Amsterdam Treaty


Sir, - Roger Cole, Chair of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (November 13th), makes a breathtaking leap from the statement that "Europe and the US are equipping the security forces in Algeria's dirty war" to the preposterous claim that the supporters of the Amsterdam Treaty "clearly wish to build a nuclear-armed imperial state to fight the resource wars of the 21st century".

I support the Amsterdam Treaty. In common with other supporters of the treaty and the vast majority of the population of our country, I support total nuclear disarmament, and regard the time and effort devoted to this objective as well spent (if, so far, lamentably inadequate). I support the peaceful resolution of international disputes, as do the Irish Constitution, the Irish people, all the signatories of the UN Charter, including all the member states of the EU, and the Amsterdam Treaty itself.

Mr Cole quotes the last sentence of Article J.71 of the Treaty without any context. He quotes the text:

"The progressive framing of a common defence policy will be supported, as Member States consider appropriate, by co-operation between them in the field of armaments."

The context is much less malign than Mr Cole seems to believe. Some member states believe that there might be some advantage to be gained from a common approach to the rationalisation of national conventional (non-nuclear) defence industries. Some believe that there might be cost savings from such rationalisation and from joint projects, such as have been seen in the aerospace industry. It has, however, been notoriously difficult to secure agreement, which is why the passage quoted from Article J.71 of the Treaty is not compulsory, but refers to "co-operation", "... as Member States consider appropriate" - probably the most polite way of saying, in a Treaty, that nothing much is expected to happen.

On the other hand, it is a fact (not referred to by Mr Cole) that one of the presidency conclusions from the European Council Summit which finalised the Amsterdam Treaty restated the objective of encouraging an effective arms expert control policy within the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Without a CFSP, there would be no framework for the adoption of such a policy.

I believe that a prediction can be made about the public debate on the Amsterdam Treaty: the opposition will feature a small number of utterly preposterous claims - such as Mr Cole's - based on paranoid, malign and partial misrepresentations of the text of the treaty itself.

Mr Cole's fantasy is the second such that we have seen in this debate: some weeks ago, we heard utterly unfounded and fantastic claims about Europol.

To the voters of this country, I say: "Beware the Anti-Amsterdam Treaty Cassandras." We have had them before: in 1972 about our Accession Treaty; in 1987 about the Single European Act; in 1992 about the Maastricht Treaty. Each time their urgings have been rightly rejected: in each case their dire predictions turned out to be completely false.

Fortunately, very few of us who support peace feel that we have to indulge in Mr Cole's extravagant hysteria. - Yours, etc.,

Alan M. Dukes TD,

Chairman, European Movement, Ireland, Nassau Street, Dublin 2.