world today simply beggars belief.

This, for the Alliance, is a moment for sadness and grief but also for resolution and conviction. That is why I thought it important to meet this evening and to tell the world that we stand beside our allies, the American people, in their loss."

Ashley Jackson has used the power of the brush and the vividness of paint on canvas, to make a striking statement about 11 September.

He helps us to remember, even if it seems impossible ever to forget. He tells us why this Alliance invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, and this artistic image recalls for us why the job of ridding the world of terrorist violence is still not over.

But it will yet be over, and in acting decisively as we do against this monstrous challenge, the legacy will be a better, safer world.

I would now like Ashley Jackson to say a few words and to be followed by Ambassador Nick Burns of the United States following whose remarks we will stand in silence for a minute to mourn those who died and the countless people touched by that day.


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