From the event


24 Oct. 2007

Opening statement

by Mr Eimert van Middelkoop,
Minister of Defence of the Netherlands
at the meeting of NATO defence ministers

Thank you Jaap for your warm words of welcome. It is a great privilege to host the NATO community here in Noordwijk.

We are very close to the sea and I consider that to be a good thing. The sea breeze may blow away some old ideas and may bring in some new, fresh ones. And I look forward to some real brainstorming and see where that will take us in discussing the challenges our Alliance is facing.

Today we will discuss our operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. The Netherlands have around 1700 man and women from the Dutch armed forces working in the south of Afghanistan to provide security and to train Afghan forces. I am glad to be able to discuss with you the challenges we face.

Furthermore I am looking forward to our discussion tomorrow on the defence transformation agenda for Bucharest. I can already say the Netherlands attaches great importance to the new thinking on force generation and examination of ways of helping overcome shortfalls.

As glad as I am we can have discussions on these important subjects. One thing is for certain: there is no such thing as a free ride to peace and security. It is not about what we are willing to say for a safer and more just world. It ultimately depends on what we are willing to do. Fair risk and burden sharing will remain the leading principle for this Alliance. 

With this in mind I trust we will have a productive meeting.

Thank you.