A New Chapter in Afghan-NATO Ties
24 Dec 2014
As we complete the international combat mission at the end of 2014, we
open a new chapter in the relationship between NATO and Afghanistan. The security of Afghanistan will be fully in the hands of the
country’s 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police. But NATO Allies, together
with many partner nations, will remain to train, advise and assist them.
We are not walking away.
This transition is what NATO and Afghan leaders agreed together. It has
been made possible by the courage and capability of the Afghan National
Security Forces, and by the dedication of the international forces who
helped train them over the past years.
In the recent weeks, we have seen horrendous attacks in Kabul, Paktika
and other parts of Afghanistan, which killed many Afghan civilians,
including children. Brave Afghan soldiers and police lost their lives to
keep their country secure. We condemn these inhumane acts in the
strongest terms. And to the perpetrators of those acts we say: your
efforts are in vain.
The Afghan security forces are the pride and the protection of
Afghanistan. They are a force for all Afghans, and all Afghans can be
proud of them. And we stand by them. Of course, many challenges remain, and there is much work still to do.
The Afghan security forces will continue to need our help as they
develop. And we will continue to provide that help.
Our new mission, "Resolute Support,” will bring together around 12,000
men and women from many parts of the world. The 28 NATO Allies will
contribute in different ways, joined by 14 partner nations. The United
States will be in the lead to train, advise and assist in the south and
east of Afghanistan. Germany will be in the lead in the north. Italy in
the west. And Turkey in the capital.
Our mission is based on a request from the Afghan government and the
Status of Forces Agreement between NATO and Afghanistan. Moreover, the
United Nations Security Council unanimously welcomed the agreement
between Afghanistan and NATO to establish the mission and stressed the
importance of continued international support for the stability of
We will also contribute to the financing of the Afghan forces. President
Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have pledged that
international funding will be handled efficiently, transparently and
accountably. That is important to our tax-payers, and we count on the
National Unity Government to live up to that promise.
Beyond forces and funding, NATO and Afghanistan will build something
still stronger: an enduring partnership which reflects our joint
interests, shapes our joint cooperation and contributes to our shared
security. We will enhance practical cooperation, including building the
capacity of Afghan security institutions, and hold political dialogue
and regular consultations on a range of topics of mutual interest.
We discussed this together with President Ghani and Chief Executive
Abdullah at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels this
month. Together, we agreed to set up a joint task force to begin putting
the partnership into practice for the benefit of our nations.
As we start to write this new chapter in our partnership, it is also the
time to look back. For over a decade, NATO and our partners have stood
with Afghanistan. 51 different nations have contributed – over a quarter
of the countries of the world. The International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) has been the largest military coalition in recent history
and represents an unprecedented international effort. The mandate of the
United Nations Security Council was to help the Afghan authorities
provide security across the country and develop new Afghan forces.
This mandate was carried out at great cost, but with great success. We
will always remember the sacrifice of international and Afghan forces,
who deserve our respect and our gratitude.
Thanks to the remarkable effort of our forces, we have achieved what we
set out to do. We have made our own nations safer, by denying safe haven
to international terrorists. We have made Afghanistan stronger, by
building up from scratch 350,000 strong security forces. And together,
we have created the conditions for a better future for millions of
Afghan men, women and children.
I visited Afghanistan not long ago. I saw the quiet pride of ISAF
soldiers about what has been achieved, despite so many challenges. I saw
the strong determination of Afghan forces. And I spoke to young
Afghans, who have high hopes for their future.
Afghanistan is already a different country from what it was thirteen
years ago. It is worth remembering what the situation was over a decade
ago, after the dark days of the Taliban. There was little government and
little security. The ministries in Kabul lacked not just telephones and
computers, but even desks and chairs.
Now, the Afghan army and police are over 350,000 strong. Afghanistan has
made the largest percentage gain of any country in the world in basic
health and development indicators. Maternal mortality is going down,
life expectancy is rising, and there is a vibrant media scene. This year
millions of people exercised their right to vote, and the National
Unity Government was established.
So despite all the challenges, Afghans now live longer, have more
opportunities to work, and have a better chance of a better future than
at any time in their history. And there is a clear government commitment
to continue vital reforms, including in the areas of good governance,
accountability, and human rights, including rights for women.
As 2015 dawns, it brings a new responsibility for Afghanistan, a new
mission for NATO, and a new degree of partnership between us. We have
stood shoulder to shoulder for over a decade to maintain and enhance
security for the Afghan people and our own citizens. Now we are proud to
write together a new chapter in our relationship. For the security of
Afghanistan, and our own.
"An Article by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Pajhwok Afghan News"