780th meeting – 16 January 2002
Situation in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1537 (2001)
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1537 (2001))
The Deputies adopted the following reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1537 (2001) on the situation in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”:
“1. The Committee of Ministers follows very closely the developments in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in particular since the conclusion of the “Ohrid” Framework Agreement of 13 August 2001. It recalls that since the spring, the Council of Europe has been involved, alongside the international community, in the negotiations that led to the conclusion of the Framework Agreement.
2. In a letter dated 14 September 2001, the European Union Special Envoy, Mr Léotard, asked the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to appoint the Chairman of the Working Group on Legislative Reforms set up in order to co-ordinate the implementation of the Framework Agreement. On 28 September 2001, the Secretary General appointed the Chairman of the Working Group on legislative reforms, who has been working in Skopje since 9 October 2001 and who will continue to assist the European Union Special Representative in the implementation of the Framework Agreement in 2002.
3. On 29-30 November 2001, Mr Antanas Valionis, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, visited Skopje where he had a series of meetings with the highest authorities of the country including the President and the Prime Minister. The Committee of Ministers refers to the conclusions of the Chairman’s visit in document CM/Inf(2001)44 which has been transmitted to the Parliamentary Assembly.
4. In reply to item 5.i. of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Recommendation, the Committee of Ministers wishes to highlight that the Confidence-Building Measures Programme of the Council of Europe has been devoting particular attention to the situation in the country and thus supported a number of civil society projects aimed at fostering greater understanding and confidence. Since the beginning of the crisis in early 2001, it has been more difficult to implement confidence–building measures because of the security situation in some of the areas chosen for the projects. However, a number of projects have been successfully carried out, including a seminar held in Ohrid on 23-24 November 2001 on the non-territorial concept of nationality, which has gathered intellectuals and young leaders from the country and from the region.
5. As far as item 5. ii. of the Recommendation is concerned, the Council of Europe is working very closely with the authorities of the country and in close co-ordination with the European Union Special Representative on a number of priority reforms, as detailed in the Framework Agreement. Important work has been carried out on the draft law on local government whose final drafting has been intensely negotiated right up until the end of 2001 with the assistance of the Council of Europe. An agreement on the latest version of the Draft law is expected shortly. In parallel, work has been commenced on another priority reform, the law on local finance, on which Council of Europe expert assistance will be provided on a longer term basis as requested by the authorities in a letter sent last autumn to the Secretariat. Further legislative assistance may be provided by the Council of Europe on: the use of languages, law on civil servants, law on the Public Attorney, and others (see document GR-EDS(2001)CB19 Addendum).
6. The Council of Europe is pursuing its work, jointly with the European Commission and its relevant institutions, on assisting in the preparation of an international observation of the population census scheduled for 1-15 April 2002. A Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed and signed by the authorities and will serve as the basis for co-operation with the Council of Europe and the European Commission, tasked to lead the international observation.
7. As far as item 5. iii. of the Recommendation is concerned, the Committee of Ministers recalls that following the intense and personal efforts of Mr Max van der Stoel, former OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities and Special Envoy of the OSCE Chairman in Office, the South-East European University was inaugurated on 21 November 2001 and is now open to over 1000 students. The Council of Europe was present at the inauguration and in his inaugural message the Secretary General recalled the readiness of the Council of Europe to assist this pioneering initiative to ensure its success.
8. The Committee of Ministers forwarded the Recommendation to the Council of Europe Development Bank, drawing its attention to paragraphs 4 and 5. iv. The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Bank has replied as follows:
“The Governing Board took note of Recommendation 1537 (2001) and in particular of point 4 inviting the Council of Europe Development Bank to propose concrete and urgent programmes for the reconstruction of the destroyed homes in Macedonia and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Aid to refugees and displaced persons are a statutory priority field of action for the Bank, which is following very closely the developments in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.
In March 2001, the Bank’s Administrative Council approved a donation of € 1 million to “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” for the purchase of the basic supplies needed to relieve the suffering of the people displaced by the recent events in the country, as well as the fast-track disbursement of a loan instalment of up to € 5 million for a project related to financing 800 units of social housing.
In January 1999, the Administrative Council approved a DEM 10 million loan for a sector-based loan programme aimed at job-creation in small and medium-sized enterprises.
In September 1999, the Administrative Council approved the above-mentioned € 15 million loan for partial financing of some 800 rental housing units for persons on low incomes.
In September 1999, the Administrative Council approved a € 1 million donation for the improvement of communal infrastructures (drinking water supply and waste water treatment, through UNDP) in Suto Orizari, for the benefit of refugees from Kosovo.”