Doc. 8518

17 September 1999

Crisis in Kosovo and situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Recommendation 1414 (1999)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 678th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (8-9 September 1999)

In replying to Recommendation 1414 (1999) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia [paragraph 16.b], the Committee of Ministers draws the Assembly’s attention to the following:

As part of the Council of Europe’s contribution to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the Committee of Ministers authorised the Secretariat to follow up the planning and implementation of a series of proposals in its specific fields of competence. In this context a Secretariat delegation visited Pristina at the beginning of August to discuss with the various UNMIK branches, the modalities of the Council of Europe contribution.

As regards implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 on Kosovo, the Council of Europe has already played a very active role in its specific fields of competence. Council of Europe experts have assisted in the drafting of the UN Secretary General's report to the Security Council of 12 July, in particular in the fields of local administration and organisation of the judiciary. On the basis of the report, the Council of Europe has offered the deployment of several experts on long-term missions to assist UNMIK in the fields of human rights, organisation of the judiciary, local government, civil society, inter alia. A particular attention is paid to the compatibility of the legislation and regulations in Kosovo with European norms. At the request of the Special Representative, a group of Council of Europe experts is examining the compatibility of the applicable penal laws with European norms. Legal advisors appointed by the Council of Europe will occupy significant positions within UNMIK, in particular to assist the newly-created “Joint Advisory Council on Legislative matters”. Specific Council of Europe missions have been sent to Kosovo to study the issues of women (in particular victims of rape) and University matters with a view to defining possible Council of Europe action. The Joint UNICEF/Council of Europe project on psycho-social support to children victims of the conflict initiated in Albania in now pursued in Kosovo.

As regards the monitoring of human rights, a training Seminar for human rights NGOs based on the experience in Albania and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, took place in Pristina on 17-19 August; discussions are under way concerning the organisation of a Joint Council of Europe/UN High Commissioner for Human rights/OSCE/European Commission training Seminar for human rights monitors in Kosovo. The Council of Europe has proposed several experts to staff the Ombudsman support Unit set up within UNMIK; in addition a legal expertise of the Ombudsman institution is being organised with the participation of Venice Commission and Council of Europe experts.

Council of Europe experts have been involved from the outset in the various aspects of the organisation of an independent judiciary, including the training of judges; the Council of Europe has offered to UNMIK the placement of several advisers in the field of curriculum development and supervision of the training of judges and prosecutors. In the field of education a Council of Europe delegation visited Pristina in August to examine the situation of the University and to define possibilities of action.

At this stage, the Committee of Ministers has not decided on the possible setting up of a Council of Europe Office in Belgrade; this question could be considered in the more general context of the Council of Europe relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, the Committee of Ministers has authorised the Secretariat to establish an Office in Pristina primarily concerned with the relations and communications with UNMIK. The Pristina Office is operational since 23 August ; it has already assisted in the organisation of various missions to Kosovo, including visits by parliamentary delegations.

Finally, as regards the issue of the future status of the Kosovo, the Venice Commission stands ready to assist. An advisor on constitutional matters could be appointed in Pristina for this purpose.

On the separate question of the Stability Pact for South East Europe, the Committee of Ministers, following the endorsement of its own Stability Programme at the Ministerial Session in Budapest on 7 May 1999, has fixed the general lines of its contribution to the Stability Pact for South East Europe. This contribution was presented at the Summit of the Pact in Sarajevo on 30 July 1999. Discussions are under way concerning the structure of the different working tables, in particular as regards Working Table I (Democratisation and Human rights) and its Chairmanship.