HC Deb 02 July 1992 vol 210 c958
Q1. Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the forthcoming Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe summit in Helsinki.

The Prime Minister (Mr. John Major)

The CSCE sets standards of democratic behaviour for the 52 countries of Europe and North America that belong to it. Britain wants it to play a more prominent role in peacekeeping, with the help of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Western European Union, in bringing pressure to bear on members who fail to meet democratic standards, in providing early warning of disputes between its members and in the conciliation and arbitration of disputes. We have put forward proposals in all these areas for decision at the summit.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the continuing ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union are in total contradiction of the Paris charter, signed at the last CSCE summit in November 1990? What new measures will he be supporting, or indeed proposing, at next week's CSCE summit in Helsinki which will bring such wars in Europe to an end and avoid any new ones in the future?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is quite right in his strictures about present performance. The CSCE can press the parties involved both to negotiate in good faith and to settle their differences peacefully. The proposals that we have put forward for the summit are aimed at making the conference more effective in both these areas.

Dr. Godman

The CSCE should surely be discussing, among other things, the eventual replacement of NATO by a European defence organisation. Does the Prime Minister agree that NATO is coming to the end of its days and that what is needed is a European defence organisation that is not dominated by American political and military leaders?

The Prime Minister

No, I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman about that. I believe that NATO's contribution in the period since the war has helped to keep Europe safe. I believe that it will continue to be the best guarantor of our security in the future. Although we see a growing role for the Western European Union, it can have that only as the European arm of NATO, with the Europeans paying a proportionately greater share of the defence of Europe. NATO must remain. It is our security both in Europe and beyond.

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