Anders Fogh Rasmussen is making an historic visit to Libya, the first ever of a NATO Secretary General. The visit marks the conclusion of the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector for Libya, which comes to an end at midnight on October 31, exactly seven months since it began.
Mr Rasmussen met Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the Chairman of the National Transitional Council, and other members of the new Libyan leadership. He also met young people and representatives of Libya's civil society.
At a press conference with Chairman Abdul Jalil, the Secretary General congratulated the Libyan people, stating that "Libya is finally free. From Benghazi to Brega, from Misrata to the Nafusa mountains and Tripoli. Your courage, determination and sacrifice have transformed this country and helped change the region." He said he was proud of the part played by NATO and its partners, many from the region. "At midnight tonight, a successful chapter in NATO's history is coming to an end. But you have already started writing a new chapter in the history of Libya. A new Libya, based on freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and reconciliation."
The Secretary General said Allies know from their own experience that "hard-won freedom brings high hopes and great expectations, and the hard work to make them real has begun." He said that NATO could help with building defence and security institutions, if requested. He also expressed the hope that a democratic Libya can join the circle of NATO partners "one day soon," if this is the wish of the Libyan people.