Saturday, May 09, 1998
Sir, - We are dismayed to see the Minister for Foreign Affairs leading a misinformation campaign on the Amsterdam Treaty. Mr Andrews asserts that "the Treaty explicitly states that EU policy shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states. This reference was inserted to take account of Ireland's policy of military neutrality." (The Irish Times, April 28th.)
However, Mr Andrews does not quote the entire clause, which
states: "The policy of the Union in accordance with this
article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security
and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect
the obligations of certain Member States, which see their common
defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato),
under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common
security and defence policy established within that framework."
(Article J.7.)If the Minister is basing his defence of Ireland's
neutrality on a partial reading of this clause, then no wonder
our neutrality is being lost. How can the "policy of the
Union" not "prejudice" neutrality if it is to be
compatible with the
common security and defence policy established within the Nato framework?
The first part of the clause cannot refer to the neutral states, as such a reading is contradicted by the rest of the article.Unfortunately, The Irish Times in its Amsterdam Treaty supplement (May 6th) has adopted the Minister's habit of quoting only the first part of this clause as "proof" of the defence of our neutrality. It is no such thing.The provisions of Article J7 that the EU's policy is "in accordance with" include the "progressive framing of a common defence policy" with the assistance of the nuclear-based military grouping, the Western European Union (WEU); cite the WEU as "integral" to the EU's development; and state that the WEU is now providing the EU with "access to an operation capability". This article also states that the EU will "foster closer institutional links with the WEU".
One would have thought that all of this would "prejudice"
Ireland's neutrality! In fact, the word "neutrality"
is never even once used in the Amsterdam Treaty. However, it is
riddled with the words "WEU" and "Nato".Selectively
quoting from the text of the Treaty is not the best way to enlighten
Irish voters about its contents. Irish CND completely supports
Mr Andrews's call for the Treaty debate "to be based on facts"
and feels it would be an excellent idea for the Minister to do
just that. - Yours, etc.,
BILLY FITZPATRICK,Chair Irish CND,P.O. Box 6327,Dublin 6.
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