Amsterdam Treaty


Sir, - Let us hope that the hectoring tone adopted by the chair of the European Movement, Alan Dukes TD (November 20th) does not reflect the strategy to be adopted by the pro-Amsterdam Treaty side in the upcoming referendum. There are some very real concerns to be raised about the treaty and those of us advocating a No vote will be expecting a mature debate on them.

Alan Dukes states that he supports "total nuclear disarmament" and the "peaceful resolution of international disputes". If so, he has a strange way of showing it. Mr Dukes's party, Fine Gael, ran its candidates for the 1994 Euro-Elections on a platform advocating full membership of the Western European Union (WEU). The WEU is a military grouping based not just on nuclear weapons but on the Cold War strategy of first-use of nuclear weapons. The WEU is inextricably linked to the Nato nuclear bloc. The fact that Mr Dukes has no problem advocating nuclear disarmament on the one hand and joining a nuclear-armed bloc on the other is indicative of the perception gap thrown up when trying to debate with him the pros and cons of the Amsterdam Treaty.

The treaty - unlike Fine Gael's MEPs - does not advocate full membership of the WEU for Ireland: the complete merger of the WEU into the EU will not happen with this stage of European integration. However, the WEU is seen as an "integral part of the development of the Union", providing the Union with access to an operational capability, and the EU is encouraged to "foster closer institutional links with the WEU" with the eventual possibility of complete integration.

The identification of neutral Ireland with the WEU will take place without any such merger. Ireland will be co-operating - under the Amsterdam Treaty - in, among other things, combat tasks with the nuclear WEU. This will come about as a result of the incorporation of the WEU's Petersbert Tasks into the Amsterdam Treaty. These include humanitarian and peace-keeping tasks and "tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking", which is just another term for making war.

The Petersbert Tasks are in fact broad enough for the EU - and Ireland - to become involved in a wide range of "defence" tasks, short of having a complete EU military alliance.

Its also clear - and very worrying for those of us supporting total nuclear disarmament - that the nuclear weapons ethos of many other EU members (most of whom are in the WEU and/or NATO) has been adopted by the EU with its embracing of the WEU. For Mr Dukes to argue that predictions by those of us opposed to aspects of previous EU treaties have proven to be "completely false" is just not true. Those who opposed the 1987 Single European Act, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, and now the Amsterdam Treaty on the basis of these treaties' impact on Ireland's neutrality can point to the fact that we have now come from the position of creating a common EU foreign and security policy (the SEA), to the point of agreeing (for starters) to frame an EU "common defence policy" and to participate in combat missions with a nuclear-based military grouping (the WEU). Yours, etc.,

TD, (Green Party), Irishtown, Dublin 4.

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