Slovakia Promises Support for Afghanistan Mission at NATO Meeting

October 22, 2009 Updated: October 23, 2009

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—Defense ministers from NATO member states arrived in the Slovak capital for a two-day meeting starting on Oct. 22.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged the alliance members to focus on Afghanistan and increase involvement in this territory. “We all have to achieve more in training and equipping the Afghan security forces,” Rasmussen said in Bratislava.

“Leaving Afghanistan behind would once again turn the country into a training ground for al-Qaeda,” the NATO chief said.

In a talk with Rasmussen, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico promised further support for the Afghanistan mission, although he doesn’t want to send military troops there. “But we like that our corps of engineers will have more opportunities to act in more regions in Afghanistan. We would also like to provide them with our own protection,” said Fico.

At a press conference, the Slovak prime minster expressed support for NATO foreign missions, when, according to his words, there is a legitimate goal for “fighting against terrorism or helping the ruined countries.” He considered that the war in Iraq was the opposite case, “where the use of military forces was motivated only by oil,” and withdrew Slovakia’s troops from the country.

The meeting will continue until Friday, with discussions between defense ministers from NATO ally countries.