NATO reconfirms long-term commitment to Afghanistan
Speaking in London on 31 January, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer laid out NATO’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan, as part of the international community’s Afghanistan Compact.
“Our common goal, and NATO’s continuing, firm commitment, is to work with the Government and People of Afghanistan to ensure security and stability in their country,” Mr. De Hoop Scheffer told the conference.
He said that the growing number of NATO-led forces in the country – soon to reach over 16,000 – was a visible sign of the Alliance’s commitment.
The Secretary General was taking part in a major international conference which brought together leaders and international donors to discuss continuing international support for Afghanistan.
Military means not enough
The conference agreed a five-year “Afghanistan Compact”, which commits both the Afghan government and the international community to benchmarks in areas such as security, economic development and better government.
The Secretary General stressed that the Compact highlights correctly that "security remains a fundamental prerequisite for achieving stability and development in Afghanistan” but that "security cannot be provided by military means alone".
He said that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will expand its area of operations to the South and eventually throughout all of Afghanistan.
As present, the NATO-led force provides security assistance in about 50% of the country’s territory, in Kabul, the Northern and Western provinces.
The conference was hosted by the United Kingdom Government, co-chaired by Afghanistan and the UN. Its key aim was the launch of new plan for the international community’s support to Afghanistan following the conclusion of the so-called Bonn process.