What Chicago Summit means for Afghanistan
On 20-21 May in Chicago, NATO will hold its largest Summit ever. Leaders of around 60 countries and international organisations are expected to attend. NATO has a wide agenda for its future as an Alliance. Afghanistan will not be the only subject on the agenda, but it will be one of the most important.
At the last NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, NATO and ISAF, together with the Government of Afghanistan, laid out the transition strategy and our commitment to an Enduring Partnership. Those key agreements hold strong today.
I expect the key message of Chicago to be that Afghanistan is getting back to its feet – but that when it stands on its own it will still be supported by the ISAF countries. The last few days have shown the progress that is being made. The announcement of the third tranche of transition of security lead to Afghan forces shows how the ANSF are becoming increasingly capable of defending against Afghanistan’s enemies. The signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement with the US shows how Afghanistan’s friends are willing to commit to a long term partnership.
At Chicago, the 50 NATO and ISAF nations, and other partners, will agree on the outline of the post-2014 NATO mission in Afghanistan. They will also confirm their willingness to help fund the Afghan National Security Forces for years to come. NATO is clear that Afghanistan will not be abandoned and our joint efforts over the last decade will not be put at risk.
One of the keys is the future of the Afghan National Security Forces. In recent weeks they have repeatedly shown how they have grown in capability and professionalism in recent years. These soldiers and police are men and women who want to serve Afghanistan. They want to protect Afghans and they are proud to do so. The reassurance that the Afghan people want for the future can be seen in their security forces – they will fight for their country. The enemies of Afghanistan take on those forces at their peril.
Chicago will stress NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan. The Summit will also emphasise that a stable and secure Afghanistan is in the best interests of the whole region and the whole world.
Transition has been one of the success stories of the last ten years – growing Afghan National Security Forces ready and able to protect Afghans, with ISAF support. As more of the country enters transition the Afghan people will feel the benefits of NATO and Afghanistan working together. After 2014 such a partnership can only be strengthened.
Simon Gass has been the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan since April 2011
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