Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen thanked Italy for its significant contributions to the Alliance during talks with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Rome on Thursday (25 July 2013). “Italy has been a staunch member of our Alliance since its creation and continues to demonstrate strong commitment to NATO every day in many different ways,” the Secretary General said.
The Secretary General and the Prime Minister reviewed the progress of the ISAF mission and planning for the Alliance’s new non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan Security Forces after 2014. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen praised Italy’s “pivotal role in ISAF,” where it leads the mission’s efforts in the west of Afghanistan and expressed gratitude for Italy’s intention to play a leading role in the post-2014 mission. Italy was also commended for its contributions to other operations including Kosovo and NATO’s counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa. “These contributions are even more valuable at a time when all our nations have to make tough budget choices. Yes, security has a price. But insecurity has a cost that we cannot afford,” said the Secretary General.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen's agenda also includes meetings with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Defence Minister Mario Mauro.
In his meeting with Mr. Mauro, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen discussed ways to improve capabilities amid the current difficult economic times through the use of multinational Smart Defence projects. Italy participates in 17 of these projects and leads three of them. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said that NATO also had to stay fit for the future through its Connected Forces Initiative. “As we draw down in Afghanistan, we need to maintain this ready, capable and interconnected NATO so that we stand prepared to deal with any security challenge in today’s complex and unpredictable world,” he said. “This is where we count on Italy to play a leadership role as well. To share its expertise so that we can all learn from each other.”