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 Home > News & Policies > November 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 28, 2006

Fact Sheet: NATO Summit 2006

     Fact sheet President Bush Discusses NATO Alliance During Visit to Latvia

Today, President Bush Thanked The People Of The Baltic States For Their Hospitality, Their Friendship, And The Courage They Are Showing In The NATO Alliance. NATO is the most effective multilateral organization in the world and the most important military alliance in history.

One Of The Great Responsibilities Of NATO Is To Strengthen And Expand The Circle Of Freedom In Europe

In The Nearly Six Decades Since NATO's Founding, Europe Has Experienced An Unprecedented Expansion Of Liberty. Yet many nations that threw off the shackles of tyranny are still working to build the free institutions that are the foundation of successful democracies.

  • After Taking Office In 2001, President Bush Declared That The U.S. Believes In NATO Membership For All European Democracies That Seek It And Are Ready To Share The Responsibilities NATO Brings. The following year, NATO invited seven nations to join the Alliance - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Slovenia. At its next Summit in 2008, NATO hopes to issue additional invitations to nations that are ready for membership.

  • Today, Croatia, Macedonia, And Albania Are All Participating In NATO's Membership Action Plan, And The U.S. Supports Their Aspirations To Join The Atlantic Alliance. Georgia is seeking NATO membership as well, and as it continues on the path of reform, we will continue to support its desire to become a NATO ally. We are also supporting the leaders of Ukraine, as they work to curb corruption, promote the rule of law, and serve the cause of peace.

  • We Are Also Working With Russia Through The NATO-Russia Council. We recognize that Russia is a vital and important country - and that it is in our interest to increase our cooperation in areas such as countering terrorism and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. By building ties between Russia and this Alliance, we will strengthen our common security and advance the cause of peace.

  • We Must Not Forget Those Who Still Languish In Tyranny. Just across the border from Latvia lies the nation of Belarus, a place where peaceful protesters are beaten and opposition leaders are "disappeared" by the agents of a cruel regime. We have a message for the people of Belarus: the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace includes you, and we stand with you in your struggle for freedom.

We Are Transforming NATO For New Challenges

Under The Able Leadership Of Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, NATO Is Transforming From A Static Alliance Focused On The Defense Of Europe Into An Expeditionary Alliance Ready To Deploy Outside Of Europe In The Defense Of Freedom. Over the past six years, we have taken decisive action to transform the capabilities of our Alliance by creating:

  • A new NATO transformation command, to ensure that our Alliance is always preparing for the threats of the future;

  • A new NATO battalion to counter the threat of enemies armed with weapons of mass destruction; and

  • A new NATO Response Force, to ensure that our Alliance can deploy rapidly and effectively.

At This Summit, We Are Taking New Steps To Build On This Progress. We will:

  • Launch a NATO Special Operations Forces Initiative that will strengthen the ability of special operations personnel from NATO nations to work together on the battlefield;

  • Announce a new Strategic Airlift Initiative that will ensure participating NATO members have a dedicated fleet of C-17 aircraft at their disposal;

  • Launch the Riga Global Partnership Initiative that will allow NATO to conduct joint training, joint exercises, and common defense planning with nations - like Japan and Australia - that share NATO's values and want to work with our Alliance in the cause of peace; and

  • Launch a new NATO Training Cooperation Initiative that will allow military forces in the Middle East to receive NATO training in counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and peace support operations.

  • As We Take These Steps, Every NATO Nation Must Make The Defense Investments Necessary To Give NATO The Capabilities It Needs, So It Is Ready For Any Challenge That May Emerge In Decades To Come.

NATO's Most Basic Responsibility Is To Defend Its People Against The Threats Of This New Century

Afghanistan Is NATO's Most Important Military Operation. Since taking command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, NATO has expanded it from a small force that was operating only in Kabul into a robust force that conducts security operations in all of Afghanistan. NATO is helping train the Afghan National Army, and the Alliance is operating 25 Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are helping the central government extend its reach. At this moment, all 26 NATO allies, and 11 partner nations, are contributing forces to NATO's mission in Afghanistan.

    Taliban And Al Qaeda Fighters, Drug Traffickers, Criminal Elements And Local Warlords Remain Active And Committed To Destroying Democracy In Afghanistan - And Defeating Them Will Require The Full Commitment Of Our Alliance. For NATO to succeed, its commanders on the ground must have the resources and flexibility they need to do their jobs.

Every Ally Can Take Pride In The Transformation That NATO Is Making Possible For The People Of Afghanistan. A nation that was once a terrorist sanctuary has been transformed into an ally in the War on Terror - led by a brave President, Hamid Karzai. Because of our efforts:

  • Over 4.6 million Afghan refugees have come home - one of the largest return movements in history;

  • The Afghan economy has tripled in size over the past five years; and

  • About 2 million girls are now in school, compared to zero under the Taliban - and 85 women were elected or appointed to the Afghan National Assembly.

NATO Allies Are Making Vital Contributions To The Struggle For Freedom In Iraq

At This Moment, A Dozen NATO Allies - Including Every One Of The Baltic Nations - Are Contributing Forces To The Coalition In Iraq. And 18 NATO countries plus Ukraine are contributing forces to the NATO Training Mission that is helping develop the next generation of leaders for the Iraqi Security Forces. NATO has also helped Iraqis stand up a new military academy near Baghdad and has contributed $128 million in military equipment to the Iraqi military.

NATO Has A Responsibility To Lift Up And Support The Moderates And Reformers Who Are Working For Change Across The Broader Middle East

The Battles In Iraq And Afghanistan Are Part Of A Struggle Between Moderation And Extremism That Is Unfolding Across The Broader Middle East. The War on Terror we fight today is more than a military conflict - it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. And in this struggle, we can accept nothing less than victory. We see this struggle in:

  • Lebanon - where last week gunmen assassinated the Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, showing once again the viciousness of those who are trying to destabilize Lebanon's young democracy;

  • Syria - where the regime allows Iranian weapons to pass through its territory into Lebanon, and provides weapons and political support to Hezbollah;

  • Iran - where a reactionary regime subjugates its proud people, arrests free trade union leaders, and uses Iran's resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue nuclear weapons; and

  • The Palestinian Territories - where extremists are working to stop moderate leaders from making progress toward the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Freedom In Europe Has Brought Peace To Europe - And Freedom Has The Power To Bring Peace To The Broader Middle East. There was a time when many doubted liberty could succeed in Europe. Yet today, the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is no more, and the NATO alliance is meeting in the capital of a free Latvia. Europe no longer produces armed ideologies that threaten other nations with aggression, conquest, and occupation, and a continent that was for generations a source of instability and global war has become a source of stability and peace.

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