Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (127)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

123 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the recent developments in regard to defence, security and peace in the EU context with particular reference to the future role of PfP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4471/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The basic principles underlying the Partnership for Peace, PfP, as set out in the PfP framework document of January 1994, remain unchanged. This document sets out the political purposes of PfP which include the protection of human rights, the safeguarding of freedom, justice and peace, the promotion of democracy, the maintenance of the principles of international law, and the fulfilment of the obligations of the UN Charter, and of OSCE commitments. A key principle which applies is that of self-differentiation whereby each PfP country determines the nature, scope and limits of its participation.

A key aspect of PfP membership from Ireland's perspective lies in the core principle of self differentiation, whereby each country participates according to its own interests and priorities. Ireland has focused on co-operation in the area of peacekeeping. The development of enhanced interoperability with other PfP countries is improving our ability to undertake peacekeeping operations in a safe and effective manner.

The Deputy will be aware that the number of non-NATO countries participating in PfP will fall from 27 to 20 in June 2004, after the accession process is completed for those countries that were invited in November 2002 to join NATO; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The Deputy will also be aware that in the separate and distinct context of the European Union, European Security and Defence Policy, ESDP, became operational during the course of 2003 with a strong focus on undertaking crisis management and humanitarian missions. During that year, the EU undertook two police missions, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The EU also launched two military crisis management and humanitarian operations, one in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the other in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter operation, in which Ireland participated, was undertaken at the request of the United Nations and was successful in relieving a situation of great humanitarian distress.

Ireland's ability to make a meaningful contribution to UN-authorised missions is undoubtedly enhanced by its participation in Partnership for Peace activities. PfP has proved itself an important framework for co-operation in areas appropriate to the so-called Petersberg Tasks which include humanitarian, peacekeeping, crisis management and rescue activities. This can also be seen by the participation in PfP of all our EU partners, including the other neutral and non-aligned states.