Doc. 8387

26 April 1999

Crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)

Reply to Recommendations 1397 and 1400 (1999)

adopted at the 668th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (20-22 April 1999)

i.       The Committee of Ministers recalls the extensive reply that it adopted to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1368 (1998) on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and 1376 (1998) on the situation of the Kosovo refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons at the 646th meeting (21-22 October 1998) of the Ministers’ Deputies.

ii.       It has transmitted Recommendations 1397 (1999) and 1400 (1999) to the governments of the member States, drawing their attention in particular to paragraphs 15.ii and, especially with regard to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, 15.v of the former. Assembly Resolution 1182 (1999) on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has also been transmitted to governments.

iii.       In view of the fact that the situation both on the ground in Kosovo and in the wider international context has changed radically since the adoption by the Assembly of its Recommendation 1397 (1999), the Committee of Ministers is concentrating its reply on the most recent Recommendation. Since the onset of the crisis in Kosovo, this topic and the situation in the FRY have featured regularly on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers as a political matter of the highest priority. Most recently, at their 667th meeting (7-9 April 1999), the Ministers’ Deputies instructed the Secretariat to pursue without delay, in agreement with the most affected countries in the region and in close contact with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), as well as the most relevant international and regional organisations and institutions, the planning and implementation of urgent measures to assist in the present humanitarian crisis related to Kosovo including all civilian victims, in the fields of competence of the Council of Europe, in particular by contributing to the registration of refugees and the examination of human rights violations. Secretariat officials, together with experts, are on the spot in Albania with a view to implementing this decision, and to examine possibilities for further action by the Council of Europe in response to the present humanitarian crisis.

iv.       The Ministers’ Deputies also attached great importance to the possible contribution of the Social Development Fund. The Fund’s Governing Board, at its 157th meeting (12 April 1999), approved a number of proposals concerning aid for refugees from Kosovo (see the appended Summing-up of the acting Chair of the Governing Board), and submitted them to the Administrative Council, which has approved a donation of two million euros, as an exceptional measure, from the Social Development Fund’s Selective Trust Account in favour of refugees and displaced persons from Kosovo. The organs of the Social Development Fund also launched an appeal to member States to make voluntary contributions to the Selective Trust Account and/or to co-finance with the Fund specific projects in Albania and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.

v.       With regard more particularly to paragraph 2.i of Recommendation 1400 (1999), the Ministers’ Deputies have also instructed the Secretariat to prepare, in close consultation with the countries concerned, elements for development into a coherent programme (together with a schedule for its implementation under the regular supervision of the Committee of Ministers) in the relevant areas of competence of the Council of Europe for the countries of South Eastern Europe, affected by the present Kosovo crisis. Initial Secretariat proposals for a multi-institutional programme, closely associating all organs and institutions of the Council of Europe, and in the first instance the Parliamentary Assembly, as well as relevant international and regional organisations, are currently being examined by the Committee of Ministers, with a view to possible adoption at the 104th Ministerial Session.

vi.       As far as other more immediate actions are concerned, the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Legal Aspects of Territorial Asylum Refugees and Stateless Persons (CAHAR) will hold an extraordinary meeting on Kosovo on 26-27 April 1999.

vii.       Preparations for Council of Europe support to civil society (cf. also paragraph of Recommendation 1397 (1999)) in the FRY had been intensified in recent months, mainly in an effort to counter the worsening of conditions of freedom of expression, and attacks against academic freedom. For example, university professors from Serbia and Kosovo, who also took part in an exchange of views with the Deputies, attended the Higher Education Committee (16-18 March 1999) meeting in order to discuss their respective situations with national delegations and gain support for their action in favour of an alternative university network; planning had begun of a conference entitled “Towards a Modern European University” to be held in Belgrade in 1999 under the auspices of the Council of Europe; continued support was being given to the efforts of ANEM for the defence of freedom of media, inter alia, by publicising the expert opinion of the Council of Europe on the recent Serbian Law on Public Information.

For the time being, implementation of such measures has had to be suspended, but they could, when conditions will allow, form part of the proposed coherent plan of action for the countries of South-Eastern Europe most affected by the Kosovo crisis.

Appendix to the reply by the Committee of Ministers
to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations 1397 (1999) and 1400 (1999)
on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Summing-up of the acting Chair of the Governing Board
of the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe

The Governing Board held its 157th meeting on 12 April in Paris. It considered the tragic events in the wake of the Kosovo crisis and recalled that aid to refugees, with a view to enable them to return to their country, is one of the priority sectors of the Fund defined as such in its Articles of Agreement.

In view of the economic and political consequences of these events for the countries of the region concerned, and taking into account the in-depth discussion it has held and which demonstrated the need to react rapidly and appropriately to the events in the Kosovo, the Governing Board, as the Fund’s political body, found it indispensable that the Fund should take action in favour of the refugees by lending its support to the countries having to deal with their arrival, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Albania, and approved some proposals to be forwarded to the Administrative Council which has the competence to take financial decisions.

The first one consists of an exceptional measure (the Fund is in fact a bank) of short-term aid involving a contribution in the form of a donation to “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Albania through relevant international organisations to be proposed by the Governor. Given the urgency of the situation, the Governing Board invited the Administrative Council to make use of the written procedure.

The Board also proposed to the Administrative Council to examine by urgent procedure projects related to the situation in Kosovo that “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which is a Member of the Fund, may soon present.

The Governing Board further proposed to the Administrative Council to examine the possibility of a loan to Albania, although this country is not yet a member of the Fund, to finance a specific project in favour of the refugees along the lines of the operations already carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with appropriate guarantees.

The Governing Board finally launched an appeal to member States to make voluntary contributions to the Selective Trust Account and/or to co-finance with the Fund specific projects in the countries mentioned above, and envisaged that a Fund delegation should pay a visit to Skopje and Tirana to express the Fund’s solidarity to the Authorities and to establish with them a programme of co-operation.