In the first stage of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, it is right and proper briefly to examine the final recommendations of the Helsinki Consultations in the light of the goals which all the Participating States have set out to reach.
No co-operation is possible without security. Security must therefore be achieved before economic co-operation, cultural exchanges and social understanding can take place what is the stage of the European security today ?
As a result of the political changes brought about by the outcome of the Second World War, Central Europe was, for about 20 years. the most insecure region of our globe. Insecurity bred suspicion , deceit and hatred. The hatred between the contestants was so intense as to engulf all the other developed countries with whom they came into contact. Most of the world’s states organised themselves into two armed camps, each side bent on subduing the other with the threats of Helsinki on the rocks terror and more terror.
Each bloc was led by a Super Power; each bloc nurtured its own trading and economic system. Neither bloc pretended to have or to want co-operation with the other. During the 20 years or so after Yalta we all spoke of the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain, the Imperialist lackeys and the Soviet satellites.
The past 10 years have witnessed a most welcome change. Detente has developed into comprehension which in turn has led to a sincere search for real security and co-operation. The States of Central Europe, suitably encouraged by the two Super Powers, have formally accepted the wayward borders marked by World War ii. They have also solemnly sworn not to try to change them by force.
The Iron Curtain is now torn asunder. There are now several agreements between the states of central Europe for cooperation in the economic field. Before the Helsinki Consultations had begun, Central Europe had already become Europe’s most secure region.
Indeed mutual trust has so successfully dispelled the previous hatred in this region that Vienna was last week in a position to give glad tidings. On October 30 of this year, negotiations will take place in the capital of Austria on mutual reduction of forces and armaments as associated measures in Central Europe.
Thus Central Europe is now well on the way to friendly and durable relationship between the European communist and the non-communist States; Central Europe, if left alone, could well look forward to many years of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
The first and most pleasant task of all participants at this Conference is therefore to show our joy for what has been achieved in Central Europe and to profess our eagerness to consolidate these gains and possibly to multiply them. The recommendations of the Helsinki Consultations are more than adequate for the fulfilment of this duty.
Can anyone here, however, examine the security of the other regions of Europe with the same feelings of hope and satisfaction? I only pretend to know a little about this present situation and this is limited to Southern Europe. What little I know comes from personal contact and personal knowledge. We do not have the big information facilities available to her foreign offices; my country is small and perhaps the poorest in this large gathering but what I know coincides with President Tito’s declaration of last week ad fills me with frightening forebodings.
Never since the end of the Second World War has Southern Europe been more insecure than it is today. The symptoms are there for those who care to see them; the dispute over Gibraltar, the unrest in Cyprus and Greece, the Arab-Israel confrontation, etc. It is difficult to determine which of these is the most worrying – the black hatred devouring the hearts of Arabs and Israelis of the nonchalance and coolness with which the two Super Powers shake hands across Central Europe and bare their ugly teeth in the blue Mediterranean Sea.
This is why I offer no apology for the part my country has played in the Helsinki Consultations. From the very beginning Malta tenaciously held the view that European security and cooperation cannot meaningfully be discussed if the problems of the Mediterranean were to be excluded from the agenda of this Conference. The arguments Malta brought forward were not accepted with the readiness they deserved.
Some of our Mediterranean friends felt justified in giving a free hand to the United States and the Soviet Union on Mediterranean matters in the then impending Nixon-Brezhnev talks. These have now taken place and we are all back where we started from.
The key paragraph of the joint U.S. – U.S.S.R. communiqué on Europe comes at the very end;- “The Parties expressed their deep concern with the situation in the Middle East and exchanged opinions regarding ways of reaching a Middle East settlement.
Each of the parties set forth its position on this problem.
Both parties agreed to continue to exert their efforts to promote the quickest possible settlement in the Middle East. This settlement should be in accordance with the interests of all states in the area, be consistent with their independence and sovereignty, and should take into due account the legitimate interests of the Palestinian Peoples.
After this very frank statement by the two Super Powers, Malta fails to see how anyone present amongst the Participating States at this Conference could now legitimately object to Euro-Mediterranean problems of security and cooperation being given their rightful share of the proceedings.
Malta has no intention to probe much deeper into the reluctance of the States of Europe to give the same prominence to Southern Europe as they have obviously given to Europe’s Central region. Had not been for Malta’s sheer persistence, the Helsinki Consultations would not even have resulted in the search for a formula to make it possible for some of the least involved of the Arab States to address this conference on the relationship between Mediterranean security and security and co-operation in Europe.
What seems so obvious today appeared very far-fetched less than a month ago, and Malta was then subjected to friendly bullying and pressurising.
On June 22, 1973, two days the end of the Brezhnev – Nixon talks in the United States, Malta asked the Chairman of the Conference to circulate to all participants the following proposal in terms of paragraph 7 of the Rules of Procedure:
“The Conference invites the Foreign Ministers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria and of the Republic of Tunisia to address the Foreign Ministers of Participating States during this first stage of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe so that they may be acquainted with the points of view of the States of Algeria and Tunisia on the subject of the problems relating to Security and Co-operation in Europe”.
For many hours, Malta, now supported by many other States, has been pressing for a decision on our proposal in a sub-committee appointed by this Plenary Session for that purpose.
We consider those hours very well spent for no security, no co-operation, no freedom of exchange of ideas and of movement of people, is at all possible in Central Europe if this Conference takes no step, however small, if this Conference takes no action, however, cautious, to create an atmosphere for the preconditions of détente in the Mediterranean.
Unless this action is taken now, before the proposed reduction of forces in Central Europe take a concrete form, the European States in the Mediterranean Sea will have very good grounds to wonder whether the reduction of forces in Central Europe will not be balanced by an increase of forces in the South.
What is even more to the point is Europe’s inability to maintain its present level of economic activity, let alone increase it, without the active co-operation of the Arab States. Recently published statistics indicate that 31.5 per cent of Europe’s oil is supplied by the North African States.
More than 50 per cent of Europe’s oil requirements come from the Middle East. Is it possible for any of the participants here to believe that if war breaks out again in the Middle East the oil supplies will still flow? Is it possible for anyone participating in this Conference to believe that without the markets of the North African States which in 1971 totalled 2.2 billion U.S. dollars for Western Europe alone the economic progress of the past decade can be sustained?
It is these questions and other related investigations which this European Conference must urgently tackle if we want to avoid the accusation of willingly accepting the role of being nothing more than the official multinational rubber stamp of the Super Powers. Of all the European States, Malta is in size perhaps the least significant. Of all the European States Malta is perhaps the least armed. But of all the European States Malta is the most Exposed to the dangers of an imminent reactivation of the Arab-Israel conflict. Of all the European States Malta is perhaps the state which has striven hardest, at great risk and sacrifice to her people, to give valid and concrete contribution to peace in the Mediterranean Sea.
In the midst of all this turbulence Malta launched during the past year an active co-operation in the economic and technical fields between four central Mediterranean States. In the past year Malta has persistently pestered the European Economic Community to set up close links with Arab Mediterranean States. Malta has practised what she preaches.
We are happy to be here on two counts. First because the hospitality, the efficiency and the friendliness shown by Finland to all participating States, large and small, have been exemplary, and I add Malta’s gratitude to that already expressed by every speaker before me. We are also happy because for the first time in the known history of Europe, Malta is being given rights equal to those enjoyed by the most powerful states. This great joy must now be matched by a greater determination on our part to convince a;; the other European States that Europe’s security is one and indivisible; that what has been achieved in Central Europe can be successfully undertaken in the South; and that peace in the Middle East is not a more difficult problem than the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.