|Updated: 12-Aug-2003||NATO Speeches|
11 Aug. 2003
General Van Heyst, I wanted to speak in our native Dari and Pashto. But while you were talking I decided to speak in English too. You could have spoke in German. You didn’t. So I will speak in English too.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear soldiers. The experience of ISAF in Afghanistan is a very particular, unique experience of cooperation and defending peace for a country and a people that has gone through two and a half decades of oppression and violation of rights. The flags that I see here today of all of the nations that have contributed to the peace of Afghanistan are the flags that all of the people of Afghanistan will remember. These flags today show us also the best example of international cooperation in helping another member of its kind; the people of the world. And the people of Afghanistan are very, very grateful. From the establishment of ISAF in Kabul to the efforts of General McCall, the British leadership, from the Turkish leadership of ISAF, to the German and Netherlands leadership of ISAF, the people of Kabul and the surrounding area of Kabul have seen better progress toward peace, better stability and more progress.
Today we have a truly international city. Today we have a
city where people can come and invest. Today we have in this
city a Thai restaurant that we have never heard of in Afghanistan
before. Today we have restaurants from India and China. We
have investments from countries that never dared think of coming
here in the past thirty years.
The reputation of ISAF in Afghanistan is so great that when the members of the constitutional commission went around the country to talk about the constitution with the people outside of Kabul, they were first asked if they could also have ISAF in their provinces. This speaks in a very simple, straight way of the importance that the Afghan people give to the service you provide to Afghanistan. The Afghan people are grateful to you and the Afghan people would like to build on the success that you have achieved in Afghanistan. And the Afghan people are grateful to all the nations that have contributed to ISAF, particularly the countries that have contributed in a very significant manner, the UK, Turkey, Germany, Holland and all other nations.
I am very happy to see the successful fulfillment of the third ISAF mission in Afghanistan. I am also very happy to see NATO, a leading world organization, taking responsibility for ISAF in Afghanistan. In the continuation of this mission I am certain this task will be fulfilled in the most effective and professional manner, in the provision of security for the Afghan people. The peace you are bringing us today through your contribution is bring to the people of Afghanistan institution building for the future of this country. Institution building so the Afghan people will eventually stand on their own feet. And that is what the Afghans want, that is what you are helping us for.
The Afghans remember my friends, the loss of life that you have. We feel very, very sorry for that. For the four soldiers that were killed by terrorists, for the more than 60 soldiers that died when they were fulfilling their duties after they left here and others who died of natural causes. We will remember them all, and we wish those who are serving now security and safety. While you bring us security and safety, it is also our job to try and make sure that your safety and security is ensured in our country. It’s a two way street. And we will do all that we can. We appreciate your work. We say goodbye and we remember those that are leaving us, General Van Heyst, and we welcome General Gliemeroth and NATO. We will be friends as we were before.
Thank you very much.