NATO Summit: Sunday Live Coverage from McCormick Place

Video blog: Ryann Rumbaugh recaps the first day of the NATO summit
and the violence outside McCormick Place between police and protestors.

Obama Officially Welcomes Rasmussen, NATO to Summit

NATO logoEditor's note: Red Line Project reporters AnnCatherine Brady, Laura Funk, Katie Kormann and Ryann Rumbaugh are reporting live from the summit at McCormick Place. Check this page regularly for updates and read the social media coverage of the summit. Also: Saturday's summit coverage

By AnnCatherine Brady
The Red Line Project
Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012

President Obama arrived Sunday at McCormick Place, the site for the 2012 NATO summit and officially welcomed Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to his hometown of Chicago.

“Secretary General Rasmussen arrived ... in one of the most challenging times NATO has faced," Obama said. "He has guided us through some very rocky times and I think the results of this NATO summit are reflective of his extraordinary leadership."

Obama echoed Rasmussen’s prior opening remarks, stating that ratifying a plan for an Afghan transition process, strategies to expand defense capabilities and NATO partnerships will be the major issues discussed over the two-day summit.

Following Obama’s remarks, Rasmussen thanked the United States for its continued support of NATO, and Chicago for hosting the summit. 

“Chicago has always been a place where European and North Americans have come together, and now we have come together to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between us.”  

Durbin: NATO Deserves Respect

As NATO began its closed-door meetings, the Young Atlanticist summit started with speakers such as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as well as U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Dick Durbin.

 The Young Atlanticist program is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that brings together future leaders from all across the globe. A total of 35 countries were represented at the summit. They were accompanied by a group of students from universities around Chicago.

 Topics discussed at the summit varied, but the continuing relevance of NATO in today’s world was particularly stressed. 

“The world has gotten closer, not further apart,” said Shaheen, emphasizing the interlinking effects of world problems. 

Durbin backed up her claim saying, “NATO is still the strongest alliance in the world with values the U.S. can respect, honor and defend.”

Despite the fact that Georgia is not one of the 28 NATO member states, Saakashvili matched the Senators’ support. He turned the tables saying that people who oppose NATO were relics and that trans-atlantic alliance was the future. 

Video: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili from the
Young Atlanticist summit. (Video by Katie Kormann)

Saakashvili also had an encouraging message for the group of young leaders.

“To lead you need energy, to have energy you need to be young,” said Saakashivili encouraging members of the group to go after their goals.

“If you decide you like a certain position... go for it.”

The summit will continue through the afternoon. Some of the other speakers who will attend are Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Lukic and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bilt. 

 Rasmussen Meets With Media; Outlines Summit Tasks

 The NATO summit started off Sunday morning with a short statement from Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“We are gathering here in Chicago for a crucial summit at a crucial time,” he said.

Speaking in front of one of the large press briefing areas, Rasmussen explained the three key priorities for the summit. 

The future security of Afghanistan will be one of the top issues.

Rasmussen said the possibility of withdrawal by French troops for Afghanistan will not effect NATO’s goals for the country since more responsibility will continue to be transferred to Afghan forces in the coming years.

Other goals included keeping NATO strong during a time of austerity through Smart Defense, and to continue its international network of partners. 

“Today’s security challenges are global and we need global solutions,” he said.

Rasmussen also briefly addressed the protests around Chicago, stating he was glad for the freedom of expression afforded to people living in NATO countries and expected that they will take place in a peaceful manner. 

Return to Monday's coverage: Final day | Saturday's coverage: Obama G8 breifing | Friday's coverage: press center | NATO Summit Coverage Preview Guide | Home page

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