16 September 1993

Doc. 6914

1403-15/9/93-4-E

OPINION

on the application by Romania

for membership of the Council of Europe1

(Rapporteur: Mr PANGALOS,

Greece, Socialist Group)


1.       The Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries has issued many reports on Romania. The last one, issued before the fall of Ceausescu in December 1989, concentrated on the situation of minorities in Romania (Doc. 6105 of 5 September 1989).

2.       At the suggestion of the committee, the Romanian Parliament received special guest status on 1 February 1991. This decision followed a hearing in Innsbruck on 29 June 1990, at which several Romanian Ministers and the famous dissident Do´na Cornea were present. It also followed a visit from 11 to 15 November 1990 by an Assembly delegation to Romania as well as a hearing of Petre Roman, the Romanian Prime Minister, in Strasbourg on 29 January 1991.

3.       The application by Romania for membership of the Council of Europe dates from 19 December 1991. A few days previously, from 11 to 13 December, the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries had held a plenary session in Bucharest as well as a series of talks in Transylvania.

4.       On 1 July 1993, the Political Affairs Committee adopted a draft opinion on the request for membership by Romania, in which it recommends that the Committee of Ministers at its next session:

      i.       invite Romania to become a member of the Council of Europe;

      ii.       allocate ten seats to Romania in the Parliamentary Assembly.

5.       Democracy in Romania has made great progress since 1989:

      —a        new Constitution was adopted in a referendum on 8 December 1991;—

      —pa       rliamentary elections were held in September 1992; the Assembly delegation which monitored them concluded that the ballot went ahead peacefully and seemingly in generally acceptable conditions of normality and legality;—

      —in       his letters of 25 May 1993 to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and of 22 June 1993 to the Rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee, Mr T. Melescanu, the Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave an undertaking to the effect that his country would become a party to the European Convention on Human Rights after joining the Organisation and that the necessary measures would be taken in respect of the legal system, freedom of the press and of opinion, the protection of minorities (in accordance with the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201 (1993) of the Assembly) and certain special judicial matters.6.

6.       But despite the undoubted progress already made, there are, according to trustworthy observers recently returned from Romania, still a certain number of problems to be solved:

      i.       Laws on religion: a bill on freedom of religion has already been drawn up and approved in principle, in collaboration with the leaders of the various religious denominations. But the bill submitted to the parliament was subjected to two major and widely criticised amendments: the leaders of the various religions must be appointed with the approval of the Minister of Religious Affairs and the President of the Republic,2 and lay schools will again be controlled by the state;

      ii.       Television: there has been until recently only one television channel controlled by the state and independent programmes were only screened for one hour, late at night, and only in the Bucharest area; however a private channel has just been created;

      iii.       The Romanian Information Service: a legacy of the former Securitate, this was until recently controlled by the President and not by the parliament; on 23 June 1993 however a monitoring committee was established in the parliament;

      iv.       Land ownership: during and following the 1989 December revolution, a great deal of land was stolen by the new nomenklatura. Despite the law of 1991 which enabled six million persons to recuperate their land, many farmers now live as tenants in their own houses. A particular case to be solved seems to concern the property of the Church.

7.       Conclusion:

      The Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries is convinced that Romania has made great progress towards achieving democracy since 1989, when one of the most repressive regimes on that side of the continent was at work.

      But there are still measures to be taken to make it a truly democratic country, particularly in the areas of religious freedom, television independence, the organisation of the legal profession, control over the Romanian Information Service and land ownership.

      The committee approves the accession of Romania to the Council of Europe at the next meeting of the Committee of Ministers.

      Finally, the committee draws attention to Order No. 488 (1993) on the honouring of commitments entered into by new member states.

* *

*

      Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee (Doc. 6901).

      Committee for opinion: Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries.

      Reference to committee: Doc. 6548 and Reference No. 1766 of 3 February 1992.

      Opinion approved by the committee on 7 September 1993.

      Secretary to the committee: Mr Dufour.


1 1See Doc. 6901.

2 1 1. According to the Romanian delegation, this is in fact a confirmation aiming at strengthening their authority.