NATO summit – Meeting on Afghanistan – Speech by M. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic (excerpts)
Bucharest, 3 April 2008
Very briefly, I’d like to say how proud we are to work with President Karzai. It is fortunate that he should be the head of Afghanistan, and we are pleased to have him at this table with us. It’s very fortunate to have a head of State who understands what is at stake in his country. (…) We are waging war on a gang of terrorists who took control of your country, we’re not waging war on the Afghan people.
We are reinforcing our deployment today precisely in order to be able to leave later on. Because the stronger we are, the sooner we will be able to leave. It is a very powerful concept: the weaker we are, the longer we will be forced to stay and the more it will cost us. Every time we make a little choice, we are forced to stay. We must make a real choice: we do not want al-Qaida or the Taliban to return. So we must give it our all and then go home.
Our goal is to see the Afghans live freely as masters of their country.
The main issue for us is reconstruction.
And I do not understand how with such a goal we can lose the battle of communication in all NATO countries. We hear criticism in all our countries. We are protecting tormented women and children who can now go to school, a country where civilization is repudiated [by the Taliban]; we are doing this, and yet our public opinion is against us – it’s the case in France and elsewhere. It is because we are not explaining enough, because we are not facing up to our responsibility.
France will stand shoulder to shoulder with her friends and allies until victory. I say this to President Karzai: he can count on us until victory is won. Failure is absolutely prohibited.
We are proud to be your friend and the friend of your people.