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NATO Chief Looks To Summit, Dismisses Russian Rhetoric On Missile Shield

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a news conference in Brussels on May 11
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has dismissed recent warnings by Russian officials about the defense alliance's plans to set up a missile-defense system in Europe.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels on May 11, the NATO chief expressed regret that Moscow continues to see missile defense as a national threat and also spoke about his expectations from the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago where Afghanistan is to top the agenda.

RFE/RL: Do you think that the recent negative comments and threats from Russian officials about the planned NATO defense system in Europe can destabilize negotiations between NATO and Russia?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Such statements are a matter of concern and they are not in line with what we decided when we last met in Lisbon. We had a NATO-Russia summit in Lisbon a couple of years ago and we decided to develop a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia. Threats to deploy offensive weapons directed against NATO territory...are not in accordance with the development of a true strategic partnership. So I strongly regret such rhetoric.
Threats to deploy offensive weapons directed against NATO territory...are not in accordance with the development of a true strategic partnership.

RFE/RL: Would the NATO summit be considered a failure if you don't get a concrete plan spelled out of what your post-2014 engagement in Afghanistan will look like?

Rasmussen: We will make a decision on the profile of our post-2014 mission in Afghanistan -- maybe not in all details, but we will outline how we will stay engaged in Afghanistan after 2014.

RFE/RL: When it comes to financing of the Afghan security forces do you have a benchmark in mind of what you want to achieve in Chicago?

Rasmussen: Chicago will not be a pledging conference so you won't see one total figure. But I would expect some allies and partners to come forward with concrete announcements of financial contributions to the Afghan security forces after 2014. Our planning assumption is that the total bill of the long-term, sustainable Afghan security force will be around $4 billion a year, out of which I would expect NATO allies and ISAF partners to pay what I would call "a fair share." We will not discuss exact numbers in Chicago, but I would expect an overall commitment to paying a fair share.

RFE/RL: Will this "fair share" be somewhat more concrete after the summit?

Rasmussen: Not a total number, but I think a number of countries will announce what I would call "significant contributions." Because seen from an economic perspective it is less expensive to finance Afghan security forces to do the combat in Afghanistan than to deploy international troops and politically it is also much better to give the defense of Afghanistan an Afghan face.

RFE/RL: This is not an enlargement summit but is Georgia, who has made enormous commitments in Afghanistan, any closer to NATO membership?

Rasmussen: The Chicago Summit will not be an enlargement summit, but we will definitely acknowledge the progress Georgia has achieved during recent years. We will acknowledge that progress in our declaration from the summit. We will also acknowledge Georgia's contributions in a very visible way.

Actually, Georgia will participate in three important meetings in Chicago. Georgia will participate in the ISAF meeting on Afghanistan. Georgia will participate in a special-partnership event, a gathering of 13 partners across the globe that contribute to NATO operations in a very significant way and Georgia is among these 13 partners and actually one of the largest contributors to our operation in Afghanistan. And finally, Georgia will also participate in an aspirant-countries meeting at the level of foreign ministers. So it will be in a very visible way that we acknowledge what Georgia has achieved and what Georgia contributes to the trans-Atlantic alliance.