NATO Chief Affirms Expansion Of Security Force In West Of Country

NATO Chief Affirms Expansion Of Security Force In West Of Country
By Nikola Krastev

Radio Free Europe, Czech republic
Nov 12 2004

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has affirmed that the
alliance plans to expand its operations into western Afghanistan in
advance of the next round of elections. Yesterday, de Hoop Scheffer
told the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent policy
institute, that extra NATO battalions will be committed to help
safeguard parliamentary elections due to be held in the spring. There
are currently about 9,000 NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, most of
them in the Kabul area. De Hoop Scheffer did not say how many new
forces would be committed to the country.

New York, 12 November 2004 (RFE/RL) — NATO Secretary-General Jaap de
Hoop Scheffer said yesterday that the current situation in
Afghanistan makes it logistically viable for the alliance to expand
its operations there.

“We have lived up to our promises, and at the moment the signs are
good that NATO is going to expand ISAF — the International Security
Assistance Force — into the west of Afghanistan,” de Hoop Scheffer
said. “We have covered the north now with a number of so-called
Provincial Reconstruction Teams. We will now go west, setting up what
we call a ‘forward support base’ in Herat, and then we want to move
counterclockwise to the south and the southeast of Afghanistan, as

De Hoop Scheffer said that NATO’s forces in the country have, in
general, been received well by the Afghan people. Asked why NATO,
originally created to provide security for Western Europe, is now
operating in Afghanistan, the secretary-general said the terrorist
attacks of 11 September 2001 brought about a major shift in NATO

“What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu
Kush in the present day international climate,” Scheffer said. “We
have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don’t do it at the
Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this
perception gap in the long run must be closed and must be healed —
that is, for NATO’s future, of the utmost importance.”

Another priority for NATO in Afghanistan, he said, will be providing
additional security during parliamentary elections, scheduled for
April. The secretary-general said that extra NATO battalions will be

De Hoop Scheffer described NATO’s operations in Afghanistan as a
“moderate success.” But he warned that without deeper involvement by
the international community in the fight against drug production and
drug trafficking in Afghanistan, NATO’s ability to ensure the
country’s stability will be limited.

Referring to Afghanistan’s neighbors, de Hoop Scheffer underlined the
strategic role the Central Asian states play in the fight against
terrorism. Having just returned from a trip to Central Asia and the
Caucasus, de Hoop Scheffer said he envisions closer cooperation with
these states.

“We need, by the way, Central Asian nations, and the Caucasian
nations [to] play an important role in supporting the ISAF operation
because we need the lines of communication — to say in military
terms — [and] transit agreements with the Central Asians, to see
that we can adequately run the ISAF operation in Afghanistan,”
Scheffer said.

De Hoop Scheffer said Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia have all
expressed interest in closer cooperation with NATO in its Partnership
for Peace program.

“They all want to extend their partnership with NATO. Even Armenia
has now applied for the so-called Individual Partnership Action
Program, which means that we are going to develop a tailored,
Armenia-tailored partnership program with that country, with
Yerevan,” Scheffer said. “That goes for the Central Asian nations, as
well. So that partnership is developing very well.”

De Hoop Scheffer stressed that Turkey is playing a particularly
active role in the Partnership for Peace program.