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Monthly press conference by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

06 Jun. 2011

Monthly press conference

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Good afternoon.

It is now just over two months since we launched the operation to protect the people of Libya under threat of attack. We have an historic United Nations mandate, and the contribution of several partners, including from the region. Together, we have made considerable progress.

We have taken the momentum. We have turned the tide of terror unleashed by the Qadhafi regime, we have saved countless lives and wWe have seriously degraded the ability of the Qadhafi regime to attack civilians and we have relieved the pressure on cities, such as Misratah.

The figures speak for themselves. Since NATO first took action to protect Libya’s people, we have kept up a high operational tempo, with over 10,000 sorties.

We have damaged or destroyed almost 1.800 legimate military targets. That includes around one hundred command and control sites – which Qadhafi used to organise attacks on civilians.

It includes over 700 ammunition stores – which he used to supply his attacks.

And almost 500 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and rocket launchers – which he used indiscriminately against his own people.

Our aircrews have conducted operations with the utmost care and precision to avoid civilian casualties. And the effect is clear to see: Qadhafi has lost his grip over much of the country. Every day, those closest to him are defecting and deserting. And his regime is increasingly isolated, at home and abroad.

Thanks to our operations, a growing number of people in Libya can return to normal life, without facing the daily threat of shelling. Aid can flow in from the north, the east and the west. And across Libya, people can begin to plan a future founded on freedom – not on fear.

However, the Qadhafi’s regime still poses a threat. Last week, the United Nations commission of inquiry reported that his forces have committed widespread and systematic war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, persecution and sexual abuse. It is an appalling catalogue of crimes. And those very same forces are still launching indiscriminate and illegal attacks against cities such as Zintan.

That’s why we agreed to extend our mission by a further 90 days. We have intensified our military pressure and we are determined to continue our operation for as long as it takes.

Our message to the people of Libya is clear: NATO and Partners is protecting you.

Our message to the Qadhafi regime is clear: we started this mission, and we will complete it.

And our message to the international community is also clear: We committed ourselves to implementing the United Nations mandate, and we are keeping our commitment. Our operation is paving the way for a political solution. So that the people of Libya can shape their own future.

On Wednesday, Defence Ministers of NATO and our contributing partners will take stock of the progress we’ve made and to look ahead. And I expect us to begin discussing how we prepare for the day after Qadhafi goes.

Because that day is coming. Qadhafi is part of Libya’s past. The future belongs to the people of Libya.

Nous devrions donc tous planifier l’avenir et nous tenir prêts pour la suite. La communauté internationale doit être prête à aider le peuple libyen à veiller à ce que le passage à la démocratie se fasse de manière pacifique et ordonnée.

Laizzez-moi souligner que lorsque notre mission sera accomplie, je n’imagine pas que l’OTAN puisse jouer un rôle de premier plan. Je suis persuadé que d’autres ont les capacités et l’expertise nécessaires pour faciliter la transition en Libye à l’issue du conflit. Et c’est l’ONU qui conduira cette transition.

L’OTAN peut apporter sa contribution. Nous pourrons aider la Libye de l’après-Kadhafi à se doter de forces de sécurité modernes et démocratiques, qui protégeront le peuple plutôt que de l’attaquer. De nombreux pays alliés ont connu de telles réformes il y deux décennies. Nous sommes prêts à apporter notre aide, si nous sommes invités à le faire.

Le débat ne sera pas clos cette semaine. Mais nous devons l’entamer dès à présent parce que Kadhafi n’a plus le vent en poupe. Et nous devons tous préparer la suite.

And with that, I am ready for your questions.

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