Call for elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020 receives strong support by fast growing number of Mayors in Luxembourg and Belgium
Brussels -Luxembourg, December 29th 2005 - Forty-seven mayors of Luxembourg have recently joined the emergency call for action launched by the Mayor of Hiroshima to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. Following the failure of the latest NPT Review Conference a growing number of mayors seem receptive to the problem of nuclear proliferation linked with the lack of progress towards complete disarmament.
The success of the membership drive in Luxembourg came as the peace campaigners Claude Simon and Nicole Jemming from "Friddensinitiativ" joined the Abolition 2000 Europe network and were inspired by the successful Belgian Mayors for Peace campaign co-ordinated by For Mother Earth, the Flemish member of Friends of the Earth International.
Following a visit to Brussels in early 2005 by Mr. Akiba Tadatoshi, the mayor of Hiroshima, a diverse and multi-partisan group of six Belgian mayors -amongst whom Brussels' mayor Freddy Thielemans and mayor Jean-Luc Dehaene, Prime Minister from 1991to 1999 - invited by mail all their 589 colleagues to sign up to the 2020 vision. In just a couple of months Belgian membership rose from only 6 to 250 today. One of the results is that 3 city run Mayor for Peace secretariats were established in the country's three regions: bi-lingual Brussels, dutch spoken Flanders and french spoken Wallonia.
In Luxembourg the peace campaigners invited the mayors of Luxembourg's two largest cities to address a letter to all their colleagues. During a very well-attended newsconference at the Luxembourg City Hall on July 20th Mr. Paul Helminger, Mayor of the capital city of Luxembourg, and Ms. Lydia Mutsch, Mayor of Esch-sur-Alzette, both also members of parliament, signed the membership form of the Mayors for Peace, while making a public appeal to all their colleagues to do the same. The response was overwhelmingly positive as almost half of the 118 Luxembourg mayors signed up to the 2020 Vision.
Luxembourg is member of the EU and NATO. It does not store any nuclear weapons on its territory but is a member of the Nuclear Planning Group of NATO. Neighboring Belgium hosts an estimated 20 U.S nuclear bombs at the NATO air force base of Kleine Brogel. Belgium is also the host country for both NATO and SHAPE headquarters.
The success of the Mayors for Peace campaign is very encouraging for the peace campaigners. Plans are now being developed to involve the mayors actively in communicating the 2020 Vision to the public. Mayors are also be involved in lobbying the government and in informing the public of the dangers of nuclear proliferation on one hand, while also reminding us of the NPT Article VI disarmament obligations of all the state parties to the Non Proliferation Treaty. The growing support for the 2020 Vision helped to move both the Belgian Senate on April 21st 2005 and the House on July 13th 2005 to adopt resolutions calling for non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives including the withdrawal of an estimated of 480 U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe.