Clare Daly MEPSpeech given by Clare Daly, MEP
at the International Munich Peace Conference on February 17, 2024

Thanks to you all for being here. It’s very difficult for me to have to follow the excellent speakers that we’ve already had and particularly the magnificent musicians that we’ve been privileged to listen to. And I suppose being here, I’m very glad, a fair bit sad and in some ways boiling mad that we have to be here. Because of course, I’m very glad: What an honour and a privilege for us to gather here with so many like-minded, genuine and committed warriors for peace. Where else would you want to be?

It’s sad, of course, that the reason we’re here is because your city has again been taken over by the warmongers and the merchants of death who are gathered to escalate tension and division. All to benefit the pockets of the military industrial complex. And to be honest, I’m a bit mad. Because against that very backdrop – just like in Vienna, when the night before our venue for our peace conference was cancelled – organisers here in this city have pulled the plug on the funding for this event. That is a deliberate effort to repress and silence the peace movement. And we are here to say: shame on them. We are here in defiance. And we’re here to remind them that no force on earth can stop an idea, whose time has come. And our time has come. So, I salute the courage and the determination of the organisers not to be cowed. Because the peace movement has never been more important than it is today.

Because whatever about the truth that the EU in its early days was some sort of a peace project to bring peace on a continent, divided by two world wars – that story is certainly well over now. When the EU funnels billions of taxpayer money to keep the war in Ukraine going and to ignore the prospect for peace. When they pump billions and millions to prevent a ceasefire and Gaza, while we know, as we are here, a genocide is being carried out and that would not be possible without the support of the US or the EU. So, I first want to start by explaining to people that you have to realise that the European Union is undergoing a massive transformation. It is literally barreling down the road to ever-greater militarisation, ever-greater alignment with NATO. And this has all been driven by increasing hostility between the great powers – and the EU wants in on the act. The scale and pace of militarisation that is taking place is absolutely frightening and it is largely taking place ignored and in silence. If you like, when you tune in, to the events that happen in

Brussels, people of conventional wisdom will be going around saying that actually the problem for Europe is that we’re not militarist enough. That we actually have neglected our defence seemingly. That we should have militarised harder and faster years ago. And according to Joseph Burrell we’ve got to learn the language of hard power. To quote him, which I find frankly shocking, he says, the EU capacity has to be developed, if we really want to be an actor that is capable of wielding influence on what happens in the world, using instruments of coercion. That is, to say, making others behave the way we want them to behave. That’s hard power. We must have hard power. Now it would take me days to outline the scale and extent of the military programs that the EU is undertaking presently. So, I’m just going to confine myself to a very few.

The first one: The question of an EU Army. Well in Ireland, they tell us that that’s actually a conspiracy theory. There’s nothing happening there at all. Don’t worry about it, nothing to see here. And yet, one of the projects that the EU is presently developing is, what they call, a “rapid deployment capacity”. Well, God only knows what that is. But if you read the text, they say it’s a proposal to replace the military forces and the failed battle groups concept. But it is and again, I quote them, a permanently available, standing, multinational, EU force of initially 5.000 troops including land, air, maritime components funded from the EU budget under the full command and control of a permanently active EU headquarters, synchronised and aligned with NATO. They tell us it is available for collective defence, capable of rapidly deploying into future battlefields outside of the EU including non-permissive environments, which Joseph Burrell tells us, is boots on the ground in countries that we are not welcome. Well, if that isn’t an EU Army, I’m Ursula von der Leyen.

The second area that is underway is, of course, EU military missions. Now, many people don’t know this, but the EU is already in the business of deploying Armed Forces abroad under the Common security and defence policy. There is nine military missions, and 12 civilian ones. Most of them in Africa, and in the Sahel. They’re all under an EU command structure. They talk in fluffy language about, oh no, no, we’re here to bring our values. We’re here to help. Sure, look as we’re here, for a bit of peace building, bit of capacity building, some training missions. But when you read the small print of those missions, they’re all done on the basis of the EU’s strategic interests. And if you look even closer, you are find that they are explicitly advancing the energy interests of countries like France or Germany in Africa, where there’s a big power conflict with China, with Russia. They’re all in on the act, making a mess of countries like Mali where the people are sick of the sight of us. And behind it all and the engine behind it all, of course, is the big one: EU military spending. Because it’s not just about armies and soldiers. It’s about the industry of war. And increasingly the EU is spending enormous amounts of money. Both from your national budgets and directly from the EU budget itself on military and defence research, on arms purchases and arms production. Now, this has been common for a very long time and to be honest, it is a story of brutal naked corruption, nothing more. Nothing more.

Because 10 years ago, our Lords and Ladies who are our masters and great leaders, decided to say: Well, look, we have to look at how are we going to make Europe safe? And someone said, oh, I know, I’ve a great idea. Why don’t we get together a group of experts and ask them, what the solution might be. So, they convened a group. They called it the group of personalities. And there were people like Saab, Boeing, Leonardo, Fraunhofer, and all of these organizations who are invited to advise us on how Europe might be made safer. And surprise, surprise, they said, you know what the answer is: You need a lot more militarisation. And those in power said, that’s great. We go on, work on that. We will establish first of all a European defence fund. That fond was passed in 2021, with a budget of 8 billion euros. It is going up exponentially since then. And how it works, is the EU hands out grants from the EU budget to arms manufacturers, to go away to come up with new designs for new weapons and technologies. And then those same companies get the patent for those technologies that they developed with our money and then they sell them back to us and we end up paying for it again. That’s the scam that is unfolding before us. That’s not the only one. On top of that, we’ve an alphabet soup of new programs for various stages soaking up more and more money in what the commissioner, Thierry Breton, calls a war economy.

We have ASAP: 500 million to ramp up the production of our artillery shells and missiles. EDIRPA: 300 million to finance member states, buying weapons and ammunition. STEP: Another 1.5 billion for the defence research. All of these straight out of the EU budget.

But that’s not enough: Then we have the rather Orwellian named “European peace facility”, which replaced the “African peace facility”, and is a way in which they can off the books, use money to sell European arms to African countries, to go have civil wars, destabilise their areas or whatever you like. And there’s been 12 billion spent on that, much of it on Ukraine. On top of that they’re pledging another 20 billion in defence for Ukraine. A country, which, as Michael has said, is fast running out of personnel, to use the weapons and who desperately need peace and not more war. So, what we’ve had is 133 billion in direct expenditure in the last two years going to Ukraine. That has not helped a single person in Ukraine. It’s gone on militarism, it’s gone on just an appalling nightmare and that isn’t bad enough. You’ve 270 billion which the member states are spending on defence. And I have to say because it would be remiss of me here: I find it tragic and embarrassing that Germany is spending 300 million in exports to Israel at the same time at that the international court of justice has said there’s a plausible case of genocide to answer. I think that is utterly shameful.

So, the question that we all have to ask ourselves is, well, how is any of this making us safer or improving our lives. And the truth is, that security, as it’s outlined and as it’ll be expressed by our friends in the other part of this city, this weekend – security in EU politics is the militarisation of peace. We see every area of civilian society  this encroaching in. I’m on the transport committee. We see almost two billion Euros been spent on what they call Military Mobility. To facilitate the movement of military, personnel and equipment all across Europe. We have, of course, as well the tragedies of the deaths that occur on our borders.

Migration is called a security issue. It gets talked about as a migration crisis in the European press and it’s an excuse for the defence industry to sell more equipment and to militarise our society. And for me, it’s beyond tragic that we see the very same companies, which have profited from the destabilisation of Africa and the Middle East in their wars. The same companies benefit from the sealing of our borders, when those desperate people try to reach our shores and seek sanctuary here. They’re blocked by weapons and Frontex and all of the rest with the same companies benefiting.

So, the truth is that the “migration crisis” as they call it, in reality is a mass population displacement. The number of people displaced worldwide now stands at 110 million. 361 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. A staggering 60 % of those people in countries under unilateral US and EU sanctions on a planet with more wealth and more knowledge than in our entire history. And then, of course, we have the biggest threat to our future and our security that of the climate crisis. A crisis, which requires in response international cooperation in order to ensure our survival. So, what do we do? Do we co-operate, do we invest our resources in tackling the climate crisis? Do we hell. Instead, what we’ve seen under this presidency of the European commission is military programs elevated over climate programs, and it’s not just that billions of money are being spent on defence. But that that expenditure and that activity is exempt from calculations when we look at the CO2 emissions. So, while military emissions are more than all of the global aviation and shipping criteria together, their exempt from any criteria in tackling climate change. That is an absolute disgrace, in an era where we penalize working-class people using a flight to go on a holiday to Spain or whatever, it is, frankly, an abomination. It is not just the fact that they are spending all this money on militarism. They are actually transferring money designated to deal with the climate crisis and rowing back on the necessary environmental commitments that were made. So, the STEP program that I mentioned earlier was supposed to be 10 billion euros, to deal with low carbon projects, go to innovation to tackle the climate crisis. 8.5 billion has been taken out of that to go to defence. That’s a fact. We hear a lot of talk about the European Union is now going to deal with the fiscal rules that restrict our budget, they’re going to relax them, so that governments can spend more to stimulate the economy. Originally that money was being done in order to facilitate the development of climate-friendly projects which are absolutely necessary. Not anymore. The fiscal rules have been relaxed for – you got it – defence expenditure yet again. And we have the European investment bank, which we were told, was the European green bank is now the European battle bank because their climate projects are being shelved instead, being going to defence ones. And we are here to say as part of this event, this weekend: There can be no green politics without peace. Yet, the greens in Germany, in my experience in the European Parliament, are the biggest warhawks in Europe. They are betraying their history.

And we are on a tragic point in our history. Because I don’t think I’m slandering them or telling a lie when I say that today we have the worst, the most incompetent crop of leaders that we have had in Europe for generations. Incompetent, opportunistic, reckless, ignorant of their history, carried along by events, rather than shaping them. They even have the audacity to try and claim and hijack feminism, with a bit of girl-washing in the military industrial complex. So, we have Ursula and Madame Baerbock and all of the “girls” over across the road. These cruise missile feminists who are an insult to the peace movement and an insult of feminism. Shame on them.

Women have always been the forefront of the peace movement and the backbone of it. And we will not have our struggled hijacked by these fakes and cronies. So, look at these career politicians. You know who you are, in fairness. God help Germany. You do seem to have a rather large portion of these types. But these career politicians installed by patronage and money, whom every advantage has been given to. These are people who simply do not comprehend how frightening and horrific war can be. It’s not their sons and daughters on the front line. It’s not their sons and daughters hiding and in fear of persecution for the right to not serve, for the right not to kill a fellow human being. They don’t understand that, so they’re happy to ignore what’s going on. So, we are here to say that we are the antidote to their madness. We’re here to say, not in our name. You will not prevail.

Because war is never stopped by war. War can only be stopped by peace. And out of the tragedy that we see in Ukraine and in Gaza, the people of Europe and the people of the world are awakening to the horror of war in a manner, in which they haven’t been in years. They have seen through the scam, like never before. This is an exercise in laundering money out of the public purse into the coffers of the arms industry for their own private profit. That’s all it is. All it’s about.

So, we’re here as one to pledge every bone in our body, to fight for peace, to fight for diplomacy, to fight for international law and an end to the conflict. We are the power that will shape the future. We are the ones who will stop the madness that’s going on. On the other side of this city and in corners of the globe. We will together build a real world of peace and security based on meeting the needs of people and tackling climate change for an end to the military industrial complex.


Julian Mühlfellner (Moderation): Thank you very much. That was quite inspiring; we’ve got our work cut out for us. It is such a fraught issue. Clare, you said that a genocide is taking place or might be taking place in Gaza and the ICJ certainly seems to think that it’s plausible that it’s taking place. As I understand it, a crucial part of deciding whether genocide is taking place or not is proving intent to commit genocide. Could you please explain what you believe is the evidence for this intent to commit genocide in Gaza?

Clare Daly: Sure. I think the South Africans put it best, really, in their case that they presented to the ICJ, where in part of their submission, they presented 84 pages of direct quotes from the Israeli president, the prime minister, minister after minister, leading military official after military official, and then translating that to the act that were carried out based on the – I suppose – demonisation of Palestinians. There were calls saying “We are fighting human animals” and “There are no innocent civilians in Gaza” – “Everyone is a target” – “We want to clear Gaza” – so, 84 pages of quote after quote. And if you listen to the judgment from the ICJ, they took that very seriously, that is what they placed the strongest part of their ruling on. Look, the case is yet to be heard in full and it’s utterly tragic that what the court asked has actually been ignored since then, because they stressed so much the need to protect humanitarian aid, to allow unimpeded humanitarian aid and yet we have a situation where that is being disrupted regularly as well. Look, the court will decide but I think people looking on and listening to the words coming from so many Israeli officials, they would look at the genocide convention and say, “well, seems very like it to me.”

Audience member: Du hast ja gesagt, dass die israelische Seite für den Genozid verantwortlich ist. Ich würde jetzt eher mal sagen Massaker, aber lassen wir es bewenden. Diese Aussage ist richtig; sie ist aber nur dann richtig, wenn man dazusagt, dass es mehrere Beteiligte gibt. Auch die Hamas is verantwortlich für dieses Massaker. Es gibt eine Vorgeschichte und sie machen weiter und da kann man nicht nur sagen, das ist eine Seite. Beide Seiten sind verantwortlich und das muss man auch benennen, auch wenn es ein asymmetrischer Krieg ist, im Moment.

Clare Daly: That was your opinion, that wasn’t really a question. But I suppose what I would say to that is: Obviously, I do not support Hamas. I mourn the loss of innocent Israeli life, civilian life, as I do the loss of any innocent civilian life, anywhere. But it is a fact that, for example, there is no Hamas in the Westbank and yet hundreds of Palestinians have been killed there by Israeli settlers and the Israeli state since the events of 7 Octobre 2023. It has been used as a cover to slaughter 30.000 civilians, 70 % of whom are women and children. Nothing, absolutely nothing done by anybody justifies that. It is on a scale – in an area that is an open prison, run and administered by Israel – there has been nothing that I have seen in the history of my life on the scale of that. It’s in a league of its own, to be honest.

Julian Mühlfellner (Moderation): Thank you for the question and thank you also for the answer. It is very important in this context to stress that we are not here to take sides – at least I am not. We are here – as you said so clearly in your speech – to stop this madness and the slaughter.

Clare Daly: I suppose one of the things I would say, and it is an indication of how the whole narrative has shifted in this, is that every other time in the 75 years of the existence of the state of Israel that there have been attacks on Palestinians by settlers of the Israeli state, at various periods, the European Union always called for a ceasefire. It is not calling for a ceasefire now, when things are at their very worse in terms of the scale. In 1982, after the Israeli war in Lebanon, Margaret Thatcher, who was probably one of the most pro-Israeli British prime minister, and Ronald Reagan, who was a very good friend of Israel as well, they implemented arms embargos and financial halting of funding to Israel as a result of those activities. So, I am not here critisising any one state, I am here upholding international law and Margaret Thatcher even said, you cannot choose international law; you either accept all of it or you don’t. That is as simple as that. And the court has deemed a very plausible case there. That is the point – it’s not a two-sided thing in that sense, you know.

Audience member: Ich finde es sehr wohltuend, was Sie gesagt haben, und wie engagiert Sie Ihren Vortrag vorgetragen haben, weil man kann das, was Sie angeprangert haben und was Sie an Hintergründen gebracht haben, und diese Leidenschaft für den Frieden und das Zusammenstehen in der deutschen Presse nicht finden. Innerhalb von zwei Jahren hat sich hier eine Stimmung etabliert, die gegen Frieden, gegen Pazifismus, gegen Verhandlungen ist. Man ist ja sofort verdächtig, wenn man für Verhandlungen eintritt. Meine Frage ist: Wie kann man so ein engagiertes Statement, so eine Leidenschaft, so ein Hintergrundwissen und so eine Haltung in die deutschen Medien bringen, damit es nicht nur 100 oder 1.000 Leute sind, die auf die Straße gehen, sondern 10.000, 20.000, 100.000 Leute, die für den Frieden öffentlich auf die Straße gehen.

Clare Daly: That is a really good question and I have to tell you, it’s not just the German press, the Irish press are just as bad. I’m a Putin puppet, I’m a Kremlin agent, I’m an embarrassment and a disgrace and that mantra has been foisted and pushed on us on a regular basis. But the people have seen through the mainstream media and sadly in some ways because what we warned in terms of their failure to secure a peace deal in Ukraine has become a reality. People see it now for what it is. It is not about a winnable war, it’s almost about an endless war. It’s a war that has been kept going to keep the production lines going while they are slaughtering innocent people and destroying a country. People are seeing through that and I think that is what we have to build on. Every day I get contacted from people from all over people and that has been going on since the Ukraine war. I consider myself really lucky to have the privilege of a platform in the parliament that I can use. And now, in the Ukraine war but also the war in Gaza, loads of Germans contact me all of the time, loads of people all over Europe, and they all say, we feel alienated from the political system, the people in power do not represent our views. And that is the same everywhere. The gulf is absolutely massive. There is a lot of more us than there is of them but people feel a bit demoralized and that is why we have this chilling effect. It hasn’t been easy, standing for peace. I’ve been called a Putin appeaser. It is considered appeasement, calling for peace. It is like to kind of wanted Russia to win, so you were pretending that you were calling for peace. Even though the people who blocked peace have actually probably facilitated Putin in seizing more territory in Ukraine than he would have had if there was a settlement at that stage. So, I think we have to do more events like this. Social media has been beneficial as well. But we have to unite. One of the issues that I didn’t address in my opening remarks, which I was supposed to, was about the European elections. Now, I don’t know if I will get reelected; certainly, a lot of people in Ireland will be trying to make sure that I do not. But you are lucky that you have a list of people like Michael that will probably be returned from Germany and that would be brilliant. Because, as I say, and don’t mean it lightly, but the German greens have dominated the vision of Germany. Between them and Ursula von der Leyen’s party. But I know from the people who contact me: that is not Germany. You’ve had such a magnificent history of pacifism and anti-militarism; you were always the anti-nuclear go-to people when I was growing up. So you just have to reclaim that. Energise young people in that. And reclaim your history back from them, because certainly Ursula won’t do it for you.