Doc. 9043

20 April 2001

Interparliamentary cooperation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins (6th Interparliamentary Conference of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins –
Varna, Bulgaria, 19-21 October 2000)

Recommendation 1502 (2001)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 750th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (18 April 2001)

The Committee of Ministers has examined with interest Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1502 (2001) on Interparliamentary co-operation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. It warmly welcomes initiatives to enhance all forms of co-operation in these regions and in particular the approach of the 6th Interparliamentary Conference held in Varna in October 2000.

The Committee of Ministers pays particular attention to sustainable development and shares the Parliamentary Assembly’s concern about the environmental situation which has a decisive impact on economic and social development in general and even on the political stability of the countries of the two sea basins in particular.

As regards paragraph 17 of the Recommendation, the Committee shares the Assembly’s view about the desirability of environmental awareness raising and education which could be envisaged in the context of the implementation of the European Landscape Convention and, in particular, on the occasion of the first conference of signatory states scheduled to take place this autumn. It is consequently asking the Committee on the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of biological and landscape diversity (CO-DBP) and the Committee on the Cultural Heritage (CC-PAT) to examine how this could best be achieved.

With regard to education for democratic citizenship a Council of Europe contribution to an Israeli-Palestinian Conference on this subject organised by UNESCO was planned but the preparatory work is stalled due to the current political situation in the region.

In this connection the Committee of Ministers also underscores the work of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe in the field of global education. This includes building up the global dimension of education for democratic citizenship. Special attention is also given to these issues in the framework of the Centre’s Transmediterranean programmes.

With regard to the Parliamentary Assembly’s draft European Charter for the Danube basin, the Committee of Ministers recalls its reply to Recommendation 1330 (1997). The Committee notes again with satisfaction that many Council of Europe states are attached to sub-regional co-operation which contributes to Europe’s stability. However in this connection, a general legal problem arises as to whether the whole Organisation should play a prominent role in finding solutions to problems, which concern a part of Europe, or only the implicated countries. In the case of the Danube Basin, there is an evident European dimension, but it is for the relevant states in the region, in the first instance, to take action themselves.

The Committee of Ministers points out, however, that in the case of the environmental disasters in the Tisza/Tisa and Szamos/Somos rivers, the Committee decided to invite the states concerned to continue efforts on this issue with a view to promoting effective regional co-operation in the environment field, including the possible elaboration of an agreement between the states concerned, under the auspices of the Council of Europe.

The Committee of Ministers points out, however, that in the case of transnational environmental disasters such as the spill in the Tisza/Tisa and Szamos/Somos rivers,the ecological consequences could extend to both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Committee has already invited the states concerned to continue efforts on this issue with a view to promoting effective regional co-operation in the environmental field,including the possible elaboration of an agreement between the states concerned,under the auspices of the Council of Europe. This could, if need be, take the form of a Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe.

With reference to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change which has been signed or ratified by 34 member States and 4 Observer States, the Committee of Ministers encourages all countries which have not yet done so to sign and ratify this protocol which is of great importance for the protection of our planet.