Military

NATO Secretary General's monthly press conference

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Opening remarks

Good afternoon.

In Libya Operation Unified Protector is now in its second week. Together with partner nations, NATO is fully enforcing the United Nations mandate to protect the people of Libya.

NATO is taking vigorous action across Libya to prevent attacks against civilians and civilian centres. We are striking with care and precision to maximise the effect of our actions, while minimising the danger to civilians. This is in stark contrast to the pro-Gaddafi forces, who are besieging their own cities, shelling city centres. Gaddafi’s troops are hiding tanks in city centres, near schools and mosques. This is utterly irresponsible.

I am particularly concerned by the desperate plight of the residents of Misrata and Ajdabyia, who are terrorised by these brutal attacks.

NATO is keeping up the pressure to make the violence stop. Since Saturday morning, NATO aircraft have flown almost 300 sorties. We have destroyed 49 tanks, 9 armoured personnel carriers, 3 anti-aircraft guns and 4 large ammunition bunkers. The vast majority of the strikes took place near Misrata and Ajdabyia.

NATO and its partners have undertaken a challenging mission. It is our contribution to the world’s efforts to solve the Libyan crisis. I look forward to taking part in the Contact Group meeting in Qatar on Wednesday, which is set to provide the international framework for a lasting settlement.

I have also taken note of an African Union ceasefire proposal. Since the start of the crisis, NATO has been in constant touch with the African Union, as well as other regional and international organisations.

I want to be clear: there can be no solely military solution to the crisis in Libya. NATO welcomes all contributions to the broad international effort to stop the violence against the civilian population.

Any ceasefire must be credible and verifiable. As the United Nations Security Council has made clear, there must be a complete end to violence and a complete end to all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians.

Any solution to the crisis must respond to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people for political reforms.

NATO Foreign ministers will meet in Berlin on Thursday and Friday this week and begin the meeting by discussing the Libyan crisis. We will be joined by our partner countries in the Libyan mission – from across Europe and the Arab world.

Together with Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov, we will focus on Libya, missile defence and Afghanistan. The NATO Russia Council Helicopter Trust Fund is now up and running and will soon start to deliver a highly needed maintenance capability for the Afghan Air Force. This is an important signal of our joint commitment to stability in Afghanistan.

And we will meet our ISAF partners. The process of handing over lead responsibility for security to the Afghan Security Forces has already begun. NATO and the Afghan government have agreed an Enduring Partnership for the future. This sends a strong message that Afghanistan will one day stand on its own, but it will not be standing alone.

From Afghanistan to Libya, NATO and our partners are making vital contributions to bring security and stability. We are working with many other nations across the globe to help prevent crises, manage conflicts, and bring long-term stability.

And with that, I am happy to take your questions.



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