Bucharest 10 October 2011 – NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CALLS ON GOVERNMENTS TO EXTEND COMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN BEYOND COMBAT MISSION
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly wrapped up its Annual Session on Monday with an appeal for Alliance governments to support Afghanistan beyond the planned end of combat operations by Allied forces in 2014. They also appealed to governments not to allow cuts in defence budgets to undermine the Alliance’s security.
A declaration adopted by lawmakers from the 28 NATO nations, recognized "the ongoing need for an international military presence in Afghanistan and the necessity of sustaining international assistance beyond the planned end of the combat mission in 2014"
The declaration said assistance would be needed after 2014 to build up the Afghan army and police, improve governance, fight corruption and support economic development. It urged NATO governments to coordinate their troop withdrawals in the run up to 2014 to avoid adding to pressures on those that remain in the country.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen addressed the need for long-term engagement when he spoke to the Assembly. "We shouldn’t talk about 2014 as if it were a withdrawal from Afghanistan," he said. "We will stay committed but we will change our role from a combat role, into a supportive role."
The plenary session which concluded three-days of debate by over 250 parliamentarians from NATO Allies and partners including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Russia also adopted a resolution that warned governments not to allow spending cuts imposed by the ongoing budget crisis to weaken national and international security.
Legislators acknowledged that NATO’s successful air campaign over Libya had revealed serious shortfalls in defence capabilities among European Allies and underscored the military gap between Europe and the United States. The Assembly passed a resolution urging NATO to continued support for the Libyan people after the end of the military mission.
A separate resolution offered broad support to the Arab world’s emerging democracies while condemning the Syrian regime’s crackdown on protesters
"We can make a vital contribution, based on our shared values, and the experience of those of our members which have themselves undergone democratic transition," said German parliamentarian Karl Lamers, the Assembly’s president of the changes in North Africa and the Middle East. "I hope next year we can take concrete steps to reach out to the new political forces in the region and explore with them possible avenues for assistance and cooperation."
Other resolutions adopted by the assembly stressed the need for stepped up efforts against cyber attacks and chemical and biological threats.