20 September 1999
South-East Europe following the Kosovo conflict: political situation
Political Affairs Committee
Rapporteurs: Mr András Bársony, Hungary, Socialist Group, and
Mr Peter Bloetzer, Switzerland, European People’s Party
In the light of the recent developments in the region, it is necessary to set up Task Forces of the Assembly to contribute to democratisation of Kosovo. The dialogue with the democratic forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should also be strengthened.
The Committee of Ministers should ask that a person nominated by the Council of Europe be closely associated with the Chairman of Working Table 1 of the Stability Pact, ensure adequate political support to the Council of Europe’s proposals for assistance to UNMIK, guarantee the Council of Europe’s contribution to the future local elections in Kosovo, increase its support to the office of the Council of Europe in Pristina and open similar offices in Podgorica and Belgrade.
I. Draft recommendation
1. The Assembly welcomes the recognition in the Sarajevo Summit declaration of 30 July 1999 of the Council of Europe’s important role in the implementation of the Stability Pact.
2. The Assembly welcomes the appointment of Mr. Max van der Stoel, current OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and a former outstanding member of the Assembly, as Chairman of the Stability Pact’s Working Table 1 on democratisation and human rights. To emphasise the Council of Europe’s particular responsibility in this field, it should be ensured that a person nominated by the Council of Europe be closely associated with the Chairman.
3. The Assembly recalls that its Political Affairs Committee will organise a conference on the parliamentary contribution to the Stability Pact in Sofia on 26 November 1999.
4. As regards Kosovo, while understanding the gravity of the events that may have provoked it, the Assembly strongly condemns the organised and systematic violence against the remaining Serb and Roma population. The International Police should become fully operational as soon as possible. Regrouping of the population at risk for security reasons should not lead to permanent segregation.
5. The Assembly again calls on the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to comply with KFOR’s demand for its disarmament. It further calls on all Kosovo Albanian political forces to publicly and unequivocally condemn violence against Serbs and Roma.
6. The Assembly considers that there is a genuine need to establish democratically elected local institutions by next summer. However, it is essential that all ethnic groups can participate in free and fair local elections.
7. The Assembly welcomes the recent opening of a Council of Europe office in Pristina. The office should be given maximum political and material support in order to enable it to ensure an appropriate and effective Council of Europe contribution to the work of UNMIK. An early visit by the new Secretary General to Pristina would be a clear demonstration of such support.
8. The Assembly further welcomes the detailed proposals concerning the Council of Europe’s contribution to UNMIK, notably as regards human rights standards as well as local government, police, judicial, and media issues. In this respect, the Assembly emphasises the paramount importance of rendering the standards contained in the European Convention on Human Rights and relevant case-law directly applicable in Kosovo.
9. The Assembly again expresses its support for all democratic forces in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and urges them to work together more closely.
10. The Assembly endorses the recent decision of the European Union to lift sanctions against Kosovo and Montenegro. While supporting international pressure on the Yugoslav authorities to meet democratic standards, it considers that the oil embargo against Serbia should also be lifted for political and humanitarian reasons.
11. International assistance to meet the basic needs of the Serbian people, including energy, should be provided, with any consequently necessary adjustments to sanctions. Further hardship, especially during the coming winter, would only weaken the democratic forces and consolidate the position of the current regime in Belgrade.
12. The Assembly expresses its support for the policy and democratic reforms of the Government of Montenegro. Immediate large-scale economic assistance is essential if popular support for these policies is to be strengthened.
13. The Assembly takes note of the proposals by the Montenegrin authorities to redefine the constitutional framework of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It welcomes the decision of the Montenegrin authorities to consult the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission on their proposals.
14. For these reasons, the Assembly
i. to set up task forces
- to assist forthwith the electoral process in Kosovo;
- to support the co-operation between the political parties in Kosovo;
- to contribute to the work of the new local institutions
- to work on the reconstruction of the educational system;
ii. to strengthen dialogue with the democratic forces in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
b. recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. welcome, on behalf of the organisation, the chairmanship of Mr. Van der Stoel of Working Table 1 of the Stability Pact and request that a person nominated by the Council of Europe be closely associated with the Chairman.
ii. as regards Kosovo, ensure that the Council of Europe’s proposals for assistance to UNMIK be given adequate political support, also through the Representatives of Council of Europe member States at the United Nations;
iii. ensure Council of Europe involvement in the process of voter registration for the future local elections in Kosovo;
iv. increase its political and financial support for effective and concrete action to be undertaken by the Council of Europe office in Pristina;
v. open similar Council of Europe offices in Podgorica and Belgrade.
II. Explanatory Memoranum by the Rapporteurs
a. Recent developments in the region
1. Since the Assembly adopted its Recommendation 1414 (1999) on the crisis in Kosovo and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia many significant developments have taken place.
2. The adoption of Resolution 1244 (1999) by the United Nations Security Council on 10 June 1999 authorised the setting up of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) led by Dr Bernard Kouchner, as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.
3. UNMIK’s mission is to administer the territory and population of Kosovo, which includes wielding legislative, executive and judicial powers.
4. In order to enable the people of Kosovo to participate in UNMIK decision-making and activities, a Kosovo Transitional Council has been set up. This is an executive body made up of representatives of the main national communities and the main political forces in Kosovo and intended to facilitate democratisation and the establishment of democratic institutions.
5. In addition, a Joint Advisory Council on legislative matters has been formed under the executive authority of UNMIK to implement legal reforms in Kosovo. One of its tasks will be the drafting of a new anti-discrimination legislation.
6. At the present time, the KFOR is the only authorised security presence in Kosovo and any other security presence is considered illegal by the UN Security Council. It is responsible for demobilising the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose demilitarisation should have been completed by 19 September 1999 but the deadline has been put back by 48 hours.
7. NATO and the UN intend to set up a “civilian peace corps” (“Kosovo corps”), whilst the KLA calls for an independent Kosovo and an army to defend it. A two-month transitional period will certainly be necessary to set up the civilian peace corps after demilitarisation.
8. This new force, which will be neither an army nor a defence force, will be mobilised throughout Kosovo to help in reconstruction and rehabilitation and to cope with natural disasters and other emergencies. UNMIK, in collaboration with the KFOR international security force and the KLA, is setting up this new humanitarian emergency force.
9. The general situation in Kosovo is tending to stabilise, but violence against minorities in Kosovo, particularly Serbs, is still a major problem.
10. At least 150 people were injured in clashes on 17 and 18 September at Kosovska Mitrovica. KFOR has confirmed the revelations of two KLA commanders that the KLA is using specialist units to “hunt” Serbs, methodically practising intimidation and murder.
11. The town of Kosovska Mitrovica has become a symbol of Serb and Albanian Kosovars’ hatred for each other. The biggest town in northern Kosovo has been divided since the Albanian refugees’ return in June into two parts, the one occupied by the Serbs in the north, the other by the Albanians in the south.
12. Last August, when Russian troops were due to take over from the Dutch and Germans in Orahovac, Kosovars supported by the KLA sought to prevent the deployment of Russian KFOR troops by erecting a barricade of tractors and lorries on the road into the town, fearing that the Russian troops would support the town’s Serb population.
13. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Serb opposition gathered (on 16 September) in the Alliance for Change (SZP)and adopted an action programme to force President Slobodan Milosevic’s resignation in order to instal a provisional government to take charge of preparing elections. This agreement marks the beginning of a new anti-government campaign by the SZP, which intends to organise a mass rally in Belgrade on 21 September, like the one attended by 150,000 people on 19 August of this year.
14. As from 1 October 1999, the United Nations will begin conducting a population census in Kosovo, in preparation for the elections due to be held next year. This census should include Kosovo Albanians who have left the country since 1989 and Serbs who have fled recently.
b. Council of Europe activities
15. The Committee of Ministers has authorised the opening of a Council of Europe office in Pristina to be responsible for relations with UNMIK1. This office has been operational since 23 August 1999 and has already helped organise several visits to Kosovo, particularly by parliamentary delegations.
16. As regards our Assembly, the President visited Montenegro in July and, together with other members of the Assembly and the Clerk, Kosovo at the end of August.
17. The participants in the Stability Pact for South-East Europe held a summit in Sarajevo on 30 July 1999, which was attended by the Secretary General and the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers. In the declaration following the summit, participants endorsed the purposes and principles of the Stability Pact, insisting on the indispensable co-operation between all participants of the Pact. Explicit reference was made to the Council of Europe's important role in the implementation of the Stability Pact.
18. The reports on the visit by the President as well as the Sarajevo declaration are set out in Assembly Documents 8502 Addendum II and 8514.
19. At its meeting in Reykjavik on 6 September 1999, the Political Affairs Committee held an exchange of views on the situation in South-East Europe and Kosovo. The Rapporteurs have attempted to reflect the major concerns expressed during that discussion in their preliminary draft recommendation.
20. The conference being organised by the Political Affairs Committee in Sofia on 26 November, on the parliamentary contribution to the implementation of the Stability Pact, is intended to give the Stability Pact a parliamentary dimension and introduce an element of parliamentary supervision of its implementation.
21. The first meeting of the Stability Pact Regional Table was held in Brussels on 16 September 1999. The participants approved proposals by Mr Hombach, special co-ordinator for the Pact, concerning the chairmen of the working groups and work plans.
22. At that meeting, the Council of Europe representative proposed that the chairmanship of Working Group I should rotate in future and that the Council of Europe should be actively involved in it. Similarly, he proposed that it should meet at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg. No decision was taken on these two proposals which are to be discussed later.
Recommendation 1414 (1999) on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia:
Reply of the Committee of Ministers:
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.
Reporting committee : Political Affairs Committee
Reference to committee : Doc. 7553, 7734, 7986, Rés. 1146, Rec. 1400, Ref. No. 2082, 2154, 2158, 2251, 2303, 2355, 2370, 2402
Budgetary implications for the Assembly : to be calculated
Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 20 September 1999
Members of the commission : M. Ruffy (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairman), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman), MM. Arzilli, Atkinson, Bársony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Björck, Blaauw, Bloetzer, Bühler, Daly, Davis, Demetriou, Dokle, Domljan, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Mrs Durrieu, MM. Fico, Gjellerod, Gligoroski, Glotov, Gül (alternate: Mrs Akgönenc), Mrs Iotti, Mr Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM. Kirilov, König, Krzaklewski (alternate: Mr Adamczyk), Kuzmickas, Lopez Henares (alternate : Mr Yanez-Barnuevo), Lupu, van der Maelen, Maginas, Medeiros Ferreira (alternate : Mr Roseta), Meier, Micheloyiannis, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Nedelciuc, Mrs Nemkova, MM. Neuwirth, Oliynyk, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo, Prusak, de Puig, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM. Schieder, Schlotten, Selva (alternate: Mr Turini), Sinka, Mrs Smith, Mrs Stanoiu, Mrs Stepová, MM. Surjan, Theis, Thoresen, Timmermans, Urbain, Vella, Volcic, Zhebrovsky (N. ………….. (alternate: Mr Manchuleko),
N.B. The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics
Secretaries of the committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Sich, Mrs Ruotanen
1 The Committee of Ministers’ reply to Recommendation 1414 (1999) is set out in the Annex.