East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell has claimed that the real guarantor of peace in Europe since the Second World War has been the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), not the European Union (EU).
The MP, whose party was one of the few in the North to openly advocate a United Kingdom ‘Brexit’ from the EU, said that to claim that the union, an outgrowth of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) trading pact, had cemented peace on the continent was to “misread history”.
Mr. Campbell said NATO, the western common defence alliance, which throughout the Cold War squared up against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellite states in central and eastern Europe, was the real peace-keeper, not the EU.
The DUP MP said that ongoing military collaboration with the several former Warsaw Pact nations, which controversially joined NATO following the collapse of the Soviet Union, should continue.
“The security of Europe in the past, the present and hopefully the future, even in the central European belt, has been thanks to NATO,” said Mr. Campbell.
The DUP MP argued that “we should build and strengthen our relationship with all the NATO nations and not allow the misreading of history that says the European Union cemented peace, when it was in fact NATO”.
Polish-born Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski agreed with Mr. Campbell saying the late 20th century’s relative peace had nothing to do with the EU. Mr. Kawczynski said he had struggled to get this message across during the Brexit referendum campaign.
He said: “In the referendum campaign in Shrewsbury, one couple came up to me and said, ‘I’m going to vote for remain because the European Union has maintained peace in Europe over the last 60 years,’ and I had to spend the next 15 minutes explaining very succinctly that it is nothing to do with the EU.
“What has kept peace in Europe in our time, thank God, has been that collective defence mechanism - anchored, I have to say, by support from the Americans and the Canadians.”
Mr. Kawczynski added: “We must trumpet the importance of NATO. We must also work with our Polish friends to ensure that they take the lead within the European Union in ensuring that, although the United Kingdom is pulling out of the EU, NATO continues to be supreme as the sole common defence umbrella for the whole continent.”