From the event


24 Oct. 2007

Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the informal meeting of defence ministers with ISAF contributors

Let me begin with a very warm welcome to all ISAF contributors, to Minister Wardak of Afghanistan, and to the representatives from the UN, EU and World Bank. Let me also apologize for coming late.

Our meeting today is already a message – that this is a team effort. NATO alone all by itself cannot help Afghanistan build lasting peace. We can only succeed if we all, civilian and military alike, pull our weight and pull together.

Are we making progress? I think we are. The Taliban remains on its back foot, unable to hold territory, capable only of terrorising the Afghan people with suicide bombs and kidnappings but the economy is the fastest growing in South Asia. More than half of the country is now at peace, and in these areas development is flourishing and poppy cultivation is down in those areas. These are success stories our publics who are in the front line need to see and need to hear.

It goes without saying that there are still huge challenges before us all. We will focus our discussion this afternoon on strengthening Afghan capacity. And we will look at how to ensure our so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams are effectively meeting Afghan priorities. Because our mantra is, and must be: Afghan lead and Afghan ownership.