Treaty of Lisbon (No. 5) — [5th allotted day]

Part of Business of the House (Lisbon Treaty) (No. 4) – in the House of Commons at 1:28 pm on 20th February 2008.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Foreign Secretary 1:28 pm, 20th February 2008

I beg to move,

That this House
approves the Government's policy towards the Treaty of Lisbon in respect of provisions concerning foreign, security and defence policy.

Today, we have an opportunity to debate the EU's common foreign and security policy and the improvements to its delivery as a result of the Lisbon treaty. The idea of European foreign policy—it was first called "political co-operation"—goes back almost to the foundation of the European Economic Community in the 1950s. It was given new life in the 1980s and then enshrined in the Maastricht treaty of 1992. It was all but broken by the Balkan wars of the 1990s, so I think it appropriate that, as we discuss the foreign policy aspects of the Lisbon treaty, it should again be on the western Balkans that European eyes are fixed. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will say a little about this particular case, which illustrates the value of the common foreign and security policy, before going on to address the detail of the changes envisaged by the treaty.

On Monday, the Government announced their decision to recognise the Kosovo assembly's declaration of independence. We did so confident that Kosovo's accession to independence in this way is entirely consistent with UN Security Council resolution 1244, which also continues to provide a sound legal basis for the NATO and EU missions in that area.

The situation on the ground in Kosovo remains calm, but yesterday there was an attack on two border posts in the north of the country. NATO forces intervened robustly, dispersing the crowd and taking control of the crossings. Nobody was hurt, but it is important that we all underline that violence by any side is unacceptable. The Government are concerned by suggestions that some in the Serb Government think that the attack was justified. The atmosphere in Serbia is more tense. Demonstrations in Belgrade on Sunday night inflicted serious damage on the Slovenian embassy, but subsequent demonstrations have passed off without trouble. A mass rally is being planned for Thursday and, to their credit, political leaders in Serbia have called for it to be peaceful.

The Government's approach has been to promote discussion and dialogue until it was clear that there was no way to bridge the gap between Belgrade and Pristina and in those circumstances to seek the full implementation of the Ahtisaari plan; and to emphasise the need for a regional approach that offers economic and political support to all the countries of the western Balkans.