asked the Taoiseach why in the Dáil on Wednesday, 16th July, in a comment on a question about suggestions by the Italian and Finnish Governments that a European security conference should be summoned, he stated that there was no Italian initiative in view of the fact that, as reported on 11th April, 1969, Signor Nenni, the Italian Foreign Minister, has proposed that the NATO alliance meet as soon as possible with members of the Warsaw Pact and that European nations that do not belong to either alliance should also be invited.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - European Security Conference.
There was no Italian initiative or approach to us in the sense of the initiatives and the approaches that we received from four other countries, Rumania, Hungary, the USSR been endorsed by this House. It will ally through official channels. We were, of course, aware of the views expressed on a number of occasions by the Italian Foreign Minister on the subject before his resignation.
Is the Taoiseach not aware that my question did not refer to approaches to us but to initiatives by Italy and the Italian Foreign Minister? The word "initiative" is defined variously in dictionaries as "a first step, an origination, an introductory step or movement, an act which originates or begins". These Italian proposals put formally at the NATO conference in April represent initiatives in any ordinary sense of the word. How, in those circumstances, can the Taoiseach suggest there was no Italian initiative when these initiatives were featured in the headlines in the newspapers three months ago?
I do not want to go into the dictionary definition of "initiative". All I want is to indicate to the Deputy, as I indicated last week, that we had no formal approach from the Italian Government about this conference—and that is the fact. Signor Nenni expressed his personal views on more than one occasion, not only in the Italian Parliament but on the occasion of a visit to Yugoslavia. So far as we know, no formal approach was made by the Italian Government to any other Government.
Is the Taoiseach not aware that the question I put down was whether we would respond to these invitations by approaching the Italian Government to indicate our willingness to participate in such a conference to which the amendment proposed European nations which do not belong to either alliance would be invited? Will the Taoiseach now consider such a response in view of the fact that the proposal has come from Italy?
Our views have already been made known in response to the formal initiative and approaches which have already been made to us. The Minister for External Affairs last week told the Deputy and the House what that response was.