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Interview with AF Rasmussen (NATO)

(photo credit: NGV)

(BRUSSELS2) In Palma de Mallorca, I was able to speak for a few minutes with Anders Fogh (Rasmussen), the Secretary General of NATO. Some questions and answers on: the ISAF operation in Afghanistan (a “success”), the replacement of the Dutch (no successor for the moment), the Danish opt-out (to be removed quickly) and cooperation with Catherine Ashton and the EU (love, almost, crazy).

The offensive in Marjah, how do you describe it, a success or a failure?

" A great success. There is military progress and the current operation is the hallmark of our new strategy. We offer stability, there is cooperation with the government, we assist the population. The Helmand operation will be a model for future operations (NB: in Kandahar, according to some sources).

The Netherlands have decided to leave Uruzgan, who will replace them?

“We will always be in Uruzgan and we will have a framework nation. And then, the Netherlands is not leaving (the province) right away. It will only be from August and according to a process which will last until the end of the year.

Have you received a formal offer from a State?

" No. But we are determined to find a replacement. I'm confident.

As a Dane, what do you think of Denmark's opt-out on EU defense?

“I don’t think that’s a good thing. And I hope it can be brought to an end. This in effect prevents Denmark from participating in European defense policy. And that's not good for anyone: for Denmark, for the European Union. This is of course a national issue. And it is up to the Danish Prime Minister to decide when this will be possible. But I think it would simplify a lot of things. And the sooner the better.

I wanted to talk to you about another permanent opt-out…, Catherine Ashton, what do you think? How do you work with her?

Alright. Ashton and I have already agreed to meet regularly, at least once a month. The next meeting is scheduled for March. We have already had fruitful exchanges of views before I came here. It is very profitable for both our organizations.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).