North Atlantic Council
Strasbourg, April 4 2009
My dear friends, Secretary-General,
I shall be very brief because we’re running very late. A few words: first of all for Germany and France, welcoming you is symbolic. NATO is an organization serving peace: not war, peace. And the fact that Germany and France are together hosting this meeting clearly demonstrates this desire for peace. Understanding, friendship between Germany and France isn’t simply a choice, it’s a duty. Between us we suffered millions of deaths and our two countries’ leaders’ duty is to promote our two peoples’ friendship as a treasure, perhaps the most precious, most necessary treasure in Europe.
So France is resuming her full place in the Alliance because France’s position was no longer understood. We are part of the family, we are in the family. We are allies; we are friends. We have our convictions, we want to be independent allies and friends. Everyone here can count on France, and France knows she can count on everyone around this table.
Of course we have to revamp our strategic concept, it dates from 1999. In the meantime, we’ve changed centuries. We have to determine a strategy for the twenty-first century and not for the one before.
Finally, Secretary-General, as regards Afghanistan, I want to tell the new president of the United States of America, President Obama, how much I appreciated the American Administration’s new approach to Afghanistan. We haven’t got the right to lose because a part of the world’s freedom is at stake over there. But we aren’t against the Afghans. We are with them, by their side, and we must pursue "Afghanization".
I’d like to tell President Obama – I’m certain I’m speaking for everyone here – how happy we are to work with him. We have confidence in him. We had been waiting a very long time to hear the words he has spoken on behalf of the world’s leading democracy: he should know that he has friends here, and that from now on Europe will be an even more important, stronger pillar of the Alliance. Because the United States needs strong allies and what he himself, President of the United States, has said about Defence Europe shows that he has understood that Defence Europe wasn’t incompatible with NATO, it complements NATO. We want both: the transatlantic link and Defence Europe.
Thank you, Secretary-General./.