Andrews stresses importance of peacekeeping provisions in Amsterdam Treaty
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., and the Minister for Defence, Mr. Michael Smith, T.D., attended the regular six-monthly Council of Western European Union (WEU) Ministers today in Rome, as an Observer. The meeting occurs at a time of continuing reflection within the EU on how to enhance the Union's response to crises such as that in Kosovo. The Amsterdam Treaty gives the WEU a role in undertaking, on behalf of the European Union, humanitarian, peacekeeping and crisis management tasks, known collectively as the Petersberg tasks. With the Treaty of Amsterdam due to enter into force early next year, today's meeting provides an opportunity to consider how to make best use of these Petersberg tasks.
Addressing the meeting, Minister Andrews drew attention to the need for the European Union to develop approaches which cover all aspects of conflict and referred to the challenges of underdevelopment, human rights violations, refugee crises and post-conflict reconstruction. He said that "our priority should be to ensure that the Treaty's mechanisms for peacekeeping and crisis management can be used to the best effect".
The Minister underlined the importance of cooperation between the various organisations responsible for security in Europe. He welcomed the fact that the WEU has recently been requested by the EU to assist in demining operations in Croatia, and to facilitate police training in Albania. The Minister commented that the new institutional arrangements cannot by themselves enhance the Union's ability to prevent and manage crises such as that in Kosovo and stressed the importance of a strong political will to ensure their effective use.
The Minister met with the new German Foreign Minister, Josckha Fischer, in the margins of the Ministerial meeting. Minister Andrews had a lengthy discussion with Minister Fischer and used the occasion to highlight Ireland's concerns in relation to discussions on Agenda 2000.