Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
said in Chicago Monday that he supported the anti-NATO protesters’ right to express their viewpoints.
“Demonstrations are part of democratic society, we also allow people to demonstrate, to express themselves. I think we should appreciate that we live in a free democracy where it’s a constitutional right to participate in demonstrations and to express views,” Rasmussen said.
He said the protests do not take away from the summit.
President Barack Obama (L) points to Lake Michigan as he leads NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the rest of the world leaders as they walk under the Soldier Field colonnades to the family photo during the NATO Summit on May 20, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
“The fact that there have been demonstrations during this weekend does not subtract from the very positive image of Chicago or the very positive outcomes of this summit,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen also apologized for any inconveniences caused to citizens of Chicago due to the NATO Summit.
“We all appreciate the great hospitality of the people of Chicago,” he said.
He later praised Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city for hosting the NATO Summit.
“You have done it with great style,” he said.
Rasmussen said that he admired the city set by Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline, and he also took a run along the lakefront.
“I have to tell you, a common tradition whenever I visit Chicago… and on the very first morning after my arrival I did the run as always along Lake Michigan,” Rasmussen said. “It is great to have the lake on one side along with the very impressive Chicago skyline on my other side and it is one of the most beautiful cities I know, so it is close to my heart.”
Earlier Hillary Clinton thanked NATO partners for coming to Chicago. “Let me again welcome you to Chicago, which happens also to be my birthplace and one of America’s great cities,” she said.
Earlier Monday President Obama also welcomed international visitors to Chicago.
“For those who are joining us for the first time, welcome to Chicago. I was just hearing from a few folks who are not NATO members that they had fun on the town tonight. Hopefully there are no stories in the press.”