Report prepared and distributed by the Intergroup for Peace Initiatives:

Open Hearing:

"Military Bases in Europe – What are the Issues"

Report of a discussion arranged by the Intergroup on Peace Initiatives

At the European Parliament on 14 June 2005 in Brussels

The meeting was attended by:

Adamous Adamou, MEP GUE/NGL (AKEL)
Baibre de Brun, MEP GUE/NGL (Sinn Fein)
Caroline Lucas, MEP Greens
Thanasis Pafilis, MEP GUE/NGL (KKE)
Tobias Pflüger, MEP GUE/NGL

Bermal Bodak, Intern to Jonas Sjöstedt, MEP
Haf Elgar, Assistant to Jill Evans, MEP
Martin Hantke, Assistant to Tobias Pflüger, MEP
Stavri Kalopsidiotou, Assistant to Kyriacos Triantaphylllides, MEP
Nicolas Karayannis, Assistant to Kyriacos Triantaphylidis, MEP
David Oppenheimer, Assistant to Ana Gomes, MEP
Stanislaw Suja, Assistant to Pan Miloslav Ransdorf, MEP
Noiara Zabala, Stagaire to David Hammerstein, MEP
Chrysanthos Zannettos, Assistant to Adamous Adamou, MEP

Ernst Guelcher, Staff Member, Green Group
Vivian Konnari, Staff Member GUE/NGL Group
Mana Nephythu, Staff Member PES Group
Vera Polycarpou, Staff Member GUE/NGL Group
Berit Dahlström, Coordinator Swedish Delegation GUE/NGL Group
P. Ross Staff Member, PES Group

Stephanos Stephanou, Cyprus Peace Council, Speaker
Pol D'Huyvetter, For Motherearth, Speaker
Hans-Peter Richter, German Peace Council, Speaker

Sean Cowan, Demilitarization Committee South Armagh, Ireland
Damian McGenity, Demilitarisation Committee South Armagh, Ireland
Guily Micole, Belgium, Mouvement de la Paix
Janeta Mileva, Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation
Stavous Papagianneas, Press Off. Perm. Rep. of the Rep. of Cyprus
Agni Papoyeorgiou, Intern at Perm. Rep. of the Rep. of Cyprus
Katrin Schäfgen, Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation
Koula Sophinaou, Perm. Rep. of the Rep. of Cyprus
Pericles D Stivaros, Perm. Rep. of the Republic of Cyprus
Arunas Trahimanievieus, Lithuania
Jean-Mariel Vanhamme, Mouvement de la Paix

Liz Scurfield, Joint Representative, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Intergroup Secretariat

There were a further 20 other participants.

Background to the Meeting

It is important to look at the military infrastructure that will be used for wars. For example, although many of the troops who were used for the war in Iraq were already in the Middle East, the military infrastructure of the US, Britain, and other countries involved in the war continued to play an important support role for the war: military supplies, food, munitions, and soldiers were flown to the Gulf, planes took off from airbases in many countries, and the surveillance systems of the US and NATO all over the world were used to guide the attacks on Iraq. Even if a country is not directly involved in the war, its infrastructure might be used for war, or its troops might replace those troops of countries participating in the war on missions elsewhere, such as Afghanistan or the Balkans.


The first speaker was Stephanos Stephanou, General Secretary of the Cyprus Peace Council. The title of his talk was ‘British Military Bases in Cyprus – an obstacle for peace in Cyprus and in the Middle East?’

Key points:

• The two big UK military bases are not part of the EU. The UK gained sovereign rights to these as part of the Zurich-London Agreement which led to the establishment of the independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960. The UK pays no rent for these bases and there is no time limit for their abolition.
• These bases house sophisticated on-land radar devices as part of an international spying network and act as launching pads for military action by the US and the UK e.g. in Afghanistan and Iraq.
• The abolition of these bases is part of the solution to the Cyprus problem leading to the end of Turkish occupation, reunification of the island in a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation, and to demilitarization of the United Federal Republic of Cyprus.
• The unacceptable nature of sovereign military base(s) in another country.
• The World Peace Council and the Cyprus Peace Council are working to get the bases and any nuclear weapons that might be stored there removed.
• Cyprus Peace Council wants to broaden their network especially within Europe to raise awareness of the issue.

Action Point:

• Could a question be raised in the European Parliament or a debate be held to develop the idea of cooperation further?

More information at: www.peacecouncil.org.cy

The second speaker was Pol D’Huyvetter from For Mother Earth, Belgium who spoke about the US nuclear weapons in Europe.

Key points:

• The US is the only nuclear weapon state to deploy nuclear weapons on foreign territory.
• According to an independent nuclear weapons policy analyst, Hans M. Kristensen, 480 US tactical nuclear bombs are stored at 8 NATO airbases in 6 NATO countries.
• Failure of the recent NPT Review Conference calls for urgent new initiatives for nuclear disarmament which are undermined by the presence of nuclear weapons in Europe for which there is no longer any justification.
• Neither European citizens nor MEPs can get any information or confirmation about the deployment and nuclear bases with US nuclear weapons in Europe.

Action Points:

• Encourage everybody to contact the mayor of their home town and encourage them to join the Mayors for Peace Initiative if they have not already done so.
• Encourage citizens and MPs to join Citizens Weapons Inspections, as was done in April in Belgium and is being planned in Italy with the help of Italian MEPs.
• It was suggested that there could be a Citizens Weapons Inspection in Cyprus and Gibraltar.
• The Intergroup for Peace Initiatives could invite Mohammad El-Baradei, Director-General of the IAEA to speak to MEPs and could work on an invitation to be issued to him to address the Foreign Affairs Committee.
• Support Abolition 2000 to reach its goals.

More information on www.motherearth.org

The third speaker was Hans-Peter Richter, editor of the magazine ‘Pax Report’ and member of ‘Achse des Friedens’, Berlin, Germany. The title of his talk was ‘The Bombodrom in Brandenburg – a military base for Germany preparing (for) the new wars?’

Key points:

• Germany is offering the largest contingent of troops, 33 000 to the EU pool for the EU intervention force (Rapid Reaction Force).
• The US have deployed about 150 nuclear bombs in Germany, 20 in Büchel and 130 at the US base in Ramstein.
• On 9 June 2005, the German Minister for Defence asked for the withdrawal of US nuclear bombs from German territory. Refused adamantly by Donald Rumsfeld on the grounds that nuclear policy is part of NATO policy and nuclear weapons are part of NATO defences.
• On 18 March 2005, the German Parliament passed the ‘parliament participation law’ which makes it possible for the German government to send troops to war immediately and then for the matter to be debated by Parliament afterwards.
• Pilots will be given nuclear bombing training at the Bombodrom.
• 80% of the Bombodrom is on nature reserves which are acknowledged as EU-Habitat.
• All US military bases are de facto extraterritorial areas governed by ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) which means that national courts do not have jurisdiction over US military personnel. International law and national constitutions are disregarded by all SOFAs and additional agreements.
• The Bombodrom is part of the global network for the preparation of illegal wars.
• On 1 June 2005, 23 MPs from the Social Democratic Party, 33 from the Green Party and 2 from the Socialists appealed to the German Parliament to use the area of the Bombodrom for civilian purposes only. Parliament refused the appeal mostly with votes from the Social Democrats.

Action Points:

• We must work together to close all foreign military bases in our countries.
• We must try and prevent our military forces training with weapons of aggression.

Further information from Hans-Peter Richter at

a-hpr@t-online.de

Damien McGenity of the South Armagh Demilitarisation Committee spoke briefly about the effect on health, the environment, education and tourism of the militarization of 180 square miles of land in South Armagh. He said that the rolling programme of demilitarisation promised by the Good Friday Agreement had not happened and appealed to the Intergroup for Peace Initiatives to assist the Committee in its campaign. He invited members of the Intergroup to visit the area and see for themselves what was going on.

The chair of the meeting, Tobias Pflüger, MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup for Peace Initiatives, said that the meting was the first step in bringing about a whole series of resolutions against military bases in Europe, all of which provided the infrastructure for war. At the same time, the Peace Movement should be made aware of the ever growing dangerous globalisation of the EU’s military activities.

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