Ten Eastern European countries have declared that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in "material breach" of the United Nations Security Council resolutions requiring him to disarm. A statement issued February 5th said: "Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility to defend our shared values. . . . The trans-Atlantic community, of which we are a part, must stand together to face the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and dictators with weapons of mass destruction."
The statement was signed by the foreign ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These nations make up a group known as the "Vilnius Ten," named for the Lithuanian capital. The Vilnius Ten declared that they are prepared "to contribute to an international coalition to enforce. . .the disarmament of Iraq."
The declaration comes only days after the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Britain, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, and the Czech Republic called for unity against the Iraqi threat. In a commentary published in major newspapers, the European leaders warned that U-N Resolution fourteen-forty-one "is Saddam Hussein's last chance to disarm using peaceful means."
In a statement to the U-N Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented irrefutable evidence that "Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction." The Iraqi dictator's refusal to disarm is a direct challenge to the United Nations. It threatens the ability of the U-N Security Council to preserve international peace and security. The people of Europe know from tragic experience that appeasing aggressive dictators is an invitation to more aggression. That is why eighteen European nations have now publicly declared their support for action to ensure Iraq's compliance with the U-N Security Council's demands.