20 May 12. Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Chicago on 20 May 2012
1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, have gathered in Chicago to renew our commitment to our vital transatlantic bond; take stock of progress in, and reconfirm our commitment to, our operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere; ensure the Alliance has the capabilities it needs to deal with the full range of threats; and strengthen our wide range of partnerships.
2. Our nations are united in their commitment to the Washington Treaty and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Based on solidarity, Alliance cohesion and the indivisibility of our security, NATO remains the transatlantic framework for strong collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies. Our 2010 Strategic Concept continues to guide us in fulfilling effectively, and always in accordance with international law, our three essential core tasks – collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security – all of which contribute to safeguarding Alliance members.
3. At a time of complex security challenges and financial difficulties, it is more important than ever to make the best use of our resources and to continue to adapt our forces and structures. We remain committed to our common values, and are determined to ensure NATO’s ability to meet any challenges to our shared security.
4. We pay tribute to all the brave men and women from Allied and partner nations serving in NATO-led missions and operations. We commend them for their professionalism and dedication and acknowledge the invaluable support provided to them by their families and loved ones. We owe a special debt of gratitude to all those who have lost their lives or been injured during the course of their duties, and we extend our profound sympathy to their families and loved ones.
5. Today we have taken further important steps on the road to a stable and secure Afghanistan and to our goal of preventing Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world. The irreversible transition of full security responsibility from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is on track for completion by the end of 2014, as agreed at our Lisbon Summit. We also recognise in this context the importance of a comprehensive approach and continued improvements in governance and development, as well as a political process involving successful reconciliation and reintegration. We welcome the announcement by President Karzai on the third tranche of provinces that will start transition. This third tranche means that 75% of Afghanistan’s population will live in areas where the ANSF have taken the lead for security. By mid-2013, when the fifth and final tranche of provinces starts transition, we will have reached an important milestone in our Lisbon roadmap, and the ANSF will be in the lead for security nationwide. At that milestone, as ISAF shifts from focusing primarily on combat increasingly to the provision of training, advice and assistance to the ANSF, ISAF will be able to ensure that the Afghans have the support they need as they adjust to their new increased responsibility. We are gradually and responsibly drawing down our forces to complete the ISAF mission by 31 December 2014.
6. By the end of 2014, when the Afghan Authorities will have full security responsibility, the NATO-led combat mission will end. We will, however, continue to provide strong and long-term political and practical support through our Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan. NATO is ready to work towards establishing, at the request of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a new post-2014 mission of a different nature in