Video: NATO Secretary General Press Conference on Syria and Turkey
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen briefs the media on the developments between Syria and Turkey as well as giving an update on Afghanistan. He then answers questions from the media. A transcript of his statement is below. This is also available in high definition. Good afternoon, Syria is still a matter of concern. We are following the situation closely. As you know, NATO’s core business is security. NATO is where North America and Europe come together every day to discuss the security issues which concern us. And NATO is where Europe and North America work together every day to find solutions. In NATO, any Ally can bring any issue to the table at any time. That is what makes us strong. That is what makes us an Alliance. That is why it is appropriate that Allies came together last week to discuss Syria’s outrageous shooting down of a Turkish aircraft. It is why we continue to follow developments very closely and with great concern. And why we remain actively engaged in political consultations. This is a crisis which directly affects one of our Allies. And one of the gravest security challenges the world faces today. We condemn Syria’s shooting down of the Turkish aircraft in the strongest possible terms. And we condemn the escalating spiral of killing, destruction and human rights abuses in Syria. The right response to this crisis remains a political response. And a concerted response by the international community against a regime that has lost all humanity and all legitimacy. That is why I welcome the meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The international community has come together. It has clearly endorsed a plan for a democratic transition to end the violence and answer the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. Now it is vital to enforce that political plan. Every member of the international community should use its influence and spare no effort to bring an end to the bloodshed and move Syria forward. This conflict has already gone on for too long. It has cost too many lives, and put the stability of the whole region at risk. The international community has a duty to put an end to it and to do it now. Let me turn to Afghanistan. We are working toward our goal of putting the security of Afghanistan in the hands of the Afghans. As we speak, half the Afghan population lives in areas where their own forces are in the lead for providing security. And over the coming weeks and months, that protection will extend to three quarters of the population. That means that, later this summer, those Afghans living in areas protected by their own forces will become the clear majority. This is a big step forward. A step towards our shared goal of seeing Afghan troops and police fully responsible for their country’s security by the end of 2014. It has been made possible thanks to the courage, skills and sacrifice of ISAF and our Afghan partners. There are still challenges to face and hard fighting ahead. But Afghanistan is making headway. Of course, security is just one of the challenges facing Afghanistan. And NATO is just one part of the solution. In the bigger picture of the future Afghanistan security, development and good governance all have to come together. And together, the international community and the Afghan people are putting the pieces in place. Over the last few months, we have built a strong framework of partnership and mutual responsibility. On which Afghanistan can rely as it stands on its own two feet. In May, the Chicago summit addressed security concerns, by sending a clear message that NATO will have a new mission to train, advice and assist Afghan security forces after 2014. In June, the Kabul conference sent a clear message of regional responsibility from the countries of Central Asia and their neighbors to support Afghanistan well into the next decade. And next week, the international community will come together in Tokyo to show its commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term economic development. Tokyo is a key opportunity to deliver aid commitments to ensure that Afghanistan continues to develop and remain secure long after 2014. Because even when Afghanistan is fully in charge of its own security, it will still be one of the poorest countries in the world. And the best way to maintain its security will be to help it face this challenge. That is why the Tokyo conference is so important. The international community has laid the foundations for growth, by supporting Afghanistan in areas such as transport, communications, healthcare and education. The Afghan people need to see that the international community will continue to build on those gains. At the same time, the international community needs to know that the Afghan authorities will live up to their commitments. President Karzai has already pledged to improve governance, and to fight corruption. To ensure the protection of human rights, including the rights of women. Delivering on those pledges is vital. We now have a once-in-a-generation chance to break the cycle of violence and extremism in Afghanistan. To build long-term security for Afghans, the wider region, and for ourselves. It’s a chance we must all seize. Also available in high definition.