Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

NATO campaign in Afghanistan is a test of resolve against global terrorism

17th November 2009

Conservative MEP urges support for mission after parliamentarians' meeting

The failure of NATO's military operation in Afghanistan would most likely be a fatal blow to the West's long-term goal of containing and defeating Islamist jihadi terrorism, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Dr Charles Tannock MEP said today after returning from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Edinburgh.

Despite growing public alarm at the number of British troops being killed and injured in Afghanistan, Dr Tannock said the meeting had convinced him that NATO operations cannot be allowed to fail.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly brings together parliamentarians from the legislatures of the 19 NATO member states and 17 parliaments of NATO associates, as well as the European Parliament.

Dr Tannock said that any dilution of the West's commitment to Afghanistan would ultimately be a dilution of the West's own security, given the global nature of Islamist terrorism.

He said that politicians needed to explain that national security does not stop at national borders.

Dr Tannock also said that British troops were bearing a significantly disproportionate share of the dangers in Afghanistan and that other NATO members in Europe should step up efforts to take on more responsibilities.

Dr Tannock said:

"I'm very concerned about some aspects of the campaign in Afghanistan, especially the dangers to British troops, many of whom are from London.

"Meeting other parliamentarians to discuss this vital issue has convinced me that we can't afford to let the mission fail.

"Weakening our resolve at this stage would send entirely the wrong signal to Islamist jihadi terrorists, who have attacked my city before and want to destroy our freedoms.

"Unfortunately the nature of the threat to NATO members is very different from the Cold War period.

"The security of NATO members is no longer dependent only on the security of NATO borders.

"As politicians we need to do a better job of explaining to the public the importance of this campaign.

"But first and foremost we need to ensure that we never send our troops without the proper equipment to do the job."