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The Atlantic Council of the United States

Young Atlanticist Summit

Frederick Kempe,
President and CEO,
The Atlantic Council of the United States

Anders Fogh Rasmussen,
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Location: Sax Hotel, Chicago, Illinois

Time: 8:30 a.m. CDT
Date: Saturday, May 18, 2012 

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

IVETA CHERNEVA (?): Good morning; good morning. I think Chicago registered the warmest day today and I just think that we could hope that this would be an indication of the temperature of debate which is to come over the following days.

Today, this morning in the audience we have rising leaders – young rising leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. We also have the current leaders of today. Our honorary guest does not only lead, however; he leads the leaders within the NATO framework, working with the alpha actors of today for the common policy and vision of the alliance.

NATO is at a critical juncture today, facing a set of financial and political issues and challenges. And I believe that his presence here today at exactly a moment like this sends a strong message. In fact, he’s already honored us with his presence at the Lisbon Young Atlanticist Summit in 2010, for which we are certainly grateful and we hope to turn into a continued partnership and a tradition of engagement.

To open the Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit of 2012, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in warmly welcoming NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. (Applause.)

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Where am I supposed to sit? Here? Thank you.


MS. CHERNEVA (?): Yup.


Good morning, everybody. Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I would like to right from the outset a particular tribute to Iveta, who I understand will be playing the part of NATO secretary-general this afternoon during the North Atlantic Council simulation. I wish you good luck. (Laughter.) And if you manage to get all nations to agree to everything on the agenda, then perhaps we can talk later – (laughter) – and you can give me some tips for my meetings tomorrow. (Laughter.)

It is indeed great to be back in Chicago. As many of you may know, my son settled with his family in America. Of my four grandchildren, two are European and live in Denmark and the other two live in Springfield, the capital of Illinois. So for me, the relationship between Europe and America is very strong, very close and very personal.

But I’m not the only one here today who has a special interest in the transatlantic relationship. I’m happy to see Fred Kempe, the chief executive officer of the United States Atlantic Council, and Damon Wilson, the council’s executive vice president. You have dedicated your lives to reinforcing the links between Europe and America. And I want to thank you both for your dedication. And I thank you and the U.S. Atlantic Council for cosponsoring this event.

Our other cosponsor is the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Its president, Marshall Bouton, is also here with us this morning. Marshall, we had had a wonderful welcome here in Chicago and we are very grateful indeed.

Many of you will know Professor Nwanze from Howard University in Washington. He has been organizing modern NATO for 27 years and introducing more and more American, Canadian and European students to NATO and alliance issues. Professor, you do a great job promoting NATO and we are delighted to see you here.

And last but by no means least, let me thank Fran Burwell. It’s Fran who has done all the hard work and put this conference together. So Fran, from me and on behalf of everyone here this morning, thank you for this fantastic work you’ve done.

I’m sure that last night many of you were out and about enjoying the delights downtown. And I can think of no better host city for a NATO summit than Chicago. As you have seen, it’s diverse, dynamic. It brings together people from many countries and backgrounds. In short, it’s a lot like NATO. Chicago draws inspiration from its people and, in turn, the city inspires others around the world. And I’m sure it will inspire all of us at our summit

But before we discuss the decisions we will be taking at the NATO summit, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your interest in our alliance. You are the future, whether you are one of the Young Atlanticists or one of the winners of NATO’s iRep contests or one of the members of the model NATO team from Howard University or one of the 12 Fulbright students from Afghanistan.

It’s great to see you all here, particularly so early in the morning. I’m really looking forward to hearing your questions and your views. We have come here to Chicago to discuss, to debate and to decide. We face a wide range of security challenges and we will take the necessary decisions to ensure that our alliance can meet those challenges. There are three issues in particular that will feature prominently at this summit.

The future stability of Afghanistan, the military capabilities we need to do our job, and working more closely with our network of partner countries around the globe.

Now, over the next two days, we will take stock of the progress we are making in Afghanistan and we will set out our plans for the future. Our goal is to make sure that Afghanistan will never again be a safe haven for terrorists – terrorists who use the sanctuary of that country to plan horrendous attacks such as those on 9/11.

And we are making good progress towards that goal. With our help, Afghan forces are already in the lead for providing security for half the country’s population. And they are growing more capable and confident day by day. I saw Afghanistan special forces training outside Kabul just a few weeks ago and I was truly impressed. Last Sunday, President Karzai announced a major group of provinces, cities and districts which will make the move to Afghan security year in the coming weeks.

Once this decision is implemented, transition will have begun in every one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, including every provincial capital. And three-quarters of the Afghan population will be looking to their own forces for their own security. Next year, we will reach a really significant point in our shared journey because that is when the Afghans will be in the lead for providing security throughout their country. This means that we will gradually shift our role from combat to support.

And by the end of 2014, Afghans will be fully in charge of their own security. That is when our ISAF mission will come to an end. This does not mean the end of our commitment. And we will make that clear here in Chicago. We will lay out how we will continue to support Afghanistan and its people beyond that date. We expect to have a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces so they remain strong in the years to come. We will also play a full part in sustaining the Afghan forces.

But there is an important role for other members of the international community too, particularly in the areas of reconstruction and development and also in helping the Afghan authorities to build the institutions that are necessary to run a country effectively and fairly. And of course, it is for the Afghans to shape their own future. They have pledged to preserve freedom, democracy, the rule of law and fundamental human rights.

And of course, that includes women’s rights. For Afghanistan, it’s crucial that women are allowed to play their full part in shaping the future of the country. And we expect the Afghans to honor these commitments. Let me be clear. NATO will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan so that we can help Afghanistan to offer a better future to all of its citizens and more security for all of ours.

And we will underline that commitment at our summit here in Chicago. Now, the second key subject on our agenda will be capabilities. NATO is judged by what it does and this requires us to have the right capabilities. We will set out our vision of NATO Forces 2020. Military forces that are strong, flexible and deployable, forces that can work alongside each other and that can cope with the full range of security challenges we might face.

However, paying for such capabilities is not easy, especially when defense budgets are being slashed across the alliance. But there is a solution. It’s called smart defense. By adopting a new approach, the smart defense approach, we can do better with what we have.

This means setting clear priorities for what we should spend our defense dollars and euros on. It means specializing in what nations do best. And it means working more closely together to provide capabilities that no single nation can afford – maybe except one.

Let me give you an example of what smart defense means. At our last summit in Lisbon, we agreed to build a system to protect NATO’s European populations and territory from missile attack. Nations are making individual contributions and NATO is bringing it all together into a single system. On its own, no nation would be able to provide this level of protection for its people. But by working together through NATO, they can.

It’s cheaper and much more effective. This is smart defense in action. And at the summit, we will adopt smart defense as a new approach to help us turn our vision of NATO Forces 2020 into reality.

The third subject I want to touch on is partnership. In today’s world, threats know no borders and respect no country’s sovereignty. They require the broadest possible cooperation between nations and organizations. Here again, NATO has been hard at work. It is at the center of a vast network of security relationships with countries around the globe, from Austria to Australia, from El Salvador to Singapore and from Morocco to Mongolia.

Our summit this weekend will be the biggest in NATO’s history. Some 60 countries and organizations are represented. And they are all coming together for a common purpose, to find common solutions to common challenges.

Twenty-two partners have joined our 28 allies in helping to bring stability to Afghanistan. In Kosovo, eight partners are helping NATO to preserve peace. And partners from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa provided essential political and operational support for our operation in Libya last year.

At our summit, we will build on this success by strengthening our ties with our partners. Ladies and gentlemen, NATO is the security partner of choice for many countries across the globe. NATO remains unmatched in its ability to deter potential military threat and to deploy forces to manage crisis. By standing together, all allies can get more security than by going it alone.

NATO offers the ultimate value and security for money. Dear friends, I began by describing my very personal family relationship to Europe and to America. NATO is the home for this very special transatlantic family of nations. It’s a home where we all share the same values: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And it’s a home where we are safe and secure. For over 60 years, NATO has successfully protected by generation.

Our decisions here at Chicago and your continued interest and engagement in NATO will help to protect your generation too – today, tomorrow and well into the future. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

FREDERICK KEMPE: Mr. Secretary-General, that was characteristically concise and strong and gave us a really good idea of what the next hours will be about for you. I think it’s fitting that in a way the launch event is a successor generation event. But I was just talking to Marshall in the hallway and it’s almost wrong to call this “Future Leaders” because so many, although they are young, are already leaders.

And they’re leaders in business. They’re leaders in academics. They’re leaders in their various ministries. They’re leaders in their military units. And so I don’t want to ask the questions right now, although it’s really hard for me to contain myself as a long-term Wall Street Journal editor. But so I’m going to go straight to the leaders, the young leaders. And let’s get into a good conversation.

But on behalf of everyone, I want to personally thank you because I know this is one of the things you’re most passionate about is the next generation. And at a hinge point of history, we see this meeting as particularly important because we’re not just going to have them here but we’ll keep them together.

And personally, they’ll stay together. They’ll be giving us suggestions about how to take this forward. They’ll be together on Facebook and even if they haven’t bought stock in the last couple of days. (Laughter.) But let’s go straight to the audience. Identify yourself and your question please, and your country.

Q: Ahmad Auhid (ph), from Afghanistan. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here. And I have two questions. My first question is: Could you please define who is the enemy of NATO in Afghanistan – just in one word?

And my second question is how is it possible to address the problem in Afghanistan without focusing on sanctuaries of those – you name it – Taliban, terrorists, al-Qaida; and we all know where they are. We all know where they reside, and why NATO hasn’t been really serious about it? Thank you.

MR. KEMPE: As you can see, the questions will be really easy ones. (Laughter.) Please.

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Yeah, on the first. The very short answer, of course, is that the Taliban is the enemy in Afghanistan. But actually, I think terrorists in general are enemies. But when speaking about Afghanistan, the Taliban is the enemy of Afghanistan. We will help the Afghan people to defend themselves against that enemy.

And despite all the headlines you very often see in the media, the facts on the ground are that we are seeing progress when it comes to security. During the first quarter of this year, we have seen a decline in the number of enemy-initiated attacks by around 20 percent compared to the same period last year. So we are seeing progress.

The Afghan security forces are making progress. Some weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Kabul and see some of the special operation forces in action. I was very impressed. I am confident that they will be able to take full responsibility by the end of 2014 – actually already now. They are in the lead of security for areas covering around half of the population in Afghanistan.

So we are on the right track. On sanctuaries – yes, of course you’re speaking about Pakistan. And we can’t solve the problems in Afghanistan without a positive engagement of Pakistan. We have to – we have to solve these problems. We have invited President Zardari to attend the summit. I expect to have a meeting with him this afternoon. And of course, I will convey a couple of very clear messages.

MR. KEMPE: Just on the Taliban, you say they are the enemy. Can one negotiate a solution with this enemy in this situation?

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Well, actually, I don’t know whether the Taliban leadership is prepared to negotiate a solution. Maybe not; I don’t know. But I think we should give it a try, provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Firstly, a reconciliation process must be led by the Afghans themselves. So the Afghan government must be in the driver’s seat.

Secondly, groups and individuals involved in that reconciliation process must abide by the Afghan constitution and respect human rights including women’s rights and certainly they must cut links to terrorist groups. If these conditions are fulfilled, why not give it a try? But, Fred, my point is the best way to facilitate a political process is to keep up the military pressure so that the Taliban realizes that they have no chance whatsoever to win militarily. So a continued and determined military campaign is the best way to facilitate a political solution.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you, sir. A question here, first the woman on the – a Turkish delegate.

Q: Yes. I’m from Turkey; Maria Sarain (ph). I’m working in the Turkish parliament. I would like to hear your evaluation about military’s cultural competency of the NATO in the Afghanistan case. As we have seen after the Koran burning, the cultural competencies seems to be failed in many respects at these stage. What do you think about how to advance the military’s cultural competency?

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: It’s an important point. I strongly regret the incidents we have seen. And General Allen, the commander of ISAF, has taken a number of important steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

And a part of the measures to be taken is to raise what you call cultural awareness and religious awareness. That’s of utmost importance. We can’t afford to let such very regrettable incidents undermine trust and confidence between our troops and the Afghan people.

Let me stress that the incidents we have seen do not in any respect represent the values we stand for, on the contrary.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. One here, and then I’ll go here.

Q: George Gumper (ph), delegate from Georgia. First of all, thank you very much for a very interesting presentation and for sharing your values about your family. We are very interested in membership and also the partnership from the Georgian perspective. We realize that this summit is not dedicated on enlargement process.

But during your last visit in Tbilisi, you affirmed that Georgia will become member of NATO. I have a question. What is the most challenging issue for Georgia on the way to NATO integration? Is it territorial integrity or demand for transformation and democratic reforms?

MR. KEMPE: And while you’re taking that on, perhaps you can talk about the absence of enlargement at this summit in general and whether this is a pause and then when we’ll go forward, how you’re viewing that as well. So: Georgia and enlargement.

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Well, I wouldn’t call it a pause, Fred. It’s a continued process. Our door remains open. That’s a very important signal to send from this summit. Our door remains open. I remind you that our open door policy is founded in the NATO treaty, Article X.

According to Article X, the alliance may invite any European country that can contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and is in a position to further the principles upon which our alliance is based. We may invite any such country to join our alliance. So it’s a treaty-founded principle, the open door policy.

And we will reaffirm our open door policy at this summit. But having said that of course, we also have to make sure that countries that join our alliance can actually fulfill the criteria for becoming fully-fledged members. And we are assisting the aspirant countries in that respect too. We help them to carry through the necessary reforms. And that brings me to the Georgia question.

No doubt that this summit will send encouraging messages to Georgia because Georgia has made remarkable progress when it comes to reforms. Let me remind you that already in 2008the NATO summit in Bucharest clearly stated that Georgia will become a member of NATO. That’s a clear statement. And we will reaffirm that at this summit as we have done at previous summits.

But we also – we would also like to make it very visible that we appreciate the progress Georgia has made. And actually, Georgia will be present at three very important events at this summit. Georgia will, of course, participate in the ISAF meeting because Georgia is one of our major contributors to our operations in Afghanistan for which we are very, very grateful.

Secondly, Georgia will participate in a partnership event – a special partnership event. And we gather 13 partners that contribute in a particular valuable way – economically, militarily or politically – to our operations. And Georgia is among these partners.

And thirdly, we have also organized a special event for aspirant countries – among them, Georgia, and by the way, also Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia, or formerly – I have to say the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

These four countries will meet at the level of foreign ministers. So Georgia will be present and in a very visibly way be among our core partners.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Please?

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Sorry, I forgot one thing. What is core issue? You hinted at it yourself. I think the elections this fall will be very important and how they are conducted will be observed with great interest.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you for that important statement. Please?

Q: Hi. My name is Kristin Durant. I am Danish-American, and I’m president of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association. We’ve done a little international competition where people could – young people could submit questions to you. So I have a question to you from Montenegro. And the question goes – it’s very much in relation to what you’ve just spoken about. But from Maria Martinovic (ph), from Montenegro; she wants to know what can the Western Balkans offer NATO, and are all Western Balkan countries ready to join NATO?

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: I think the countries in the Western Balkans can offer stability – stability in Europe. We all know the history of Europe. We all know that many conflicts in Europe have been rooted in the Balkans. I’m pleased to see that NATO and KFOR has been a guarantor of peace and stability in the Western Balkans since the late ’90s.

But now, I think countries in the region can contribute in a very valuable way to ensuring peace and stability in that part of Europe. And when you have a look at the map, you might call the Western Balkans – I would call it unfinished business. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has created the framework together with the European Union for reunification of Europe. We have ensured a Europe whole, free and at peace.

But I see the Western Balkans as an unfinished business. To complete this European integration process – and I would call it this European peace project – we need to include all – I stress all the countries in the Western Balkans in the Euro-Atlantic structures – that is, NATO and the European Union. And that would be a very valuable contribution from the countries in the Western Balkans.

I am very pleased to see how much progress Montenegro has made in that respect. It’s really significant what we have seen of progress in Montenegro. Definitely, there is still work to do but we have seen significant progress. As you may know, as far as Bosnia-Herzegovina is concerned, we have granted Bosnia-Herzegovina what I would call a condition-based membership action plan.

This membership action plan will be activated as soon as the country has implemented reforms of some defense provinces. And as far as Skopje is concerned, we have made clear that we are ready to start accession negotiations as soon as a mutually satisfactory solution to the main issue has been found. And I hope to see progress in our relationship with Serbia. So all in all, I appreciate what we have seen. More has to be done. But the Western Balkans are on the right track.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you, sir. There are so many questions that I’ll do my best. The gentleman with the glasses? And it’s very hard for me to know who was first. So I’ll do my best. Please?

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, thank you very much for hosting us. My name is Tami Mossi (ph). I represent – a delegate from Afghanistan. Briefly, I’m going to ask three questions. But before that, I would like to convey the gratitude of the Afghan people for the blood and the treasure, the sacrifices that the NATO members have done; and we’re extremely grateful for that. And as a result of that, millions of people are living and going to school – and like me, coming here and attending different summits.

The first question is what will be the nature and scope of the post-ISAF engagement and post-NATO engagement beyond 2014, because when this war started, it was a global war on terror. And wherever there were sanctuaries, wherever there was financing and wherever there was anybody hosting terrorism, proper measures should have been taken. But unfortunately, in the case of Afghanistan what has happened is that we know the sanctuaries are based in Pakistan. The leadership of Taliban are – they are in Pakistan.

But not much has been done for quite some obvious reasons and some of them unknown. We also know that Taliban are getting medical treatment in Iran and there are hospitals there. They are also provided logistics support through various reports that we read. Will the post-ISAF engagement, post-NATO engagement beyond 2014 include and address such questions?

The second question is about the question of how are we going to deal with the whole negotiation process with the Taliban? The Americans have one narrative. NATO has another narrative. The Americans are calling it as al-Qaida and their affiliates. They have a war there – and rather, NATO is now calling the Taliban the enemy.

And there’s also negotiation going on which frankly has not yielded into any result. And this negotiation has kind of legitimized the Taliban as an alternative political force in Afghanistan. So people are now looking at them as more of an alternative government in some cases. How would you address that question?

And lastly, we know that in Pakistan al-Qaida has been defeated and their sanctuaries and their network to some extent have been damaged. But now, they have shifted to Yemen, to Syria and to Somalia. Will NATO address the question of their movement or shifting the command structures to these other countries? Thank you very much.

MR. KEMPE: Given the importance of Afghanistan, we’ll give special dispensation that you got three questions. But for future delegates, it will be one each. And I think the new aspect of the Taliban question is are you not concerned that through negotiating you’re legitimizing a force that may not necessarily be a positive force. So these three questions?

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Yeah, but let me take that first. NATO – let me stress, NATO is not negotiating with the Taliban. As I stressed, such a process must be led by the Afghan government, the legitimate Afghan government must be in the lead of that process. So NATO is not negotiating with the Taliban. Let me stress that.

And I don’t think the Afghan people as such and in general consider the Taliban a legitimate alternative to the current government. According to opinion polls, it’s only a small minority – a very small minority of the Afghans that really would like to see the Taliban back. And now, when we see the progress we have achieved in Afghanistan, who would like to return to the dark ages of the Taliban regime?

Last year we saw growth of 17 – economic growth of 7 percent in Afghanistan. We have seen how a number of markets, lively markets, have been opened. I think I saw a figure that 80 percent of Afghans now possess a mobile phone. I mention this because that’s very important in today’s world to promote economic growth and economic interaction.

We see a very lively media environment in Afghanistan. How could you imagine the Taliban return when people have tasted that kind of freedom and modern society? Not to speak about the progress we have made within education – 8 million children go to school out of which more than 3 million are girls who were not allowed to get an education in the past.

We have seen progress within health. Life expectancy has increased. Child mortality has decreased. We see progress all over. I’m not going to paint a too optimistic picture, not in any way. Don’t make any mistake. There are still a lot of challenges in Afghanistan. But we should remind ourselves that we have seen significant progress. And I don’t think people want the Taliban back and destroy all that.

Now, on the post-2014 mission, we will stay committed, as I mentioned in my introduction. The core will be a training mission. So ISAF will end by the end of 2014; a training – a NATO-led training mission will take over. So the combat will be done by the Afghan security forces after 2014.

But we will be there to support the Afghan security forces. You asked me whether we are going to address the challenges of the sanctuaries and the too free flow of terrorists across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Well, as I mentioned, we have engaged and we continue to engage the Pakistani.

And as regards the international presence in Afghanistan beyond the NATO-led training mission, I would refer to the strategic partnership agreement that was recently approved between the United States and Afghanistan which also includes some security provisions.

Finally, on al-Qaida, well, I can’t imagine NATO traveling from country to country to fight al-Qaida. But I can assure you – I can assure you that we will do whatever it takes to protect our populations against terrorist attacks, also if it’s necessary to address that issue directly at the root.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Toward the back, on the left there, yes, please, with a – why don’t – we’ve got two people right next to each other. Why don’t you both ask a question since we’ve got the microphone over there.

Q: OK. My name is Adam Sanders (ph) – hello? My name is Adam Sanders, and I’m from Latvia. I’m one of the award winners. You were briefly talking about the smart defense and can you elaborate a bit on that because I know that countries like the U.K. are going to be slashing their defense budgets until 2012 quite rapidly.

And many countries are getting rid of their fleets, et cetera. So could you elaborate what’s the progress in that area – because I’m doing international relations and read a lot about NATO and its importance being diminished in international politics. Thank you.

MR. KEMPE: And let’s take one more next to you.

Q: Thank you. My name is Lawrence Cochran. I am from the United States. I am here with Dr. Nwanze’s program. To build on the smart defense question, I would like to as the secretary-general how important does he think that antiballistic missile defense is in the current, you know – with the current economic situation and smart defense. Thank you.

MR. KEMPE: That it may be endangered, the program. Yeah.

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: On smart defense in general, let me right from the outset stress that smart defense is not meant to be a smart way to cut defense budgets. But it’s a smarter way of spending the money we do have. And now, let’s be realistic. Now, let’s be realistic. During this period of economic austerity, we will be faced with declining defense budgets. Some of you might wish to see it differently.

But let’s face it. The political realities that governments are forced to make deep cuts to get their finances in order, to reduce deficits, to reduce debts and actually there is also a link between economics and security. If countries have too big deficits, if they are too indebted, they will also be too dependent and too fragile.

To put it bluntly, you can’t be safe if you are broke. So sound fiscal policies are also sound security policies. And of course, the defense and security sector must make a contribution also to bring the finances in order. So that’s my clear point of departure, also speaking as a former prime minister; I know what’s the reality.

If you force the minister of social affairs and education to cut budgets, you can’t argue – it would be political suicide – that the defense minister should be exempted from that exercise. So let’s face it. That’s the reality.

In that environment, we will now introduce this new approach that instead of going for purely national solutions, then let’s promote multinational cooperation because except for the United States most of – most of other allies will have increasing difficulties in the future to acquire expensive military equipment on their own.

But if they join forces, if they join efforts, if they pool and share resources, they can. We have an excellent example. Ten allies and partners have acquired three expensive transport aircraft in a joint project. Individually they couldn’t. But by pooling and sharing their resources, they have now acquired three expensive aircraft.

So we have now that capability at our disposal. Otherwise we wouldn’t. That’s smart defense and we will now expand that approach to other areas. And I think missile defense is an excellent example of such a multinational cooperation. I know that in the United States, there is a debate that missile defense is primarily a U.S. project.

And yes, the U.S. contribution is significant. But I think 10 European allies will also contribute to that overall system. We have just decided in a joint effort among 13 – now, it will be 14 because Denmark has joined again – a joint AGS project – Allied Ground Surveillance, it’s called – to acquire five drones. And we learned from the Libya operation we need that capacity. And now, 14 countries will acquire it in a joint effort. We also learned that we need Air-To-Air Refueling.

And European allies will now through the European defense agency acquire such capabilities. Just to mention that smart defense, it is about concrete projects. It’s about a new way of thinking, a more cooperative approach. So I think the economic crisis will really facilitate that new way of addressing the acquisition of military equipment.

And on a final note, yes, missile defense is indispensable. We are faced with a real missile threat. Thirty countries in the world have missile technologies or are aspiring to get it. Some of them with a range to hit NATO territory. And of course, against a real threat we need a real defense.

MR. KEMPE: It’s usually expensive.

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Well, the NATO part of this is not that expensive. We have already some years ago committed ourselves to developing what we call theater missile defense, that is, a missile defense to protect our deployed forces. The cost of that would be around 800 billion euros.

And on top of that, we can now protect not just our deployed forces but the whole population by connecting these theater missile defense systems with the U.S. system. And through this interlink, we can expand protection of deployed forces to be a protection of the whole population and the additional cost is just 200 billion euros.

So all in all, it’s a very good economic deal. Of course, there are national investments in that. But I think the protection of our populations is priceless.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Let me go here. Let’s take two questions right there and these are going to have to be the final two questions.

Q: Hello, Secretary-General. My name is Joshua Foust. I’m from the United States, with a think tank called The American Security Project. I have another question about smart defense actually relating to mediation. So the last three military engagements that NATO countries have been involved in haven’t had total consensus between member countries – in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Libya.

There have been very hard questions asked about which countries are continuing in which ways. So my question about the smart defense ideas is that if these countries are relying on each other to provide all of the necessary personnel and equipment toe engage in these missions, what’s the arbitration mission when they don’t agree on a single policy?

So if two countries have shared custody of, say, a transport airplane but only one of them wants to engage in a conflict, how do you actually mediate usage between those two countries? Thank you.

MR. KEMPE: Interesting question. And then one here in back – and I’m very sorry that I’ve been unable to get to everybody.

Q: Hi, Mr. Secretary-General. My name is Mark Sorrell. I’m a U.S. citizen and residing here in Chicago. Thank you for your remarks today. When you talk about smart defense, it sounds like a great plan around capabilities. My question, building somewhat off of what Josh just had to say, is around intent.

And my question is – going forward, there’s been a lot of talk about how Afghanistan and Libya are the kinds of engagements you won’t see NATO engage in in the future. And so there’s always been a kind of organizing principle for NATO and what its intent is with respect to threats are in the world. I’m wondering what you see as being some of those potential future threats that could be organizing principles for NATO’s intent going forward? Thank you.

MR. KEMPE: So that’s future threats and mediation. And let me close with one where I hope you can also put on. One of the great strengths you’ve brought to being secretary-general is you’ve also been the prime minister of a Eurozone country. You said earlier you can’t be safe if you’re broke.

How – what impact does this Eurozone crisis have on security issues? And what additional concerns does it cause for you at NATO? And let’s do that and wrap it up. I know you’re down to your last, you know, three or four minutes. And so if you need to keep these answer(s) short, I think we would all understand that.

SEC-GEN. RASMUSSEN: Yeah. First, I think I have to correct myself, using too big figures on the missile defense system because I think I spoke about billions. Actually, it’s less expensive. (Laughter.) I meant millions, so – and of course it makes a huge difference. But the figures are such are correct.

The theater missile defense system that NATO allies have committed themselves to already some years ago, the NATO part of that cost will be 800 million euros. And on top of that, by linking the systems, equivalent to a cost of 200 million euros, we will expand the coverage to be a coverage of the whole population instead of just deployed troops. So it is really from an economic point of view a very good deal. So I hope there will be no misunderstanding on that.

Now, if I understand the question correctly, it’s about what we call assured access, how to ensure that if countries join a multinational project, then these assets, these capabilities will actually also be deployed if they so wish. Now, if 10 countries have joint efforts and they have acquired multinational capability and one of them says, no, we will not accept this capability is deployed for this or that mission, what then?

And it is really a key question. We’re working on that because we have identified it as one of the key questions to be answered if we are to really reach a breakthrough in the use of multinational capabilities.

At the end of the day, it is of course a political question because we have to respect that it is national sovereignty to decide whether capabilities can be deployed. But already today we have multinational capabilities and very often they are based on a memorandum of understanding. And I think some political commitments could be put in such papers.

At least it will be a strong presumption that such a multinational capability would be available, could be deployed if needed. But we have to work on that. So you have really touched upon a key issue. Now, on future threats, well, I have already touched upon missile threats. I think that’s a real threat of the future. That’s why we are building a missile defense system. I think international terrorism will continue to constitute a threat.

I think in general the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will be a threat. So my point is that we have as a military alliance, as a security organization, we have to be ready for the unexpected. That’s actually the main thing that we are ready even for the unexpected. Finally, the Eurozone crisis and its implications for security – I have already touched upon it.

There is a direct link between security and economy. If your economy is weak, you have less resources for security. But the security challenges are still there. So it is really a key question: How you can provide security in a time of economic austerity? And that will be the theme of the first discussion among heads of state and government tomorrow afternoon. And I will put some tough questions on the table because we have to realize the economic and political reality.

We will not get more money for defense in the very near future. So we have to pursue a new approach to get more out of what we have, to make more efficient use of our resources. I hope that when the economy recovers there will be more resources available for the necessary investments in our common security.

But I consider this summit a very positive and convincing answer to the huge economic challenge we are faced with because I would expect heads of state and government to adopt a comprehensive defense package tomorrow afternoon, a defense package that will include a number of very concrete, very concrete defense capabilities, a commitment to acquire these. I have already mentioned missile defense.

I mentioned the Allied Ground Surveillance, the drone project, Air-To-Air Refueling, air policing of the Baltic States. More than 20 different multinational projects within which we have identified lead nations and participants. So I think this is the answer during this period of economic crisis, that despite the economic challenges, we commit ourselves to acquire the necessary military capabilities. We adopt a new approach, a more cooperative approach. I think that’s the way forward.

MR. KEMPE: Mr. Secretary-General, we’ve had questions from Afghanistan, from Turkey, from Georgia, from a Danish-American representing Montenegro, from a Latvian, from Americans. So you see the richness of this group. And I think on behalf of all of them, I want to thank you for honoring them with giving so much time, answering so frankly in this discussion. We also want to thank you for your leadership – your really remarkable leadership, and wish you the best in the coming hours.


MR. KEMPE: Thank you. (Applause.)


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