Cowen to Discuss EU-UN Peacekeeping Cooperation with Kofi Annan in Brussels
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., has staunchly defended Ireland's proud and honourable participation in UN peacekeeping. Speaking from Brussels he said it was regrettable that Afri had chosen over the weekend to draw an attack on the UN system into the debate on the Treaty of Nice and called on them to withdraw their remarks. "I welcome every opportunity to discuss and explain the benefits to Ireland and the EU of enlargement, which is at the heart of the Treaty of Nice," he said. "Many opponents have chosen to dwell on issues which have nothing to do with the Treaty. Others have predictably chosen to use the debate to attack the EU itself. But it is deplorable that the UN has now been attacked by its opponents."
"The contribution of the Irish Defence Forces to UN missions since 1958 has been a great source of pride to the Irish people. We share that pride with the Irish officers who risk their lives in the pursuit of international peace and security and Afri's contention that a United Nations mandate has become "an elastic concept" is unworthy.
"The leaders of the European Union declared at Nice that the EU recognises the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for maintaining peace and international security. The development of the European Security and Defence Policy, approved by the people in a referendum on the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, strengthens the Union's ability to respond coherently in this area in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter. The UN has encouraged regional approaches to peacekeeping and this is what I will be discussing later today with the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, who is in Brussels to examine closer cooperation between the EU and UN on these matters.
"I totally reject Afri's claim that our involvement in the EU's Headline Goal will be "a wide agenda for action". There is no hidden agenda. The EU's role is clearly limited by the Treaties under which its institutions operate to Petersberg Tasks, namely humanitarian, rescue, peacekeeping and crisis management tasks. Ireland will participate on a case by case basis only, in accordance with the existing legislation which requires prior Oireachtas approval and a prior UN mandate.
"Voting ‘Yes' for the Treaty of Nice will enhance peace, democracy and stability in Europe."