21 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-214

Now Ruz Statement by Ambassador Daan Everts Senior Civilian Representative – NATO

On behalf of the Secretary General of NATO, H.E. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Ambassadors of the 26 NATO countries I would like to extend my sincere good wishes to the people of Afghanistan on the occasion of Now Ruz.

My Afghan friends and colleagues tell me that Now Ruz is a time for reflection.  It is also a time to look to better days ahead and better days are what I would wish for everyone in this country.   

For many Afghans a better life may appear a long way away off at the moment.  But I think it’s important to remember where Afghanistan was five years ago and what great strides have been made, with the help and support of many friendly countries and organisations including NATO. So much is different.  More schools and more children in them. More medical centres and healthier Afghans.  More roads and more transport on them.  More businesses and more jobs. 

I am not naïve.  Progress so far has been uneven and people rightly expect much more to be done.  There is no doubt in my mind, however, that Afghanistan is heading for much better times.  The reason that NATO and ISAF are here, is exactly to make this further progress possible, for the benefit of all Afghan communities and individuals.

My first hope for 1386 is that we see the return of security and accountable governance to those areas of southern Afghanistan that have been deprived of these essentials of normal life for too long.  Our ongoing operations in the south are first steps in this direction.  With the support from the people in these areas, we should be able to create the circumstances that will bring the security and stability that, together with improved governance, will bring investments in reconstruction and development and create jobs and growing prosperity for all.   

Secondly, I hope that the new investments that your Government, NATO countries and others are making in your police, army and judiciary will begin to produce visible results.  Spending money on better and more equipment; paying staff realistically; and managing resources and careers should create the security forces and justice system that provide the citizens with a new sense of individual security, freedom from abuse of power and access to fair justice.

Equally importantly, I hope that NATO and the ISAF forces continue to receive the high levels of support from the people that we have enjoyed over the past years.  NATO knows that it cannot operate effectively in Afghanistan without the support and consent of the people. We are here to serve you and any suggestion how to do this even better, will be welcome. We are looking forward to bring our cooperation with the Afghan people to new heights this year.

Sincere blessings in the New Year.

Now Ruz Utan Mubarak

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/