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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 18:26 GMT

Conservatives: Foreign affairs and defence

Find out more about Conservative Party policies on foreign affairs and defence.


The Conservatives want all the new democracies and countries of the Mediterranean to enjoy complete free trade with the European Union by 2010 through either EU or free trade area membership.

The Conservatives also support a free trade alliance between the European Union and North America.

The party advocates bringing together responsibility for trade policy, negotiations and export promotion in a new Foreign, Commonwealth and Trade Office.

The party advocates treaties and agreements to bring about global free trade by 2020.

The party is awaiting the outcome of its own commission into the future of the Commonwealth.


The party strongly supports the US's proposed National Missile Defence (NMD) system and believes that the UK should provide sites for radar equipment essential for the programme.

The party believes that there is a very real threat of missile attacks from rogue states.

The party also believes that Nato should examine the possibilities of creating an NMD system to protect the whole of the alliance area, from North America to the eastern European borders.


The party strongly supports the peace process in the Middle East and believes that Israel's relations with Syria and Lebanon are also crucial to the future of the region.

The party believes that Saddam Hussein is still a threat to the West and supports the continuation of sanctions.

The party opposes normal diplomatic relations with Iran as long as the Iranian Government supports terrorist groups and attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.

However, it believes that a total isolation of Iran would be counter-productive.

The party has supported the presence of troops in Sierra Leone but believes that there should be a clearer role and no long-term engagement of British forces.

The party advocates closer ties with Russia and recommends that the UK helps in its difficult struggle towards integration in the EU and Nato structures. It believes that the UK should not, however, be silent on human rights issues.


The Conservatives have criticised the Globalisation White Paper unveiled by Labour in government as being short on specifics.

The party believes that more should be done to reform institutions such as the EU and UN which are underperforming in the development field by taking far too long to deliver aid money when it is needed.

The Conservatives say that international development policy should aim to strengthen the framework of good governance in aid recipient countries.

The party wants more of the UK's aid budget to be distributed through aid charities and wants an amendment made to the EU Treaty to allow member states to deliver aid outside of the EU rules.


The Conservatives believe that Labour's Strategic Defence Review of 1998 has left the UK's armed forces overstretched and undermanned.

The party has pledged that priority will be given to achieving full manning levels, including reforming the Territorial Army and reserve forces.

The party advocates "the primacy in the Armed Forces of operational effectiveness over political correctness."

The Conservatives support Nato as the cornerstone of European defence policy and believes that the proposed European Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) could damage the position of the alliance.

The party says that it will seek to reverse any decision to give the RRF a planning capability independent of Nato.

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