European Cold War defence alliance dissolved
The Cold War-era Western European Union (WEU) defence alliance, set up in the wake of World War II, has been dissolved, the organisation's presidency said in a statement Wednesday.
"The WEU has therefore fulfilled its historic role. That is why we, the states party to the modified Treaty of Brussels, have collectively decided to end the treaty and thereby close the organisation," the statement said.
The 10 member states have requested the presidency to wind up the organisation's operations in their entirety by the end of June 2011.
In a separate statement, Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere said: "From a budgetary point of view, maintaining the WEU became difficult to defend."
Vanackere added that he hoped the defence dialogue carried out by the WEU would continue in some form or another.
A week ago, the head of the Paris-based assembly Robert Walter said "the WEU as an organisation will be wound down within a year or so."
The WEU's founding principles were "to afford assistance to each other in resisting any policy of aggression," and "to promote unity and to encourage the progressive integration of Europe."
The very year after it was formed the eclipse of the western European body began with the formation of NATO, with the key inclusion of the United States.
But it became outdated as the Cold War ended, with the 27-nation European Union and NATO presiding over a largely peaceful Europe.