|Updated: 12-Aug-2003||NATO Speeches|
11 Aug. 2003
Lt. General Godderij
You Excellency, President Karzai, Ministers of Defense of Afghanistan and Germany, Deputy secretary-general of NATO, Generals, ladies and gentlemen.
It has been six months already since the German-Netherlands Army Corps had the honor of assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). That change of command marked the start of the first operational mission for the bi-national army corps, which at the time had only just acquired its status as High Readiness Forces Headquarters. A mission during which ISAF suffered several tragic losses as a result of attacks and other incidents. Nonetheless, ISAF has succeeded in increasing the security and stability in the area of responsibility. This is partly thanks to an increase in the number of ISAF patrols and the intensified cooperation with the Afghan military and civil authorities.
We are all very pleased indeed to see that normal everyday life in Kabul is being resumed to an increasing extent. This not only apparent from the ever more hectic traffic in the city, which many of us regard with a certain sense of wonder, but also from the street trade, which is flourishing again. Another example is the repair work at Kabul International Airport, which has now reached an advanced stage. Slowly but surely, Kabul is becoming accessible to the outside world again. The most important indication of the positive turn we have now taken, however, is the support that the ISAF mission receives from the population of Kabul. Thanks to ISAF, the people here have hope for a better future and thanks to your important work, Kabul has become a relatively safe island surrounded by what is still a war-torn country. I would like to compliment the outgoing commander of ISAF, Lieutenant General Van Heyst, and his deputy, Brigadier General Bertholee, on the efforts of the ISAF headquarters over the past period. You and your people have proved that you can indeed be successfully deployed anywhere in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We are here today to witness the ISAF
change of command. This change of command also heralds the
conclusion of the greater part of the Dutch contribution to
ISAF. From the outset of the ISAF mission, the Netherlands
took its responsibility and immediately made one infantry company
available. Together with the Dutch ISAF staff personnel, 2,250
Dutch military personnel have done their important jobs here
in Afghanistan over the past two years, in excellent cooperation
with soldiers from many other participating countries.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation for the courage and efforts of all military personnel taking part in the ISAF mission. I wish our AFNORTH colleagues, who will command ISAF over the coming period, every success and I hope that they, together with the Afghan authorities, will be able to make a further contribution to a peaceful and stable future for Afghanistan.