Cowen: "No Threat To Irish Military Neutrality - PANA Slogan Totally Misleading"
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., said today that
Ireland's policy of military neutrality will not be changed in any way by voting ‘yes' to the Treaty of Nice.
"Ireland's status as a neutral would only cease if we joined a mutual defence organisation such as NATO which would oblige us to defend another country, if attacked. There are no plans, now, or in the future to do this," he said. "PANA's campaign slogan is totally misleading since a ‘yes' vote is a not a vote for NATO. There is no question that a ‘yes' vote on Nice involves joining a mutual defence organisation such as NATO".
"Denmark opted-out of the Petersberg Tasks in the Treaty of Amsterdam. This is the treaty which the people of Ireland approved in a referendum in 1998. Denmark is a member of NATO and negotiated an opt-out clause because it views NATO alone as meeting its security needs. As Ireland is not a member of NATO, the question of an opt-out clause does not arise.
The Minister also described as misleading PANA's comments on investment in the army : "The recent increase in Government expenditure on defence equipment is solely related to ensuring that our defence forces personnel are properly equipped and protected in East Timor, Lebanon and Kosovo in the course of their dangerous duties in the service of United Nations peacekeeping. The Government makes no apology for making sure that our officers are adequately protected."
The Minister went on to reject recent statements by Danish MEP, Jens-Peter Bonde, that the Irish Government will no longer be able to nominate a Commissioner of its choice because of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). "Once again even a cursory glance at the Treaty will show that according to article 214 ‘the Council of Ministers must act in accordance with the proposals drawn up by each member State'."