Our goals at this Ministerial are clear and simple: to support our ally Turkey by moving toward a deployment of Patriot Missiles to augment their air defenses, to help them protect their people and population; to broaden our cooperation and political dialogue with Russia; to strengthen our partnerships with other countries, including Georgia; and with all our ISAF partners, to monitor our progress toward successful transition in Afghanistan by 2014.
In addition to the goals, however, this Ministerial is noteworthy, because of Secretary Clinton. This is her 38th trip to Europe since becoming Secretary of State; and her ninth and last NATO Ministerial.
She has left behind a very impressive legacy at NATO and in the domain of European and global security.
As she said last Thursday at a speech in Washington: "The last four years represent not a new direction, but a return to form, and a reminder of what the United States and Europe stand for."
Four years ago, our relationship with our European Allies was often contentious. Now it's harmonious and cooperative.
When Secretary Clinton came to her first NATO Ministerial in March 2009, the war in Afghanistan didn't seem to be going anywhere. Now we have a clear timetable for handing over responsibility to the Afghans themselves.
European missile defense seemed an impossible dream, and it was dividing the Allies. Under Secretary Clinton's leadership, we made it into a NATO system, so it became a source of unity, not division. And now it's a reality.
When she began as Secretary of State, the NATO-Russia dialogue had been shut down as a result of the Russia-Georgia war. She created a consensus within NATO to re-engage with Russia. By bringing all the Allies together in a united effort, we were able to bring the Russians back to the table and renew our relationship.
Today, we have a distribution system of supplies to Afghanistan passing through Russia, something unthinkable when she first arrived here in 2009.
The Russia-NATO relationship is not always easy, but as Secretary Clinton has made clear, you can't accomplish anything if you can't sit together at the same table.
The Secretary understood from the beginning that NATO's mission is best accomplished through a wide network of partner relationships -- and not just in the Euro-Atlantic community. She led the charge on broadening NATO's relations with partners and allies in Asia and around the world. She helped ensure greater flexibility for partners to participate and contribute, thus enhancing NATO's capacity as a global hub of security.
Under the Secretary's leadership, we developed new ideas for strengthening our partnerships in Berlin in 2011, and this year in Chicago we reaffirmed our commitment to this new approach. These partnerships allow us to act with greater legitimacy, share burdens more broadly, and benefit from the capabilities of others. This work has transformed NATO into a truly global hub of security.
Secretary Clinton has also been a tireless advocate for NATO enlargement and has worked hard to convince our four aspirant partners to make the necessary reforms for eventual membership.
Today, NATO is more relevant, more necessary, more capable and more unified than ever.