Doc. 8469
13 July 1999

Technological strategies for reconstruction and industrial development of the disadvantaged regions of south-eastern Europe

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mr Melnikov and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and only expresses the views of the members who have signed it

1.       The Assembly has already expressed its concern over the political, social and economic consequences of the conflict in and around Kosovo (cf. Doc.8358). It has devoted considerable time to the elaboration of recommendations aiming to restore stability in the south-east of the continent, to relieve human sufferings and to eliminate or reduce damages to the economy and public institutions.

2.       Concerning the economic situation in south-eastern Europe, the Assembly has, following an analysis of the problems these countries are facing, estimated that the conflict in and around Kosovo had made a direct and considerable negative impact on most countries in the region. Direct damage incurred by NATO air assaults against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) includes a grave destruction of its economy and infrastructure throughout the country.

3.       Indirectly, this conflict has seriously affected transport, trade and foreign investments throughout the region. The massive outflow of refugees from Kosovo has also posed the neighbouring countries, especially Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with a major technological and financial challenge. Deployment and supply of refugee camps has seriously tapped on their scarce resources, despite all assistance rendered by other European countries and international organisations involved.

4.       Mounting social, economic and environmental problems in south-eastern Europe represent a serious danger for the democratic stability of the region and even for Europe as a whole. Since the hostilities have stopped, a rapid restoration and development of the region’s trade and industry will become as important as the search for a political settlement.
Mr Romano Prodi, Chairman of the European Commission, has estimated the paycheck for the post-war reconstruction of the Balkans at 5-6 bn Euro annually within a period of at least five years, which equals to 2 per cent of EU countries’ joint GNP. While most major countries and international organisations, notably the European Union, have expressed their readiness to provide unconditional funding for the reconstruction of Kosovo and the ‘front-line states’, eventual assistance to the rest of FRY is often made subject to political changes within the country. This may for indefinite time hamper meeting the vital basic needs of the FRY population whose habitat has been massively destroyed.

5.       Reconstruction of social and industrial infrastructures in Kosovo and the rest of FRY seems to be the most natural and immediate priority in this regard. This is specially true for such areas as housing, food storage, processing and distribution, drinking water supply, power generation and supply systems, and communications. The needs of infrastructure renewal will mainly direct the technology choices for the post-war assistance to these areas. Urgent environmental cleanup and restoration of mass transport to and through FRY, including notably the return of refugees, will be other priority issues of importance for the whole region.

6.       Meanwhile, it is also of crucial importance, especially for neighbouring countries, that manufacturing industries and trade, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and alternative trade links, also get major development impulses during the first stage of reconstruction. In the areas which suffered most from the hostilities and refugee inflow, these businesses will also serve as important sources of creating new jobs when construction activities pass their peak and scale down to regular levels. It is therefore important to assess which industries would be most viable in the region, taken its specific conditions, and to ensure their technological upgrade.

7.       Industrialised societies possess efficient, rapid and inexpensive construction technologies. Combined with the skills of Yugoslav construction workers (many of whom have relevant experience from working in western Europe), these technologies may help solving the most acute problems of post-war reconstruction within a relatively short range of time. They should also allow the building up and strengthening of local technological capabilities and capacities. Numerous international bodies, including notably the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), but also the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the EU, have acquired vast experience in technology transfer. Their channels should be utilised to the maximum to this end. The international civil presence to be deployed in Kosovo in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) of 8 June 1999 also has supporting the reconstruction of key infrastructure and other economic reconstruction among its main responsibilities. It is important in this process to ensure transfer of state-of-the-art technologies which would upgrade the region’s industry base.

8.       As an organisation with primary responsibility for protection of human rights, the Council of Europe should be actively involved in meeting these challenges which directly affect the most basic human rights of major parts of the population in a big region of Europe.

9.       Against this background, the Assembly recommends to the Committee of Ministers and governments of the Council of Europe member states:

i. to engage in an active dialogue with EU, UNIDO, UNDP, EBRD and other relevant organisations with the view of helping the countries of south-eastern Europe to develop technological strategies for their post-war reconstruction;

ii. to assist the countries of this region in establishing and reinforcing efficient parliamentary bodies for technology assessment, as an integral part of its efforts aiming at the establishment and stabilisation of democratic constitutional and institutional frameworks under the Stability Programme for Southeast Europe;

iii. to take a stand on the issue of appropriate sources for financing the industrial and infrastructure reconstruction, including the question of NATO’s liability for damaged public utilities and other non-military installations in the region;

iv. to consider a rapid transfer of relevant reconstruction technologies to the Balkans on a free basis (as governmental aid) or in the form of long-term loans at low rates;

v. to assist in upgrading technology level of the local industry, notably SMEs, in the south-eastern European countries, and to co-ordinate their activities through relevant international organisations.

Signed : 1

Melnikov, Russia, UEL

Beaufays, Belgium, EPP/CD

Belohorska, Slovakia, EDG

Biga-Friganovic, Croatia, SOC

Dees, Netherlands, LDR

Dumitrescu, Romania, SOC

Etherington, United Kingdom, SOC

Faldet, Norway, SOC

Fernandez Aguilar, Spain, EPP/CD

Glavan, Romania, SOC

Gross, Switzerland, SOC

Guirado, Spain, SOC

Kirkhill, United Kingdom, SOC

Kuruksai, Hungary, EPP/CD

Luczak, Poland, EPP/CD

Marmazov, Ukraine, UEL

Mateju, Czech Republic, EPP/CD

Olrich, Iceland, EDG

Roseta, Portugal, EPP/CD

Strizhko, Ukraine, UEL

Zissi, Greece, SOC

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group