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|Updated: 16-Jul-2003||July 2003|
NATO Secretary General visits Central Asia
In Kazakhstan, the Secretary General met with President Nazarbaev, as well as the foreign, defence and emergency ministers. He reiterated the Alliance’s commitment to building closer ties with Central Asia in order to better fight common threats such as terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking.
Lord Robertson explained that enhancing its partnerships is a key aspect of the Allaince’s transformation to face new security threats.
NATO’s partnership programme, transformed at the 2002 NATO Summit in Prague, is now better geared to tackling these cross-border threats, but also to helping partner countries in their reform efforts.
“Fighting terrorism is a crucial challenge -- one that requires firmness and determination on the part of all our governments working together. But part of this effort must be to protect and promote democratic institutions, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law within our countries,” he said in a speech in Almaty.
The Secretary General repeated this message and the call for closer cooperation in Kyrgyzstan, in meetings with President Akayev, top ministers and parliamentarians.
"The terrorist attacks of 11 September fundamentally changed our security perceptions. It was understood that our security was linked closely to security in remote areas,” he emphasized.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have been NATO partner countries since 1994. Areas of cooperation included democratic and military reform, scientific cooperation, and civil emergency planning. In the aftermath of September 11, NATO has been steadily increasing its cooperation with the Central Asian states.
This was the second visit to the region by NATO Secretary General,
following one in 2000. Coming September, he is due to
travel to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,
as well as Afghanistan.