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Lord Kennet: My Lords, will the noble Lord permit me to intervene? The facts that I was talking about may be well known to the Polish Government but they were not known to the Polish parliamentary delegation at the North Atlantic Assembly meeting.

Lord Belhaven and Stenton: My Lords, all I can say is that they jolly well ought to have been known. I know that they were known to the Polish Government because I spoke to the Polish ambassador yesterday.

Those conditions have been accepted by Poland. Given that the Polish economy is one of the fastest growing in Europe, I see no reason why Poland should not be able to meet them. So far as I know, they have also been accepted by the Czech Republic and Hungary. That is clear so far as it goes, but there is, of course, with the expansion of NATO, the question of what external threat exists to these countries. For that, recent history is more than enough.

To recapitulate briefly, Russia, in the guise of the Soviet Union, dictated foreign and, to a large extent, internal policy in those countries until 1989. Like other noble Lords, I do not believe that the present regime in Russia poses any threat to central European security. However, knowing Russian history and knowing that we do not have a crystal ball, we cannot predict too far into

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the future. The whole history of Russia, both imperial and Soviet, is one of relentless expansion at the expense of her neighbours. Now Russia has returned to her heartland, basically though not entirely. But it is too early to forget the Chechen war, which only ended in 1996, less than two years ago.

I learnt of that war from my Polish friends. It had a profound effect on Poland. Many people were made extremely nervous by the Russian action and there was a certain amount of support in Poland for the Chechen rebels, if we can call them that. The brutality of the assault on the small Chechen nation was out of all proportion to any threat it posed to Russia. The war, from the Russian point of view, was a disaster. A fact which is little known is that more Russian soldiers were killed in the initial assault on Grozny than were killed in the whole of the Afghan war. The loss of life and property of the civilian population was appalling. One must hope that some lessons have been learnt, but it is only too easy to see why Poland wishes to join NATO in self-protection.

If Russia feels that NATO threatens her, she must consider her past history. I can say categorically that Poland seeks no territory, only to retain what she has; and that goes for the Czech Republic and Hungary also. From our point of view, a security vacuum in central Europe could be extremely dangerous. In my opinion it is important that a threat to any of those three countries should be treated as a threat to us all. That will be the case too when they are in NATO; otherwise we might just make noises, say, "How dreadful!" and do nothing, as we have done sometimes in the past. We are talking, after all, of that part of the heartland of European civilisation which came close to being lost over 50 years of war and foreign occupation. They cannot be classified at the present time--nor should they ever have been classified--as faraway countries of which we know nothing.

With regard to the Polish application, I need hardly remind your Lordships of the Polish contribution in the Second World War in the Battle of Britain and at Tobruk, Monte Cassino, Falaise and the many other actions in which they fought side by side with us. I cannot claim much military knowledge, but I have seen their soldiers on parade in Warsaw. Their military bearing is still superb and--dare I say?--on a par with the Brigade of Guards. I should guess that we may at some time need them as much as they need us.

2.32 p.m.

Lord Rea: My Lords, I was unfortunately too late to put my name down to this Unstarred Question, having just missed the deadline at six o'clock last night. With your Lordships' permission therefore I shall make just a few remarks in the gap.

I am well aware of the real fear that the three countries concerned in the Unstarred Question feel from their large neighbour, which has oppressed them on and off for centuries. However, it is worth mentioning that Germany has been as guilty, if not more guilty, of oppressing those countries as has Russia. But Germany is a member of the European Union and of NATO and is

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therefore constrained in any aggressive tendencies that might re-emerge. The logic of excluding Russia from any possibility of even loosely joining or being associated with NATO in the future--if it is to exist at all in the long term--when one previous aggressor is a core member of that organisation is, to say the least, shaky.

The remark by Senator Helms that the resolution, "builds impenetrable firewalls", has already been mentioned. He goes on to say that that will ensure,

    "that Russia will neither have a voice nor a veto in NATO decision-making, and that the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council will be a forum for explaining--not negotiating--NATO policy decision".

I suggest that that kind of language is patronising, insulting and, far from helping to increase security, is likely to cause resentment and perpetuate rather than ease tension.

Of course there are voices, and we have heard some this afternoon, especially from the noble Baroness, Lady Park, which say that strength is the only language the Russians understand. I suggest that that is to remain locked in a Cold War time warp. There are many voices of reason inside Russia that are struggling to make themselves heard. Of course, there are other voices to the far Right and Left who will capitalise on the widespread poverty and disillusion of the current phase of "transition" to a capitalist economy by using Russia's international humiliation (of which this resolution is a part) to gain support for rearmament and revanchism. The long delay in Russian ratification of the START treaty, mentioned by several noble Lords, may be an indication of that. It is one of their few remaining bargaining chips. I suggest that this delaying tactic is being encouraged by NATO expansion and the intransigent language of the United States Senate. I hope that Her Majesty's Government can find a formula which brings Russia back into the European family of nations, following the same line of thought as my noble friend Lord Judd, rather than pushing her dangerously into the position of a perpetual enemy or pariah state, as this Senate Resolution will tend to do, whether intentionally or otherwise.

2.35 p.m.

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, for initiating this debate because we have not had a debate on NATO enlargement since the decision of the Madrid Summit and, like the noble Lord, Lord Judd, I hope that we will have a full debate before too long on the ratification of the accession of protocol, and indeed a full public debate on both NATO and EU enlargement. Perhaps we can only envy the power of Congress. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, for helpfully guiding us to the documents.

We on these Benches heartily welcome both the NATO enlargement decision and the decisive Senate vote. It is especially welcome that it was a bipartisan majority. I do not put the same alarming interpretation on the Senate conditions as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. As my noble friend, Lord Carlisle, pointed out, the conditions are binding on the US President and

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not on NATO. As Senator Roth, President of the North Atlantic Assembly, said to its political committee on 24th May that this vote,

    "represents a strong reaffirmation of US commitment to European security and to the Alliance as the cornerstone of the transatlantic community".

But there is also, in the condition on reassurances about costs and burden-sharing, a warning to Europeans that we cannot be complacent about the American guarantee. We cannot afford to leave the impression in the United States that the European Union is content to leave the burden for security in Europe firmly on US shoulders.

Security is a concept broader in scope than defence, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said. While NATO remains, rightly, primarily a military alliance whose core mission is collective defence, it is also striking that the 1991 Strategic Concept defined one of the three main threats to NATO as social, economic and political difficulties created by potential ethnic and territorial conflicts in central and Eastern Europe.

As a student at the London School of Economics 25 years ago, in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and suspicion of the US and all things military, I could not have imagined that in 1998 I would have listened to the Chairman of the Military Committee of NATO (as I did a few months ago) talking much less about tanks and armies and guns than about democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the dangers of ethnic cleansing; in other words, about security within societies.

At the same time as I was a student 25 years ago Britain was entering a European Economic Community. Now the Amsterdam Treaty, building on Maastricht, defines one of the European Union's aims as the implementation,

    "of a common foreign and security policy including the progressive framing of a common defence policy which might lead to a common defence".

What we clearly have is a convergence of the NATO and EU definitions of security and a complementarity in their roles in securing such security and stability. Only by building societies founded in democracy, non-discrimination and economic and social justice (primarily the role of the European Union) can the bedrock of peace be assured, and only by effective common defence (primarily a NATO task) can threats to stability be countered when necessary.

NATO is acting with a new sense of purpose and speed. The decision on this first enlargement has been reached and is being implemented. It is encouraging, although it is early days yet, the way that NATO seems resolved not to let the bullying of President Milosevic succeed in Kosovo as it did for a long time in Bosnia. But the new challenge for the European Union is to be equally able to fulfil its part of the responsibility for ensuring the future security and stability of the European continent. This means, first, pushing through the process of EU enlargement--which is the other half with NATO of the process of double enlargement--and, secondly, developing a common foreign and security policy.

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I was therefore disappointed when the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, took pains to emphasise in our debates on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill that what Her Majesty's Government had ensured at the Amsterdam conference was the continuation of inter-governmental co-operation--she stressed that word--on foreign and security policy, not a common policy. It is for us on these Benches a paradox that while this Government are too inclined to look across the Atlantic rather than across the Channel for a meeting of minds, the Americans are urging us Europeans to forge a common responsibility for our own security. We need to build a common defence in Europe not as a rival to NATO but as a complement to it.

It was President Clinton who said, addressing the Europeans in his speech to the NATO summit in 1994:

    "Ultimately, you [Europeans] will have to decide what sort of Europe you want and how hard you want to work for it ... You have the most to gain from a Europe which is integrated in terms of security, in terms of economics, in terms of democracy".

That encouragement and that warning are no less true today. I am not sure President Clinton would applaud the remark by the Leader of the House, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, in reply to my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire in a debate on the NATO summit last July. He claimed--nay, he boasted--in answer to my noble friend that "we"--that is, the United Kingdom--rejected moves towards a European Union common defence. He claimed that there was no relationship between NATO and the European Union--two completely separate organisations. That can hardly be true with the relationship now between NATO, the WEU and the EU. We need to put flesh, as others have said, on the concept of European security and defence identity. It was developed within NATO to mean defence co-operation between European members of NATO but it must also now encompass links between the European Union and the WEU. WEU has become both the European pillar of NATO and the defence personality of the European Union and ESDI floats somewhere between NATO, WEU and the EU. It is time ESDI stopped floating and came down to earth and became a cohesive attempt at a common defence by the European Union and WEU acting coherently.

On the eve of the announcement of the UK's strategic defence review it is apparent that what is needed is a European defence review to make best use of Europe's defence resources. Our strategic defence review should not take place in isolation but should be a contribution to common European security. We have the opportunity, to which the Senate's resolution is pointing, which is imposed by the convergence of financial necessity and military requirement. The most cost-effective as well as militarily effective way to maximise the European defence effort is by closer co-operation. This means greater efforts are needed for rationalisation in the arms industries, for common specification in procurement, for inter-operability, for sharing of facilities and equipment and for specialisation. As someone who has a background in local government, perhaps I may say that we need in European defence, as in local government, to pursue the concept of "best value".

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The lesson I take from the Senate vote is that the days when it seemed necessary to choose between being a good Atlanticist and a good European are well and truly over. A strong European security and defence identity is vital not only to ensure that Europe maintains a robust capability in the long term, but also to reassure our American allies that Europe is able and willing to share the burden of its own defence.

Finally, European co-leadership within NATO will ensure that it remains primarily a regional security organisation for Europe and not one designed for the projection of US global power.

2.45 p.m.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, for raising this subject as an Unstarred Question. The noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, made an interesting point regarding our ability to initiate such a debate. Your Lordships will need no telling of the importance of full consideration of the merits and potential drawbacks that may arise with the expansion of NATO.

I am also pleased that for the first time I shall be able to engage in debate with the Minister. I echo the thanks that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, gave to the Minister for making herself available for this debate. Many noble Lords will be relieved that, for the time being, she has managed to duck below the parapet and avoid the crossfire arising from the West African adventure of her honourable friend Mr. Lloyd.

As the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has identified, the US Senate has required assurances from the US President that US taxpayers will not be subsidising the expansion of NATO. Indeed, it is well known that the US spends a higher proportion of its GDP on defence than most European countries. So for that reason alone the Senate's cautious position is understandable. Consequently, in order to prevent the formation of false expectations, it should indeed be made clear to all potential members of NATO that there are costs and obligations as well as benefits that go along with NATO membership. In the light of that, what action are the Government taking to prevent the formation of false expectations by potential members regarding financial support?

Section 2(3)(A) of the US Senate's resolution states that NATO does not require the consent of the UN or OSCE prior to taking action pursuant to the treaty. This statement should not be unexpected or surprising due to the fact that it is simply a reiteration of what is already provided for, and the Treaty of Washington is registered with the UN. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, put an interesting question to the Minister regarding the NATO-UN relationship and I look forward to hearing or reading in Hansard her answer.

Given that NATO is vital to the security of the United Kingdom and to the rest of the EU, it would be unfortunate, to say the least, if the current stable situation in Western Europe were to be placed in jeopardy. There is concern in the US that both EU enlargement and EMU might divert attention away from defence. The United States often seeks reassurance of

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Europe's commitment to NATO both financially and militarily. A major concern must be that support for NATO may be withdrawn or reduced if these reassurances were not forthcoming or were diluted. Can the Minister assure the House that the strategic defence review will not send the wrong signal to the United States about our commitment to support NATO? The Minister will agree that the signal actually received and heard in Washington is as important as the foreign policy basis claimed for SDR.

While we are on the subject of signals, your Lordships will note that they can be received slightly distorted or possibly even amplified. Does the Minister agree that Section 3(2)(C) states that it is the sense rather than a condition of the Senate that the US proposes that the share and not the absolute expenditure of NATO, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, should be reduced by 1 per cent. per annum--in other words, the signal is no increase. If I heard the noble Lord correctly, he understands it to be a condition.

Another concern expressed by the US Senate stems from Article 5 of the Treaty of Washington which, as we know, broadly states that an attack on one is an attack against all. With each expansion of NATO, the possibility of the NATO allies becoming involved in a military conflict increases, even if only slightly. The noble Lord, Lord Belhaven and Stenton, touched on that point. It will obviously be a matter of concern to certain Senators in the US. But it will not apply only to the US but also to the UK. Therefore, is the Minister confident that the people of the United Kingdom, or even their elected representatives, are fully aware of the ramifications involved in the commitment to Article 5?

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, referred to the attitude of the Russian Federation and to our relationship with it. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, in his short intervention, referred to the internal situation in Russia. Certainly, with the successful conclusion of the cold war, it is essential to keep the Russians on-side rather than isolated, but I think that the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, is that Partnership for Peace is not enough reassurance on its own. I hope that the Minister will accept the invitation from the noble Lord to place a Partnership for Peace situation paper in the Library.

My noble friend Lady Park explained the situation regarding Russian military exports and Russia's attitude to export licences. Does the Minister find the situation satisfactory? The noble Lord, Lord Judd, referred to the problem of what could be described as a secondary tier of arms sales.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, referred to the Senate's requirement for the development of a plan--I repeat "a plan"--for a ballistic missile defence system. Section 3(1)(D) requires the submission of a report that requires, among other things,

    "the identification of alternative system architectures".

I think that that US-speak means "develop a plan". I am sure that the Minister would be alarmed if there was no plan to counter an acknowledged threat. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, made an interesting comment regarding command and control of such ABM systems and equipment.

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The Russian Federation must also have concerns regarding instability derived from the increased availability of more effective missiles, but can the Minister say what the implications are for the ABM treaty? Is she confident that it meets all the requirements of the new world order or does it require an overhaul? Does the Minister agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, that ABM systems are the first part of a first-strike policy or are they just a defence against a maverick state?

Finally, before sitting down, I should like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and to his noble friend the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, who is unfortunately not in his place this afternoon, as they both regularly raise issues and test the validity of policies that many of us would otherwise be tempted to accept without sufficient review.

2.52 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, for the opportunity to debate this important topic. I thank also all the other noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. Your Lordships have asked many questions, which I shall, of course, do my best to answer, but if I fail to deal with any particular point, I shall write to the noble Lord concerned. Indeed, noble Lords are welcome to draw any such points to my attention after the debate.

The Government believe that NATO should remain the foundation of our security. The UK can play a lead role in developing NATO as an organisation which reduces tension and is a force for good in the world. For the UK, this means a NATO which embodies and maintains the transatlantic security relationship; prevents renationalisation of defence in Europe; helps to maintain and to strengthen other key relationships and engages the Russians; remains an effective and flexible military instrument for dealing with future threats and challenges to our security. It also means a NATO which, through engagement with other countries in the region, spreads stability and democratic values in the way the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, suggested and acts as the allies' primary forum for consultation on all issues of security concern. Other organisations aspire to meet at least some of those objectives, but only NATO has proved itself able to meet all of them.

The Government have made it plain that they are committed to an open-door policy on future NATO enlargement. The enlargement process will be discussed at the Washington Summit next year. Meanwhile no decision has been made about which countries will be invited to join NATO in the future or when. By enlarging NATO to the east we enable central Europe's new democracies to join NATO's collective defence instead of adopting national defence policies that may be seen as potentially threatening by neighbours and may well be more expensive.

I assure my noble friends Lord Kennet and Lord Rea that NATO enlargement does not threaten or seek to isolate Russia. Russia has legitimate security concerns.

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NATO wants a real partnership with Russia. The noble Baroness, Lady Park, referred to the NATO/Russia Founding Act. The signature of that founding Act on 27th May 1997 established the foundation for greater co-operation between NATO and Russia in political and security matters, although Russia will have no veto over NATO decisions, including NATO enlargement. Successive meetings at all levels between NATO and Russia in the forum of the Permanent Joint Council are already helping to meet this goal.

My noble friend Lord Kennet and other noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Baroness, Lady Park, referred to costs. Costs will be divided among the 16 existing allies and the three new members and spread over a number of years. We contribute nearly one-sixth of NATO's common budgets and the European allies together contribute some 70 per cent. of the total. Those shares will apply equally to the cost to NATO budgets of enlargement. An MoD paper was placed in the Libraries of both Houses in March which explained the cost estimates agreed at last December's NATO ministerial meeting and their relationship with the earlier higher estimates. NATO defence Ministers agreed in December that the cost to NATO budgets of admitting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic would be approximately 1.5 billion US dollars over 10 years.

My noble friend Lord Judd asked specifically about the effect on those countries which joined NATO. The invited countries have agreed to pay the cost shares to NATO budgets proposed to them by the alliance: 2.48 per cent. for Poland; 0.65 per cent. for Hungary and 0.9 per cent. for the Czech Republic. The Government have welcomed the ratification by the United States Senate of the accession to NATO by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Noble Lords will be aware that heads of state and government at their summit in Madrid last year decided unanimously to extend the invitation to these three countries to begin accession negotiations with a view to joining by the time of the Washington Summit next year. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that procedures for accession are going well.

My noble friend Lord Kennet asked about conditions of the United States Senate as to ratification. That point was also touched upon by my noble friend Lord Judd and the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle. I am sure noble Lords will agree that the deliberations of the United States Senate are a matter for that body and that its relationship with the US Administration is an internal matter for the United States. Decisions in NATO are taken by consensus of states parties. There is no question of the United States ordering NATO to take action without the support of all the allies.

My noble friend Lord Kennet also referred to references to the EU in the Senate's resolution. The EU is recognised as an essential organisation for the economic, social and political integration of Europe. NATO, the OSCE and WEU all have important roles in the European security architecture.

The WEU provides a valuable interface between NATO and the EU's common foreign and security policy. It provides Europe with a valuable crisis

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management tool and a military capability which the European Union can call upon to support the CFSP. The WEU is also an essential part of the development of the European Security and Defence identity in NATO able to draw on the assets and experience of NATO to run crisis management operations in which our North American allies choose not to take part. ESDI thus enables Europeans through the WEU to take an increased share of responsibility for their security in a way which is consistent with the primary role of NATO in Europe's defence. The total cost of the WEU to the United Kingdom is about £4 million per year.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, asked specifically about the OSCE role. The OSCE's importance lies in conflict prevention, as we have seen in the expansion of its operations in the former Yugoslavia since 1995.

On the question of the deployment of ballistic missiles, apart from long-standing capabilities of the recognised nuclear weapon states, no country currently has ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United Kingdom. The delivery of weapons of mass destruction presents formidable technical challenges and such a threat is some years away. But some of our allies are, and our deployed forces may sometimes be, closer to nations of proliferation concern. It is therefore important that the alliance is well informed about developments both in the potential threat and in defensive technology. NATO's Conference of National Armament Directives has drawn up plans for feasibility studies into the development of an alliance theatre ballistic missile defence capability, although we and our allies are not committed to the procurement phase.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, asked me, I believe, to confirm that actions pursuant to the North Atlantic Council under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty do not require the consent of the United Nations.

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