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Evans: European Parliament Debate on Iraq

In a debate in the European Parliament today on the current situation in Iraq, Jonathan Evans MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, said:

"The events of recent months have displayed two important truths for Europe.

First, we undermine the unity of NATO at our peril. Some anti-American voices in Europe have played out their contempt for all things American. And we have seen some politicians in Europe who are prepared to weaken NATO and the transatlantic alliance in their aim of developing Europe as an antagonist or counterweight rather than an ally of the United States. As British Conservatives, I want to make it clear beyond any doubt that we stand resolutely behind NATO as the bedrock of our security and defence. I make no apology for repeating our belief in NATO and the value we attach to our partnership with the United States. The actions of France, Germany and Belgium in fermenting division within the alliance over the crucial issue of Turkey's security are in my view deplorable.

Second, the concepts of a Common Foreign and Security Policy or some Common European Defence Policy have surely been fatally undermined. French politicians cannot have it both ways on this. Common, or in reality, majority policies in these areas are neither desirable nor achievable. The bullying behaviour by President Chirac towards several candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe over their support for United States policy on Iraq was shameful. Free nations who intend to join this Union should not be treated like wayward children.

The coming days will be a test of the will of the international community and of the credibility of the United Nations. But let there be no doubt about this, the responsibility for avoiding war remains squarely with Saddam Hussein and it is up to him to choose peace."

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