Chicago is a world-class city and leaders from around the world are coming here today. I would particularly like to thank the people of this great city for making all of us feel so welcome.
We’re gathering here in Chicago for a crucial summit at a crucial time. We will take decisions important for the security of North America and Europe, and for the future of our Alliance.
Our summit has three key priorities. Keeping Afghanistan secure now and in the years to come. Keeping NATO strong and capable in the 21st century. And keeping our global network of partners solid.
Today, we will focus on security in an age of austerity. We will ensure that the Alliance has the capabilities to deal with the security challenges of the future – even as we tackle the economic challenges of the present.
We will adopt a concrete package of multinational projects which can provide greater security for all our citizens at lower cost. We will embrace a renewed culture of cooperation, which we call Smart Defence. And I expect we will take the first step to make our missile defence system operational.
Tomorrow, we will shape the next stage in our engagement with Afghanistan. We will complete transition of security responsibility to the Afghans by the end of 2014, but we will continue to support them for the long-term.
Together with our ISAF partners, we will meet President Karzai, leaders of many countries in the region and beyond, and key international organisations. This will be a powerful demonstration of the commitment of the whole international community to the future of Afghanistan.
We will also meet thirteen of our most active partners around the globe – from Europe, to Asia, and the Middle East. Because today’s security challenges are global and they need global solutions.
That is why NATO will continue to cooperate with partners from right round the world. We will build on our successes – so that we can provide more security for NATO, for our partners, and for the world.