A Catholic peace organisation has warned the European Union not to be drawn into “dubious military campaigns” or a “fresh rearmament drive”.

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Pax Christi made the call to authorities in Brussels in a communiqué on the Aachen Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration.

The statement was signed by the presidents of Pax Christ in France and in Germany, Bishops Marc Stenger and Heinz Josef Algermissen.

The Aachen Treaty was signed by the French and German President and Chancellor respectively in January this year, but has yet to enter into force.

The goal of the Treaty was to renew the Élysée Treaty of friendship between France and West Germany, which was signed in 1963 after centuries of Franco-German rivalry.

But while Pax Christi said it shared the goal of a “deep desire for reconciliation… between the French and German peoples after the crimes and devastation of World War II”, it warned that the Aachen Treaty “is primarily a framework for cooperation that will need to be implemented in practice”.

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The big picture

Among Pax Christi’s concerns with the Aachen Treaty is “the military dimension of peace, security and development policies”, which it said is given “exaggerated attention” in the agreement.

Such “militarisation” of France and Germany “poses a fundamental challenge to the European Union itself”, Pax Christi warned.

“From our point of view, the EU should essentially be committed to a policy of civil prevention of crises, conflict management and post-conflict peace-building, in Europe and worldwide”, the organisation noted as an alternative.

And while Pax Christi welcomed the “strong partnership between Europe and Africa” envisioned in the Aachen Treaty, it explained that “in view of the negative consequences of the use of military means for conflict-management […], recourse to military action must be approached with ‘healthy mistrust’, even if executed under the aegis of the UN”.

“For Europe, any kind of military intervention in Africa should be weighed against the enormous disruptions it would provoke in already fragile and barely sustainable societies”, the peace organisation said.

“It would gravely undermine the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for a non-violent transformation of conflicts.

“Instead of seeking justifications in ‘just war’ theories, ‘just policing’, if seriously implemented, could provide a practicable as well as justifiable alternative”, Pax Christi counselled the EU.

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Go deeper

Another point of concern for Pax Christi is the Aachen Treaty’s “silence” on France’s nuclear arsenal.

“The idea of securing peace through nuclear deterrence cannot any longer be regarded as ethically acceptable”, the organisation warned.

Pax Christi expressed its “deep concern” over the “erosion” of arms control and disarmament arrangements.

It also deplored the nuclear and conventional “arms race” which the EU is engaged, when instead it should be putting a stop to it.

In place of the militarisation of France and Germany, Pax Christi called for the evolution of the EU “into a political entity, of which Franco-German cooperation would be a central pillar, subject to democratic debate with all member states”.

It also called on EU member states to address the “dangerous overtones” of NATO “and of American hegemony” with respect to defence and security on the continent.

The only way the EU can prove itself worthy of its 2012 Nobel Peace Prize is by putting emphasis “on a civil reorientation of the desired cooperation towards peaceful goals”, Pax Christi said.

Part of that responsible cooperation, the organisation added, is putting a stop to arms exports, which contribute ” to the impoverishment of client States, the destabilization of Europe’s neighbouring areas, the increasing of tensions and ultimately the massive immigration flows which we witness today”.

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What’s next

Before ratifying the Aachen Treaty, Pax Christi urged France and Germany to consider provisions “on conflict prevention, active peace promotion, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction of countries and societies devastated by war and undeclared conflicts”.

The organisation also urged the EU to continue “in a spirit of common security and cooperation”.

“In the long term, only collective security can and should replace collective defence”, Pax Christi concluded.

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