28 November 2006 – “NO SENSE OF URGENCY IN RIGA ON AFGHANISTAN”, SAYS BERT KOENDERS, NATO PA PRESIDENT [PRESS COMMUNIQUE]
"I am deeply concerned at the likely outcome of the Riga Summit," declared Bert Koenders, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, after his arrival in Riga, where tomorrow (29 November) he will address Alliance Heads of State and Government gathered in Riga for the NATO Summit. "Here in Riga, I don't feel the sense of urgency I had expected about addressing the serious problems the Alliance is facing in Afghanistan"
"I fear" he added "that NATO Heads of State and Government might not seize this opportunity to deal with the operational shortcomings that are all too evident in Afghanistan, and that the Summit will be a 'damage limitation exercise' instead of a milestone in NATO's development".
In his address tomorrow, Mr Koenders intends to remind NATO leaders that "Afghanistan is the reality check on all aspects of NATO's transformation".
Noting that NATO Parliamentarians, meeting recently in Quebec, called upon NATO governments to "deploy the required capabilities", Mr Koenders will stress in Riga that "one hundred percent means one hundred percent. Anything less places operations at risk and reduces the scope for reconstruction".
"NATO leaders should listen to their own rhetoric", he said. "We frequently hear that 'a failed Afghanistan is a failed NATO'. There is certainly strong parliamentary support for removing those national caveats that impair the effectiveness of NATO in the field, and for establishing a more equitable system of common funding and sharing risks. NATO leaders should show the same resolve on these issues."
While commending the role of the armed forces in all NATO operations, Mr Koenders said that "their political leaders have not yet passed their test. I hope that they will do so tomorrow."