MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
AN COMHCHOISTE UM GHNÓTHAÍ EACHTRACHA
JOINT COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Dé Céadaoin, 1 Iúll 1998.
Wednesday, 1 July 1998.
The Joint Committee met at 6.10 p.m.
+ In substitution for Deputy Deasy.
Also in attendance Deputy G. Reynolds, Senator J. Connor and John Cushnahan MEP.
DEPUTY D. O’MALLEY in the Chair.
Presentation by Ambassadors of Finland, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland and Professor Keatinge on Security Architecture in the Greater European Context.
1 July 1998
Chairman: I welcome their Excellencies, Dr. Michael Breisky, Ambassador of Austria; Mr. Willy Hold, Ambassador of Switzerland; Mr. Peter Osvald, Ambassador of Sweden; Mr. Timo Jalkanen, Ambassador of Finland, and Professor Keatinge of Trinity College to this meeting which will assist us in our consideration of security architecture in the greater European context. I apologise for the unfortunate delay, which was caused by a division in the Dáil. The Austrian and Swiss Ambassadors must leave early for other appointments and I ask them to make their presentations first after which members may ask questions. This will be followed by presentations from the Swedish and Finnish Ambassadors and Professor Keatinge and a question and answer session with members.
I call Mr. Breisky, Ambassador for Austria. I congratulate him and his country on taking up the EU Presidency today for the first time and wish Austria every success over the next six months.
His Excellency, Dr. Michael Breisky, Ambassador of Austria: I thank you Chairman. I circulated a comprehensive paper on the development of Austrian security policy since 1955. Due to time constraints it is better if I stress a number of points in it. When discussing Austria’s security policy geography and history are essential to understand its position. In 1955 we saw a window of opportunity to regain full sovereignty in matters of security policy by signing the State Treaty. This was essential to get the allied powers out of Austria and then declare Austria’s permanent neutrality. “De ivre”, this declaration was done of Austria’s free will but politically it was conditioned towards Austria’s endeavour to regain full sovereignty.
Austria did that for the following decade with classical neutrality, similar to Ireland in the EEC and other international fora. However, the Gulf War brought about a new concept in 1990 and Austria considered that the structural stalemate within the UN Security Council appeared to have ended. We also saw the Security Council authorising for the first time measures under chapter VII of the Charter. Austria’s legal service came to the conclusion that obligations under Article 103 of the UN Charter were on a higher level than the Special obligations of a permanently neutral state. We also thought that measures decided by the Security Council under chapter VII should be regarded as actions of the UN and not as war in terms of international law. There is a clear distinction between military actions taking place under chapter VII and war under international law. A war in terms of intemational law has not happened over the past 20 or 30 years.
The paper also contains our position on UN peacekeeping and the OSCE. The invitation for this presentation focused on Partnership for Peace. Experience in recent years shows that international crisis management changed its profile. Among other aspects demand for peacekeeping forces has changed as may be seen from fonner UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali’s remarks in 1996 that a mandate for peacekeeping by lightly equipped forces can hardly any longer meet its purpose. In light of this development and in continuation of Austria’s traditional commitment to international solidarity, it became imperative for us to achieve and improve inter- operability of Austrian peacekeeping forces with other participants in such missions, mostly from NATO countries.
In Austria’s view, Partnership for Peace must be seen as the most appropriate instrument to achieve this goal. By signing the framework document for participation in PFP in February 1995, Austria stressed its political commitment to work together with other partners towards the scopes of the Partnership for Peace. From an Austrian perspective, these include in particular the maintenance of the capability and readiness to contribute to operations under the authority of the UN and or the responsibility of the OSCE, subject to constitutional considerations. This scope also includes the development of co-operative military relations with NATO for the purpose of joint planning, training and exercises to strengthen the ability of partners to undertake missions in the fields of peacekeeping, search and rescue, humanitarian operations and others as may subsequently be agreed.
These are the core elements of our situation in terms of the PFP. We also signed the status of forces agreement which enables forces of partnership countriesthe possibility to transit Austria. Furthermore, we welcome the multilateralisation of PFP as it was decided in Sintra.
I will be happy to answer any questions.
Chairman: We are grateful to you for coming here today and giving us these two documents which we will study.
One of the reasons the committee decided to invite the four ambassadors here to speak to us was that these four countries are traditionally regarded as being neutral. Yet, it appears that none of the four had any difficulty joining PFP. We in this country find ourselves in the rather anomalous situation in that we are the only European country, with the exception of small European statelets, which is not a member of PFP. The allegation is frequently made by those who are opposed to us joining the PFP that it is NATO under another name or a stepping stone to NATO. It is remarkable that of the four countries, Switzerland, which has always felt constrained from joining the United Nations, felt no constraint on joining PFP. It has referenda on all types of issues, some of which are not of major international importance, yet it did not find it necessary to have a referendum on joining PFP.
Mr. Breisky mentioned that Austria agreed to the transit of PFP troops. Are you expected to agree to the stationing of troops there if a decision is made in that regard?
Dr. Breisky: No. The stationing of troops has not so far been discussed. That would require a completely new agreement.
Chairman: Am I correct in describing the PFP arrangements which Austria and other countries have entered into as being like an a la carte menu where they can pick and choose their dishes and that nothing will be imposed on them to which they do not wish to adhere?
Dr. Breisky: There is a certain pejorative aspect to a la carte participation but it meets the essence. In the case of Austria, search and rescue and peacekeeping are the main points. It was our choice.
Chairman: Is there any serious agitation in Austria against its membership of PFP given that it has been a neutral country since 1955?
Dr. Breisky: There is absolute consensus in all political parties that it is right to be a member of PFP. This domestic discussion goes even further.
Deputy G. Mitchell: I join with the Chairman in welcoming the foreign ambassadors and Professor Keatinge to this meeting.
Austria is likely to be encircled by NATO members in the not too distant future if NATO enlargement goes as anticipated. Is joining Partnership for Peace being interpreted in Austria as a preparation stage for joining NATO at some time in the future or is it being seen solely as a stand alone operation? What are people’s views on the possibility of Austria joining NATO at some stage in the future?
Dr. Breisky: There might have been many Austrians who saw Partnership for Peace as a stepping stone to NATO membership. There are political forces in Austria advocating membership of NATO. However, Austria is a country based on consensus, particularly in matters of security and foreign policy affairs. The consensus was to join Partnership for Peace but that does not cover any further moves. It is also obvious from media reports that the Conservative Party in the coalition Government is in favour of joining NATO, while the other partner in Government, the larger Social Democratic Party, is predominantly not. The Conservative Party in Austria is in charge of Departments which bear the brunt of international politics, such as Foreign Affairs and Defence. They see on a day to day basis where things stand. However, I stress that this is a domestic issue. In any case, we do not expect any further developments during the Austrian EU Presidency.
Deputy G. Mitchell: It is a stand alone operation. When the consensus in Austria was to join Partnership for Peace, were there any strings attached?
Dr. Breisky: There were no strings attached.
Deputy G. Mitchell: Was there a possibility that that would lead to membership of NATO?
Dr. Breisky: No. It was an isolated venture.
Deputy G. Mitchell: Does that decision enjoy public support?
Dr. Breisky: Yes.
Deputy G. Mitchell: How much political support does it have?
Dr. Breisky: It is a total consensus.
Deputy De Rossa: What is the Austrian argument against joining NATO?
Dr. Breisky: It is a feature of the human mind that it is easier to argue why one is against the status quo than to argue in favour of maintaining the status quo. I indicated some reasons why the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Foreign Affairs favour joining NATO. However, the status quo remains and the Social Democratic Party is happy with it.
Deputy De Rossa: There must be some rationale for not joining NATO.
Dr. Breisky: May be that the past decades have been full of tremendous changes for Austria. In particular since we joined the EU in 1995. By contrast, Ireland is a member of the EU since 1973 which for us is a recent development. Responsible political leaders believe they cannot ask their people to do too much in too short a period of time. This is why I think people are happy with the status quo.
Chairman: I thank the ambassador and again apologise for the delaying him.
Mr. Hold: I am greatly honoured to be invited to address the committee and I am happy to share my thoughts on what has become known as European security architecture which has occupied the Swiss for centuries. Switzerland stands in the middle of a continent which has been shaken by violent conflicts since the dawn of history. That we have managed to escape most of those conflicts, particularly since the Westphalian peace agreement of 1648, may to some degree stem from the fact that we have learnt to make proper assessments of our security interests and requirements. The policy of permanent neutrality is the cornerstone of these assessments and the best known international feature.
How do the Swiss see the current security situation in Europe after the profound changes of the past ten years? Speaking in classical terms, we have never had it so secure. We have witnessed the end of East-West confrontation; the collapse of the offensive potential of the Warsaw Pact and the emergence of an increasingly efficient if far from perfect system of multilateral crisis management at diplomatic and military levels. We are also witnessing the disappearance of the ideological schism which has plagued the Continent for most of this century and which prevented the regional powers from working together in good faith in the search for security in Europe. However, as the stabilising effect of the Cold War is gone, there is a risk of smaller, non-ideologically motivated conflicts with potentially serious consequences.
For centuries the conflicts in which Switzerland’s neutrality came into play happened or threatened to happen on our doorstep. This explains why neutrality has for so long been the centrepiece of our foreign policy, some critics have said it is the only piece of that policy. In the mind of many Swiss people, neutrality was elevated from a means to an end. Today the probability of having to be neutral politically and geographically in a European conflict is remote. As a consequence, our foreign policy no longer needs to focus to the same extent on neutrality and we should be grateful for such a development.
At the same time we now make a more conscious distinction between a neutrality as such - a set of rules applicable in conflict situations - and a permanent policy of neutrality whose purpose is to convince the international community of our determination to remain reliably neutral should a conflict occur. While always bearing in mind the eventuality of adopting a neutral stance, such a policy offers considerable space for actions which are compatible with a strict interpretation of neutrality but can reduce the risk of the classic neutrality scenario ever becoming a reality.
As the 20th century draws to an end, the threats to most European countries are nonmilitary yet very serious. They do not recognise borders or neutrality and no European country can eliminate them on its own, even by classic military means. The threats I am referring to include: terrorism, civil wars, drugs, mass migrations, environmental disasters and the misuse of means of mass destruction. In our fight against these problems we feel increasingly enmeshed in a continental community of destiny - not neutral but a party with its own legitimate interests to defend alongside like minded neighbours.
As the networks to defend such interests are expanding geographically, they are also becoming tighter and more interwoven; NATO; Partnership for Peace; the EU and its common foreign and security policy and the WEU, an OSCE which specialises in prevetative diplomacy and the promotion of democracy; the Council of Europe as a promoter of civil and human rights and the UN which not only has 10,000 personnel in the OSCE area but also provides legitimacy for coercion measures in the interests of peace and democracy.
With the exception of Partnership for Peace these security elements are not new. What is new is the increasing convergence in their aims and their pragmatic co-operation. It is no coincidence that the Partnership for Peace framework document, before stating the practical aims of the partnership, reaffirms general principles of democracy and human rights, previously adopted by the UN and the OSCE. The practical aims of Partnership for Peace put the emphasis on transparency and civilian control of armed forces as well as on the use of military forces for purposes which are not so much military or unilateral in the traditional sense, but political and humanitarian, and always on the basis of a large consensus. In our view the wide membership of Partnership for Peace, including all previous Warsaw Pact members as well as Russia and Ukraine through special arrangements, makes it very difficult for anyone to claim that the partnership is incompatible with neutrality.
Partnership for Peace also offers a large menu of activities from which each participant can choose according to their needs and interests. Thus, no new international obligations are created except those explicitly sought by a country, and even these are limited in time. The partnership is clearly separated from NATO and participation does not imply any security guarantees by that organisation.
After a thorough study of all aspects of the partnership, the Swiss authorities, in line with the main political parties, concluded that it corresponded well with both our political and security priorities.
Switzerland intends to remain neutral and does not view Partnership for Peace as a waiting room for NATO as some have suggested. It is an independent and durable option. The creation in May 1997 of the so called Euro-Atlantic partnership council which opened avenues for enhanced co-operation for those interested has not altered our position. Our co-operation with Partnership for Peace is being developed gradually and we respect public opinion. When choosing the areas in which to cooperate we chose those in which we feel we can contribute to the common good based on our previous experience.
In the first three year programme and under a system of rolling participation, we are offering 18 different areas of participation, whereas we are participating in 47 activities offered by our partners. The total cost of all these activities for Switzerland, including the creation of the necessary infrastructure, was about £1.3 million. The experience of the first year of PFP has been very encouraging. Without creating a direct link with NATO itself we have been able to establish pragmatic co-operation in certain areas of our own choice. We were able to introduce our own ideas about security policy. The principle of choosing á la carte has proved to be workable and compatible with our neutrality. Our contribution seems to have been appreciated abroad and is solidly supported by public opinion and most political parties. The cost incurred is very modest if compared with the gain in military proficiency, useful exchanges of ideas, the promotion of mutual confidence and an insight into our partners’ ways of approaching common problems.
On the basis of these positive experiences Switzerland intends to offer in the next individual partnership programme an increased level of activities which we offer and in which we participate.
Chairman: The Committee will publish a report which will incorporate the papers which each of the ambassadors and Professor Keatinge will have presented to it. What we have heard thus far will make compelling reading for those who have antiquated and extraordinary views about PfP. It is important to note that Switzerland finds it so compatible with its views although it is known to be the most neutral of rates. I hope what is being said will be reported properly because it is much more important than much of what is reported by the press. I also hope that when the report is published finally it will give rise to debate on the topic. In so far as there has been any debate it has been dismissive and it is important that points of view such as those put by Mr. Hold on Switzerland’s experience should be appreciated so that we will not continue to live in a time warp.
It is inevitable that the ambassadors concentrate on the experiences of their countries. Professor Keatinge may take a broader view of the European security architecture. I thank the Ambassador for his presentation; it has answered the questions I would have put.
Deputy G. Mitchell: I share the Chairman’s view. My party has argued for Ireland’s membership of PfP in its document on the matter. The presentations of the Austrian and Swiss Ambassadors indicates that many of the concerns expressed in Ireland do not stand up. There are different views and it is healthy to have a debate.
Is it possible for Ambassador Hold to put in a sentence or two the principles on which Swiss neutrality is based? Can it be summed up in a couple of sentences? Why will Switzerland not join the UN when it has joined PfP? I note there has been a debate in Switzerland about the possibility of future EU membership. I do not know the strength of feelings are in that regard. If such future membership required taking on security or defence commitments would that present an insurmountable hurdle for Switzerland?
Deputy De Rossa: Does Ambassador Hold agree with the Austrian Ambassador’s view that in order to understand the Swiss position one must understand the history and geography of Switzerland? Each country has its historical and geographical imperatives for its defence and security choices. The Ambassador has already been asked about the reasons for not joining the UN and the EU. What is the rationale for not joining NATO?
Deputy Creed: Did the Ambassador indicate that the cost of Switzerland’s participation was £1.3 million for a year? What was the nature of the expenditure and the activities involved in the participation? Was that expenditure additional in the defence budget?
Deputy Shatter: I apologise for my late arrival at the meeting. This subject is of great interest to me but I was in the Dáil. I have long been of the view that Ireland should be a part of PfP and, bearing in mind our contribution to UN activities, it is highly illogical that we are not. I realise the task of ambassadors is to be diplomatic but I would be interested to hear whether the Ambassador is of the view that Ireland not being part of PfP is anomalous bearing in mind the broad range of states, including neutral states, with different histories and political perspectives which are involved. Partnership for Peace will have an important contribution to make over the next few years.
Mr. Hold: The principles of our neutrality are do not get into trouble when you can avoid it, stay out of other people’s quarrels and avoid getting involved so that tensions are created at home. Switzerland is in mid-Europe and was always involved by either Protestant or Catholic and the country is divided in Protestant and Catholic areas. We decided not to become involved in those political problems in Europe because it would have meant taking sides. It would have been very difficult for one side to join the other in working together with one particular country. That is the essence of it - do not get involved in quarrels which may create domestic problems and stay out of any kind of complications. I am sure there are better and more elaborate definitions than that, but that is the essence of it.
The word neutrality was documented in Switzerland as far back as the 14th century. It is a very old tradition in Switzerland and for many centuries it was vital for our survival. This probably explains why it has become so engrained in our thinking and our actions. On the other hand, neutrality is not an end in itself, it is a means of foreign policy. This is why, for instance, we do not have it in our constitution.
Deputy G. Mitchell: Are there no financial considerations, for example?
Mr. Hold: Being neutral is very expensive, I can assure you. If you want to be reliably neutral it is very expensive.
Deputy G. Mitchell: I was thinking more in terms of people investing in Switzerland. Are there no financial implications of that kind?
Mr. Hold: As I said, Swiss neutrality goes back almost to the Middle Ages, way before foreign investments became a consideration. Over recent decades it must have added to the quality of Switzerland as a location, that is sure, but our neutrality goes back much further than that.
Why are we prepared to join the PFP and not the United Nations? When the question of joining the United Nations was last put before the Swiss people, the Cold War was still on and bipolar power relations, in the minds of many people, implied taking sides. It is also a fact that according to the statutes of the United Nations there are situations where a country has to take action against other countries. I am not talking about Chapter VII, but the economic measures whereby a UN member is obliged to participate in certain economically punitive measures. This was one of the reasons why the Swiss at that time felt they did not want to be drawn into an organisation where they might be forced to abandon their neutrality in certain situations.
In the case of PFP the situation is different because - and I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say it - we pick a la carte. It is cherry picking. We pick what we think we can safely do without compromising our neutrality and we pick what we think is in the common interest of the whole continent. PFP is a classic example of an organisation that works on consensus, even more than the United Nations.
I have already answered the question relating to our history and geography. Our history and politics are closely linked to our geographical situation in the middle of Europe.
Why have we not joined NATO? At its present stage, NATO is not a universal organisation even on the European continent. For the time being it is a group of countries where military means are considered to resolve certain problems. Given NATO’s present nature, we do not feel membership would be compatible with our neutrality.
The cost of our activities in PFP for 1997 was £1.3 million. The nature of our activities was quite wide ranging, including civilian and military search and rescue, training, democratic control of armed forces, training and security policy, arms control and disarmament. There were no military manoeuvres, nothing of that sort. It is usually staff exercises, seminars, discussions and workshops but no actual military action, unless it would be training exercises for search and rescue operations in the case of natural disasters or humanitarian support. A major part of the expenditure for those activities comes from our defence budget and a minor part is from the budget of other ministries involved.
It is not for me to comment on Ireland but I must confess that I am sometimes asked in Switzerland how it is that a country that has been so active in the United Nations for about 40 years and has taken part in so many operations that have seen so many Irish citizens die - more than 70, I believe - in action, seems reluctant to join another organisation where the risks in purely human terms are probably less, where there is much more consensus involved and where Irish interests are more directly touched on because this is Europe, not other continents. I have to admit that sometimes I am asked these questions but I am still working on a convincing, all-embracing answer.
Deputy G. Mitchell: I asked a question about the European Union.
Mr. Hold: The reluctance of a majority of the Swiss towards the European Union has probably not much to do with neutrality. It is often quoted but I believe there are other reasons why many Swiss are not happy with the idea of joining the European Union. It is perceived as a loss of sovereignty, a handing over of decision-making powers to other people who are not Swiss. I am not trying to justify or to explain it, I am just giving a very short answer. Neutrality is sometimes waved as a banner to justify our absence but we all know that in the present situation there is no incompatibility between neutrality and EU membership, otherwise I would not have so many colleagues next to me here this evening.
Chairman: Thank you, Ambassador. I am very grateful to you for what you have said and for the manner in which you have dealt with these questions. I will now call on His Excellency, Mr. Peter Osvald, the Ambassador of Sweden, to speak.
Mr. Osvald: I am honoured to have been asked by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs to present the view of Sweden on the security structure in the greater European context, with a particular emphasis on the reasons for and benefits accruing from membership of the Partnership for Peace.
By way of introduction, let me first briefly state a few basic principles of our own security and foreign policy. Sweden pursues a policy of non-participation in military alliances. This policy is not an end in itself, it is a means of safeguarding our freedom and independence. It is combined with active participation in strengthening security in our surrounding world. The end of the Cold War has not changed this fundamental policy choice but it has dramatically increased our freedom to act constructively in building a more secure Europe. Our membership of the UN and commitment to the principles of its charter remains a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Through the UN, we participate in developing the norms of international law which ultimately ensure our security. We strongly support the notion of conflict resolution by peaceful means through dialogue and mediation. Respect for human rights and democracy are essential elements of that.
We believe disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament must continue to be pursued vigorously. We want to contribute to the building of a comprehensive, pan-European security order in which European countries, both those which contribute to military alliances and those who do not, would co-operate to deal effectively with new post-Cold War challenges to security. For us, the EU is the basis for these endeavours but OSCE conflict prevention and crisis management also plays an important part. The all-European security order must have a transatlantic dimension. Therefore, other important elements in the emerging pan-European security order are the NATO/Russia permanent joint council, the enhanced partnership for peace, and the European Atlantic Partnership Council.
Our policy of non-participation in military alliances excludes participation in any activity related to the defence of our territory and military security guarantees. We retain a strong military defence to safeguard our own territory. Strictly adhering to military non-alignment does not, however, in any other way restrict Sweden from fully participating in the emerging multifaceted Euro-Atlantic security co-operation. Swedish security policy in the new situation is characterised by a full and active participation in working towards the goals shared by all European states. Accordingly, it is important that we preserve our freedom of action to develop our participation in the Euro-Atlantic security co-operation as it emerges.
The purpose of partnership for peace is to increase the participating countries’ capability and readiness to take part in international peace support operations, to improve search and rescue operations, to improve the efficiency of civil defence and emergency planning and to strengthen democratic control of armed forces. Sweden participates in PFP on the basis of its policy of military non-alignment and we decide on the level and scope of our involvement. The European Atlantic Partnership Council, EAPC, formed last year gives the practical PFP co-operation a political dimension in order to further develop the PFP and consult on a broad agenda from peace support operations to civil emergency matters. In addition, the EAPC will allow the PFP countries a greater say in the peace support operations to which they contribute troops.
The totality of the changes in NATO, the enhanced PFP, the EAPC and the founding act between NATO and Russia are positive and important steps towards a Euro-Atlantic security order. The experiences in Bosnia-Herzegovina prove that NATO and partner countries are able to work together towards European security. Practical co-operation within the PFP framework serves the important objective of avoiding new dividing lines in Europe. If a state wants to share the responsibility for European security, it must prepare itself for these tasks. The enhanced partnership for peace programme is an essential tool in this respect. It contributes to the practical development of peace support issues and is, in itself, a confidence and security building measure. In this context, I should add that Sweden also makes important contributions to the regional co-operation in the Baltic Sea area within the framework of the Baltic Sea co-operation and the enhanced partnership for peace programme. To us, the PFP co-operation has a very important confidence and security building dimension, not least in the Baltic Sea region. That is why it is a primary objective for Sweden to involve the three Baltic countries and Russia as much as possible, as well as the US and other European countries. Our bilateral co-operation with the Baltic countries is also extensive. One of our objectives is to help build normal security functions for democratic states in today’s Europe. One of Sweden’s immediate key security policy issues is the earliest possible EU membership, according to the agreed objective criteria, for the Baltic states. Here, Sweden as an EU member, has the possibility to influence decisions. We shall contribute in every way to extend EU co-operation to these states until they are welcomed as members.
The security dividend of EU membership should not be overlooked. Our co-operation in the PFP programme is very much in line with our work within the EU. During the intergovernmental conference, Sweden and Finland proposed the strengthening of the conflict management capacity of the EU. Through this joint Swedish-Finnish initiative, the Petersburg tasks, namely, humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks on combat forces in crisis management, will become part of the EU’s responsibilities under the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Western European Union will be the instrument for their execution.
Our co-operation with NATO involves several different areas. First, our participation in various PFP activities has increased both quantitatively and qualitatively since its inception in 1994. This voluntary, bilateral and self-differentiation co-operation - the individual partnership programme, IPP - is updated regularly in direct dialogue with NATO. At the Sintra summit in 1997, Sweden also endorsed the enhanced PFP which involves all types of activities apart from those related to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, namely, the mutual defence commitment. Last year, Sweden participated in 15 different PFP field exercises, of which it hosted three. Most of these exercises had a wide participation and some included Russia. In addition, a number of exercises were held in the spirit of PFP on a bilateral and multilateral basis.
This year, for the first time, a Russian military unit participated in the PFP peace support exercise called Co-operative Jaguar in the Baltic Sea. We foresee that PFP exercises will develop further both in scope and complexity. In addition, we have established a regional PFP training centre in Sweden. One important role for the centre is to enhance the capacity of the Baltic states to participate in PFP exercises. The centre is also tasked with providing many different types of courses with broad participation from many PFP countries. Officers from the three Baltic countries, as well as Russia, will participate in several courses related to peace support issues.
Participation in NATO-led support operations requires a higher degree of interoperability that previously. It is a question of effectiveness, unity of effort and not least, security for soldiers. Experiences in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as from PFP exercises in recent years, underlines the importance of improving co-operation with military units from other countries. Other factors which must be taken into account are the substantial changes in the operational environment of today’s peace support operations. In order to address this, Sweden recently decided to adopt 35 different goals of interoperability within the PFP planning and review process. These goals are agreed on and updated regularly in bilateral dialogue between NATO and the PFP country in question. For our part, the main points of interest in the current cycle relate to training, command and control issues, medical resources and logistics.
To deal with increased contacts and exchange of information we have sent Swedish officers on secondment to different NATO staffs at various levels. Some of these officers serve as liaison officers to NATO to handle issues principally related to the SFOR operation. Four other officers currently serve as international officers in so-called partnership staff elements within NATO staffs. Their main task is to handle the often complicated technical matters in the field of interoperability, planning and development related to PFP activities. On the diplomatic side, we have substantially increased our contacts. Since last September, our ambassador to Belgium is also accredited to NATO and the WEU. Part of the embassy has been seconded as a delegation to NATO headquarters in Brussels to work exclusively with NATO on EAPC-related issues. Fourth, one of the main objectives of Swedish policy in this field is the development of a political-military framework for NATO-led peace support operations. We have put a considerable political effort into this work. If we are expected to put our soldiers in harms way, we also must take part in the planning and conduct of these operations. In general terms, countries which are members of Partnership for Peace should be able to consult with NATO in the planning and conduct of operations in which they participate with troops. Partner countries should be allowed an opportunity for decision-shaping, especially if you take into account that NATO-led peace support operations without Partnership for Peace countries is unlikely today. I wish to underline that a UN or OSCE mandate is necessary in cases of peace-support operations to which we will contribute troops.
In order to develop the concept of a political-military framework, we recently hosted a workshop with broad participation from NATO headquarters, national delegations to NATO, as well as most of the Partnership for Peace member states. We believe that there is a fair amount of understanding for our position. The workshop generated substantial input to the ongoing process. It is our belief that the political-military framework for peace-support operations will be endorsed at the Washington summit in 1999.
This work has a practical operational side to it. Our wish to develop this concept stems from our experiences from the IFOR and SFOR operations. Sweden, as no doubt the committee will be aware, continues to contribute to the ongoing SFOR operation with one mechanised battalion, together with our Nordic neighbours and Poland in a joint brigade, in the American division.
Finally, I want to emphasise the contribution this wider Euro-Atlantic co-operation gives to security in Europe in general, and to the states around the Baltic Sea in particular. Confidence-building and security-building measures of different kinds are indeed a positive contribution, but the practical work in the enhanced Partnership for Peace, the planning and review process, the partnership staff elements and the efforts towards a political-military framework for peace-support operations are all powerful contributions to create a greater understanding and help us all deal with the different crises and challenges which we may face in the future.
Sweden’s co-operation with NATO under the Partnership for Peace programme does not change our chosen security policy of military non-alignment, and poses no real problem since we exclude the military security guarantees of Article 5 of the Washington treaty. The defence of our own territory is entirely a matter for ourselves, and we do not extend military security guarantees to others. Yet we are able to make a substantial contribution to the ongoing development of a pan-European and Atlantic security system. Our participation in Bosnia-Hercegovina is a practical manifestation of our firm belief that European security is indivisible.
Chairman: Thank you, your Excellency. Your contribution, like those of your colleagues who have spoken already, is extremely interesting. It gives a view of Sweden’s policy and attitudes on military and quasi-military, politico-military matters which is not appreciated in this country. There is a perception that Sweden is at the top of Europe surrounded by a big fence and telling everyone else to keep away when, as his Excellency pointed out, the reality is quite the opposite. There is a considerable record of Sweden’s military co-operation with all its neighbours, even those which were former members of the Warsaw Pact, as well as of its significant contribution to SFOR at present. Sweden has a substantial training commitment also and of course it participates in joint manoeuvres with other countries, including Russia, which is interesting.
All of these papers will be published by the committee, but I hope they will receive wide attention in this country because they will help greatly to change some of the misconceptions which exist here, first, about the contemporary policies of certain traditionally neutral countries and second, about where Ireland stands so far from the mainstream and the normal activity of all peace-loving countries in Europe today.
Deputy G. Mitchell: That was an interesting contribution. It seems to me that some states have decided to bend rather than break. In other words, they have decided to go some of the way in the direction in which they want to go instead of standing off and allowing a winner take all situation to arise.
I want to tease out a number of matters with his Excellency, the Swedish Ambassador. Why did Sweden join Partnership for Peace? Sweden could have stayed outside and could have done many of the things he suggested through Petersburg Task type commitments at the WEU.
Sweden has a stronger relationship with the WEU than Denmark although Denmark is a member of NATO. It seems that Sweden has no difficulty with the WEU using NATO assets, for example. Is that the case or does that present a problem for Sweden?
How much does Sweden spend on defence? There is a view that neutrality equates to pacifism, that a neutral state is one which is strongly pacifist. What is the state of the armaments industry in Sweden? For example, what armaments does Sweden export?
What is the role of the Swedish Ambassador to NATO? What does he do at NATO? Why is such a high-ranking official, an Ambassador, fulfilling that role?
Senator Connor: The Swedish Army was one of the largest armies in Europe. What is its present strength? What proportion of the Swedish budget is now devoted to defence as opposed to 20 years ago, when the Swedish Army was one of the largest armies in terms of men on the continent? Has the role of the Swedish Army diminished in terms of numbers and the budgetary expenditure per annum?
Deputy De Rossa: First, you are overstating the case in relation to Ireland’s position. Ireland is not isolated and we are not adopting an antiquated line to the issue of European or, indeed, world security. Ireland is a member of the UN. Ireland participates and has been participating for 40 years in the peacekeeping efforts of the UN. Indeed, at present Ireland has troops in Bosnia under a UN mandate operating under the military command of NATO.
It is interesting that these neutral countries have not joined NATO. Why is that the case? It seems to me that there is a willingness to join Partnership for Peace but on their own terms and with all kinds of exclusions. For instance, his Excellency, the Swedish Ambassador, stated that Sweden’s co-operation with NATO does not change Sweden’s chosen security policy of military non-alignment, and poses no real problems since Sweden excludes the military security guarantees of Article 5. He further stated that the defence of Sweden’s territory is entirely a matter for Sweden and Sweden does not extend military security guarantees to others. It would be important for us to know why that is the case. Has it to do with history, geography or something else? Is it the Swedish view of how European security should evolve?
Mr. Osvald: Our membership of PfP comes from a strong belief that even if one is not a member of a military alliance one has a responsibility as a European country to contribute to the security of Europe. Our way of doing that was to join PfP. We did not join NATO because during the Cold War it would have negated the idea of the policy of neutrality we pursued. We wanted to stay out of military alliances in order to be seen as a country that would not automatically join in a European war. To underpin that policy we built up a credible national defence. After the Cold War the question on NATO membership was whether it would enhance our security. If we were to join NATO we would only do so on the basis that it would enhance our security. We do not think it would. We do not see a conflict or a problem with the WEU using NATO assets.
There were two pillars to our policy of neutrality during the Cold War. One was to stay out of military alliances and the other was to have a credible national defence. The credible national defence is still felt to be an important part of the credibility of our foreign and security policy and we will continue to try to have a credible national defence.
As in all countries, after the Cold War, cuts have been made in the defence establishments and budgets. At the height of the Cold War our defence expenditure reached about 3 per cent of GNP but it is now about 2 per cent. It is a considerable expenditure but we believe it is what we need for credibility.
Part of the concept of being neutral and having a considerable military establishment was to be able to supply ourselves with the weapons we needed. That was not always possible. In the case that we were obliged to buy weapons from abroad we always saw to it that we acquired the capability to service the weapons in Sweden and that we were not obliged to return to the sellers for their services. We also always acquired the spare parts we thought might be needed during the life of a particular weapons system in one go so that we could not be the position of being denied spare parts. We tried to furnish our defence with our own weapons, from hand guns to fighter systems.
Deputy G. Mitchell: Does Sweden export arms?
Mr. Osvald: Yes.
Deputy G. Mitchell: How much?
Mr. Osvald: I cannot give a figure but it is a minor part of our exports. We felt it was important to have the capability to produce our own weapons but the series were too short to make it economically viable. The Swedish Government allowed the arms industry in a very controlled fashion to export weapons. It has been a great source of controversy in Sweden and the policy has been revised many times. On the whole the policy has been very strict and areas of the world have been excluded as possible customers. Someone said jokingly that we only sell weapons to countries where we do not expect them ever to be used. However, there has been very strict control on the policy.
I cannot give figures for the size of our army. We have a system of national conscription so the standing army is not overwhelming. The bulk of the army in the case of emergency would be made up of conscripts. It is a system similar to that in other European countries. The defence budget has declined considerably.
With the development of the security architecture in Europe, NATO invited those who were interested to accredit ambassadors to it. We accepted the invitation. We did not appoint a particular ambassador to NATO; it is the responsibility of our ambassador to Belgium. It is a measure of recognition that we co-operate with NATO and that there are matters we need to discuss directly with the NATO authorities in Brussels.
Deputy G. Mitchell: Is Sweden’s ambassador to NATO also ambassador to the WEU?
Mr. Osvald: I believe so.
Chairman: With regard to arms production and export, I noted Ambassador that you said arms exports form a small part of Sweden’s exports. Sweden’s exports are very substantial so a small part can still leave Sweden as a major exporter of arms in world terms. In view of the sensitivities on the matter and that arms which go to one country can go on to another, is it appropriate to continue an extensive trade in arms?
Mr. Osvald: I do not have exact figures. The Chairman considers that we may be a major exporter in world terms but our part of the world trade in arms is less than 1 per cent. In terms of volume it may seem a lot but compared to the major arms sellers we are not a major seller.
Chairman: It depends also on the nature of the arms. Sweden may not be selling expensive missile weaponry but it is a large exporter of small arms and ammunition.
Mr. Osvald: I cannot give a figure but the electronic control and artillery systems constitute most of our exports. Hand held weapons continue to be sold abroad.
Mr. Jalkanen: In its security policy since the end of the Cold War, Finland has pursued a policy of military non-alliance based on a credible national defence capability. However, it is appropriate to point out that an inseparable element of this policy is that Finland reserves the right to consider all security options, including joining a military alliance.
From the perspective of Finland, the European Union, NATO and Russia are the most central actors in the security development in Europe. They are all in a state of transformation and affect security and stability in Finland’s environs in Northern Europe.
Membership of the European Union has clarified and strengthened Finland’s international position. Although membership does not entail security guarantees, it does entail mutual solidarity. Finland supports strengthening of EU’s foreign and security policy and participates constructively in the development of the Union’s security and defence dimension.
Part and parcel of Finnish security policy is the opportunity to make independent choices and safeguard the country’s own interests. It is Finland’s aim to ensure that she is equipped with the best possible means of safeguarding her security in all circumstances. Security problems in Europe require solutions, which are based on the principles of the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Co-ordination with EU partners has proved its great value.
In this connection I would like to express Finland’s appreciation for the good co-operation we have had with Ireland when preparing to join the European Union. In the field of security policy I would like to add that Ireland’s example as a non-allied EU country was particularly valuable for us when Finland was arranging her relations with WEU.
Finland supports political and economic reform in Russia as well as efforts to commit that country more firmly to co-operative security. Increasing Russian participation in European and Transatlantic co-operation is vital. If a different course were chosen by Russia, many achievements would be put to the test. For Finland as a neighbouring country, management of security problems associated with Russia and enhancement of military stability in Northern Europe are particularly important questions. In this context I would like to mention the Northern Dimension initiative of the EU which seeks to address questions of integration and regional co-operation with the means available to the European Union.
Due to the special historical relationship between Finland and Sweden and the similarity of their interests, co-operation between these countries is also growing closer in the area of security policy. Both countries are members of the EU, observers of the Western European Union and active non-allied participators in the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
Finland is carefully following the effects of NATO enlargement in the Baltic Sea region. Strengthening of the sovereignty of the three Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is essential for the stability and security of the region. Transparency and respect for the principles of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in the relationship between NATO and Russia will guarantee that the security interests of all countries, large and small, are duly taken into consideration.
The transatlantic link remains at the core of European security. Loosening it would mean less predictability in the European security landscape and consequently more room for various conflict scenarios to gather strength. The United States and Russia will continue to dialogue in any case. It is important that European countries are involved as much as possible.
Security structures in Europe are developing in a way which may cause some overlap and produce a blurred picture. From Finland’s point of view it is only natural that the excessive clarity of the bipolar Europe is followed by a period when institutions interlock, co-operate and sometimes compete. But they all reinforce each other operating on the basis of shared values and objectives.
As regards military security, the network of co-operation being built around NATO, and based on UN and OSCE principles, would be difficult to replace with anything else. Therefore, it is in our interest to strengthen participation in this co-operation and to contribute to the improved functioning of the network as a whole. It is Finland’s view that partners share the security dividends of NATO co-operation also without the need to strive for membership.
International military co-operation is a growing part of Finnish security policy. Participation in international crisis management operations strengthens Finland’s military interoperability and enhances its defence preparedness.
Within the European Union, Finland emphasises that crisis management is part of the Union’s common foreign and security policy. Finland has filed her UN standby forces with the Forces Answerable to WEU list and the PfP programme. Both have also been notified of the availability of Finnish units for international rescue operations.
Finland sees NATO as a central factor in shaping security in Europe. We joined the North Atlantic Co-operation Council as an observer in 1992, Partnership for Peace in 1994, the Planning and Review Process in 1995 and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council at its inception in 1997. Finland’s mission to NATO was opened more than half a year ago, and the first Finnish officers started their work at the Partner Staff Elements in NATO commands this year, at the beginning of June.
The EAPC has the potential to develop into a forum where member countries can voice their concerns, present their ideas and seek solutions together. Its agenda and working methods are still being developed. Finland is one of the most active countries in this work. Some practical questions related to the Baltic Sea are among those we would like to be discussed in the EAPC, as was proposed by Finland, together with Sweden, last April.
NATO’s record in crisis management during the past few years has been impressive. IFOR and SFOR have added a whole new dimension to our co-operation with NATO. Finland’s capabilities in peacekeeping continue to be used in Bosnia. At the same time, partner participation in SFOR brings useful experience to the development of the NATO led crisis management in the future.
I will list some of the benefits accruing from the Partnership for Peace: From a political point of view, participation in the EAPC and the PFP is for Finland a means, first, to promote international security, stability and co-operation, second, to obtain information and ensure our own influence in decisions which concern us and, third, to show that Finland does her share when it comes to crisis management in the Euro-Atlantic region.
In participating in PFP’s planning and review process we have been able to develop our inter-operability of forces in crisis management activity, which is essential in participating in a NATO led mission. By sending officers to the partnership staff elements, Finland has an opportunity to participate in joint planning of operations with NATO headquarters and our staff officers will be able to familiarise themselves with NATO planning procedures.
I would like to end this brief presentation by emphasising that in just a few years Finland’s co-operation with NATO has become an everyday activity. In addition to the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry, many other sectors are involved. The Finnish Parliament has currently the status of an associate delegation of the North Atlantic Assembly, NAA.
PFP’s value is widely recognised in Finnish society. The policy of non alignment has actually become more credible thanks to our participation in the Partnership for Peace.
Chairman: Thank you, Ambassador. The four papers we have heard all complement and agree with one another on a remarkably wide range of issues. The experience of the four countries seems to be quite similar and very positive in every case. I hope that will influence thinking in this country.
Deputy G. Mitchell: All four papers were very interesting. I congratulate you, chairman, on bringing about this very useful exercise. The more I hear, the more I realise that the Chief of Staff was very restrained in what he had to say yesterday. There must be a certain amount of mortification for our Army personnel when they cannot meet their colleagues in Europe on the same basis as other neutral EU member states which have put their case very well.
I was going to ask why Finland joined the Partnership for Peace but the Ambassador made it very clear when he stated it is “to show that Finland does her share when it comes to crisis management in the Euro-Atlantic region”. I did some research on neutrality many years ago, on which Professor Keatinge’s books are the standard works. We should all be very grateful to him for his contribution to public affairs in that area. Seán MacBride said when he was Minister for External Affairs in 1949 that Ireland would become a fill chartered member of NATO the day after partition ends. Given what has happened since with the British-Irish Agreement and so on, I wish to put some questions later in that regard to Professor Keatinge. It seems the principle on which we have based our neutrality is partition and that if partition had not existed we would have joined NATO in 1949.
It also seems that neutrality was imposed on Finland because of its relationship with its large neighbour and that Finland was not a free agent in the matter. Does Finland’s membership of the Partnership for Peace result in any pressure for it to join NATO? Would there be public support for that if it were to come about? Has Finland been invited to join NATO? What is the Ambassador’s view on Finnish membership of NATO in the future? Did he see joining PFP as a halfway house or stepping stone in that direction. Is there an ongoing discussion in Finland on possible NATO membership?
The Ambassador spoke about Finland’s mission to NATO. Is that mission led at ambassadorial level, similar to the Swedish mission?
Mr. Jalkanen: In regard to NATO membership, as I said at the beginning we want to keep all security options open. However, at the moment we do not see any need to join. I think that we would not get any more security by being a full member of NATO. We are quite happy with the PFP at the moment. Our Government, our President - the Finnish President has a lot of political power - and the Foreign Affairs Committee of our Parliament decided, on behalf of Finland, to join PFP. The decision was unanimous.
It is difficult to say how much support there is in Finland for NATO membership. There were polls conducted some time ago which suggested that 30 or 40 per cent - I do not remember the exact figure - of Finns were ready for membership. For instance, one well known politician, the chairman of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland, has supported NATO membership. He is the Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trades. There is naturally discussion in Finland of that alternative. However, we are quite content for the time being with PFP.
As far as our representation in NATO is concerned, we have the same arrangement as Sweden does. Our Ambassador to Belgium is also accredited to NATO. That arrangement seems to function quite well.
Chairman: Is he also the Ambassador to the Western European Union?
Mr. Jalkanen: Yes.
Deputy De Rossa: The papers are invaluable to our discussion on European security architecture and has provided us with a great deal of information. All four papers indicate that history is a major factor, with people’s perceptions of who they are, where they are and what their relationships are with neighbouring countries. Geography also plays a role, with the reality of threats or otherwise or experiences of invasion having an impact. Self preservation is another very strong feature in all the papers. The need for a Euro-Atlantic link, which is a euphemism for keeping the United States on board; this is a view I strongly agree with. The answers so far to the question of why countries are not joining NATO are not clear. Has America’s dominance of NATO anything to do with that? Denmark is strongly against the idea of common European defence, but it is part of NATO, as it prefers that framework for historical and geographical reasons. I understand their view is that European common defence would be dominated by Germany. These issues are behind many of the positions taken. I am pleased with this debate, which I hope to see developing. I would like to see a NATO representative here to find out their objectives and values.
Chairman: That was agreed and NATO will send someone. The difficulty is that we have already delayed our guests an inordinate length of time. We will get a representative from NATO.
Proinsias De Rossa: There is an underlying question of values and objectives, and it seems that the view is that this is possible. The application of an á la carte approach, as the Swiss Ambassador referred to in the Partnership for Peace, is one issue and the maintenance of sovereignty is another factor in joining NATO.
Mr. Jalkanen: May I add that it has not been very costly for Finland for to engage in various programmes, in the framework of the PFP. Our annual defence budget is approximately 8 billion Finn marks, and our participation in UN peacekeeping costs 300 million Finn marks, while PFP participation costs only 8 million Finn marks, which is between £500,000 and £600,000. It is nothing compared to the annual defence budget. The á la carte system suits us very well; it allows us to participate in the activities we are interested in.
Chairman: I am grateful to you, and to all your colleagues, for your remarks and attendance. Your paper is very valuable and will be published as part of our report.
I apologise to Professor Keatinge for keeping him so long. We probably invited too many delegates. The other papers presented were very interesting and generated many questions. I do not want to imply that Professor Keatinge’s contribution will be any less important because he is recognised as an expert in this field. I have not yet read his submission, but the title is “Security Architecture in the Greater European Context”. While Ambassadors would talk about their own countries, as one would expect, the changing nature of security architecture in Europe needs to be addressed, and this matter seems to transcend the Caucuses. The PFP includes Central Asian republics which are beginning to play an important role, and the US and other States perceive those republics as strategically important. To a certain extent they represent a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism to the south and most are neighbours of Russia. Professor Keatinge might deal with the broader geographical spread of Europe in a security context.
Professor N.P. Keatinge: I am happy to be here, particularly as there is no football on tonight. I will talk about the general security environment in Europe, and then look at the three major institutional elements: the OSCE, NATO and the EU.
The general security environment in Europe can be described in terms of good news and bad news. The good news, we should keep reminding ourselves, is that we no longer focus on the prospect of nuclear Armageddon in a partitioned Europe. We are trying to construct an inclusive, co-operative security framework based on the presumption of peaceful resolution of conflicts by States which, for the most part, subscribe to the values of liberal democracy.
The second piece of good news is that the concept of security we are dealing with has broadened so that it no longer emphasises confrontation and coercion by military means; it has been broadened to include common interests and instruments of what might be termed civilian power. Third, we have an array of multinational diplomatic structures and organisations, and a network of mutually enforcing co-operation. This allows all European States, large and small, access to the process. This regional security process is fully endorsed as a subset of the UN system of world security.
The news that is not so good relates to the differentiation of risks. Efforts proceed from the basis that security is indivisible and that all States are equally affected by risks in the system. In reality not all States see it this way all the time. I speak of three Europes. The first is western Europe, which is relatively secure and of which we are lucky to be part. At the other end of the spectrum is the arc of insecurity of most former Soviet Republics, most of the Balkans and many Mediterranean States which are prone to political violence and sometimes conflict. Most republics of the former Soviet Union, most of the Balkan states and many states in the Mediterranean region are prone to serious political violence which sometimes leads to all out conflict in a context of weak state authority. In between there are the central and eastern European countries which are trying to join the western system with all the considerable strains that involves.
Given this differentiation of risk there is a danger that it is all too easy for us in the secure part of Europe to assume that securing the rest of Europe is someone else’s business. That would be a short sighted view to take. In the debate following the publication of the original White Paper in 1996 some people seemed to be of the opinion that we are all right because we are in the Atlantic - a partnership for peace has no relevance for us, the Swedes and the Finns may need it but it has nothing to do with us. That starts from a dangerous premise.
In all of this we require the consensus of the larger states and that agreement is not forthcoming automatically. We cannot assume that the major member states of the European Union are always as one. The engagement of the United States, and this bears on what Deputy De Rossa said, is a critical element, as is the engagement of Russia. It would not be surprising if we see in the search for co-operative security that there is a muted form of traditional competitive power politics.
The role for the rest of us is to ensure this competition remains muted and embedded in the forms of multilateral diplomacy which we have. To do that all states must exercise their right to participate in multilateral institutions as fully as they can.
If we look at Europe we can see the concrete attempts to incorporate the rest of Europe into a western style security system, mainly through the enlargement process of the European Union, NATO and the partnership processes associated with that. We can see that these attempts raise considerable problems. In the short to medium-term they are divisive yet no serious alternative to proceeding along those lines has emerged.
My overall assessment of the security environment is that since the Cold War ended almost ten years ago, the glass is half full rather than half empty. Nothing is assured, however, and the security architecture requires constant attention.
I examined the OSCE as one of the main institutions involved. It has inclusive membership - all former republics of the Soviet Union are members - and this is why the Central Asian countries belong. These are countries which are only a little European in the sense of being bound into the interests which we normally think of as European. That extends the geographical scope of European security and it raises the question of how much involvement we want in the difficulties which they might have and vice versa. There is no doubt there will be difficulties. This is an area in which oil resources will play a large role in coming years.
The inclusive membership, comprehensive scope and consensual procedures give the OSCE a strong position as a source of legitimacy. It is a place where all member states can agree on underlying principles and on the rules of the game. In that context the OSCE has the status of a regional security organisation under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. This is a connection with the system of global security of which we are a part and have respected for a long time.
The OSCE does three things. First, it promotes democratisation in the broader sense of the word, taking an interest in national minorities and standards of electoral conduct in difficult situations. Second, it also has a role in military transparency and the overseeing of certain arms control agreements such at the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.
Third, it has a role in low profile crisis management. It has instruments for early warning procedures and it can send ad hoc missions, such as that undertaken by Felipe Gonzales to Serbia two years ago, and former Austrian Chancellor Vranitsky’s visit to Albania last year.
It is in this context that we see the limits of the OSCE as an action-oriented institution-it has no military or police capability of its own. None of the member states will give it those capabilities in duplication of their own national resources because they do not have the money and because they cannot trust the OSCE to be a body to maintain control over what happens should they do that. The OSCE relies, in principle and in practice, on other institutions. It relies on the UN for authorization, on NATO and WEU for implementation. It is important to bear this in mind when discussing security architecture. There is an interdependence of institutions and a division of labour which has developed over the past eight years. It is not perfect and must be constantly worked upon but it is the best way forward.
The development of the OSCE will be gradual. At first it is tempting to look at it as he crowning dome of the whole security edifice but part of its difficulty is that it is almost too inclusive, there is such a diversity of political interest in that body that it is difficult to see consensus arriving on critical issues such as crisis management and the commitment of military force. Nobody wants to go as far as developing the OSCE into a mini-United Nations. That would cause problems of bringing a veto for the larger states into the OSCE context and that is a situation which no one wants to see arise.
We must question why NATO persists. That institution had the defeat of the Soviet Union as its original purpose and that was achieved in 1989-91. Why does NATO still exist? The answer is simple. In the face of political violence in the OSCE area the need for military co-operation still exists. Governments feel the need for military co-operation to continue and NATO persists as the focus of this need. If NATO is the focus - and this is part of the answer to Deputy De Rossa’s question - it is because the United States is still seen as a necessary element to support military and political crisis management in Europe. There always has been an ambivalence in Europe and within NATO about American engagement, leadership and dominance. On the one hand there has been a recognition that we cannot in certain ways do without the US and this has been particularly important within the military field. It has the resources and assets. In the political field, it has the credibility to bang peoples’ heads together diplomatically. It sometimes does so in a crude way and this leads to the other side of the ambivalence because there is apprehension about being led by the US in directions we would rather not go. That has been a fact of political life to some degree in international politics since the end of Second World War. There is still something of that but it seems the overwhelming attitude among NATO members and other member states - and we saw it from the Ambassadors present - is a recognition that we still need the US. We, in Ireland, have just called on the US for its assistance in trying to solve our own little problems. It should not be surprising if almost every country in Europe has the same wish to involve the US. That is part of the reason NATO still exists.
If I were in the UK I would call it “New NATO”. It is a body which has adapted in certain ways, first, by becoming primarily involved in crisis management. Its original goal remains, which is to be a final insurance against a future military threat against the territory of NATO member states. It has not repudiated that. However, the military posture has changed considerably and the bulk of NATO activities are devoted to crisis management. For example, in Bosnia there is a UN authorised military presence, 35,000 people strong, in the context of a division of labour with other institutions such as the OSCE supervising elections, the EU providing a High Representative running the political and economic reconstruction and the UN providing police training etc.. This is one of the most striking examples of the reality of mutually reinforcing security. There is nothing automatic about NATO involvement in this. NATO member states will consult about every crisis that comes up and we can expect that there will be difficult debates on what political direction to adopt and what military mission to pursue. These situations are never very easy to decide as we see in Kosovo.
NATO is changing in other ways. There has been a major reconstruction and rationalisation of its armed forces, but, typically, they are shrinking and reforming in multinational units. Most of the Dutch army, for example, operates alongside elements of the German army. One would not have considered that likely 50 years ago. Internally, there is a change in the political balance between American and European influence. The American urge to lead is softened a little while the French urge to resist American leadership has softened in certain ways.
Finally, a change in NATO to which we should pay attention, because it is most contentious, is the question of the enlargement of NATO membership. We have the case for extending membership to countries in central and eastern Europe, resting mainly on their wish to consolidate their independence of Russian influence, to stabilise their relations with their neighbours and to support their democratic transition. We have the case against made mainly on the argument that if enlargement is seen as a threat by Russia it may lead to a counterproductive spiral of insecurity. This is a dilemma which NATO has faced by trying to square the circle. There has been a partial enlargement involving Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary balance by forms of inclusion through association with non-NATO members. These forms include Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council referred to earlier. It also includes, especially important in light of Russian anxieties, the special relationship which Russia has had with NATO since the Founding Act of last year.
In so far as our security policy is concerned, the most relevant of these forms are Partnership for Peace and the EAPC. I will call them the Euro-Atlantic network because they are coalescing as such. I will not go into detail about this, but I will simplify what was said by the Ambassadors. This network is an expression of political inclusiveness. There are 44 countries in the EAPC and 43 in PfP because Tajikistan is in a curious position. Almost all of the other OSCE countries are in this inclusive network. In so far as it gives the lie to a drawing of new divisions, it is a confidence building measure. On an operational level - the co-operation of military forces on a day to day basis - the Euro Atlantic network looks like, if it is not already, the benchmark of best international practice in regional peacekeeping. We should consider this very seriously and recognise our exclusion from that network, which accounts for what the Chief of Staff said yesterday and what the people directly involved in peacekeeping have been thinking for some time.
There is a continuing adaptation of NATO, reflecting the view of most European Governments that there is still a significant need for military co-operation and American involvement remains essential. Many Governments, particularly the smaller ones, would much rather deal with American involvement in the context of a relatively open multilateral arrangement rather than in the form of bilateral deals between the big powers, which perhaps secretly the bigger countries would like.
The committee has already discussed the EU in enormous detail in terms of the Amsterdam Treaty, etc. EU enlargement has an important security dimension. That must be spelled out, particularly over the coming years. It has already been an element in encouraging higher standards of behaviour with regard to national minorities. We have seen this type of leverage in the European Stability Pact. Eventual membership for those countries will be equivalent to membership of the established peace zone. It seems, therefore, that Ireland’s policy on EU enlargement should not be calculated solely on a cost benefit analysis of direct material advantage in the short term. It is an investment in the security of future generations.
We approach security policy on a day to day basis through the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Following the ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty, we have the possibility of doing military crisis management and peacekeeping in an EU-WEU context. However, it seems that as long as American engagement in European security is seen as essential, the EU-WEU context is likely to complement rather than replace a Euro-Atlantic network. Any large scale WEU peacekeeping mission may depend on NATO assets. Arrangements are being made to do this. In what ways and to what extent should Ireland contribute to the security architecture? In the context of the UN, the OSCE and the European Union, the answer is evident. We participate in those institutions through political consultations in order to agree on common positions. We pursue these positions by taking up diplomatic activity, allocating moneys and contributing our Defence Forces and Garda. However, our abstention from the remaining major element, the Euro Atlantic network, is all the more anomalous by contrast.
It has been suggested that our neutrality is at stake. However, that is a misconception. The values we associate with neutrality political rather than military means, rights of small states and human rights are also values associated with co-operative security. The category of neutral state has little direct relevance to the European security architecture. It does not inform European debates on the goals to be pursued or the means to be adopted. It does not have significant meaning in the context of crisis management in Bosnia. It is not, as we have seen from the ambassadors of neutral countries or countries which do not participate in military alliances, usually taken to preclude a voluntaristic form of association with military alliances. Where co-operative security is concerned, there is precious little to be neutral about. Nothing is achieved by abstention.
Chairman: I thank Professor Keatinge for his valuable paper which I am sure will be widely read as it sets out matters clearly. I have spent part of the past two days listening to the merits of the proposal to appoint a high representative to embody European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy at the Vienna Council meeting in December. Has Professor Keatinge any views on that, given that this appointment will be paralleled by the development of early warning and crisis management systems in the European Union and elaborate analytical operations which have been proposed with a view to staving off Balkan type incidents or catastrophes?
Deputy G. Mitchell: I compliment Professor Keatinge on his excellent paper. It is not good enough that we participate in the security architecture; we must be one of the architects. As long as we base our approach on outmoded principles, our role as an architect will be weakened.
Part of Ireland has been a member of NATO since 1949. We had a referendum recently on the British-Irish Agreement which is now incorporated in Article 29 of the Constitution. Given the wide possibilities arising from that Agreement, we are not just talking about the three spheres mentioned in the context of European security architecture, but about the totality of relationships between these islands and on this island, North and South. We may have to discuss security, defence and related issues in a more realistic way with newly appointed Ministers in a Northern Ireland Administration. It no longer suffices to look at things in the context of what we inherited in 1949. We must start thinking of things anew and the papers presented by the four ambassadors and by Professor Keatinge on the wider principles have contributed to that. I am interested to hear if Professor Keatinge has anything to say in the context of what is happening on the island of Ireland and on future security considerations.
Proinsias De Rossa: I thank Professor Keatinge for presenting his paper. I agree with Deputy Gay Mitchell about moving forward in terms of assessing what our stance should be. One of the questions we must ask when making our minds up about these issues is what is the game plan of the major world powers in terms of the Euro Atlantic network? We may have altruistic or self-preservation views as regards what we want to do.
Professor Keatinge: As regards what used to be called Mr. or Mrs. PESC in French, this is part of reinforcing the central institutional capacity of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. One would have to go a long way further before the policy planning unit, which is to be established, emerges as a foreign ministry in its own right. We are starting from a low level of central institutional capacity in the system. I do not look for anything dramatic in that respect. However, it would serve a useful purpose if it more effectively brings together the information, appraisals and interpretations of national foreign ministries.
Deputy Mitchell raised the issue of security in these islands. We have a fair way to go before the new institutions begin discussing the large issues such as military enforcement and so on. However, there are many practical issues with which military forces are concerned, such as air-sea rescue, fishery protection and other issues which relate to the island of Ireland as a geographical unit.
These may provide for a pragmatic development of common interests. There is another angle to what has happened in this regard - it changes the expectations of our European partners as to how we are going to behave in further incorporating ourselves. In 1949 we said yes, NATO is lovely, but partition precludes it.
Deputy De Rossa asked about the game plan of the NATO powers. One must remember that NATO comprises 19 rather different member states. It makes its game plan by consensus and with considerable pain and it has taken a long time to adapt the organisation. I am not sure that one could easily see a game plan beyond responding to particular situations which arise in and around Europe. For example, even at the height of the Cold War, NATO under American leadership did not become an institution which followed the Americans willy nilly into other parts of the world. Vietnam was not at NATO war. Some countries which were signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty opening and publicly rubbished the American position and others did so privately. I am less worried than the question infers about NATO having a strategic global design. NATO is a pragmatic body and can be dealt with on that basis whether one is a member or part of the broader Euro-Atlantic network. That is why I am not so afraid of NATO.
Chairman: I thank Professor Keatinge and the ambassadors. This has been a valuable meeting and I propose that this topic be discussed and developed further at our next meeting. We have an opportunity to read the five invaluable presentations made. I hope my objective of stimulating a national debate on this topic will be achieved. If so the five speakers will have made a substantial contribution for which we are very grateful.
The Joint Committee adjourned at 8.35 p.m.