Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


8 June 2005

Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the
meeting of the North Atlantic Council
at the level of Defence Ministers with non-NATO ISAF contributors

8 June 2006 - NATO HQ
Defence Ministers Meetings
Audio file of the opening remarks

Good morning. Let me extend a warm welcome to the representatives of the ISAF contributing nations to this special session on Afghanistan. This meeting underlines the importance of Afghanistan for NATO Allies and Partners.

Let me also, on behalf of all of us, welcome Minister Rahim Wardak. It is a pleasure to have Minister Wardak here. He is a man who has fought for his country in the field, and he is a leader in the creation of Afghanistan’s modern defence institutions. As deputy Defence Minister and now Minister, he has presided over the very significant build-up of the Afghan national army. He is a key partner in our common cause of assisting the Afghan Government in providing security for its people.

Afghanistan is a long-term commitment, and Allies are resolved to provide our mission with the military tools to do the job, as demonstrated by the substantial forces deployed and deploying in theatre.

Our objective is to assist the Government of Afghanistan in providing security, thereby paving the way for reconstruction and development.

Of course, we do this in close cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan. And while NATO is doing its part to assist Afghan security forces, I know the Afghan authorities are committed to doing their part to ensure that the people of Afghanistan enjoy the benefits of security, democracy and development.

NATO’s expansion must be matched by corresponding efforts on the part of the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community to address the full range of challenges we face, including narco-trafficking.

To succeed in Afghanistan, the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations, the EU, the G8 and others, including NGOs, must continue and enhance their efforts. I will be blunt; more resources are urgently needed for reconstruction and development.

Together we have made significant progress to date. Afghanistan has now an elected president, an elected parliament, elected provincial councils and the roots of a democratic and free nation.

We are under no illusion, however, that our future task will be easy. Challenges and dangers lie ahead. But we must meet them together. We must ensure the progress achieved is not compromised by the opponents to democracy.

So, on the eve of NATO’s expansion in Afghanistan, my message is that:

The Alliance , and indeed the whole International Community, will work shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan Government, each doing its part to make our collective mission a success.
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