|Updated: 11-May-2005||NATO Speeches|
11 May 2005
by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the North Atlantic Council meeting with non-NATO ISAF contributors
It is my pleasure to welcome President Karzai in his first visit to the North Atlantic Council, with Non-NATO Troop Contributing Nations. A warm welcome also to Dr Abdullah, Dr Rasool and Dr Qasemi.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr President and all your dedicated team, on your important work and contribution to making Afghanistan a democratic, secure and stable State.
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative, Minister Cetin, to the Special Representative for the European Union for Afghanistan, Mr Vendrell, as well as to Ms. Ameera Haq, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Afghanistan. Your attendance at this meeting is a further sign of NATO’s commitment to work in full co-operation with the international community.
Today’s meeting is a timely opportunity to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the enormous progress achieved so far, as well as the challenges ahead, in particular the National Assembly Elections on 18 September and, further down the road, the post-Bonn strategy. We are looking forward to hearing your views, Mr President, on all these issues, in particular on your country’s key priorities ahead.
As far as NATO is concerned, ISAF is now expanding to the West and I am confident that we will have reached Initial Operational Capability in the next few weeks and Full Operational Capability by next September. Work is also already underway within NATO on ISAF’s further expansion to the South, with a view to completing such expansion by mid-2006.
A further key priority for NATO is its support for the parliamentary elections on 18 September. To that effect, military planning for ISAF election support is in train, based on an approach similar to the one we took for our support during the Presidential elections last year.
Moreover, the relationship between ISAF and OEF remains crucial to the success of the international community’s engagement and work is underway within NATO on increasing the synergy between the two operations.
Finally, on the question of the post-Bonn process, we look to the Afghan authorities, who are in the lead of course in this regard, and we are prepared to work with you and your team, Mr President, and all relevant international actors.
Against this background, I will now give President Karzai the floor for his introductory statement.
Mr President, the floor is yours.