The new NATO Secretary General has promised the Alliance’s mission to Afghanistan will go on as long as necessary, despite worsening violence on the ground and rising public disquiet among member nations. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Afghan forces must take on more responsibility, but refused to say when NATO would be able to leave.
“Afghans must take over lead responsibility for security in most of their country,” said Rasmussen. “Let me be clear. I say ‘lead’ responsibility for the Afghans. NATO must and will be there in support”. Afghanistan is NATO’s priority, but the Alliance must also mend fences with Russia. “We should develop practical cooperation with Russia in a number of areas while, of course, insisting on Russian compliance with her international obligations including respect of the sovereignty of her neighbours,” said Rasmussen. That means Ukraine and Georgia, and the new NATO leader must juggle their governments’ ambitions to join the Alliance despite Moscow’s warnings. And if that isn’t enough, Rasmussen’s to-do list includes rising cyber-crime, the worldwide proliferation of illegal weapons, and NATO members’ need to cut costs during the recession.