Almost 1 in 4 Belgian mayors have joined the Mayors for Peace network
Ypres, March 29th 2005 - Today Belgian membership of the Mayors for Peace network stands at 137, an increase from 52 just last week, and only 6 in 2004. This very encouraging result follows a mailing to all 589 Belgian Mayors inviting them to join the Emergency Campaign to Ban nuclear weapons by 2020. The appeal to the Belgian mayors was co-signed by 6 mayors representing different political parties and regions, including Anne-Marie Lizin (PS - Huy), Frank Beke (Sp.a - Ghent), Ingrid Pira (Green - Mortsel), Jean-Luc Dehaene (CD&V - Vilvoorde), Luc Dehaene (CD&V - Ypres) and Patrik Vankrunkelsven (VLD - Laakdal).
The number is expected to continue to rise during the coming weeks, as peace groups in Belgium are encouraging mayors to join the network. Most major cities are now members of the network, with Mayor Freddy Thielemans from Brussels announcing just 10 days ago his commitment to the objective of abolishing nuclear weapons. Hopefully the EU and NATO, both hosted in the European capital, will get the very clear signal of the need to abolish nuclear weapons. A call which was also expressed in the resolution regarding the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), adopted by the European Parliament on March 10th this year.
The 137 Belgian members of the Mayors for Peace network means an unexpected boost for the disarmament campaigners who hoped to have 100 Belgian members by the start of the NPT Review Conference on May 2nd. A meeting between a delegation of mayors and the Belgian Foreign Ministry is scheduled for the end of April, while a delegation of Belgian mayors is also expected to travel to New York for the NPT Review Conference.
The success of the Mayors for Peace campaign in Belgium comes as an addition to the political debate in Belgian national parliament. Last week the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense in the Belgian Senate adopted a resolution calling for a balanced approach, considering both disarmament and non-proliferation, towards the NPT Review Conference in New York next May. The Belgian senators also call for the withdrawal of the U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe, including the weapons stored at the NATO base of Kleine Brogel in Belgium. Theo Kelchtermans, mayor of Kleine Brogel (Peer) has also announced his intention to join the Mayors For Peace network this week.
Next summer, For Mother Earth is organising an international peace walk calling on the mayors of towns and cities along the route to support the international emergency campaign of the 'Mayors for Peace'. The walk marks the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The walk will start on Tuesday, July 26th, in the peace town of Ypres, and will end at the secret NATO nuclear weapons base at Kleine Brogel, passing via NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
The success of the Mayors for Peace campaign in Belgium is mostly the result of a very close cooperation between a town and an NGO; in this case the peace city of Ypres and For Mother Earth - Friends of the Earth Flanders, which is coordinating the Abolition 2000 network in Belgium. Also the tireless efforts of Prof. Pierre Pierart from the french speaking section of IPPNW Belgium should be mentioned in the success of the ongoing campaign.
Updated list of Belgian Mayors for Peace http://www.motherearth.org/m4p/list_nl.php
For more information: Mayors For Peace
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