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Plaid Cymru’s leader wants Wales to be an ‘associate member’ of NATO- a status that doesn’t exist

29 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth

Martin Shipton

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has advocated that an independent Wales should not be a full member of the NATO alliance, but an “associate member” – a status that doesn’t exist.

In an interview with Ciaran Jenkins for Channel 4, it was put to Mr ap Iorwerth that we live in pretty uncertain times. Asked whether the UK should withdraw from NATO, the Plaid leader said: “No – I’m not arguing that. The relationship that we have with NATO is important.

“There are different relationships that an independent Wales, for example, could have with NATO, but it’s not a call for the UK to withdraw from NATO for me.”

Asked whether he thought an independent Wales should not be part of NATO, Mr ap Iorwewrth said: “I think an independent Wales would want to have a very close relationship with NATO. There is an associate membership that people have – Ireland, for example, with NATO. That would be a decision for an independent Wales.”

Mr Jenkins pointed out that Plaid Cymru had a policy that Wales should not be in NATO. Mr ap Iorwerth responded: “But I’m talking about associate membership, which is something different. What I’m saying is that NATO is important, that Wales’ relationship with NATO would be important, but that wouldn’t necessarily have to mean membership. The Republic of Ireland is a good example of that.”

Mr Jenkins asked: “So you’d like associate membership of NATO, but not full membership?”

Mr ap Iorwerth said: “That is where I am, but this would be a question for an independent Wales. I see the importance of NATO as an alliance, but membership of NATO isn’t necessary to have that close relationship with NATO.”

Reservations

Asked what it was about NATO that gave him reservations about full membership, given the role NATO is playing in assisting Ukraine, the Plaid leader said: “As I say, I have no issue, if you like,with the relationship the UK has with NATO now. This is about what relationship I believe an independent Wales would want with NATO. I think it should be a close one. I don’t think that necessarily has to mean membership.”

Asked why he would not want to be a member of NATO, Mr ap Iorwerth said: “We make that decision at the time of becoming independent. The world is uncertain and I believe in international alliances – and NATO is one of those important alliances. What I’m saying is there are different relationships you can have with NATO, and that’s a discussion we would want to have both within the party and nationally as a country. There are pros and cons to each … There are different views on NATO membership in Plaid Cymru.”

Currently there are 32 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which was set up in the aftermath of World War Two as Cold War tensions were rising. A core principle of NATO is that an attack on one member nation is regarded as an attack on all.

Non-member countries

There is no such thing as “associate membership” of NATO. NATO does, however, maintain relations with more than 40 non-member countries and international organisations called NATO partners. A statement on NATO’s website says: “This partnership network strengthens security outside NATO territory, which makes NATO itself safer. The Alliance pursues dialogue and practical cooperation with partners on a wide range of political and security-related issues, including global challenges like terrorism and climate change. NATO’s partnerships are beneficial to all involved and contribute to improved security for the broader international community.”

Ireland is involved in the Partnership for Peace initiative, for example, which has seen it taking part in international peacekeeping missions, including in Kosovo.

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “I think it’s extraordinary that Plaid Cymru is opposed to membership of NATO and that its leader is proposing some kind of made-up status for Wales that doesn’t even exist.

“Countries like Sweden and Finland that were previously not members have seen the advantages of joining up because of the threat posed to them by Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Advocating that Wales should withdraw from NATO is a far-left policy that gives succour to Putin. Even the Labour Party accepts that being in NATO is essential for our security.”

Asked why the party leader was advocating a status that doesn’t exist, a Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: “Many countries and international organisations have partner relationships with NATO.

“When Wales becomes an independent nation, it will be up to the people of Wales to decide whether we want to join NATO or choose to follow a different path. This could include being a member of the Partnership for Peace programme, as in the case of Ireland which has been a partner nation with NATO since 1999.”


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Riki
Riki
16 days ago

Why? Why would you put yourself in a position that makes you a target based on someone’s else’s wants and needs? We should stay as far away from NATO as possible. Russia has already declared they have no ill will towards Scotland or Wales or Ireland. Unlike most they know the difference between the UK and England….and they know how we are dragged along to aid in every whim of the Anglo.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
16 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Ah the lovely and benevolent Russians

Riki
Riki
16 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

And what Russian policies have had a detrimental effect on Wales? Remind me of the time they banned our language and drown our villages? What about when the Russians took our terminology for themselves! Oh wait, that was never the Russians. By the way, please don’t assume I’m pro Russian because I’m highlighting how they are no more insane than our immediate neighbours to the east.

Last edited 16 days ago by Riki
Rhddwen y Sais
16 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Lerpwl prif ddinas Cymru.

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
15 days ago
Reply to  Riki

The Russians are bombing and trying to eradicate the culture and language of their neighbours to the west, the are currently killing more civilians some days than were displaced in centuries of building water supply installations in Wales. Are you living in a parallel universe to me?

Riki
Riki
16 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

So how many villages in Wales have Russians drowned? For how long did the Russians force the use of the Welsh not?

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
15 days ago
Reply to  Riki

The Russians are bombing and trying to eradicate the culture and language of their neighbours to the west, the are currently killing more civilians some days than were displaced in centuries of building water supply installations in Wales. Are you living in a parallel universe to me?

Riki
Riki
16 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

The first thing Ukraine did in 2014 was outlaw Russian. You’d think we’d know how that feels?

Riki
Riki
16 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

It seems I’m not allowed to respond and highlight how the Russians are no different than the English. Why allow for me to comment only then to deny my responses when pressed on that initial comment. This is like my 4th attempt at a response. Whoever is deciding wether comments are acceptable needs to grow up!

Rhddwen y Sais
16 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Why does nearly every town and village in Wales glory naming numerous houses after English towns like Manchester House? Just asking.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

It depends on the age and nature of the building…once it was for retail outlets to illustrate their place of manufacture…

There were similar places in the ‘new world’ that advertise their cloth for clothing slaves, slaves bought with much the same goods as to be found in Manchester House in Dolgellau, guess where the cloth was made, not a stone’s throw from my doorstep as a child…

Richard
Richard
16 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Don’t you think that Wales should stand in solidarity with other small European nations? Including those like the Baltic states that suffered Russian oppression in the past and continue to feel threatened by them?

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
15 days ago
Reply to  Richard

Yes, Plaid Cymru has always opposed imperialism and believes that every nation should be free to chose its destiny as guaranteed by the United Nations. Wales has supported the people of Ukraine (and the other independent Baltic states) to remain as independent countries. It is nations like Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Ukraine that a certain neighbouring empire wants to claim as their own. Wales will always be partners of NATO. But, NATO will have to recognise that the UK was in the wrong to hold the states of Ireland, Wales and Scotland under their control. We will possibly follow the… Read more »

Geraint
Geraint
15 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Ireland and NATO have had a formal relationship since 1999, when Ireland joined as a member of the NATO partnership for peace programme and signed up to NATO’s Euro-Partnership Council. Sounds like a associate status to me.

Mandi A
Mandi A
15 days ago
Reply to  Geraint

And an appropriate one for a small nation with a small army and a few coastal patrol boats. Wales has no army or navy, will not be able to afford its own army or navy but could offer useful training environments. Can’t imagine the RAF or the F-15s will stop the fun over the Welsh mountain passes because Wales leaves the UK.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
16 days ago

Big mistake by Plaid this policy must be reversed immediately whether you like it or not membership would guarantee our sovereignty and recognition especially amongst smaller European countries who we strive to emulate

Rhddwen y Sais
16 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

Like England you mean. It is small compared to most European countries.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
16 days ago

Just thinking about this: make a list of every MoD and Gov/Utility. site in Cymru, how many are in limbo land preserved in aspic for perpetuity.

How many promises, plans and projects but hardly a thing moves unless a knee jerks in Whitehall…

What can we offer Nato that is not already on the table apart from cannon or fodder…

Last edited 16 days ago by Mab Meirion
Steffan Gwent
Steffan Gwent
16 days ago

The 2019 Westminster election Plaid Candidate for Carmarthen Dr Rhys Thomas is also a retired regular British Army Lt. Colonel. During an internal party hustings at that time a debate about NATO took place and Rhys had much valuable insight into the security issues an Independent Wales would face. Small Independent countries like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia embrace NATO. Interestingly since Russia has in recent times threatened to carry out naval exercises close to Irish territorial waters the Republic of Ireland have been reviewing their strategic position.

Mawkernewek
15 days ago
Reply to  Steffan Gwent

The US arms industry lobbied in favour of NATO expansion it’s not exactly an organisation focused on benefiting humanity.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
16 days ago

2%+ of our GDP spent on bombs & guns & s.h1te….whilst our children go to bed hungry….but never mind, at least our Indy Wales is in NATO!!!

Alun
Alun
16 days ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

And back in the EU I’d presume?

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
16 days ago
Reply to  Alun

Hope not!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Somebody told me the other day that 20 fags cost nearly £20…!

I was shocked, then thought about Sunak going belly-up to the tobacco industry’s demand for millions of lives and billions of quids not spent on feeding children…get real…

Stephen Eley
Stephen Eley
16 days ago

I had never realised that the official Plaid position was in favour of withdrawal from NATO! What a ridiculous strategy. I have gone from Plaid-waverer to anything but Plaid in a single short article.

John Ellis
John Ellis
16 days ago

I’m sympathetic to the Plaid agenda, and my vote next week is likely to go their way, just as it’s generally done during those considerable parts of my life during which I’ve spent in Wales. But I do find it hard to back this policy proposition, because defence and foreign policy issues are unambiguously and wholly reserved to Westminster, and so any attempt by Cardiff Bay politicians to set out policies in those areas can’t in reality be anything more than mere posturing. Plaid surely needs for now to focus primarily on the powers which the Welsh government already has,… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago

They really should teach more modern history in Cymru’s schools, the last two hundred years seems a mystery to some people…

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
15 days ago

Rhun ap Iorwerth was born in Tonteg, Rhondda Cynon Taf, to Edward Morus and Gwyneth (née Humphreys) Jones. Born Rhun ap Iorwerth Jones, his name is Welsh for ‘Rhun, the son of Iorwerth’, a name commonly anglicised as Edward. He uses ap Iorwerth as his surname. Why does Rhun drop his real surname JONES and instead use his middle name as his surname? Is his real family name too common, too easy to pronounce, or, even though it is a common name amongst Welsh born people, not Welsh enough? I need to know, do I need to change my name… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Mr Jones

Ha,ha, ha…one could use a hyphen, that used to work when chasing further education etc…tradition says…

CapM
CapM
15 days ago
Reply to  Mr Jones

I don’t know why Rhun adopted the traditional patronymic system used by the Cymry any more than you do. But Jones is no more “real” than ap Iorwerth and vice versa. Historically the traditional system fell out of fashion amongst the gentry who adopted the English surname based on the paternal line. Henry VIII made the English system the only legal one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_surnames The separate “ap ” or “ab” as part of a surname functions in the same way the “B” in Bevan or “P” in Pritchard or “Mc” and “Mac” in Scottish and Irish surnames. I wouldn’t agonise about… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
15 days ago

NATO is a war machine, while we need a solid relationship with the Alliance full membership should be avoided. Associate membership seems like a good compromise and worth working towards.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago

Let us project ourselves 10-20-never years hence and there is a call to arms… Will the Royal Welsh still be extant ? Training Camps…Traws…(ex Bomb Disposal dad, we would spend hours looking for unexploded artillery shells up on the range and he was an honorary member of the three stripers mess at Tonfanau where I spent many a Saturday afternoon, RIP Mrs Steel). That would be a hard sell nowadays, re-wilding is popular and some of MoD land is wild… A navy ? If the Monarch had seen fit to preserve HMS Bronington, (when PoW) his first command, rather than… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

See Les Darbyshire, author of ‘Our Backyard War, West Merioneth During the Second World War’ for the story…

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
15 days ago

La la Politics!

Mandi A
Mandi A
15 days ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

Where do you live? Just asking, not a criticism

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
15 days ago
Reply to  Mandi A

VoG

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