THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE (1989-1999)
A DECADE THAT MADE HISTORY
by Denis HUBER
This book is, first and foremost, the story of a reconciliation – Europe's reconciliation with itself. For centuries, Europe was something of a free-floating concept – easy for poets like Victor Hugo to celebrate, but hard for geographers to pin down. It was not until the end of the second world war that it came to mean something definite, when its leaders set out to bring peace, stability and prosperity to a continent torn for too long by internecine conflicts. This project did not, however, acquire its full significance and true dimension until 1989, when East-West division was brought to an end by the “autumn of the peoples”, which swept away the Berlin Wall and the bipolar system inherited from Yalta.
1989 – “year zero” for Europe as we know it today – also saw the rebirth of an organisation launched a full forty years before, immediately after the second world war, by the founding fathers of the European process, with “never again!” as its motto. Founded to protect and promote the ideals and principles which form the shared heritage of all the countries of Europe - pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law chief among them – the Council is once again pursuing its original aim of “achieving freedom and rights throughout the continent”: now fifty years old, its membership extends to nearly all the states of Greater Europe, sharing common values.
In the last ten years, our continent has seen changes on a scale probably unparalleled since the fall of the Roman Empire. The Council of Europe has played a special role in all of this, as the structure best qualified to welcome the new European democracies, and its membership has soared from 23 to 41 (including 17 central and east European countries) between 1990 and 1999. Truly “a decade which made history” – and one which the reader is invited to retrace in these pages.
This book is dedicated
- to Florence, through whom the idea of writing was sown and with whom it grew, evening after evening, month after month – a gestation not to be compared with her own even though the book I finally produced is a little bit our child;
- to Luiza and Nathan whose births marked the beginning and – almost – the end of this decade in my own story, and to the one who will join us before the decade comes to an end. May they always, in this new era of our old Continent, enjoy that most basic right of every human being, which is also the most solemn duty of all democratic States: the right to live in peace, freedom and safety.
* * *
My sincere thanks go to:
- Len Davies, for his enthusiastic support and wise advice;
- Stéphanie Acker, Jocelyne Gibert and Kamoljit Kamolnavin, without whose co-operation this book would never have appeared;
- Vincent Nash who re-created, rather than merely translated, these pages in the other official language of the Council of Europe, and Mireille Marteau who was the ever-smiling, ever-effective line of communication between us;
- my initial circle of readers (too many to name here) for their help, criticism and encouragement.
Last year of the century, 1999 is also the Council of Europe's fiftieth, and the year when our three countries are chairing in turn the Committee of Ministers: Hungary until 7 May, Iceland from 7 May to 4 November, and Ireland from 4 November.
In its own way, each of them illustrates the rich diversity of the Council's membership: Ireland was one of the signatories of the Treaty of London, setting up the Council in 1949, and has been part of the European Union since 1973; Iceland, a founding member of NATO, joined the Council in 1950 and, as one of the western European countries associated with (but not belonging to) the EU through the European Economic Area, stands for that “Council of Western Europe” which celebrated its fortieth anniversary just before the Berlin Wall came down; Hungary, which recently joined NATO and is preparing to join the EU, is (as the first state to shake the Yalta system) the highly symbolic representative of that “Council of Greater Europe”, which has been taking shape in Strasbourg since 1990.
One's first reaction to any anniversary is always to look back: that was the meaning at the official ceremony which we attended in London (where the Council's Statute was signed) on 5 May, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. But this anniversary should also, and above all, prompt us to look to the future – to the twenty-first century, and the hopes and uncertainties it brings us. That is what we did in Budapest on 7 May, when the Committee of Ministers adopted the “Budapest Declaration for a Greater Europe without Dividing Lines” at its 104th Session.
But we cannot plan for the future without remembering the past. In the Council of Europe's fifty-year history, the ten years just ending have, by any reckoning, been unusually significant. This book, which is sponsored by the three countries chairing the Committee of Ministers in 1999, bears eloquent witness to that.
The end of the great divide in Europe has given full significance, and its true dimension, to the enterprise launched in 1949, which we mean to continue pursuing. Its purpose was summed up by Edouard Herriot, the Parliamentary Assembly's first President, when he spoke, at the opening of the first session in August 1949, of achieving “freedom and rights throughout the continent”. Today, that dream has become the shared political aim of nearly all the states of Europe – and of close on 800 million Europeans.
János Martonyi Halldór Ásgrímsson David Andrews
Minister of Foreign Minister of Foreign Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Hungary Affairs of Iceland Affairs of Ireland
THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE (1989-1999)
A DECADE THAT MADE HISTORY
"The common european home" 5
The end of Yalta 21
Thirty-five minus two equals fifty-three 39
"The crucible of the Confederation" 57
Out of sheltered waters 77
The frontiers of Europe 99
"All different, all equal" 117
From Reykjavik to Vladivostock 131
The summit of Greater Europe* 145
From words to deeds* 159
For a Greater Europe without dividing lines** 173
This book is, first and foremost, the story of a reconciliation – Europe's reconciliation with itself.
Like Asia, of which it forms an extension, Europe is special among the six continents in having no genuine natural frontiers. And yet it exists. Its origins are lost in the mists of time. Five centuries before our own era, Herodotus was already noting: “As for Europe, no one seems to know how it came by its name, or who bestowed that name on it.” Its essence is complex, and as much the product of politics, history and culture as geography – which, as Rémy Knafou reminds us, provides no fixed and final definition of a continent whose construction is “collective and ongoing”. Its identity, too, has many facets, and has been variously shaped by a host of different elements - Greco-Roman civilisation, Judeo-Christian, Germanic, Ottoman, Slav and Nordic influences, the ideology of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and the traces left by all those who have crossed its path through the centuries. It is, in short, a “shared destiny” (Edgar Morin) -and is now on the way to becoming a shared design.
At the end of this twentieth century, the most savage in even its long and turbulent history, Europe itself seems something of a miracle. Caught in a self-destructive spiral and lashed by the deadly, hate-filled ideologies of runaway nationalism, its headlong plunge into the abyss was halted only in 1945, when it had effectively fulfilled Paul Valéry's prophecy and become “a minor headland on the continent of Asia”. It was only when this lowest point had been reached that renewal could begin. That renewal was economic to start with, thanks to the life-blood pumped in by the Marshall Plan in 1947, and later to the formidable engine for integration established by the Treaties of Paris (European Coal and Steel Community, 1951) and Rome (European Economic Community, 1957). But it was also, and above all, political and moral, thanks to the extraordinary decision, embodied in the Council of Europe and later the European Union, to take, for the first time, a shared commitment to pluralist democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law as a basis for building Europe and shaping its citizens' destinies.
Initially, renewal was the work of a few great Europeans: Winston Churchill, Jean Monnet, Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Paul-Henri Spaak. Heroes of the European cause, they set out, like their latter-day successors, Altiero Spinelli, Helmut Kohl, François Mitterand, Felipe Gonzales or Jacques Delors, to do the impossible and unite Europe – and succeeded where all the military conquerors of the past had failed. Renewal was also the work of those thousands of Europeans, famous and obscure, who threw themselves into the adventure launched at the European Movement's “Congress for Europe” at The Hague in 1948, which marked the starting point of the European process and symbolised its firm roots in civil society. It was the work, finally, of other visionaries – people like Andrei Sakharov, Lech Walesa, Alexander Dubcek and Vaclav Havel – who kept the flame of human rights burning while the chill wind of “real liberties” blew round it. Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who made it possible that the "European revolution" of 1989 remained a peaceful one, certainly belongs in the pantheon too…
Indeed, it was only when the wall disappeared, with nothing more threatening than the din of pneumatic drills and the exultant roar of a reunited people to mark its passing, that European renewal finally acquired its full meaning. On 9 November 1989, the new Europe got what Pierre Pflimlin called its “second miracle”: limited for forty years to the western half of the continent, it recovered at one stroke its founding principle, reconciliation, its original meaning, commitment to the “common heritage” of ideals and principlesa, and its true dimension, “from the Atlantic to the Urals”. It is no exaggeration to say that 1989 marks “year zero” in the history of modern Europe.
Year zero for Europe. Year zero, too, for revitalisation of a forty year-old organisation. When they set out to build European unity on the ruins left behind by the second world war, the founders of the Council of Europe – first instrument of that policy – gave it wide-ranging competences (only questions of defence were excluded from its brief), a highly symbolic location (Strasbourg) and a new-type structure, combining the Committee of Ministers, a governmental body, with the Parliamentary Assembly, a forum for the European peoples' elected representatives. In its first four decades, the Organisation increased its membership from 10 to 23, taking in all the states of Western Europe, brought in a whole series of major conventions to serve as basis for a common legal area in Europe, and gradually built up a vast intergovernmental co-operative network in the economic, social, educational, cultural, environmental and other fields.
In spite of all this work and a real capacity for getting things done – illustrated a bare year into its existence by one of its greatest achievements, the European Convention on Human Rights – the Council did not entirely give the most ambitious Europeans what they had been hoping for. When the Statute was being negotiated in the winter of 1948-49, two sharply differing approaches had in fact divided the ten founder members: while France, Italy and the Benelux countries wanted to give the new institution sweeping powers and a supra-national decision-making capacity, the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries were unwilling to go beyond the well-trodden ways of intergovernmental co-operation. The debate grew particularly heated when it came to setting up the “European Parliamentary Assembly” called for in The Hague: what eventually emerged was a “Consultative Assembly” with limited powers, while all the real decisions were taken by a Committee of Ministers. As a result of this compromise, the Council gradually found itself sidelined politically, while the countries of Europe increasingly hitched their aspirations to the Community process – hence General De Gaulle's lethal put-down in the 1960s, when he spoke of the Council of Europe as “that sleeping beauty on the banks of the Rhine”.
In the first forty years of the Council's existence, the validity of its method (intergovernmental co-operation, respecting the member states' sovereignty) was repeatedly questioned, as comparisons were made with the spectacular results achieved by the Community approach, based on the gradual handing-over of various national powers to the Brussels institutions. From the start, too, its continental ambitions were checked by the division of Europe into two blocs: indeed, the Berlin Wall seemed to seal the Council's fate as “second choice” for the countries unwilling (Iceland. Norway, Switzerland) or unable (“micro-states” like Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra and Monaco) to join the Community process. Inevitably, the Council also felt a certain bitterness as it watched the Communities trying to take over “the European show” – even if it was proud to see them make use of the emblems which the Council had devised to publicise the European messageb. In short, the Council, which sometimes sees even its greatest achievements (above all, the European Court of Human Rights) credited to the Community, has sometimes found it hard to bow gracefully to the popular belief that courting attention is always a mistake.
This drift towards the Communities – smaller, perhaps, in terms of membership, but more dynamic and with a greater potential for future achievements – continued until 1989, when the new situation created in the East by the fall of the communist regimes showed once again how much the Council had to offer. In the ten years since then, it has added new chapters to its own story, taking it up to its present age of fifty – but it has, above all, again been shaping the story of Europe. The following pages chronicle that decade, tracing the ten-year rebirth of an Organisation which now stands, more than ever, for a reunited continent, at one with itself.
“THE COMMON EUROPEAN HOME”
For the Council of Europe and the whole international community, 1989 began – like the years which had recently preceded it – with upheavals in the East.
Mikhail Gorbachev, in power since March 1985, had just scored a decisive point against the conservatives in the party and state apparatus who had been working covertly, but implacably, to undermine him. Indeed, he seemed invincible, having succeeded Andrei Gromyko as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet on 1 October 1988 – a move which made him the first Soviet leader to combine the functions of head of state and General Secretary of the Communist Party – and having secured a major reform of the Soviet Constitution on 1 December.c At the same time, his spectacular disarmament initiatives, his determination to press ahead with the political and economic reforms summed up his two famous watchwords, “glasnost” (transparency) and “perestroika” (structural reorganisation), his radical new policy towards the “brother countries” (replacing Brezhnev's theory of “limited sovereignty” with the humorously so-called “Sinatra doctrine”, which left everyone free to “do it his way”) – all of this had stood the traditional pattern of East-West relations on its head: for four years, the action had been in the East, and the West had simply looked on – and waited.
The radical changes launched by the Kremlin's youthful leadership, after two decades of paralysis and gerontocracy, got mixed reactions in western Europe: ordinary people were hopeful, and indeed enthusiastic, but the politicians were cautious, if not actually suspicious, and wondered what Gorbachev was “really up to”. This was particularly true of governments, for whom dialogue between the two super-powers had long been the prime shaping force in East-West relations, even if the multilateral CSCE process had recovered some of the dynamism it had lost when the
Soviets intervened in Afghanistan.d In the second half of the 1980s, Europe's political leaders devoted most of their energies to two things: achieving the Single Market (cleverly presented as the “new frontier” of the European process by Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission) in 1993, and then extending it to the whole of western Europe by setting up the European Economic Area.e
At the Council of Europe, the process of unifying western Europe was nearing completion, since the Strasbourg Organisation had, between autumn 1988 and spring 1989, achieved a “full house” by admitting San Marino and Finland as its twenty-second and twenty-third member states. Under the leadership of its Secretary General, Marcelino Oreja, whose election in 1984 symbolised the return to the fold of the last of Western Europe's former dictatorships, the Council developed a new dynamism in the second half of the 1980s.
The Council of Europe's pioneering role in European integration
Fifteen years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Council of Europe had already spear-headed a first process of European reconciliation, first, by readmitting Greece (28 November 1974), five years after the colonels' “withdrawal/exclusion”, and later by opening its doors to post-Salazar Portugal (22 September 1976) and post-Franco Spain (24 November 1977). While paving the way for these countries to join the European Community, the Council was confirming its pioneering role in European integration, a role it had already successfully played in the early 1950s, when it admitted the Federal Republic of Germany in two stages – first as associate (13 July 1950) and later as full member (2 May 1951).
Predictably, this new dynamism found its first expression in the Council's prime area of work, the defence of human rights: having added a protocol, abolishing the death penalty, to the greatest of its texts, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council struck a new, preventive line four years later, when it opened the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment for signing by its member states on 26 November 1987. That same day, the Committee of Ministers adopted a protocol, adding four new economic and social rights to the list of nineteen already protected by the European Social Charter. There was nothing accidental in the timing: by doing these two things at the same time, the Council was again reconfirming the indivisibility of all human rights – political, civil, economic, social and cultural – and its rejection of the East/West ideological divide, summed up in the distinction made by the “people's democracies” between “formal” and “real” liberties.
The renewal of the Council of Europe also found expression in the development of something which became, in the next few years, one of its major priorities – the search for joint solutions, rooted in its values, to the member states' social problems. Thus, to take only a few examples, the Committee of Ministers laid down the main lines of a co-ordinated policy to combat AIDS1 set up a financial instrument to help Europe's struggling cinema hold its own against Hollywood2 promoted a policy of positive discrimination to secure genuine and general male/female equality faster3 and put forward legal rules to govern the explosive development of the mass media4
Finally and above all, it found expression in the Council's close attention to developments in the eastern part of the continent, and in reaffirmation of its destined role as the link between the sundered halves of Europe. Modest enough when we think of it today (could anyone have imagined then that this “link” would one day become the “common home” of all the states of Europe?), this ambition was fully in line with the member states' refusal, from the very beginning, to underwrite Stalin's post-Yalta policy of faits accomplis. Repeatedly reaffirmed, this refusal was most cogently expressed in Committee of Ministers Resolution (55) 35 of 13 December 1955, which insisted:
“- that security for all cannot be based on the present division of Europe;
- that the reunification of Germany on the basis of free elections is necessary;
- that any new security arrangement for Europe with the USSR which does not include this reunification will be inadequate and dangerous, since the establishment of a European system of security and the reunification of Germany are contingent upon each other;
- that the creation of a united Europe remains indispensable.”
Initiated at a special ministerial meeting convened by Hans-Dietrich Genscher in January 19855 the Council of Europe's “Ostpolitik” in the second half of the eighties shed the defiance which had marked it in the fifties and adopted an essentially pragmatic and selective approach. Taking place at a time when Chernenko's death, a few months after Andropov's, had again left the Kremlin rudderless, and when Poland was mourning Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the Catholic priest tortured and murdered by the police, the Strasbourg talks led to the adoption, on 25 April 1985, of Resolution (85) 6 on European cultural identity. In it, the Foreign Ministers of the Council's twenty-one member states affirmed their belief in this identity and decided, on this basis, to make European cultural co-operation their main key to East-West rapprochement. In this area, the Council had an instrument which is both flexible (being open to European non-member states) and wide-ranging (covering co-operation in education, culture, youth affairs and sport6: the European Cultural Convention.
The European Cultural Convention: an "antechamber" before membership
The European Cultural Convention, which was opened for signature on 19 December 1954 in Paris, has today 47 signatories – the Council's 41 member countries, plus six other European states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monaco and the Holy See). Since 1989 and throughout the nineties, it has served as a genuine “antechamber” for countries waiting to join the Council itself.
Based on the assumption that Europe has a cultural identity which transcends its political divisions, and using cultural co-operation to effect East-West rapprochement, this strategy for progressive unification of the continent is clearly a long-term option. It scored its first major success on 7 October 1987, when the eastern country which had gone furthest on the path of political and economic reform acceded to the European Cultural Convention. History has its ironies: that country was Yugoslavia.
A few weeks later, on 26 November 1987, the Committee of Ministers decided to give co-operation a discreet new impetus by adopting “Guidelines on the relations of the Council of Europe with countries of Eastern Europe”. The choice of words already shows that the guidelines were not intended to embody a general policy towards all the countries of the East. On the contrary, contacts were to be established "bilaterally with European non-member countries insofar as both parties may so desire, on the basis of the principles of reciprocity and mutual benefit”. Co-operation was to ”pay due regard to the situation of each of those countries, in particular in the matter of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” relate to “specific projects in the Council of Europe's intergovernmental programme of activities”, “enable tangible results to be achieved” and “be of benefit to individuals”f.
It is true that, in keeping with the “Sinatra doctrine”, the political, economic and social situation was developing very differently in different parts of central and eastern Europe: there was a widening gap between countries like Hungary, which made the most of their new margin for manoeuvre, and the others – still very much in the majority – whose leaders resisted the aspirations to freedom of peoples who (another irony) were simply taking over the Moscow line. This absurd situation, with “Gorbachevian” public opinion gradually forcing the “Brezhnevian” die-hards in government to back down, was typical of the German Democratic Republic under Honecker, of Czechoslovakia under Husak and then Jakes, of Bulgaria under Zhivkov, and of Poland under Jaruzelski. Only Romania, at the mercy of its megalomaniac dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, seemed to be sinking steadily deeper into an isolation from which even Albania was slowly emerging, after Enver Hodja's death in 1985.
Predictably, a look at the Council's relations with central and eastern European countries in the run-up to 1989 reflects this situation. Two points are clear from the internal document produced at this juncture by the Organisation's Directorate of Political Affairs7
The first concerns the extent to which the Council's relations with “western bloc” non-member countries8differed – both qualitatively and quantitatively – from its relations with “eastern bloc” countries9 A significant fact: although over two-thirds of the 130 or so conventions which the Council had then concluded were open to non-member states10 no central or east European country - with the sole exception of Yugoslavia - had ventured to accept a binding legal obligation in any of the wide range of fields which they covered. Grotesque the comparison may be, but the fact remains that the Council's relations with Albania (entirely restricted to Naturopa Centreg activities) were exactly the same as its relations with Papua-New Guinea!
The second concerns the vast difference, within the general context of the Council's relations with eastern Europe, between its relations with different countries. Yugoslavia apart, its links with Hungary were by far the most developed: as early as May 1984, an official visit to Strasbourg by the Vice-President of the Hungarian Parliament and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Janos Peter, had paved the way for co-operation in a broad range of fields (including education, culture, sport, health and legal questions), and also for the first-ever official visit by a Council of Europe Secretary General to a central or east European country, on 18-21 June 198711 In the case of Poland, the Secretary General's official visit to Warsaw (10-11 March 1988), where he met President Jaruzelski and the Minister and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, but also Solidarnosc leaders, unlocked a situation frozen since the December 1981 “declaration of war” and came at just the right time to encourage the efforts of those who, under the leadership of Lech Walesa, were working for a step-by-step transition to democracy. On the other hand, relations with Romania, which had looked promising throughout the seventies and in the first half of the eighties, went into an inexorable decline, in spite of all the Parliamentary Assembly's efforts12
It is clear from all this that, in spite of the efforts made by the governments of certain countries, and particularly Germany, caution, and indeed timidity, remained the hallmarks of the Committee of Ministers' “Ostpolitik” in the run-up to 1989. In the Secretary General's “Contribution to thinking about the Council of Europe's future at the approach of its 40th anniversary” of 6 October 198813 it is interesting enough to note the following: in five-and-a-half closely-argued, critical pages on the Council's present and future role in the building of Europe, on its relations with its main partners (particularly the European Communities) and on necessary reforms, the only mention of East-West relations comes in question form: “Is there agreement on the idea that, while holding its 'human rights' banner aloft, the Council of Europe can develop practical forms of co-operation with the East European countries on the basis of a realistic and selective approach, thus contributing to the creation of a new climate in Europe?” The answer to this question would soon be given by the Parliamentary Assembly, which is – beside the Committee of Ministers – the second statutory body of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe's internal structure
The Council's internal structure comprises two main elements: the Committee of Ministers, a decision-making, governmental body, and the Parliamentary Assembly, a deliberative body representing member states' parliaments (delegations of 2 to 18 members, depending on the country's size). It also comprises a Secretary General, heading a permanent, independent international secretariat, the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), consisting of local and regional elected representatives from all the member states.
Having established, throughout the 1980s, parliamentary contacts with practically all the countries of central and eastern Europe (excluding Albania, but including the USSR14, having adopted a clear stance on East-West relations at several times during that period, the Assembly held a major debate on “General policy of the Council of Europe – East-West relations” on 6 October 1988. This debate came as the Assembly's President, Louis Jung, a centrist member of the French Senate, was preparing to visit Hungary and Poland, having already visited Yugoslavia in April. A few days earlier, he had even been invited on an official visit to Moscow - an invitation accompanied by the news that Mikhail Gorbachev intended to come to Strasbourg for the Council's fortieth anniversary in 1989, to expound his latest idea: the concept of a “common European home”, which had already disconcerted western governments.
The Rapporteur chosen by the Assembly to introduce the debate was none other than Catherine Lalumière, François Mitterand's European Affairs Minister from 1984 to 1986, who, a few months later, became the Council's first woman Secretary General. Having outlined the general state of the Organisation's relations with the various eastern countries, she laid down a principle and suggested a methodology:
- the principle was freedom of action for the Assembly which, having no power to take foreign policy decisions, was “freer in its movements” than governments. This allowed it to carry out “highly useful exploratory missions, especially during periods of change when there are breaks in continuity and shifts in alliances” – and also to make the kind of “bold moves” that governments often fight shy of;
- the methodology was a matter of discipline – of making no contacts without first doing the necessary “homework”, and clearly defining the point beyond which the Council could not or did not wish to go.
On these two conditions, she argued that the Council (and particularly the Parliamentary Assembly) could be “forerunners” in Western Europe's approach to the countries of the East. Loyola Palacio (Spain), rapporteur for opinion of the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries, expressed her agreement by proposing that the Assembly continue and intensify its existing parliamentary contacts with European non-member countries, with a view to setting
up effective frameworks and machinery for dialogue, the aim being improved mutual knowledge and co-operation in the service of détente and the building of Europe in the broad sense.
The ensuing debate, which was followed by parliamentary delegations from several central and east European countries (but without the right to speak)15showed that there were profound differences of opinion concerning Mikhail Gorbachev and his political intentions, and also concerning the ways in which the Council should react.
Some speakers were quick to sound a warning note. John Wilkinson (United Kingdom) was against economic support for the USSRh. Gerhard Reddemann (Germany) was ”fascinated” by current developments in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact states, but insisted on the need for vigilance. Per Stieg Möller (Denmark) rejected the notion of a “common European home”, warned his hearers that the world was not a Hans Andersen fairy tale, but more like the ones related by the Brothers Grimm, and declared roundly: “This is not the time to sell others the rope they may later use to hang us.”
But these voices were very much in the minority, and the Assembly – anxious, like Peter Schieder (Austria) to seize opportunities when they presented themselves – followed the line suggested by Peter Hardy (United Kingdom)i and Massimo Pini (Switzerland), for whom dialogue with Eastern Europe was not just the Council's “only real opportunity for renewal”, but also a chance to “spread the word on human rights throughout the other half of our continent”.
With the words spoken that morning by the Maltese Foreign Minister, Vincent Tabone, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministersj, still ringing in their ears, the twenty-two delegations present in the Chamber were, as Catherine Lalumière noted, very largely in favour of “a realistic and balanced line”. She ended by calling for “a symbolic gesture, such as the destruction of the Berlin Wall”...
The following day (8 October 1988) brought a solemn contribution to the debate from Pope John Paul II, in Strasbourg on an official visit to the European Parliament, the Court and Commission of Human Rights, and the Parliamentary Assembly. Addressing the Assembly, which had recently adopted a resolution calling for respect for religious beliefs in the East16 the Pope spoke at length of the Holy See's interest in the Council, and particularly its work on human rights (including social rights), bioethics, education, the cultural heritage and family affairs.17 Above all, he referred to the “founding fathers” of the new Europe, spoke of the visionary spirit which had fired them in the aftermath of the second world war, and issued a resounding call for European unity: “If Europe wishes to be true to itself, it must contrive to gather together all the live forces of this continent […] The member countries of your Council are aware that they are not the whole of Europe; in expressing the fervent wish for intensification of co-operation, already sketched out, with other nations, particularly in central and eastern Europe, I feel that I share the desire of millions of men and women who know that they are linked by a common history and who hope for a destiny of unity and solidarity on the scale of this whole continent.”
The last major event of the Council's year was the Committee of Ministers' 83rd session, on 16 November 1988, when the Republic of San Marino was solemnly welcomed as the twenty-second member state. The Council's relations with the eastern countries were discussed at a select meeting (Ministers, Political Directors and Permanent Representatives), which ended by reaffirming the validity of the principles laid down in the November 1987 “guidelines”. While welcoming “the general improvement in the climate of East-West relations and the policy of openness and reform in the Soviet Union and in certain other Eastern European countries”, the Ministers vigorously condemned the “rural systematisation and modernisation” programme in Romania. But their energies were mainly focused on the process of reflection launched – with a view to the Council's fortieth anniversary – on the Organisation's future role in the building of Europe, with special reference to the proposals contained in the Secretary General's “contribution”, mentioned above.
This kind of reflection exercise has been a recurrent feature of the Council's story ever since the 1950s when - with the ink on the Treaty of London barely dryk – Robert Schuman's declaration (9 May 1950) launched the Community process. It reflects the Council's difficulty in finding its proper place in the European process, particularly as its younger Community “siblings” push into its territory. In the 1980s, the Community's enlargement from nine to twelve members, and the new impetus its progress received from the launching of the Single Market, centred on the “magic” date of 31 December 1992, raised fresh questions concerning the Council's raison d'être. The Committee of Ministers lost no time in coming up with answers18 The Parliamentary Assembly, for its part, responded in more novel terms by setting up a “Commission of Eminent Europeans”, chaired by the Former President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Emilio Colombo.
The Colombo Commission's final report, published in June 1986, is a major – and in many respects still topicall – contribution to thinking on the European process. The Assembly took it as a basis for the stance it adopted on the question in Recommendation 1103 (1989) of 15 March 1989 on the future role of the Council of Europe in the process of European construction19 It also served as a valuable stimulus for the Committee of Ministers, pointing the way to the resolution which it adopted on the same question on 5 May 1989, for the Council's fortieth anniversary – the day on which Finland joined as 23rd member state.
This declaration – essentially the work of two men, Marcelino Oreja and Hans van den Broeck20(who would a few years later find themselves teamed again in Brussels, as members of EU Commission) – marked a turning point for the Council. In it, the Ministers affirmed their determination to “exploit the Council of Europe's potential in full”, and set up structures for dialogue between the Council and the Community21 and stressed the Council's role in realisation of the OSCE's objectives (particularly those relating to the human dimensionm). They defined three priority lines for the Council of Europe's intergovernmental activity:
- safeguarding and reinforcing pluralist democracy;
- fostering awareness of European cultural identity and enhancing it;
- seeking common or convergent responses to the challenges confronting modern European society.
Having given the Council's work a new impetus and strengthened its relations with its main partners, the Ministers formulated, on this basis, new aims for co-operation with certain Eastern countriesn, and declared themselves ready to engage in open and practical dialogue with European non-member countries on respect for, and implementation of, “the principles of human rights and pluralist democracy enshrined in the Council of Europe's Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter” at national and international level. How far was this “open and practical dialogue” to go? The Committee of Ministers took care not to say, but it extended a clear welcoming hand by inviting Hungary and Poland to accede to the European Cultural Convention that very day.
A few days later, the Assembly made its contribution to the process by introducing “special guest status”, at the urging of Peter Sager (Switzerland), Rapporteur to the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries22(11 May 1989). Intended for the parliaments of “European non-member states which are applying and implementing the Helsinki Final Act and the instruments adopted at the CSCE conferences, as well as the two United Nations International Covenants of 1966 on civil and political, and on economic, social and cultural rights”23 this status gave the Council a formidable means of forging closer ties with the Eastern countries, at the very time when governments and oppositions in Poland (April 1989) and then Hungary (June 1989) were meeting at “round tables” to work out details and timing of the transition to democracy. A month after that, special guest status was granted to the legislative assemblies of Hungary, Poland, the USSR and Yugoslavia, giving them the right to participate fully in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly (but not to vote).24
At that same session, in May 1989, the Assembly welcomed an exceptional visitor – Lech Walesa, to whom it awarded the European Human Rights Prize. It also gave the Council a new direction by making Anders Björck (Sweden) its President, and appointing Catherine Lalumière Secretary General, just a few days after François Mitterand's official visit to mark the organisation's 40th anniversaryo. In short, the Council underwent a full-scale “spring cleaning” before welcoming the visitor it had been expecting anxiously for months: Mikhail Gorbachev.
Assembly President Anders Björck voiced these expectations when, having welcomed the presence, for the first time, of “special guest” delegations from the parliaments of Hungary, Poland, the USSR and Yugoslavia, he addressed the following words (in Russian) to Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mr President, welcome to the Palais de l'Europe. You are European. I am also European. Today, we are talking together of our common home. I hope that we shall live in peace and happiness in this European home.”
Mikhail Gorbachev's history-making speech in Strasbourg on 6 July 1989 was a model of its kind. Having quoted Victor Hugo's celebrated words to the avidly listening Assemblyp, he dwelt in turn on the themes of permanence and change. Permanence, when he warned: “The fact that the states of Europe belong to different social systems is a reality. The recognition of this historical fact and respect for the sovereign right of each people to choose their social system at their own discretion are the most important prerequisite for a normal European process.” Change at its most exhilarating, when he declared: “It is time to consign to oblivion the postulates of the cold war, when Europe was viewed as an arena of confrontation divided into 'spheres of influence' and someone else's 'forward-based defences', as an object of military confrontation, namely a theatre of war. In today's interdependent world, the geopolitical notions brought forth by a different epoch turn out to be just as helpless in real politics as the laws of classical mechanics in the quantum theory.” Permanence again, but this time reassuringly, when he said: “The realities of today and the prospects for the foreseeable future are obvious: the Soviet Union and the United States are a natural part of the European international and political structure.”
The Assembly listened spellbound as he went on to develop his concept of the “common European home”, referring to his fruitful and wide-ranging talks on the subject with European leaders (only François Mitterand being named). The aim was breath-taking: nothing less than “restructuring the international order existing in Europe” in a way which would “put the common European values in the forefront and make it possible to replace the traditional balance of forces with a balance of interests”.
Having stated the objective, he moved on to specifics, starting with security issues. After a critical look at the logic which had led to the emergence of two over-armed blocs, the Soviet leader stressed the importance of the multilateral CSCE process, which allowed all the states of Europe to play a part in bringing peace to the continent. He insisted that East-West relations must be radically rethoughtq and set an example by announcing spectacular disarmament measuresr, without hesitating to give unilateral commitments (such as a 50% cut in defence spending under the Soviet budget by 1995). Finally, having affirmed his wish to work together fully with the Council (one step being the opening of a Soviet Consulate General in Strasbourg), he suggested the holding, “within the next eighteen or twenty-four months”, of a second CSCE Summit (following the Helsinki Summit of 1975), so that the present generation of European leaders could join the United States and Canada in discussing how they saw “future stages of progress towards a European Community of the twenty-first century”.
Turning then to the “economic content” of the common European home, Mikhail Gorbachev called for the establishment, in due course, of “a vast economic space from the Atlantic to the Urals where Eastern and Western parts would be strongly interlocked”. In the meantime, he favoured extensive liberalisation of East-West trade and exchanges in the economic, scientific and technological spheres, and proposed an impressive list of large-scale projectss. Finally, having stressed that the common European home must be “environmentally clean”, he suggested a “long-term continental ecological programme” as a first step towards achieving this.
Lastly, the Soviet President went on to insist that “the humanitarian content of the pan-European process” was one of its crucial aspects. He called for generalised respect for human rightst and for the establishment throughout Europe of the rule of lawu, with a view to “creating a European legal space”. He also stressed the importance, in building the future European home, of cultural co-operation, and referred particularly to the human sciences, the cultural heritage, action to familiarise Europeans with one another's cultures, language learning, and cinema, television and video co-productions.
As a conclusion, Mikhaïl Gorbatchev appealed, not just to the members of the Assembly, but to Europeans everywhere to work together in meeting the challenges of the coming century: “We are convinced that what they need is one Europe – peaceful and democratic, a Europe that maintains all its diversity and common humanistic ideas, a prosperous Europe that extends its hand to the rest of the world. A Europe that confidently advances into the future. It is in such a Europe that we visualise our own future.”
The debate on East-West relations which the Assembly held the day after Mikhail Gorbachev's visit showed that he had largely convinced his audience – but by no means allayed all their doubts. The general feeling seemed to favour testing his words against his deeds: some members responded to the warning note sounded by Alphonse d'Amatov, the US Congress representative invited for the occasion, while others followed the more confident line adopted by the Finnish MP, Mikko Elo, clearly influenced by his country's tradition of acting as bridge between East and Westw. In spite of the opinions forcefully expressed, for the first time, by the “special
guests”, Antal Reger (Hungary)x and Janusz Ziolkowski (Poland),y the last word seemed to lie with Peter Sager, the inventor of special guest status, who said that Mikhail Gorbachev's visit undoubtedly marked an important stage in the forging of closer ties between the Council and certain Eastern countries, but that full membership was still a long way off, even if it had ceased to seem “a mere pipe-dream”.
But the march of History soon overtook all these speeches, opinions and predictions: in that summer of 1989, when tens of thousands of East Germans were pouring through the opened gap in the iron curtain on the Austro-Hungarian border, and a Solidarnosc-based government was preparing to take over in Poland, the dam suddenly burst and the tidal wave from the East carried everything before it. Having hoped briefly for a “Chinese miracle”z, the authoritarian regimes in the East collapsed one by one: Erich Honecker resigned on 18 October, taking the Berlin Wall with him (9 November); Todor Zhivkov fell from power the next day in Sofia; on 24 November, the “velvet revolution” carried off Milos Jakes in Czechoslovakia; by mid-December, the earthquake had even reached Romania, where the Ceaucescus were put to death on Christmas Day. And when, in his new year message to the French people on 31 December 1989, François Mitterand echoed Mikhail Gorbachev's “common home” project with his own plan for a “European Confederation”, the political situation in Europe had changed unrecognisably from that which had existed a mere six months before…
THE END OF YALTA
In the first few weeks of 1990, there was almost a sense that the heat was off at last – which may explain the sudden interest in the views of US political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who had argued, in an article in National Interest in summer 1989, that the final triumph of democracy and the market economy over all other political and economic systems spelt “the end of history”. It may well have been true that 1989, two centuries on from the French Revolution, marked “the end of ideologies” and the birth of a new European and international order, but history began to gather momentum again that spring, the result being reunification – monetary first, and then political – of the two Germanys.
At the Council of Europe, Catherine Lalumière looked back on her first six months in office25and declared: “We are witnessing a shift in Europe's centre of gravity.”
Externally, the new Secretary General looked forward calmly, and indeed enthusiastically, to an extension of the Council's membership which would have been unthinkable just a few months before. “In the short term,” she said, “we can reasonably envisage Hungary and Polandaa joining us.” She went on: “I think we are going to find the arrival of this new set of friends a fruitful experience. But we are going to have to hold our own intellectually, imaginatively and creatively – otherwise we are the ones who are going to look a bit out of date.” She did not expect German reunification in the short term, feeling that an “associative arrangement”, of the kind embodied in the ten-point confederal plan published by Chancellor Kohl on 28 November 1989, was likelier. In those early days of 1990, supporting the positive developments in the German Democratic Republic seemed the first priority, and she was counting here on the “Demosthenes” programme, designed to help the countries of central and eastern Europe carry out democratic reforms, which she had just had adopted by the Committee of Ministers.
The co-operation and assistance programmes
The “Demosthenes” programme, launched in 1990, was later supplemented by “Demosthenes bis”, aimed at the former Soviet countries, and by two more specific programmes: the “Themis” programme for reform of legal and judicial systems, and the “LODE” (Local Democracy) programme, whose function is clear from its title. After a modest start (FF 6 million in 1990), these programmes have expanded throughout the decade, both geographically and financially, with the Council's efforts getting very substantial backing from the EU through the joint programmes run with the European Commission since 1993.
Internally, she singled out two main priorities:
- The first was a dynamic communication policy. As she had told the Assembly on 22 September 1989bb, the high quality of the Council's work was widely acknowledged in specialised circles, but the public at large knew next to nothing of its function and activities – hence her insistence on the urgent need to give both a higher profile. As she saw it, the first step towards doing this was to reverse the thinking behind the Council's traditional information policycc by establishing, in the member states, a network of correspondents to keep the organisation briefed on “sensitive issues of the moment” in those countries. The next was to use the “knock-on” potential of the various people, bodies and groups involved in Council activities – parliamentarians, local and regional elected representatives, non-governmental organisations, experts, senior officials, teachers, judges, and so on - to optimum effect. Finally, “the prevailing state of mind” in the Council needed changingdd. This last conclusion was based on an insight simple in itself, but revolutionary in the traditionally discreet and hidden world of international organisations: “We live in a democratic world and we depend on governments, which will only support us if we, in turn, have the support of public opinion”. In tackling this semi-Herculean task, Catherine Lalumière looked for support to the Assembly, which had adopted Recommendation 1113 on the information policy of the Council of Europe on 25 September 1989.
- Her second great priority followed logically from the first. As she had been asked to do by the Committee of Ministers26and relying on her past professional experienceee, the new Secretary General was anxious to effect a sweeping reform of the Organisation's working methods, internal modus operandi and staff management. While paying tribute to the skills and motivation of the staff she had been leading for the past few months, she made it clear that she meant to release the energies trapped beneath the successive layers of regulations which the Council – justly famed for its prowess in drafting legal texts – had built up in its forty-year historyff. Her intention was to do two things: exercise her own responsibilities fully and get the social dialogue with staff going again. She soon scored a signal success with the “social contract for progress”, signed with the Staff Trade Union on 28 June 1989. Highly ambitious in its aims, the contract set out to do nothing less than turn the Secretariat into a “task-centred administration”, foster an “enterprise culture” within it by importing such non-bureaucratic concepts as flexibility, transparency and mobility, and “give staff on all levels direct responsibility, particularly by involving them more directly in decision-making”.
All of this shows that Catherine Lalumière was determined to make full use of the double “state of grace” she had been granted. Traditionally, new office-holders are given an easy ride during their first few months in office. In her case, however, this initial advantage was compounded by the providential “surprise” of the Berlin Wall's being swept away by the rising tide of democracy triumphant. Her intention was to exploit these two factors to arm the Council rapidly for the challenges ahead, and turn it resolutely towards the outside world. Her desire to open it up and match it to the needs of a dramatically changing situation anticipated one of the major developments of the 1990s – the sudden irruption of the European process onto the public scenegg.
In that winter of 1989-1990, the disastrous economic plight of the former Eastern bloc – which many people see as the prime cause of Mikhail Gorbachev's coming to power in the USSR and of all the radical changes which followed – reached its nadir. With national debts accumulating massively (except in Romania, thanks to the drastic debt-reduction policy pursued by Ceaucescu since 1983), imports up, exports in free fall, and inflation (still officially non-existent, except in Yugoslavia, where it peaked at 1500 % in 1989!) spurred by the underground economy, the peoples of central and eastern Europe could reach only one conclusion: the communist model had failed utterly, and would never deliver the promised “bright tomorrow”.
Faced with this calamitous situation, the seven Comeconhh countries called, at their meeting in Sofia on 9-10 January 1990, for “reorganisation” of their institution and turned to the West for aid. This aid came grudgingly on a case-by-case basis: although the seven leading industrial nations had given economic aid for Hungary and Poland (co-ordinated by the European Commission) the green light at the G7 Summit in Paris on 14-16 July 1989, the western countries were unable to agree on a policy towards the USSR. While France and Germany were anxious to “help Gorbachev”, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan stressed the timidity of the Soviet Union's attempts at economic reform so far, and pointed to the way in which Prime Minister Ryjkov had pulled them up short in December. Both the Gorbachev partisans and the counsellors of caution were agreed on one thing, however – a second Marshall Plan for Eastern Europe was out of the question.
This message – bad news for the countries concerned – was spelt out plainly by Jacques Delors when he addressed the Parliamentary Assembly on 26 September 1989. “Mr. Europe”, as President Björck dubbed him, was speaking before the Berlin Wall came down, but the line he put across changed little when it did.
Looking well beyond the 1993 Single Market, the President of the European Commission made no secret of his ambitions for Europe: “Our wish is to build a community, not just a single market or a free trade area. This should be properly understood by all, including the member countries of the Community.” Although Austria had applied officially to join on 17 July 1989, Jacques Delors was convinced that priority should go to “deepening” the community, which he saw as a vital precondition of enlargement. He even suggested that forthcoming stages in the integration process might leave the Community smaller, not larger. His vision here was of “a Europe of several circles: the circle of the Twelve, if they remain twelve, on the path to European union, and a wider circle with countries which will enjoy with us the advantages of one great common economic space with equality of rights as well as equality of duties”.ii
Sticking to this line, and in spite of a ringing call to “wipe out Yalta”jj, he said nothing to encourage the hopes, voiced at a very early stage by Hungary and Poland, of significantly closer links with the Community, and even early membership. Having referred to the economic aid granted these two countries under the Commission's aegis, on the strength of the decisions taken at the G7 Summit in Paris, he merely offered the countries of central and eastern Europe – represented by the “special guests” from Hungary, Poland, the USSR and Yugoslavia – “broader dialogue”, and at once added a warning: “But let there be no mistake and no misunderstanding. It must not be thought that the construction of a twelve-member European Community could be affected in any way whatsoever by this broadening dialogue.”
In these conditions, and disregarding EFTA, which could be used as “a legitimate intermediary between these countries and the more demanding Community”, where could these “orphans of Europe” (Jacques Delors' term) turn to give their new commitment to democracy and the market economy practical expression? To the Council of Europe, of course! “The Council of Europe is today, I believe, the most appropriate framework for the construction of the Europe of tomorrow, in so far as you constitute the 'framework' or the 'space' in which a dialogue can be instituted unequivocally, cautiously and gradually.“
As the President of the European Commission reminded his hearers, the Council was the matrix from which the Community had developed, and the two organisations shared the same purpose, even if their fields of action, methods and even
political ambitions differed.kk It was clear from all this that Jacques Delors saw the Council as profoundly complementing the Community, and was determined to maintain and consolidate that complementarity. On the eve of the European Council in Strasbourg (8-9 December 1989), at which eleven Community countries were due to adopt a “Charter of the fundamental social rights of workers”, he even called for a powerful political gesture: signing by the Community of the Council of Europe's Social Charter.ll Finally, he uttered a word of caution concerning the Council's approach to its role as a privileged platform for dialogue with the countries of central and eastern Europe: “As a citizen, I hope that the dialogue will be conducted without illusions and without excessive romanticism.”
Sensibly, the Council of Europe decided not to take this warning too seriously. In the crucial winter months of 1989-90, it not only confirmed its status as a privileged structure for dialogue with the countries of central and eastern Europe, but turned itself into a structure for receiving them. With the Assembly's backing, the Committee of Ministers showed itself equal to its historic responsibilities. Portugal, having started its term in the chair27with North-South solidarity high on the agenda28 provided the necessary impetus: returning from a tour of the east European capitals29 Joăo de Deus Pinheiro convened a special ministerial meeting in Lisbon on 23-24 March 1990. Attended by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and the President of the European Commission, this meeting removed the last hesitations.
Three things were given the green light:
- a resolute policy of opening the Council to the countries of central and eastern Europe, on the basis of the fundamental values it stood for, and without distorting or diluting those values. Here, Catherine Lalumière insisted on the need to distinguish the dialogue and co-operation stage, where “great openness and considerable dynamism” were possible, from the stage of a country's acceding to the Council, where “rigour and vigilance” were needed;
- mobilisation of all the Organisation's live forces in support of this policy, starting with the Committee of Ministers itself (through increased political dialogue and an extended and consolidated “Demosthenes” programme) and the Parliamentary Assembly, but also the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the European Commission for Democracy through Law and the Social Development Fund;
The Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), founded in 1957, is a permanent structure which makes it possible to associate local and regional elected representatives with the Council's co-operative endeavours. It was institutionalised as the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe in 1994. The European Commission for Democracy through Law (better known as the “Venice Commission”), founded on Italy's initiative on 5 May 1988, was institutionalised as a Council of Europe Partial Agreement two years later, with a view to providing independent European guidance on constitutional, legislative and administrative questions. Now comprising 37 of the Council's 41 member states (plus five associate members and eight observers), it has played, and continues to play, a leading role in finding appropriate legal solutions to complex political problems – in eastern Europe, of course, but also in western Europe and other parts of the world. The Social Development Fund, set up in 1956 as a resettlement fund for refugees, is a financial institution with social aims. It now comprises 34 Council states (plus the Holy See).
- affirmation of the Council's role in helping to build the new Europe and strengthening of its resources, with a view to progressive unification of the continent, which had suddenly stopped being a mirage.
In the wake of this special meeting, the Committee of Ministers held an exchange of views with ministerial representatives of all the east European countries, except Albania30 Discussion at this meeting, which Joăo de Deus Pinheiro called “an image of the future Europe”, reflected the extent of the changes which had taken place in the space of just a few months. These changes were unanimously hailed as positive, particularly in view of two crucial events which had taken place a few days earlier and which seemed to promise that the fair wind would hold. One was the election of Mikhail Gorbachev to the newly-created post of President of the USSR on 15 Marchmm. The other was the victory of Lothar de Maizière's Christian Democrats in the GDR's first legislative elections on 18 March, a victory which opened the way to German reunification. Admittedly, a less sanguine note was sounded by some of the East European ministers, who urged the West to adopt a bolder vision, and
particularly by the Yugoslav minister, Budimir Lonçar, who warned his hearers – prophetically, alas – that history could still take another tragic turnnn. Nevertheless, the general feeling which emerged from the meeting was little short of euphoric: the “Revolution of 1989” seemed to bear within itself the seeds of a new Europe, in which the “warm” values of co-operation, dialogue and mutual trust would replace the cold warriors' reliance on force – and for which the right structure would have to be found.
As far as this structure was concerned, the Council of Europe Ministers and their guests agreed on several crucial points:
- German unification, which was seen as an integral part of progress towards European unity, got unqualified support. The central and east European ministers – with the obvious exception of the Soviet minister – confirmed their rejectionoo of the line adopted by Moscow, which wanted to make unification conditional on the future, reunited state's neutrality (i.e. on its not joining NATO). Significantly, Krzysztof Skubiszewski's ringing pronouncement (“German unification is a step towards European unification, and European unity is inconceivable without German unity”) anticipated, almost word for word, the famous message which Helmut Kohl pounded home tirelessly in the months which followed, all the way up to the fateful date of 3 October 1990 (“German unity and European unity are two sides of one medal”);
- the main concern of participants at the Lisbon ministerial meeting was the continent's security and the need, as far as possible, to keep a tight rein on events and prevent a slide into tragedy. A return to the past was actually feared less (apart from a conservative coup against Gorbachev) than a blind forward plunge, with nationalist tensions and the centrifugal forces released in the USSR, Yugoslavia – and, to a lesser degree, Czechoslovakia – running out of control. In this area, all the ministers acknowledged the vital role of the CSCE, which was to be institutionalised after the scheduled autumn Summit (the “Helsinki II” which Mikhail Gorbachev had called for in Strasbourg in July 1989). As for the future of existing military alliances, there was a striking contrast between the western ministers' wish to see NATO's role redefined in the light of current developments in Europe, and the central and east European ministers' total silence concerning the Warsaw Pact (not mentioned even by the Soviet minister);
- another priority concern was economic co-operation. The prime mover here was the European Community, which co-ordinated – through the European Commission – the economic aid provided for Hungary and Poland by the twenty-four western members of OECD31(it had been decided early in 1990 that this aid, largely furnished by the Twelve, would be extended to the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Romania). The international financial institutions (International Monetary Fund and World Bank) were asked to help the new governments in eastern Europe to make, with the European Community's support, the painful, but necessary transition to a market economypp, and France's suggestion that a special instrument (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, inaugurated in London a year later) be set up for this purpose was welcomed;
- a final concern, felt as equally important by participants at the Lisbon meeting, was the political, legal and cultural dimension of the future Europe. The memorandum prepared by Portugal, which was chairing the meeting, stated that the legal basis of the future “common European home” would be “principles accepted by everyone: respect for human rights, the rights of minorities, and the right of the peoples and states of Europe to self-determination” and would have to be consolidated by “appropriate control machinery”. The cultural basis would be concerned with “strengthening European cultural identity and developing relations between all the countries of Europe in this area”. The political basis would aim at the establishment and regular functioning of suitable structures for “political dialogue and co-operation”. And in these three areas - alongside the CSCE, which made it possible to associate the United States and Canada with this “third dimension” of the European process - the Ministers unanimously stressed the crucial role which the Council of Europe could and should play, and committed themselves to continuing (and even accelerating) current efforts to revitalise and strengthen itqq.
The results achieved and conclusions reached in Lisbon fully matched the expectations and hopes of the Parliamentary Assembly, which had been quick off the mark in calling for such a meeting. They also matched Catherine Lalumière's ambition to turn her organisation into the “Council of Greater Europe”. It is true that, thanks partly to its own merits and partly to the lack of a credible alternativerr, the Council of Europe emerged as the best, if not the only, landing place for central and east European countries anxious to back their choice of democracy and the market economy with an international commitment. And so, after Hungary and Poland, Yugoslavia (7 February), Bulgaria (4 March) and Czechoslovakia32officially applied to join the Council. The Soviet Union also indicated that it wished to be invited to accede to the European Cultural Convention, and to join Yugoslavia, Hungary and Poland in working together under this instrument, which Czechoslovakia also signed on 10 May 1990.
The Parliamentary Assembly was not idle either: holding regular debates on developments in central and eastern Europe, and the political conclusions which needed to be drawn from them33 it fully lived up to its function of acting as a spur to the Committee of Ministers; it also extended its co-operative circle by granting special guest status to the parliaments of Czechoslovakia and the GDR (7 May) – soon followed by Bulgaria (3 July) – and embarked on an activity which became increasingly important in the next few years: the monitoring of electionsss; finally, it established itself as the obligatory tribune for the new leaders – still variable in their democratic credentials – of central and eastern Europe.
Logically enough, the first to use this platform was the Prime Minister of the country closest to Council membership: Hungary. Speaking in the Assembly on 29 January 1990, Miklos Nemeth started by referring to the pioneering role which Hungary had played in the events of 1989 (particularly by dismantling the iron curtain on the Austro-Hungarian border and letting tens of thousands of East Germans through) – a role to which the German parliamentarians Karl Ahrens and Gerhard Reddemann paid emotional tribute. Looking ahead to the elections scheduled for 24 March, he then spoke of Hungary's unanimous and irreversible commitment to the values embodied in the Counciltt, and of the determination of most of the country's political forces to establish a “social market economy”. Finally, he said that Hungary had for centuries been a part of Europe, and that he hoped to see it become a full member of the Council already in 1990. In the meantime, he announced that it would be acceding to two major Council conventions in the local democracy field: the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities.
The European Charter of Local Self-Government lays down the basic principles of local democracy and of harmonious co-operation between government and local and regional authorities, respecting the subsidiarity rule. Opened for signing in 1985, it has been signed today by 37 Council of Europe member States (among which 32 have ratified it). The European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities serves as a European legal basis for co-operation between towns, regions and other sub-national entities across frontiers, while respecting the powers of states (which are, together with international organisations, the only subjects of public international law). Opened for signing in 1980, it now covers 22 States, plus 9 more which have only signed but not ratified it.
The Polish Prime Minister followed him next day (30 January 1990). Tadeusz Mazowiecki, in Strasbourg to defend his country's application to join the Council, spoke first of the “exceptional period” the continent was living through, a period summed up in the words “Back to Europe!” - although he preferred to speak of “a European renaissance”. Like his Hungarian counterpart, he spoke of his country's age-old ties with Europe, insisting on all the things which the eastern part of the continent, “torn up from its roots almost half-a-century ago”, could contribute to the
European processuu. Having spoken of the major problems which the eastern countries would inevitably face in making the transition to democracy and the market economyvv, he urged the need for universal solidarity in taking up what was “a historic challenge and a task for the whole of Europe”. The ringing words he then uttered (“The wall which divided free Europe from enslaved Europe is down. Now we have to fill in the gulf between poor Europe and affluent Europe”) anticipated Lech Walesa's famous reference to the iron curtain's being replaced by a silver one a few months later. In conclusion, Tadeusz Mazowiecki tried to imagine, “realistically”, what Europe might be like in the year 2000ww.
Three months later, on 8 May 1990, it was the turn of Janez Drnovsek, at the time holder of the rotating presidency of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, to address the Assembly. Apart from voicing his country's concern, as current leader of the non-aligned states, that the new emphasis on the East should not distract attention from the need for North-South solidarity, the Yugoslav President chiefly spoke of economic reforms. This was an area where Yugoslavia – thanks to its tradition of self-management and to its long-standing ties with OECD (of which it was an associate member) and EFTA (with which it had concluded a special agreement) – had certain advantages over the other ex-Communist countries. Its links with the Council of Europe went back a long way, and it had formally applied to join a few weeks earlier. Janez Drnovsek promised that it would accede to the European Convention on Human Rights as soon as it was admitted. Referring to the political situation, he said that his country had opted in principle for the multi-party system, spoke of the pluralist parliamentary elections recently held in Slovenia and Croatia, and expressed the hope that this example would soon be followed in the other republics and at federal level. Finally he drew the Assembly's attention to the grave situation in Kosovoxx. The parliamentarians – and particularly Karl-Heintz Klejdzinski (Germany), Björn Elmquist (Denmark), Victor Ruffy (Switzerland) and Peter Hardy (United Kingdom) – focused on this issue, and on the need to protect minorities, during much of the ensuing discussion.
The Yugoslav President was followed on the rostrum next day (9 May 1990) by the herald (and hero) of Czechoslovakia's “velvet revolution" – none other than Vaclav Havel, elected President of the Federal Czech and Slovak Republic on 29 December 1989, and soon (on 2 July 1990) to be confirmed in office by the parliament which emerged from the country's first free elections, held on 8-9 June. His speech in the Assembly said more about his own character and vision of political action than it did about Czechoslovakia's actual progress towards democracy or Council membership. In his introduction, Vaclav Havel spoke of the “good advice” given him through the years by “reasonable people”, who urged him to accept that the world was permanently divided into two halves, both of them content with this division and neither wanting any change, and that following one's conscience was “pointless”. He spoke of his long conversations with his friend, Jiri Dienstbier, during the “bad years”, in the prison of Hermanice and elsewhereyy, and stressed the importance – and, with hindsight, the superiority – of a visionary policy, as compared with cold realismzz. Having painted a brief (and essentially sombre) picture of the
situation in his countryaaa, he gave the Assembly the benefit of his “thinking about the Europe of today and of tomorrow”bbb, and concluded by returning to the question he had raised at the start: “Everything seems to indicate that we must not be afraid to dream of the seemingly impossible if we want the seemingly impossible to become a reality. Without dreaming of a better Europe we shall never build a better Europe. To me, the twelve stars in your emblem do not express the proud conviction that the Council of Europe will build heaven on this earth. There will never be heaven on earth. I see these twelve stars as a reminder that the world could become a better place if, from time to time, we had the courage to look up at the stars.”
With this kind of prophetic vision behind it, the “peoples' spring” looked like going on forever. Vaclav Havel was not the only one to see his dreams fulfilled. Having (with François Mitterrand's support) talked the Twelve into agreeing at last to
envisage economic aid for the USSRccc, Helmut Kohl went to Moscow on 16 July and got the green light from Mikhail Gorbachev for German reunification, leaving all the Federal Republic's international commitments – and particularly its NATO membership – intact. This major diplomatic triumph, coupled with massive economic promises by Germany to the USSR34 removed the last obstacle to a historic development which everyone declared inevitable – but no one expected to see in his lifetimeddd: on 3 October, less than a year after the Berlin Wall came down, German unity became a fact.
Two days before that, on 1 October, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly welcomed the 17 million East Germans who, overnight, would be becoming nationals of a country which belonged to the European Community and the Council of Europe, with all that this implied in terms of freedom of movement and establishment, protection of individual rights and basic freedoms, exercise of the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship, and so on. Anders Björck recalled that, on their very first appearance in the Assembly on 7 August 1950, the German delegates had declared: “We who are here are […] the representatives of Germany as a whole.” He then gave the floor to Gerhard Reddemann, spokesman of the Federal German delegation, who hailed it as a happy omen that 3 October was associated both with the socialist Carl von Ossietsky (born 3 October 1889) and with the Christian Democrat Gustav Stresemann (died 3 October 1929) – both German and both winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Having applauded the East German “special guest”, Franck Heltzig, who concluded his last speech in the Assembly with a ringing “Goodbye Europe, welcome Europe!”, the Assembly joined him in paying tribute to the man who would, two weeks later, be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1990: Mikhail Gorbachev.
Apart from its current affairs debate on the international crisis provoked in August by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Assembly devoted most of its attention during this October session to discussion of draft opinions on the applications for Council membership submitted by Hungary and Poland.
The procedure for accession to the Council of Europe
Under the procedure for accession to the Council, the Committee of Ministers has the first word and the last, since it receives the formal application and takes the final decision. But the most important part of the process takes place, between these two stages, in the Parliamentary Assembly, to which the Committee of Ministers is required to submit the application for opinion. Throughout the 1990s, the Assembly's approval thus had a decisive effect on the decisions to admit the new states which brought the Council's membership from 23 up to 41. It discharged its function with great energy, having detailed investigations carried out in the countries concerned by three committees: the Political Affairs Committee, which reports to it on membership applications, and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries, both of which prepare opinions. When the various rapporteurs and their committees feel the time is ripe (preliminary enquiries can take several years), the application is submitted to the Assembly in plenary session, so that it can finally adopt the opinion. This is then sent to the Committee of Ministers, which decides on this basis whether to invite the state concerned to join the Council.
In view of the favourable report submitted on Hungary by Peter Schieder (Austria) for the Political Affairs Committee, and of the equally positive opinions submitted by Ingrid Willock (Norway) and Gunnar Jansson (Finland), for the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights respectively, the Assembly unanimously voted to admit it, noting that “the first and certainly not the last of the states of the former Eastern bloc is joining this forum of European democracies, a fact which illustrates and underlines the great transformation in Europe”.35
The new Hungarian Prime Minister, present in the Assembly on this historic occasion for his country, expressed his delight at seeing it “rejoin” Europe. Speaking immediately after the vote on 2 October 1990, Joszef Antall stressed the democratic progress his country had made since the holding of the first free elections in spring 1990eee. He promised that Hungary would sign the European Convention on Human Rights as soon as it joined the Council, and ratify it within a year or so. Above all, however, he drew the Assembly's attention to a problem which it had just discussed in depth for the first time36and which would, in the next few years, become one of the
major political issues in Europe after the Berlin Wall's disappearance: the protection of minorities. He said that his country was determined to set an example in this areafff.
In Poland's case, opinion in the Assembly was more divided. Some speakers insisted on the pioneering role it had played since the “semi-free” elections of 6 June 1989, which had brought Tadeusz Mazowiecki's government to power, while others made the point that Poland – like the USSR, Albania and Yugoslavia – had still to hold fully free general elections37 Eventually, the Assembly unanimously accepted a compromise which involved saying “yes” to Poland, but making admission conditional on the satisfactory holding of the elections scheduled for spring 1991, which the Assembly decided to monitor with the help of an observer delegation. Sticking to the traffic-light metaphor, one could say that the light was now amber, and would turn green automatically if the elections satisfied the criteria of democratic pluralism38
A month later, when the Committee of Ministers met in Rome on 6 November 1990 for its 87th session, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, there was a general feeling that, in the fullest sense, history was being made.
The European Convention on Human Rights
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (better known as the European Convention on Human Rights) was opened for signing by Council of Europe member states at the Committee of Ministers' 6th session, on 4 November 1950 in Rome. Less than two years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, under UN auspices in Paris on 9 December 1948, and barely eighteen months after the founding of the Council, the convention was the first – and remains the most convincing – attempt to embody the rights formulated in the UN Declaration in a binding international legal instrument. It also matches the requirement set out in Article 3 of the Council Statute, which states: “Every member of the Council of Europe must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. To this day, the convention stands out as the Council's greatest achievement, particularly since it has repeatedly been strengthened and refined in the meantime: strengthened by the adoption of protocols which either add new rights to those already laid down in the convention (e.g. Protocol No. 6, abolishing the death penalty) or amend the initial text on certain points (e.g. Protocol No. 11, establishing a single, permanent Court to replace the former European Court and Commission of Human Rights: see Chapters V and X), and refined by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. Nearly a half-century later, the convention has become so important that a state's joining the Council without also acceding to the convention (and its main protocols) is today unthinkable.
Gabriele Gatti, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of San Marino and Chairman-in-office of the Committee, welcomed Helmut Schaeffer, German Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, representing the reunited Germany for the first time, and also Geza Jeszensky, Foreign Minister of Hungary – the first east European country to become a full member of the Council. Poland, invited on 23 October by the Committee to join the Council as soon as democratic elections had been held, and Czechoslovakia, represented respectively by J. Makarczyck and Jiri Dienstbier, were present, too, at this memorable session, at which the Committee also decided to invite the USSR to accede to the European Cultural Convention.
Three days before the anniversary of the Berlin Wall's coming down, the Council had not only expanded dramatically by taking in the former GDR and Hungary (with Poland and Czechoslovakia to follow), but had also – via the Cultural Convention – opened the way to participation in the European process by Mikhail Gorbachev's USSR. The Council may not have “wiped out Yalta”ggg, as Jacques Delors had hoped a year before, but it had put an end to division of the continent into two blocs – and in so doing opened a new chapter in its history.
THIRTY-FIVE MINUS TWO EQUALS FIFTY-THREE
“Like a river returning to its bed, Europe has reconnected with its past and its true geographical dimensions.” When he uttered these words a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall39 François Mitterand certainly had no idea that this process would prove so tumultuous that Europe's geopolitical map would emerge from it totally redrawn. Inevitably, 1989 and 1990 will be remembered as the years when history changed course, but 1991 will go down as the year when geographers had to scramble to keep up and atlas publishers made a fortune. The differences indeed are striking between the maps of Europe on 1 January 1991 and 31 December of that same year. In those twelve months, the accounts left open by the first and second world wars were finally closed off, and the centrifugal forces triply contained by the Versailles Treaty of 1919, the German-Soviet Pact of 1939 and the Yalta agreements of 1945 were turned loose – with results so dramatic that the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century probably provides the only parallel. Two multi-ethnic, pluri-national federations – one covering 40 % of the Euro-Asian continent and one-sixth of the world's land-mass, and often described as the “last colonial empire”, the other an increasingly shaky jigsaw in the most volatile part of Europe – were simply swept off the map. When the USSR and Yugoslavia imploded, no fewer than twenty new independent states emerged from the wreckage.
The full extent of the changes can be seen most clearly in the CSCE. Thirty-five states had signed the Helsinki Final Act in 1975hhh, but the figure was down to thirty-four when the members adopted the “Paris Charter for a New Europe” at their second summit (19-21 November 1990), since the two Germanys had fused a few weeks earlier and Helmut Kohl was now speaking for the reunited country. It returned to 35 in June 1991, when Albania came on board after decades of voluntary isolation – before making an incredible single leap over 50, as the USSR and Yugoslavia fell apart, giving way to twenty new independent states, all anxious to claim a legitimate place on the international scene.
While all these states have a natural part to play in the CSCE's multilateral efforts to achieve security and stability in Europe, they are not all equal when it comes to another multilateral process, more ambitious in its aims and broader in its scope – the building of a united Europe. The geographical coverage of both the Council of Europe and the European Communities is expressly limited, since only “European” countries may join them: being part of Europe is thus a necessary – though not the only – condition. This, of course, raises the problem of where “Europe” stops: that question had never seemed urgent before, but it soon became a priority for the Council – obliged by its pioneering role in reconciling the two halves of Europe to answer it once and for all in 199440
In the first few weeks of 1991, however, the Parliamentary Assembly was still a long way short of that point. Apart from a current affairs debate on “General policy of the Council of Europe – The 'New Europe' (CSCE, European Community, Council of Europe); the Gulf crisis”, which took place a few days after the launching of the “Desert Storm” operation against Iraq, the Assembly focused on the economic reforms under way in various Central and East European countries: it adopted a whole series of recommendations to these countries, amounting to a full-scale strategy for switching to a market economy which would also be socially just and environmentally acceptable, and called on western countries to support them more vigorously – in the sensitive field of technology transfer, among othersiii 41
Two high-profile guests were present when the economic transition in the East was discussed: Leszek Balcerowicz, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and “father” of the economic reforms launched in his country on 1 January 1990, and Petre Roman, Prime Minister of Romania and – with the President, Ion Iliescu – leading figure in the team which took over when Nicolae Ceaucescu was toppled by a “palace revolution” in Bucharest in December 1989.
Addressing the Assembly, which was in the process of outlining its general strategy for the transition to a market economy, Leszek Balcerowicz argued that Warsaw's economic policy was in tune with the approach proposed by Dame Peggy Fenner (United Kingdom), Rapporteur to the Committee on Economic
Affairs and Development, and highlighted three essential conditions of successjjj. He spoke of the spectacular results achieved in the space of just one year (the private sector's share of retail trade had increased from 5 % to 35 %, monthly inflation had plunged from 76 % to 5 %, the zloty had been stabilised, and shortages had been eliminated). Playing down the social cost of the “shock therapy” the Polish economy had been given, he ended by appealing to the West: “Poland is carrying out a fundamental transformation of its economic system. In this great and historic endeavour we count on your understanding and support, while we know that you have first of all to rely on our own determination. My presence here will, I hope, serve the purpose of gaining your support and understanding.”
Petre Roman got a more qualified reception when his turn came to speak in the Assembly on the afternoon of 29 January. While sympathising wholeheartedly with Romania's economic problems (aggravated by a severe winter and the uncertainties hanging over energy supplies because of the Gulf war), the Assembly found certain aspects of the present situation (press freedom, the protection of minorities, trade union rights, and the plight of children and the handicapped were particularly mentioned) less than satisfactory. Petre Roman favoured a pro-active approach on the economic front, calling for free trade between the countries of central and eastern Europe and insisting on the things which Romania had to offerkkk. He appealed for political trust, making the point that Romania had first had to wage “the battle against neglect”, and was now waging a new battle “against the refusal to be heard”. And he also made a solemn promise: “It would be dishonest on this occasion to dodge the problem of the distrust and doubt that exist both within and beyond the frontiers of our country as to whether our fundamental option for democracy and the values of the free world might never be reversed. I declare, from this rostrum at the Council of Europe, that Romania's option for democracy and a life of freedom as a worthy nation, among the other nations of the European continent, is final, as is its break with its totalitarian past.” This “profession of faith” produced its effect, since the Assembly decided, three days later (1 February 1991) to grant Romania's Parliament special guest status.
Another highlight of the January 1991 session was the debate on admission of the Federal Czech and Slovak Republic to Council membership. Vaclav Havel's words a few months before had clearly left their mark, and the Assembly showed little
hesitation – particularly since the chief rapporteur, Jacques Baumel (France)42 and the two rapporteurs for opinion, Raymond Forni (France) and Kerstin Eckman (Sweden)43had all spoken in glowing terms of Czechoslovakia's progress in the past year. Raymond Forni did sound a note of caution on one pointlll, but Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Dienstbier – in Strasbourg for the debate – was solidly backed by Franz Vranitzkymmm. Speaking of his country's progress, he gracefully acknowledged the Council's contribution: “We have enjoyed your full support in situations demanding quick consultation before creating or applying legal norms. We could rely upon the experience and the expert knowledge of the Council of Europe when preparing drafts of our federal and national constitutions and laws. You have generously offered us a share of your great wealth of democratic experience.” The general sense of confidence was so strong that the Assembly unanimously adopted its positive opinion without even mentioning Czechoslovakia's promise – repeated at the sitting by Jiri Dienstbier – to sign the European Convention on Human Rights the day it joined the Council!44
Consensus was far less marked that afternoon in the Assembly's current affairs debate on the situation in the Baltic republics. Admittedly, the centrifugal forces which constituted the boomerang effect of Mikhail Gorbachev's progressive liberalisation policy had gone furthest in these three countries, brutally annexed by Stalin in 1940, and never formally acknowledged as part of the Soviet Union by the international community. Thus declarations of independence had been adopted in short order by the Parliaments of Lithuania (11 March 1990), Estonia (30 March) and Latvia (4 May) – only to be annulled by Soviet presidential decree. Political to start with, and then economic too (with restrictions on energy supplies and trading in commodities), this trial of strength had recently taken a tragic turn, when action by the Interior Ministry's special paramilitary force, the OMON, in Riga and by Soviet paratroops and tanks in Vilnius had resulted in several dozen deaths.
The Assembly's debate bore eloquent witness to the perplexity and alarm caused to western leaders by the irresistible rise of nationalism in various parts of the USSR. While unanimously recognising the right of the peoples concerned to self-determination – particularly clear in the case of the Baltic states, illegally “Sovietised” in 1940 – the Assembly was far more measured in its tone than the European Parliament, which had called a week before, in the very same chamber, for immediate suspension of all financial and technical co-operation with the USSR, and even of humanitarian aid. Most Council of Europe parliamentarians were closer to the U.S. position, voiced by George Bush: “We want to support the Baltic republics; we do not want to punish the Soviet Union.” They were strengthened in their views by the conciliatory words of Alexei Elisseyev, the Soviet “special guest”, who agreed that the tragic events in Lithuania and Latvia were “unacceptable”, and seemed to suggest that a political solution, of the kind universally desired, could be found to the crisisnnn. Two questions were foremost in their minds. Would reform in the USSR continue? Or would a Moscow “Tien-An-Men” put an end to the highly positive developments initiated in central and eastern Europe by Mikhail Gorbachev, whose own future was presciently summed up by Istvan Szent-Ivanyi (Hungary): “His position is almost hopeless. If the conservatives regain power, they will not need the President. If the democratic forces win, they will not accept him any more.”
This same anxiety was apparent in the speech delivered the following day (31 January) by the Bulgarian President. Zhelyu Zhelev, who had come to Strasbourg to argue for the earliest possible admission of his country to the Council45 insisted on the major changes which had taken place in Bulgaria in the past yearooo, before condemning “the use of armed force in the Baltic states and the resulting death of innocent people”. He added: “The use of force against peaceful citizens and against state institutions based on democratic elections is an extremely dangerous form of oppression which has stirred indignation and anguish in the people of Bulgaria.” As leader of a country caught between two powder-kegs on the point of exploding (the
USSR and Yugoslavia), he warned that Europe's security was facing major hazards, which only democratic development could avert permanentlyppp.
In these circumstances, the atmosphere at the Committee of Ministers' extraordinary session in Madrid on 21 February 1991 was a long way from the euphoria which had reigned in Lisbon a year earlier. There was, of course, enormous pleasure at Czechoslovakia's becoming the Council's twenty-fifth member state – a symbolic accession if ever there was one, since it was Jiri Dienstbier, former dissident and author (in prison) of “Reflections on Europe”, who deposited his country's instrument of accession and signed the European Convention on Human Rights on its behalf. Francisco Fernandez Ordonez, who was chairing the meeting46 was deeply aware of this, and paid solemn tribute to the “velvet revolution” and its leaders, who, with their moral conception of politics, had shown their countrymen – and the world at large – that politics, traditionally the art of the possible, could be the art of the impossible as well. Assembly President Anders Björck agreed wholeheartedly, but his concluding words reflected the climate of anxiety in these early months of 1991, when the USSR appeared to be teetering between “military dictatorship and chaos”47 “We have hard times before us. The proud European tower is still only a dream. It must be built on the most solid foundation of all, democracy embracing all of Europe. If one country, one region, fails to meet democratic standards, it will be enough to make the whole building unstable.”
Although plainly anxious, the Committee was not tempted for a moment to turn its back on the problems and do nothing. The Chair's conclusions at the end of the Madrid meeting reflected both the Ministers' sharp awareness of the situation's gravity and their determination to press ahead regardless with their open-door policyqqq. This confirmation, in a new and difficult situation, of the policy line adopted in euphoric mood at the Lisbon meeting reflected the direction given the Spanish Chair by Felipe Gonzalez48 who knew from experience just what the Council could
do to smooth the transition to democracyrrr and was anxious to maintain the momentum of enlargementsss: this was crucial for the states concerned (“semi-members” like Poland, countries which had applied officially to join, like Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, and countries which had expressed a wish to do so, like Romania and the Baltic states), but also for the USSR, whose new Foreign Minister, Alexander Besmertnik, deposited his country's instrument of accession to the European Cultural Convention that same day.
This sign of confidence in the USSR was fully in line with the conclusions drawn, firstly, by Francisco Fernandez Ordonez from his “tour of the capitals” (Prague, Warsaw, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia) with Catherine Lalumière from 4 to 7 February, and, secondly, by Anders Björck from his fact-finding mission to the three Baltic republics the week before. Addressing the Ministers, the Assembly President suggested that five basic principles should govern the Council's policy towards the USSR:
- Firstly, relations with the Soviet Union were a long-term matter, and would inevitably have their ups and downs;
- Secondly, they must be handled very flexibly, allowing for the relationship between the central power and the constituent republics;
- Thirdly, they must take account of tensions between the centre and the regions;
- Fourthly, the closer links with Europe desired by the Soviet Union depended as much on it as on Europe;
- Fifthly, for that reason, economic and other co-operation should always be conditional on Soviet compliance with recognised human rights standards. No help should be unconditional.
Striking a balance between openness and vigilance, this approach embodied the combined views of the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly and the Secretariat (represented respectively by Francisco Fernandez Ordonez, Anders Björck and Catherine Lalumière), and the Ministers' acceptance of it was clear at the enlarged meeting which they then held, as they had done the year before in Lisbon, with the foreign ministers of European non-member countries49 The roll-call at that meeting showed how much things had changed in the twelve months separating Lisbon and Madrid. The “observer” from the German Democratic Republic had gone, while two of the seven “special guests” (Hungary and Czechoslovakia, represented respectively by their Foreign Ministers, Géza Jeszenszky and Jiri Dienstbier) were present as full members, and one (Poland, represented by its Deputy Foreign Minister, Jerzy Makarczyk) as a “semi-member”. On 21 February 1991, however, the participants in Madrid lost no time on comparisons with spring 1990: their attention was fully taken up by their exchange of views with Alexander Besmertnik on the situation in the USSR.
Successor to Edward Shevardnadze, whose spectacular resignation on 20 December 1990 had encouraged fresh fears of Mikhail Gorbachev's swinging to the right, Alexander Besmertnik found the words needed to convince the Ministers that their measured attitude to the USSR was the right one. He accepted the Committee's condemnation – voiced on 15 January – of the use of force in Estonia and Lithuania, but neatly echoed Catherine Lalumière: “The monodimensional Europe, in which good and evil were two absolute categories, has been put behind us.” He discussed the situation franklyttt, and urged the need for a constitutional solution as the only realistic way out of the crisisuuu, before insisting that change in Europe and reform in the USSR were intimately linked: “The Soviet Union has a vital interest in a non-violent, peaceful, evolutionary and democratic process of change on the European continent. The fact is that we regard European stability geared to dialogue and co-operation as a key condition for perestroika's success. But, inexorably, the relationship works both ways: without successful reform in the USSR, the building of a new Europe cannot succeed. A united, stable, economically healthy and politically confident Soviet Union is something Europe needs as much as we need a strong and united Europe.”
And indeed subsequent events seemed at first to suggest that those who relied on Mikhail Gorbachev and his extraordinary political astuteness to find a way out of the crisis were right. Having bought off the conservatives by creating the post of Vice-President of the USSR for Gennady Yanayev (little thinking that Yanayev himself would deliver the fatal thrust in August), Gorbachev pursued what western observers called his “double tightrope act” by holding a referendum on 17 March and securing the adoption of a new union treaty, which kept the USSR in being as a renewed federation of sovereign and legally equal republics, in which the rights and freedoms of persons of all nationalities were to be fully guaranteed. Better still, on 23 April, he concluded an agreement with the leaders of the nine republics which had taken part in the March referendumvvv – chief among them the Russian Federation's President, Boris Yeltsin, who had called thunderously for his resignation on 19 February! No one realised it at the time, but these successes were the swan song of the man who had set out to save the Soviet system by reforming it, but who found himself cast as its liquidator, contriving to keep the inevitable implosion within peaceful limits.
In those early months of 1991, however, all of this still lay in the future, and it was a reassured Assembly which, on 22 April, welcomed Alexander Dubček, hero of the “Prague Spring” (put down by the Warsaw Pact's tanks in 1968) and now President of the Federal Assembly of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Twenty years on, his concept of “socialism with a human face” was a major source of inspiration to those – above all, Mikhail Gorbachev – who who were applying the “perestroika cure” in an effort to give the communist system a new lease of life. Hailed by Assembly President Anders Björck as “a freedom fighter, a fighter for democracy and a committed European”, Alexander Dubček stressed the clear continuity between the “Prague dreamers” of 1968 and present reformers in the USSRwww, and urged the West to support his “spiritual children” in Moscow: “The Soviet Union is part of Europe, and it is in the interests of all of us that it should develop without confrontation and set out on the road to democracy. Without German reunification it would have been inconceivable to pursue the process of European integration. In the same way, it should be said that, without the Soviet Union's participation, it will not be possible to complete that process.” At this juncture, however, Alexander Dubček was also, as a Slovak, playing a vital part, politically and morally – alongside Vaclav Havel, as a Czech – in shoring up Czechoslovakia's
tottering unityxxx (this received its death-blow when Vladimir Meciar and Vaclav Klaus were elected to power, in Slovakia and Bohemia respectively, in June 1992, the same month in which Alexander Dubček died).
The threat to the future of this very new member state was not, however, the main thing on the Assembly's mind. At this point, the balance of history, which had seemed to waver in the icy blast which had threatened the wavering taper of freedom in the Baltic states, appeared to be tilting once more in the right direction under the burning wind which had swept away Saddam Hussein's insane dream of defying the whole international community. In spite of the storm clouds massing in the Balkans, harbingers of the cataclysm which the Greek Prime Minister, Constantin Mitsotakis, warned against on 23 Aprilyyy, the Assembly was enthralled by George Bush's vision of a “new world order” in his speech to Congress on 6 March. The end of the cold war seemed in fact to herald a new era for international relations – an era in which states would work together, the United Nations would enjoy increased authority (or rather, real authority for the first time, once confrontation between the super-powers had ceased), and international law would take priority over the principle of non-interference in states' domestic affairs (some pioneering jurists even argued that the international community had a duty to interfere whenever states were threatened or peoples oppressed).
In Resolution 963 on Europe's role in a future “new world order” after the Gulf war, which it adopted on 25 April 1991, the Assembly enthusiastically supported these new ideas, calling for “an effective arms control regime” under UN auspices and insisting on the need for “intensified co-operative action for the benefit of the world's least-developed countries, stressing the essential link between democracy and development, which, taken together, are the best guarantees of peace and stability.” Echoing its two rapporteurs, Manuel Soares–Costa (Portugal) and Alfons Cuco (Spain)50 it suggested that Europe should play a bigger role in finding lasting
solutions to certain long-standing problemszzz, on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions; in this context, it supported the proposal made by Spain, France, Italy and Portugal that a CSCE-type process be launched in the Mediterranean under the name “Conference on Security and Co-operation in the Mediterranean” (CSCM). This idea found little favour with the Israeli observers who had come to Strasbourg for the debate, Shevach Weiss and Sarah Doronaaaa, although both welcomed the improved prospects for peace opened up by the active participation of the Arab states – but not the PLO – in the co-ordinated operation launched by the international community in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
The Committee of Ministers, meeting that same day for its 88th session, also showed interest in the proposed CSCM and expressed its concern for the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, particularly Kurds and Shi'ites, in Iraq. The Ministers devoted most of their time, however, to discussing the situation in central and eastern Europe: they welcomed the news that Poland would be holding elections in the autumn, which meant that its joining the Council could be envisaged at their next session in November, invited Bulgaria to accede to the European Cultural Convention, and took note of the progress made in Romania and Albaniabbbb. They noted that co-operation with the Soviet Union had developed satisfactorily since it had signed the Cultural Convention and, referring to Yugoslavia, “hoped to see rapid progress towards genuine democracy, a free market economy and full respect for human rights in Yugoslavia and in all parts of that country, as well as the maintenance of its unity and territorial integrity.”
Clearly, in spite of the warning signs which had been multiplying in recent months, the West was still largely unprepared for the tragedies which were waiting to unfold that summer, first in Yugoslavia and then in the USSR.
The spark which finally set Yugoslavia alight was the declaration of independence jointly proclaimed on 25 June by Slovenia and Croatia, on the strength of referendums organised respectively on 23 December 1990 and 19 May 1991. The federal authorities in Belgrade at once rejected these declarations, and the federal Yugoslav army – pro-Serb, pro-communist and fiercely opposed to any move towards independence – marched into Slovenia. After three cease-fires brokered by the European Community's “troika” (and instantly violated), the accession to the Yugoslav presidency of the Croat Stipe Mesic (after weeks of institutional paralysiscccc), and the international community's unanimous condemnation of the use of force made it possible to secure its withdrawal from Slovene territory on 18 July. Welcomed by Ljubljana as de facto acknowledgement of Slovenia's independence, this withdrawal did not put an end to the fighting in Krajina and Slovonia, two Croatian regions which had declared for Serbia. The prime target of Slobodan Milosevic, exercing full power in Belgrade since the “national communists” had triumphed in Serbia and Montenegro's first free elections in December 1990, was not in fact Slovenia. Ethnically homogeneous, Slovenia was of no direct territorial interest to Serbia, and the Yugoslav army's withdrawal allowed it to concentrate its efforts on Croatia: from late July on, clashes between the Serb militias (equipped and supported by the federal army) and the Croatian army gradually escalated into a full-scale war of secession, punctuated by a series of illusory cease-firesdddd.
Yugoslavia: a foreseeable crisis
The Yugoslav crisis was written into the very structure of the state: comprising six republics (Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro) and two “autonomous” provinces (Kosovo and Vojvodina, which were forcibly incorporated into Serbia in 1990), Yugoslavia comprised no less than six nations and eighteen national minorities, and had five official languages, three religions and two alphabets! The fact that no general process of democratisation had ensued when Tito's iron grasp disappeared in 1980 merely reinforced that slide towards disintegration which Slobodan Milosevic's lethal cocktail of nationalism and communism eventually brought to an explosive head.
It was against this background of conflagration in the Balkans – even if the worst was still to come – that disaster, feared for years, but no longer really expected, struck in the USSR: on 19 August, a conservative coup, led by Vice-President Gennady Yanayev, ousted Mikhail Gorbachev. The forces of democracy rallied at once behind Boris Yeltsin, whom election by universal suffrage had recently strengthened and legitimisedeeee, the putschists were quickly swept away and, on 22 August, Mikhail Gorbachev returned to Moscow. On that same day, at an extraordinary meeting of the Deputies in Strasbourg, the Committee of Ministers affirmed its “solidarity with the Soviet people, who, in spite of the dangers and threats, succeeded thanks to their coolness and determination in preserving the achievements of democratisation and demonstrated their firm desire to see the democratic reforms continued, intensified and accelerated.” They also resolved to strengthen co-operation with the USSR and speed up its accession to the Council, with a view to staving off the threat of a return to totalitarianism, oppression of peoples and human rights violations.
So were those three days in August, when history seemed to hang in the balance, just a bad dream, with no lasting effects? In fact, the conservatives' attempted coup did produce effects – but effects exactly the reverse of those intended. Suddenly the disintegration of the USSR shifted into top gear. On August 24, Mikhail Gorbachev launched a desperate attempt to regain control by resigning as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR, dissolving the Central Committee, and prohibiting the activities of party cells in the armed forces and the KGB by decree – but nothing could stop the various Soviet Republics from declaring themselves independent in short orderffff. When the Parliamentary Assembly's autumn session started in Strasbourg on 18 September, the European political landscape had changed unrecognisably since its previous session, held in Helsinki at the end of June.
As soon as the session opened, President Björck welcomed the delegates from the parliaments of the three Baltic states, to which the Assembly had recently granted special guest status. MM. Toome (Estonia), Ivans (Latvia) and Andrikiene (Lithuania) expressed their joy and pride at finding their “European brothers and sisters” once again, and reminded the Assembly that their three countries had joined the CSCE a week previously, and had been admitted the day before to membership of the United Nations. Looking beyond special guest status vis-à-vis the Assembly, which had, as it were, “opened the way” three months earliergggg, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania applied that very day to join the Council – to the great satisfaction of Catherine Lalumière, who spoke of the dramatic changes which recent developments in the Soviet Union had wrought on the European scene. She reported on her talks, at the CSCE meeting on the human dimension in Moscow a week previously, with senior Soviet and Russian spokesmen51 using a striking phrase to convey their attitude: “For two years, we took an interest in the Council of Europe; today we need it.” While admitting that the present situation was unstable and the future hard to predict, she welcomed the intention clearly expressed by both the Soviet and Russian authorities of joining the Council, and said that the challenge facing the organisation was a great one: “The task that we must carry out together – the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and the Secretariat – is quite extraordinary; it is also extraordinarily difficult”.
In fact, while maintaining its traditional interest in the South52and underlining the importance of the ministerial conference, which would be commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the European Social Charter in Turin a month later, the Assembly gave most of its attention at this autumn session to the developing crises in the USSR and Yugoslavia, and to the situation in another country where the democratisation process was still shaky: Albania.
The European Social Charter
The European Social Charter was opened for signing by Council of Europe member states in Turin on 18 October 1961. Originally intended to do for social and economic rights what the European Convention had already done for human rights, the Charter was long overshadowed by the earlier text, largely because of its unwieldy and ineffective control machinery. In the early 1990s, the Conference of European Ministers of Justice (meeting in Rome in November 1990 for the Convention's 40th anniversary) and then the Conference of European Ministers of Labour (meeting in Turin in October 1991 for the Charter's 30th anniversary) helped to launch an ambitious programme for revitalisation of the Charter, at a time when attempts to give the European Community a strong social dimension were running into British intransigence (cf. the signing by eleven Community states of the Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers in Strasbourg in December 1989, and of the Maastricht “social protocol” in December 1991). The Assembly played a fully active part in this drive to give the Charter a new lease of life until the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of a revised Social Charter, which was opened for signing on 3 May 1996.
From the Assembly's debates on the situation in the Soviet Union (19 September) and Yugoslavia (21 September), it is clear that the crises which had erupted in both during the summer were causing it serious concern – but that the underlying reasons for that concern were radically different in each case. In its Recommendation 1161 on the crisis in the Soviet Union, the Assembly voiced its concern at inadequate supervision of the nuclear arsenal, the dangers of ethnic tensions and the economic problems the Soviet Union was facing as winter approached, but it also paid tribute to “the Parliament and President of the Russian Republic and to the courage of the citizens” (praising Mikhail Gorbachev as well). Welcoming “the restoration of independent statehood in the Baltic republics”, and noting that most of the other republics had chosen the same path, it looked forward confidently to the Council of Europe's future relations, firstly, with a union of sovereign states and, secondly, with a series of new, independent stateshhhh. Conversely, Resolution 969 on the crisis in Yugoslavia was an eloquent reflection of the murderous impasse into which the country was sliding. Alarmed at the failure of the
round table attended on 18 September by representatives of the Yugoslav Federal Assembly and the parliaments of the various republicsiiii, the Assembly could only point out that, under the Yugoslav Constitution of 1974, the republics were entitled to secede from the federation, and call on the Council's member states to “consider recognising those republics which have declared independence”. Aware of the dangers of a general conflagration in the Balkans, it agreed with Gudmundur Bjarnason (Iceland) that the Yugoslav drama affected all of Europe and called for the sending of “an effective military force” to Yugoslavia under United Nations auspices “to secure a cease-fire and a sensible solution to the future of Yugoslavia and its republics”.
Later developments showed only too well – more savagely indeed than anyone could have imagined – that the Assembly's anxieties were justified. On 3 October, the Committee of Ministers responded to the onslaught made on the Yugoslav presidency by Serbia and Montenegro by suspending all co-operation with Yugoslavia. A few weeks later, on 25 November, the Assembly followed suit by suspending the special guest status conferred on a Yugoslav federal assembly which was now an empty shadow. On that same day, it awarded special guest status to the Legislative Assembly which had emerged from Albania's elections in March and April 1991 – elections which its observer delegation had considered “free and democratic, while not totally fair”53 This decision was intended to encourage the timid process of reform in Albania, but also, and above all, as a signal to a country in direct proximity to the Yugoslav flare-up, which had to be prevented from spreading.
When the Committee of Ministers met the following day (26 November), with Margaretta Af Ugglasjjjj in the chair, to welcome Polandkkkk as the twenty-sixth member state, the euphoria which had marked Hungary's joining, just one year before, seemed a very distant memory. It was true that Bulgaria had become the Cultural Convention's thirtieth signatory on 30 September, as a prelude to even closer ties with the Council, and that Romania had also been invited to sign54 Similarly, exchanges of views with the Foreign Ministers of the three Baltic states, MM. Meri (Estonia), Jurkans (Latvia) and Saudargas (Lithuania) had suggested that their countries could rapidly be brought into the European co-operation system, starting again with cultural co-operation. But the Committee of Ministers' impotence in the face of the Yugoslav tragedy was as plain as that of the European Community, the CSCE and the United Nations. Its urgent appeal to all those concerned “to establish the conditions
necessary for the immediate resumption of negotiations within the Hague Conference”llll fell on deaf ears, like all the others which had gone before it, and the Council's offer to make “its experience in human rights and the protection of minorities, as well as the legal and constitutional fields” available “at the appropriate moment” remained a dead letter for many years, years in which countless tragedies unfolded.
In the last few days of 1991, new developments came thick and fast - as if the year was determined that things must be brought to a head before it passed. On 8 December, the Presidents of the three Slav republics (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) met in Minsk and stated in a joint declaration that “negotiations for the new Union Treaty are deadlocked”, that “the process of secession and of the establishment of independent states is an objective fact” – in short, that “the USSR, as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality, no longer exists”. They announced the creation of a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), open to all Soviet republics wishing to join it. This invitation was accepted four days later, at a meeting in Ashkabad, by the Presidents of the five Asian republics, who hailed the setting-up of the CIS as “positive” and asked to participate as founder members. In the meantime, meeting in Maastricht on 9-10 December, the heads of state and government of the European Community concluded a historic agreement setting up a new entity, the European Union. The “Treaty on European Union”, officially signed a few weeks later, on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht, marked a sizeable step forward on the path to European integration: it strengthened the European Community, extending its powers and completing the Single Market by providing for a European Central Bank and single currency by the end of the decade: to this “community pillar”, it also added two further, intergovernmental pillars, one laying the basis of a joint foreign and security policy, the other covering co-operation in the fields of justice and internal affairs.
On 21 December, the CIS was officially set up in Alma Ata by 11 of the 12 still existing Soviet Republicsmmmm. Mikhail Gorbachev, who had spoken in his 1991 new year message of the “sacred duty” of preserving the Union's integrity, remained true to that position and accordingly resigned as President of the USSR on Christmas Day: “I leave my post with anxiety, but also with hope, trusting to you, your wisdom and your spiritual strength. We are heirs to a great civilisation, and reviving it, in a manner which allows us to lead lives both modern and dignified, is a task for each and every one of us.” After these parting words, he handed control of the nuclear arsenal over to Boris Yeltsin and, that very evening, the Russian flag flew over the Kremlin, replacing the red flag of the USSR (which ceased officially to exist on 31 December). Meanwhile, on 23 December, Germany's recognition of the independence of Croatia and Slovenia had set the clock ticking towards the dissolution of Yugoslavia, which became effective in mid-January 1992.
Thus, by an extraordinary quirk of history, the establishment in Western Europe of a federal-type Union, covering twelve (and soon fifteen) states prepared to share their sovereignty, coincided, in the East and the Balkan peninsula, with the breakdown of authoritarian federalism and the final collapse of two entities undermined by nationalism - from the wreckage of which, almost overnight, twenty new players emerged to take their places on the European scene.
“THE CRUCIBLE OF THE CONFEDERATION”
When 1992 dawned, the international community was still reeling from the breathtaking changes of the previous twelve months – and wondering where those changes would take it.
Their immediate effect at the Council of Europe was to provide a major headache for Sir Richard Rodgers, the British architect whose design for a building to house the projected new-style machinery for supervision of the European Convention on Human Rights had just been approved after years of delay. The assumption in summer 1991 had been that the Council might expand, in the medium term, to comprise some thirty states55 That estimate had now been dramatically up-graded, and the Council – and thus the new Human Rights Building – would have to find space, in a few years' time at latest, for some forty states, all queuing up to join. The most imposing of them all, Boris Yeltsin's Russian Federation, symbolically took the lead, four months after the Baltic states, in this new drive towards the West, when, on 14 January, the Parliamentary Assembly – following the example of the international community, which had immediately recognised Russia as continuator state to the USSRnnnn – conferred on its parliament the “special guest” status enjoyed by the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR since June 1989.
Separately interviewed in the Council's journal Forum, the new Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, René Felberoooo, and the Secretary General, Catherine Lalumière, spelt out the new possibilities offered the Organisation by the geo—political upheavals in the East56 Three priorities emerged from what they said:
- Enlarging the Council: both favoured a policy simultaneously bold and true to the Organisation's standards, even if René Felber was more cautious (“No country will be able to join the Council of Europe without meeting all the requirements”) than Catherine Lalumière, who insisted on the need to “take risks for democracy”pppp;
- Strengthening the Council: René Felber's insistence on the need to “put across the merits of this institution of ours, which I see as the guarantor of the rule of law and respect for human rights” found an echo in Catherine Lalumière's suggestion that a “Marshall Plan for law” be speedily introduced to help the states of central and eastern Europe to complete that transition to democracy on which nearly all had embarked to varying degreesqqqq;
- Finding political and legal solutions to the explosive problem of minorities: both pinpointed this as the main risk to security in Europe, with the smouldering fire in Yugoslavia threatening to burst into general conflagration. René Felber spoke of Switzerland (which had just celebrated its 700th anniversary) and its long tradition of recognising and successfully integrating minoritiesrrrr, and Catherine Lalumière proposed a two-pronged approach – legal (preparation, in the medium term, of a specific convention on protection of minorities or a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights) and political (adoption, in the short term, of a “code of good conduct” and the setting-up of a conciliation body).
René Felber ended by saying something that Catherine Lalumière had already said repeatedly since the fall of the Berlin Wall: “If there had not been a Council of Europe, it would have been necessary to create one”, adding, “Fortunately, it existed already!” Obviously, these words were calculated to encourage the Secretary General in her ambition to turn the Council into the “crucible” of that confederation which François Mitterrand was still advocating, regardless of the failure of the Prague meeting six months earlier – a failure probably due to his own desire to conjure a new and ill-defined organisation out of nothing, instead of exploiting the tools already to hand, especially the Council of Europe.
Taking advantage of the lull in what was now the former Yugoslaviassss, the international community made a desperate attempt, in those first few weeks of 1992, to come up with a policy to match the latest developments - dogged always by the fear that the pattern of the last 2½ years would be repeated, and further surprises scotch its best-laid schemes.
In the meantime, the “European river”, having broken all its banks, showed first signs of returning slowly to its bed. The new states which had emerged from the USSR – apart from the Baltic states, recognised as independent in late August 1991 – made their first official appearance on the international scene in January 1992: Russia became the USSR's “continuator state”, occupying (from 31 January) one of the five permanent seats on the UN Security Council, and its ten CIS partners were admitted to the CSCE at the ministerial meeting in Prague (30-31 January). As for the states which had emerged from the “Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia” – dissolved following the European Community's recognition of Slovenia's and Croatia's independence on 15 January – they joined the international community only in stages and one at a time:
- Slovenia led the way by applying on 29 January (through its Foreign Minister, Dimitrij Rupel) to join the Council of Europe, where its parliament was granted special guest status on 3 February. It was subsequently admitted to the CSCE (24 March) and the United Nations (22 May);
- Croatia joined the CSCE on 24 March, at the same time as Slovenia and the last former Soviet republic, Georgia. It joined the United Nations on 22 May and applied (through its Foreign Minister, Zdenko Skrabalo) to join the Council of Europe on 11 September;
- Bosnia-Herzegovina, having voted for independence in a referendum held on 29 February-1 March, joined the CSCE on 30 April, and the United Nations on 22 May, at the same time as Croatia and Slovenia;
- the Republic of Macedonia, having proclaimed itself independent on 15 September 1991 (following the referendum held on the 8th of that month), found itself facing stubborn Greek objections to its use of the name “Macedonia”, and was not admitted to the United Nations until April 1993, under the provisional name, “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”;
- Serbia and Montenegro, having failed to persuade Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia to join them in a new Yugoslavia, decided, on 27 April 1992, to join forces in setting up the “Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” (FRY), for which they sought – unsuccessfully – the status of “continuator state” to the former Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia's succession war
The claim by the "new" Yugoslav state to be recognised as the "continuator" of the former Yugoslavia was maintained for a considerable time, regardless of the very clear position adopted by the international community, on the basis of the opinion given on 4 July 1992 by the Arbitration Commission, chaired by Robert Badinter. After the United Nations and the CSCE, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers accepted the Committee's conclusion when it decided, on 21 September 1992, that “for the purpose of the Council of Europe conventions and agreements to which it was party, the Federative Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia has ceased to exist”. Unlike the Soviet Union, of which Russia was the direct heir, Yugoslavia had thus disappeared without leaving a privileged successor: the five former Yugoslav states (Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) were its equal heirs and “successors”, none being recognised as its “continuator”.
In deciding what policy line to pursue, the West's political leaders chose, once again, to play safe. It is true that their sense of the vital need to control the potentially disastrous consequences of the USSR's implosion (and particularly the dangers of nuclear proliferation) made them give Boris Yeltsin's Russia that access to their technical know-how and capital which they had always withheld from
Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Uniontttt. However, the new situation created by the Berlin Wall's disappearance was reflected only marginally in the fundamental changes which the two main “European” organisations underwent in the winter of 1991-92uuuu. NATO (by setting up the “North Atlantic Co-operation Council”, or NACC, as a political platform for co-operation with the former Warsaw Pact countries) and the European Community (by signing the first “European agreements” with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia) may well have established special co-operation structures for the countries of central and eastern Europe, but the prospect of their actually joining receded in the face of the Maastricht Treaty's insistence on economic and monetary union, and the emphasis on a “European pillar” within NATO, pointing the way to a “European defence identity”. Even more than the decision to anchor European defence – barely touched on in the Maastricht Treaty – in the Atlantic Alliance, it was prioritisation of the single currencyvvvv, at the expense of a real common policy on foreign affairs and security (desperately needed, as Europe's total inability to respond to the Yugoslav crisis showed all too clearly), which came under fire from the critics. The sharpest of them all was the British weekly, The Economist, which reported on the Maastricht Agreements under the heading “yesterday's future”: it claimed that the blueprint for the Community's future approved by Europe's leaders on 9-10 December 1991 ignored the fact that the Berlin Wall had fallen two years before!
The disappointment which the new central and east European leaders felt at seeing these policy options postpone their countries' chances of playing a full and active part in the European process (the Council of Europe being the one notable exception) was bluntly voiced by Lech Walesa when he spoke in the Assembly on 4 February 1992. At the helm in Poland for the past fourteen monthswwww, the former Solidarnosc leader said little of his pleasure at Poland's acceding to full Council membership a few weeks earlier - but a great deal about Europe, which he accused of creating economic divisions to replace the political ones which had barely healed: “Europe is leaving the door half-open for us. But the threshold is still very high. The bar was raised still higher at Maastricht”. Contrasting with the optimism of Leszek Balcerowicz a year earlier, Lech Walesa's comments reflected Poland's problems in making the painful transition to a market economy: “We, citizens of the poorer part of Europe, are getting the impression that the richer and more prosperous part of Europe is closing itself shut against us, that it is becoming a posh club for those who are better off and live in stable conditions. Poland, finding itself in the middle between the west, looking intently into and after itself, and the changing Soviet state, is now bound to look forward to a time with no friends. But that does not apply only to Poland. It applies equally to our neighbours, those from the south and those from the east.”
After stressing Poland's progress in establishing democracy and securing friendly relations with its neighboursxxxx, he returned to his leitmotif: “Prosperity is the foundation of peace and happiness. This truth is older than our old continent. Development has to follow the achievement of democracy. Economic success has to follow it. Only a well-fed and healthy man can feel safe and secure.” Complaining that western countries were exploiting Poland's economic openness without offering anything in return, he called for a real partnership (“business for you, growth and development for us”), which was in the true interests of both halves of Europe: “I think that western Europe should support the countries of our region, also in its own interest. You have to realise that your opening to eastern Europe will help this continent's economic potential to grow. […] We share common interests. Therefore, let us co-operate. Our own prosperity will support your feeling of the certainty of tomorrow. Our difficulties may turn out to be a disaster for the whole of Europe.”.
Awarded the Council of Europe's Human Rights Prize three years earlier by the very Assembly he was now addressing, Lech Walesa was not afraid to put things dramaticallyyyyy or to throw his prestige as a “freedom fighter” on the scaleszzzz. He ended with a ringing “appeal to Europe”: “The Council of Europe is a great achievement of our peoples. We regard it as the guardian of democracy, freedom and human rights. Its role is one of being the conscience of the continent. It has always given proof that there is only one truth – one and the same for east and west. So, let us overcome those limitations that continue to keep us apart. Europe, I am making an appeal to you to use your imagination. Our success will be a guarantee of the certainty of your own tomorrow, of our common tomorrow, for the west and for the east, on behalf of which I am taking the liberty of addressing you here today. Our difficulties may be a threat to all of us. And this is something for which our sons and daughters will not pardon us.”
That same day, the Assembly turned again to the protection of minorities, a question which it had already discussed in October 1990 and which its rapporteur, Jean-Pierre Worms (France)57described as “doubtless the most crucial problem for the future of the development of democracy and peace in Europe”, adding that a solution here was “as urgent as a solution to the problems raised by the transition to a market economy, with all the economic and social difficulties that entails”. The war in Yugoslavia and increasingly frequent clashes in the Caucasus, threatening a general conflagration in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, sharpened that sense of urgency which had already marked the earlier debate. Although some parliamentarians still had reservations, rooted in the difficulty of defining “minority” (and the risk of confusing the rights of minorities with the rights of immigrant communitiesaaaaa), and in some states' traditionally cautious attitude to the whole
question of minority rightsbbbbb, the conviction that rapid action was needed finally led the Assembly to adopt, by 98 votes to 31, Recommendation 1177 on the rights of minorities, in which it:
- pointed out that history had transformed the continent of Europe into a “mosaic of peoples”, with different languages, cultures, customs, traditions and religious practices, who had mixed and overlapped to such an extent that neither the frontiers which had emerged from the two world wars nor any redrawn versions could fully and finally define their geographical boundaries;
- reaffirmed that citizenship was the same for everyone in democratic states, and that the “first and last guarantee of this equality of rights and duties lay in states' scrupulously respecting human rights and ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights”;
- added that, “within this common citizenship”, communities with special characteristics (cultural, linguistic, religious, etc.) might wish to be “granted and guaranteed the possibility of expressing them”, and stressed that international decisions and commitments which could be rapidly implemented in the regions concerned were urgently needed;
- accordingly insisted that the draft European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages, prepared by the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, and the proposal for a European convention for the protection of minorities, submitted to the Committee of Ministers by the “Venice Commission”, should be finalised, while indicating that it still considered a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which it had advocated in Recommendation 1134 of 1 October 1990, the best option;
- requested that these legal responses be backed by rapid adoption of a political declaration setting out “the basic principles relating to the rights of minorities”, on which international consensus (of the kind outlined in the extensive work done by the Council of Europe, the CSCE and the European Community) had already been secured, to serve as a “basic reference” in considering applications for Council membershipccccc;
- called for the setting-up, at the Council of Europe, of a mediation body, “associating the highest competent authorities at international and national level”, to do three things: to “observe and record” (permanently monitor the situation of minorities in the various countries of Europe), “advise and forestall” (intervene before actual conflicts developed), “discuss and mediate” (mediate between conflicting parties and help to find peaceful, lasting solutions to the problems which divided them)ddddd;
- reminded the Committee of Ministers that the proposed measures were extremely urgent, and called on it to implement them by 1 October 1992. In the event of its failing to meet this deadline, it instructed its own committees – the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Political Affairs Committee and the Committee on Culture and Education – to draft a protocol on minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights, and prepare a draft mediation instrument58
All of this shows that the Assembly was quick to sound the alarm in those early days of 1992, even casting its habitual discretion to the winds and putting actual pressure on the Committee of Ministers by setting it a deadline, after which it would simply act itself. Its debates that same day on “the situation in Yugoslavia” and “the crisis in Yugoslavia: displaced populations”59reflected its anxieties – and the events which started to unfold that spring, particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, showed that those anxieties were only too well-founded.
Initially, however, the news from the other “front line” in the former Soviet Union helped to soothe the international community's fears. With democratic legitimacy and western backing behind him, Boris Yeltsin succeeded in holding Russia together in the face of those same centrifugal forces which had ripped the Soviet Union apart: the Russian Federation Treaty was signed on 31 March 1992 by 18 republics, 6 territories, 49 regions, 2 cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) and 11 autonomous entities – i.e. all the pieces in the huge Russia jigsaw, with the
exception of Jokar Dudayev's Chechnya and Mintimir Chaimyev's Tatarstan. This triumph allowed Boris Yeltsin to relax the iron grip which he had so far exerted on the country under the special powers granted him by parliament, and separate the functions of President and Prime Minister, entrusting the latter to Yegor Gaidar. Gaidar's appointment as head of government, on 15 June 1992, was also a signal to the partisans of bold economic reform in Russia, which freed prices on 2 January and (with the other CIS states) joined the IMF on 1 June.
Even though the civil war in Georgiaeeeee and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh meant that the fuse was still smouldering in the Caucasus, the worst – a Yugoslav-style slide to catastrophe involving a nuclear super-power – had now been averted in the former USSR. The situation, alas, was very different in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where an overwhelming 99.43 % of Moslems and Croats (63 % of the former Yugoslav republic's population) had voted for independence in a referendum boycotted by Serbs – a result which triggered 3½ years of carnage and led to horrors of a kind which Europe had not seen since the second world war.
This was the background when François Mitterand addressed the Assembly on 4 May 1992. In a Europe “in search of a new equilibrium”, as the Assembly's new President, Miguel-Angel Martínez (Spain), put it, François Mitterand stood out as a “builder” – literally when he laid the foundation stone of the new Human Rights Building, and figuratively, as he told an enthusiastic Assembly how the Council might take on the role he had earlier intended for a “European Confederation” (a project as short-lived as the “common European home” which had inspired it).
Reminding the Assembly of his long-standing commitment – dating back to the start of his political career – to the building of a Europe based on human rightsfffff, he insisted that reform of the European Convention's monitoring system was urgently needed. The Convention's very success was now threatening to paralyse it, and the prospect of its soon applying to 30 or even 40 states made rapid action essential.
Various reforms had been proposed, but he expressed no preferences at this stageggggg. His main aim in coming to Strasbourg was in fact something different – to share with the Assembly his vision of Europe's future and the role which the various European organisations should play in it. The Assembly's own task, as he saw it, would be to ensure “the most harmonious transition possible from one European order to another, giving substance to the 'set' theory which I have called for”. He laid down three principles:
- the first principle was to develop to the full the “specific areas of competence” of every institution currently involved in building “Greater Europe”, entrusting the continent's security to the CSCE, and its prosperity to the EU (aided by the IMF and EBRD). He suggested that the Council of Europe's present widening was a prelude to its renewal – “I almost said its deepening”. He urged it to do more in such areas as the environment and to become active in all fields which were pan-European by definition (eg. transport and communications). He said that Europe today needed a forum where all its states could engage in “permanent, organised dialogue in conditions of equal dignity”, and added: “I have called this future structure, perhaps still too much of an ideal as yet, the Confederation”;
- the second principle, which would be harder to implement, was “to organise the sharing of work in a complementary way” between the major institutions responsible for transforming Europe and shaping it politically, economically, technically and culturally. There should be no “hierarchy” of organisations, and flexibility and adaptability must be the rule. Above all, he insisted on the primacy of the political sphere: “Regular sessions at the highest level, properly prepared and within the framework of a precise agenda would have great political and symbolic value and would constitute an exceptional practice. Why not, for example, have the heads of states and governments of the Council's member states meet every two years, alternating with the CSCE meetings?”;
- a third and vital principle was equal dignity of all the member states. The force with which he made this pointhhhhh showed that he was still smarting from criticism levelled at comments he had made shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At that time, he had predicted that the countries of central and eastern Europe would be unable to join the Community for many years to come – a view which made his proposed European Confederation seem less an instrument of European unity than a means of excluding the eastern half of Europe from the inner sanctum, the EC. Two years on, realising that his original scheme had failed, he was ready to try again, building this time on an existing instrument: “the Council of Europe could be one of the crucibles – and if it is ambitious and succeeds, the crucible - of this confederation which seems to me so necessary.”
Finally, citing a phrase Husserl had penned in 1936 (“The greatest danger threatening Europe is weariness”), he called on the Assembly to show courage, resolution and imagination: “I hope, and I am determined to believe, that here in this very place these are the qualities that will flourish so that, together, you will be capable of making that great hope a reality. I therefore urge you to do so. Incarnate a little more each day the great idea of a greater Europe.”
In fact, the Assembly needed no urging to do this. That very morning, it had welcomed a parliamentary delegation from Croatia, the second former Yugoslav republic (after Slovenia) to be granted special guest status. None the less, François Mitterand's words acted as a powerful stimulus on both the Assembly and the Council as a whole. Their effect was still evident the following morning (5 May 1992), when the Assembly discussed Bulgaria's application for membership on the basis of an opinion prepared (for the Political Affairs Committee) by Miguel-Angel Martínez, elected President just the day before. The rapporteur was loud in his praises, both of the work done by his co-rapporteurs, Dumeni Columberg (Switzerland) and Tim Rathbone (United Kingdom)60 and of Bulgaria's success in overcoming immense economic difficulties and making the transition to democracy. His conclusion (“Bulgaria is a beautiful country with brave, peaceful and intelligent people, and they will make a serious contribution to stability in the region and within the Council of Europe”) convinced the Assembly, which decided to give the
Committee of Ministers a unanimous and immediate “green light” – noting, however, that Sofia had promised to sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights, including Articles 25 (right of individual petition to the Commission) and 46 (compulsory jurisdiction of the Court) by the end of the year.iiiii 61
The following day (6 May 1992), the Assembly received a newcomer from that “Greater Europe”, representing (as he said) “one of Europe's oldest peoples” – but a people left in recent years with one foot in Europe, and one foot outside. Sali Berisha, carried to power as President of Albania by his Democratic Party's triumph in the elections of 22 March, had come to Strasbourg to support his country's application for Council membership, formally submitted the day before by Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi. As he described it, the situation in Albania was characterised by three things:
- a radical break with the past: Sali Berisha could find no words strong enough to denounce the damage done by forty-five years of communist rule and enforced isolation in his country: “I would point out at this juncture that Albania's self-isolation, as other countries called it, was actually enforced isolation because it went against the free will and aspirations of the Albanians. The system gravely impaired the country's culture and ruined its economy. Once a favoured land, Albania became the country of bunkers and starving children, untended sickness, mass expatriation and confusion, anarchy and organised crime. Communism was a merciless system.” According to its President, Albania had now reached a turning-point in its history, between the “destructive phase” of communism and the “constructive phase” of nascent democracy;
- the weight of the past: having described Albania's disastrous economic plightjjjjj, Sali Berisha insisted that “shock treatment”, administered in close co-operation with the IMF, was needed to repair the financial situation and bring in the market economy at once – although he realised that this would inevitably “make the people's very difficult living conditions even worse” to start with. Echoing Lech Walesa, he asked for western aid to alleviate the social cost of the transition: “As history has repeatedly proved, a democracy which does not succeed in securing prosperity for its citizens is doomed to failure.”;
- the power of national feeling: Sali Berisha was speaking in Strasbourg for all Albanians, both inside the country and outside (particularly in Kosovo and Macedonia). He made, however, a clear distinction between Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia. The Albanians in Kosovo formed with those in Albania a single nation, forcibly divided by the tyrant Slobodan Milosevickkkkk, and the only just solution was to recognise their right to self-determination. The problem of the Albanians in Macedonialllll could be solved, on the other hand, by dividing Macedonia into self-governing districtsmmmmm and providing for dual nationality, which he himself was prepared to grant “not just to Albanians, but to all the citizens of Europe and the world.”
This “profession of faith” in democracy by the national leader most directly affected by the Yugoslav conflict had a reassuring effect on the Assembly, as it moved on to two debates which almost seemed like “exercises” in implementation of François Mitterand's principles:
- the debate of 6 May 1992 on “the work of the OSCE on the eve of its third Summit (Helsinki, 9-11 July 1992)” illustrated the Assembly's wish to establish what Ollé Rehn (Finland) called “a European confederation of interlocking institutions”, neither overlapping nor duplicating one another's work. Many speakers were clearly irritated by the way in which the CSCE seemed increasingly to be duplicating the Council's work: it already had an Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (in Warsaw) and a Parliamentary Assembly (due to meet for the first time in Budapest in July 1992), and preparatory work for the Helsinki Summit suggested that it would soon be appointing a High Commissioner on National Minorities and setting up a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. It was true, of course, that immediate
involvement of the former Soviet and Yugoslav statesnnnnn, and also US participation, gave the Helsinki process an all-embracing character which the Council lackedooooo. Noting this, the Assembly asked the Committee of Ministers and the member states to ensure that the CSCE made “full use of existing structures”, and called for a Council/CSCE charter, spelling out principles and practicalities of co-operation between them, which was “indispensable”62
- in the debate of 7 May on “environment policy in Europe”, the Assembly could afford to be less defensive. Bearing François Mitterand's encouragement in mind, it took up the concept of a “common European garden”, partly borrowed from Mikhail Gorbachev by its rapporteur63 Ilona Graenitz (Austria), and suggested that the Council should become a great deal more active in the environment field. Referring to the organisation's work on nature conservation, it called for a “European Charter and Convention on environmental protection and sustainable development”, covering “the right of individuals to a healthy environment” (with machinery modelled on the European Commission of Human Rights to protect it). It also insisted that the co-operation and assistance programmes should include emergency measures to avert the environmental catastrophe which threatened central and eastern Europe, and suggested that the Council's role as a regional environmental organisation should be affirmed in the run-up to the “Earth Summit”, to be held in Rio from 3 to 14 June64
The Council of Europe and environment
As long ago as 1967, the Council set up an important nature conservation information centre (the “Naturopa” Centre). It also runs regular public campaigns (eg. its two “European Nature Years” in 1970 and 1995) and awards “European Diplomas” to parks and sites which make conservation their priority. Finally, its Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) provides a basic legal instrument (open to states outside Europe) for the protection of endangered flora and fauna and their habitats. The Bern Convention covers so far 40 States (among which four non member States of the Council of Europe), plus the European Community, which is as such party to the Convention.
That same day, the Committee of Ministers met for its 90th sessionppppp, which was marked by new and encouraging moves towards integration of the central and eastern European countries. The highlight, of course, was Bulgaria's joining as twenty-seventh member. Politically, however, the session's main feature was the Committee's exchange of views with Russia's Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev. Recalling that Russia had for centuries been “an indivisible part of Europe”, and confirming that its commitment to the Council's values was irreversible, he submitted its formal application for membership, backing it with specific undertakings: “The perfection of our legal practice also entails acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights. We are prepared to recognise the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court and the right of individual petition, and to follow the provisions of the European Social Charter.” Speaking for the Committee, the Chairman hailed this decision as marking “an important day in the history of our continent, of the Council of Europe and of Russia” – although everyone realised that this was the start of a long processqqqqq. In the meantime, having welcomed the accession of the three Baltic states to the European Cultural Convention that very morning (Russia was already a party as the USSR's continuator state), the Ministers invited Albania, too, to take this first step towards joining the Council65
The significance of these further moves in the enlargement process was underlined by Turkey's taking over from Switzerland in chairing the Committee of Ministers. Because of its geographical position on the frontier between Europe and Asia, and its historical links with the Balkans, Turkey spared no effort, while occupying the chair, to forge contacts between the Council and the remotest of the former Soviet republics, and also to involve the Council in trying – vainly, alas – to resolve the Bosnian crisis. At the same time, its own human rights record, particularly in south-east Turkey, which has a large Kurdish community, attracted Assembly criticism66
All this time, there had been a steady worsening of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose three communitiesrrrrr had co-existed harmoniously for years, but were now becoming trapped in a fatal spiral of hatred and bloodshed. Action by the international communitysssss, which chiefly blamed Serbia for the carnage, merely strengthened the Serbian people's paranoid attachment to criminal leaders like Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, who were dragging them into their insane dream of an “ethnically pure Greater Serbia”. Wisely avoiding this most lethal of all traps, the two halves of Czechoslovakia opted for an amicable parting of the ways, when the twin electoral victories of Vladimir Meciar in Slovakia and Vaclav Klaus in Bohemia, on 5-6 June 1992, sounded the death knell of the Federal Czech and Slovak Republic. In spite of the efforts of Vaclav Havel, who called in vain for a referendum before resigning as federal President on 17 July, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on 31 December 1992.
Europe's problems in that summer of 1992 were no longer limited, however, to the east. Just as the regional integration process launched in the east late in 1989 seemed to be settling downttttt, that same process suddenly hit trouble in the west – where it had gone furthest. When 50.7 % of the Danish electorate rejected the Maastricht Treaty on 2 June, their “no” set the boat rocking with a vengeance, and not even Ireland's massive 69 % “yes” two weeks later could really steady it. In spite of successive parliamentary ratifications by Belgium, Spain and Greece, fears grew in France, as the summer months passed and the poll gaps narrowed, that the referendum promoted by François Mitterand might result in the Treaty's being voted down. The worst was finally avoided by a hairbreadth, when 51.04 % of French voters approved the Treaty on 20 September, thus saving the European process – at a time when the continent was traversing one of the most uncertain periods in its history – from a setback potentially as serious as the one it received when the French National Assembly shot down the European Defence Community in August 1954.
While western Europe was risking the future of the integration process which had brought it four decades of peace and prosperity, the Council was trying to decide how large Europe could become. The question first came up at the Assembly's summer session in Budapest (30 June 1992), when prospects for the organisation's enlargement were discussed in the presence of Joszef Antall, the Hungarian Prime Minister. In deciding to give this issue an airing in the eastern country which had become the first of its “new member states” less than two years before, the Council – through the Assembly – was saying something about its own new identity. While affirming that its fundamental values were as vital and valid as ever, and a suitable basis for uniting the whole continent, it was also saying that enlargement was a process in which West and East had (as Daniel Tarschys put it) “a lot to learn from each other” – and that this would make the larger organisation, now in the making, even better. In the meantime, the Assembly agreed to follow De Gaulle and accept the Atlantic and the Urals as Europe's twin extremities. It noted that Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were clearly part of Europe and so eligible for membershipuuuuu, but that the five former Soviet republics in central Asia could not expect to join. Opinions were still divided, however, on the three Caucasian republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Soon afterwards, from 14 to 19 July, Hikmet Çetin (Turkish Foreign Minister) and Catherine Lalumière undertook a tour of eastern capitals, at Turkey's suggestion. Starting in Ankara, they visited Kievvvvvv, Tbilissi (Georgia), Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan), Bishkek (Kirgizstan) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Hikmet Çetin argued that Turkey could act as a bridge or even “model” for these countries, with which it shared a history, language and religion – in short, distinctive cultural characteristics67 Insisting that Europe's frontiers must be flexibly definedwwwww, he convened a special meeting in Istanbul on 10-11 September to give ministers from Council member states a chance to discuss this question with colleagues from the countries directly concerned by it.
The Istanbul meeting offered an arresting image of the ways in which Europe had changed since the Lisbon meeting, just two years before: ministers from the 27 Council states were talking to colleagues from no fewer than 11 non-member countries, some of them already acknowledged as forming part of Europe (Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine), some on the borderline (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and some excluded from the outset (Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistanxxxxx). Whether or not they expected to join it, all of them were anxious to build their futures on the Council's values and develop co-operation with it. The Council's response was encouraging, and three types of action were projected:
- forging closer ties with the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which had already applied to join, and also with Belarus and Moldova, which could be expected to follow suit;
- encouraging the desire of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia for closer relations with the Council, on the understanding that they would be expected to carry out “substantial democratic reforms”, and commit themselves to resolving conflicts peacefully”;
- establishing and developing flexible, practical contacts with the four central Asian republics, for the purpose of helping them with their democratic reforms.68
At the end of the meeting, the Ministers referred to the proposals made by François Mitterand on 4 May (particularly his suggestion that meetings of the Council's Heads of State and Government should alternate with CSCE Summits) and gratefully accepted the Austrian Government's offer to host a summit meeting in Vienna in October 1993, at which the Council's pan-European role and its implications could be discussed. Jointly issued by Thomas Klestil (who had just succeeded Kurt Waldheim as President) and Chancellor Vranitzky, this invitation was confirmed at the Committee of Ministers' 91st session on 5 November. In the months which followed, the prospect of the Council's first Summit gave the organisation a formidable impetus towards defining its enlargement strategy and stepping up its efforts to find answers to the main political problems confronting the whole continent…
OUT OF SHELTERED WATERS
Present on all sides in 1992, the dangers generated by the upheavals which had rocked Europe and the world since 1989 gave way, in 1993, to a new sense of uncertainty. The “new world order” proclaimed by George Bush after the international coalition's lightning victory in Kuwait showed no sign of becoming a reality – or at least, if discernible in outline, still fell a long way short of the ideal picture painted in 1991. The vision then had been of a new era, in which democracy and law would triumph over violence, co-operation would replace confrontation, and the UN – with American military muscle to back it – would curb the ambitions of those who persistently followed the law of the jungle, and not the rule of law. Observers two years on could only conclude that the world no longer knew where it was going. The pessimists (by far the larger group) were quick to compare the 1990s to the 1930s69 and wondered what kind of catastrophe was coming. The optimists pointed out that extraordinary political and social progress had been made, not just in Europe but in Africa too, and looked to Asia's economic boom to benefit the world at large, and not simply the countries directly concerned.
In fact, both sides could find confirmation of their views in the events of winter 92-93:
- the defeat of George Bush in the US presidential elections on 3 November was a sign that the home economy now counted for more with America's electors than foreign policy. The conqueror of Saddam Hussein, architect of the “new world order” and promoter of a new strategic balance, in which partnership between the United States, Europe and Russia would replace American-Soviet confrontation, went down in an unprecedented three-cornered contest, in which Democrat Bill Clinton defeated both him and the independent candidate, Ross Perot;
- the crisis of confidence which had hit the European process in the West took a fresh turn on 6 December 1992, when 50.3 % of Swiss voters rejected the European Economic Area. Meeting in Edinburgh on 11-12 December, the European Council patched up a compromise on conditions for Danish membership of the EU, but the Maastricht Treaty was threatened on a fundamental level – even before it took effect – by the permanent tensions which the European Monetary System faced after “black September”, when sterling and lire both pulled out, and which culminated in the European monetary crisis of summer 1993. In these circumstances, the magic date of 31 December 1992 slipped by almost unnoticed;
- growing “Europessimism” was accompanied by tremors of varying strength in the four leading West European countries. In Italy, operation “Manu pulite” ended by blowing up the political system inherited from the post-war era, bringing a new generation of leaders (headed by Giuliano Amato and Carlo Ciampi) to power, while the successes of the Lombard League posed a serious threat to the country's unityyyyyy. In France, François Mitterrand's Socialist Party, showing signs of wear after an extended period in power and torn by internal dissensions, suffered a historic defeat in the March 1993 elections, followed by the tragic suicide of Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy on 1 May. In Germany, Chancellor Kohl was also losing public favour, having sacrificed the Deutschmark on the altar of European unity and seriously underestimated the enormous cost of German reunification – at a time when the country was also bearing the external brunt of the Yugoslav tragedy's consequenceszzzzz. In the United Kingdom, John Major's firmness in the Maastricht negotiations had certainly strengthened his position as leader of the Conservative Party and the Government, but he was no more successful than Margaret Thatcher in finding a political solution to the covert civil war in Northern Ireland – actually marked by a fresh upsurge of violence when the IRA struck again in the very heart of London;
- in the East, the social cost of the shift to a market economy seemed at first to be fulfilling Lech Walesa's prophecies, and the Democratic Labour Party's victory in the Lithuanian elections held on 25 October and 15 November 1992 was the first symptom of a generalised movement which carried “neo-communist” leaders to power in nearly all the countries of central and eastern Europe. The Polish President (himself a victim of the same trend three years later) was wrong on one score, however. The democratic gains were nowhere endangered – but were actually strengthened, as these countries experienced their first democratic change of government;
- in Russia, similar causes – the cost of the economic transition and the explosive growth of inequalities – obliged Boris Yeltsin, under pressure from parliament, to dismiss Yegor Gaidar and appoint Viktor Chernomyrdin Prime Minister on 14 December. This episode was indicative of the growing conflict between the President and a Congress of People's Deputies inherited from the Soviet era – a conflict which intensified as 1993 progressed;
- finally, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the carnage continued, regardless of successive UN Security Council resolutions. With a mandate restricted to supporting humanitarian operations, the “blue helmets” could only watch helplessly as the horrors mountedaaaaaa. The new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia soon showed its true face behind the mask of respectability it had donned to ease its passage into statehood, and ostracism by the international community ensued: after the parliamentary and presidential elections held in Serbia and Montenegro on 18-20 December, which boosted the fortunes of the far right and triumphantly returned Slobodan Milosevic as President for a further five years, the few surviving “progressives” (or, quite simply, the people who were trying to save their country from the collective suicide toward which runaway nationalism was pushing it) were hounded out of politics, if not actually jailedbbbbbb. This new political conjunction in the FRY, coupled with the rapprochement between Serbs and Croats in Bosnia, augured ill for success of the peace plan put forward on 2 January in Geneva by the joint Chairmen of the peace conference on the former Yugoslavia, Britain's David Owen and America's Cyrus Vance.
The "Vance-Owen" peace plan (2 January 1993)
This plan comprised three elements, covering details of a cease-fire, “constitutional principles” for the future Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was to be divided into ten districts with extensive decentralised powers, and division of territory between the three national communities. This division was favourable to the Serbs who, accounting for 31 % of the population, got 40 % of the territory, while the Muslims (44% of the population) and the Croats (17 %) each got 25 % of the territory, Sarajevo, the capital being declared an “open city”. Criticised in the West for “rewarding” the chief authors of the war, the Vance-Owen plan none the less required the Serbs to hand over nearly half the territory they had conquered: this proved an insurmountable hurdle, which neither Muslim and Croat acceptance of the plan nor international pressure on the Serbs could overcome.
The Council of Europe celebrated the new year by taking one step back and two forward, as the loss of one member state (the now defunct Czechoslovakia) on 31 December was followed by the promise of two new ones, when the new-born Czech and Slovak Republics applied formally to join on 1 Januarycccccc. On a more basic level, 1993 would see the Council forced to make a difficult choice between strict (if not over-strict) adherence to its principles and affirmation of its pan-European vocation, between staying at home to guard the temple and going out to meet the challenge from the East, while endeavouring to hold a steady course. And indeed the storm raging in Bosnia-Herzegovina was calculated to shake the very foundations of an organisation whose whole raison d'être was grounded in the vow of “never again!” fervently uttered, in the immediate aftermath of the second world war, by political leaders and a public traumatised by atrocities which they believed they could now eradicate, if not throughout the world, at least in Europe.
Small wonder then that, alongside preparations for the Vienna Summit, the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was chief among the Council's political concerns in those winter months, when cold and famine made the plight of the suffering civilian
population even more desperate. Urged on by its new Chairman, Douglas Hurddddddd, the Committee of Ministers did its utmost to implement the principles laid down in the two declarations it had adopted on this question in autumn 199270 Specifically, it:
- ruled out all co-operation between the new “Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” and the Council of Europe, thus pinning the main blame for the Yugoslav tragedy on Serbia and Montenegro;
- fully supported the efforts of the international peace conference, and particularly the principles on which Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance intended to build the future of Bosnia-Herzegovinaeeeeee;
- supported the Assembly's call, on 30 June 199271 for an international criminal court with general jurisdiction, a kind of permanent Nuremberg Tribunal, to
judge war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhereffffff;
- looked firmly to the future by indicating its determination to make the Council of Europe's expertise available when the institutions of a future, pacified Bosnia-Herzegovina were being set up – including ad hoc human rights monitoring machinery, open to states outside the Council.
This was all the Council could do, or hope to do, in the face of an unfolding tragedy which the whole international community was powerless to halt – but it was obviously totally inadequate as a response to the murderous forces unleashed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The statements made in the Assembly, when Lord Owen addressed it on 3 October 1992, and later, when it discussed the “massive and flagrant” human rights violations and the “situation of refugees and displaced persons” in the former Yugoslavia (3 February 1993) faithfully reflect the uncertainties, doubts and disagreements then current concerning the proper course of action. Having heard Lord Owen's unflinching comments and the increasingly detailed and searing accounts of its own rapporteurs, Gerhard Reddemann (Germany), Gret Haller (Switzerland) and Michel Fluckiger (Switzerland)72 the Assembly could find no words strong enough for its indignation – but, like the member states, was unable to agree who should be blamed for what, and, above all, what should be done
to stop the killinggggggg. In the various texts it adopted73 it none the less advocated a whole range of measures, such as transitional human rights machinery for non-member states, “safe havens” under military protection, particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, aid from the Social Development Fund for refugees, and a firm line (extending to exclusion from the Council) with countries which broke the United Nations embargo on Serbia and Montenegro.
However, its most important and practical contribution concerned the protection of minorities, an issue on which it had taken a particularly clear and resolute stand a year earlier. Although the Committee of Ministers had finally adopted the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages on 22 June 1992, the Assembly did not consider this an adequate response to its urgent plea a year before for action before 1 October 1992.
The European Charter on regional and minority languages
Opened for signing on 5 November 1992, this instrument was not specifically concerned with protecting minorities as such, but none the less marked a first breakthrough in this very sensitive area. It proposes to member States a range of 85 commitments (of which a minimum of 35 have to be accepted) aiming at the protection and promotion of the European regional and minority languages, as a part of our continent's historical and cultural heritage. More than five years were needed for it to come into force, which it did on 1 March 1998: so far, it has been signed by 20 Council states, among which 8 have ratified it.
At the urging of its rapporteur, Jean-Pierre Worms, it adopted, on 1 February 1993, its Recommendation 1201 on a protocol dealing with the rights of national minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights, which contained a detailed proposal on the text of such a protocol. This text defined the term “national minority”, laid down general principles for assigning individuals to specific minorities and listed the rights of “persons belonging to national minorities”. Intended as an Assembly contribution to the forthcoming Summit, it obviously needed to be approved by the Committee of Ministers and the Summit itself before it could produce its full effect. None the less, its political impact was immediate, since the Assembly itself at once began to use it as a yardstick in negotiating the accession of applicant states.
In the meantime, the statements successively made in the Assembly by Helmut Kohl (2 February), Franz Vranitzky (3 February) and Gro Harlem Brundtland (4 February) gave a clearer picture of governments' ambitions and intentions concerning the summit, of which so much was expected:
- The German and Austrian Chancellors themselves illustrated the gap between optimists and pessimistshhhhhh, but there was still a general determination to pursue and even accelerate the building of Europe at both Community and greater European leveliiiiii. The words of Helmut Kohl (“For Germany, the political unification of Europe is of vital importance, an existential issue pure and simple.”) and Franz Vranitzky (“The Europe experiment, which I prefer to call the Europe project, may have suffered some delay, but it has not failed. First, postponement does not mean cancellation and secondly, for the sake of our continent's future, the project simply must not fail!”) were echoed by Gro Harlem Brundtland: “I would like to stress as strongly as possible that the problems of today's and tomorrow's Europe can only be met through co-operative efforts. The only realistic path for a Europe heading towards the third millennium is strengthened European co-operation.”;
- The Vienna Summit, intended to reaffirm the Council's basic role, not just in unifying the continent, but in guaranteeing its security and stability, was itself a vital part of this European project. The three leaders made the point that extension of the Council's values was ultimately the surest guarantee that Europe as a whole would evolve peacefullyjjjjjj, and Franz Vranitzky seized on Catherine Lalumière's concept of “democratic security”kkkkkk;
- This meant that the Council would have to open itself resolutely to the new democracies in the East, but also remain true to its statutory values, which were now the foundation on which the whole continent could – and must – unitellllll.
Consolidating the European process through controlled enlargement of the Council was one major challenge which the Summit should take up, but the German, Austrian and Norwegian leaders also felt that it must try to find solutions to two outstanding problems facing Europe: the protection of minorities (particularly in central and eastern Europe) and the alarming growth of racism and xenophobia in most western countries, reflected in the electoral successes of the Liberal Party in Austria, the Front National in France and the Vlaamsblok in Belgium, and in the attacks made on immigrant communities in countries like Germany. Gro Harlem Brundtland gave the Assembly a detailed picture of a global action plan against racism, xenophobia and intolerance, which she wanted to see adopted and implemented at European levelmmmmmm. Like Helmut Kohl, she had faith in the younger generation's ability to build a peaceful and fraternal Europe, and so suggested that a European youth campaign should be the plan's central elementnnnnnn.
All this time, not many more than one thousand km from Strasbourg, but light years away from the Council's principles, the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was following its own brutal logic. “Ethnic cleansing” – not the consequence but, as UN special envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki pointed out, the prime objective of the conflict – reached a climax in spring 1993, when the Vance-Owen plan, signed on 25 March by Alija Izetbegovic, President of Bosnia, and Mate Boban, leader of the Croats in Herzegovina, was blocked by the Bosnian Serbs and their leader, Radovan Karadzic. Ignoring the United Nations' threat to turn the embargo on Serbia and Montenegro into a full-scale economic blockade (Resolution 820 of 17 April), the “Serbian Parliament of Bosnia” met in Pale on 26 April and rejected the peace plan – a rejection confirmed by a referendum of the Bosnian Serbs on 16 May.
An economic blockade was duly imposed, and a joint action programme, providing for the creation of “security zones”, was adopted in Washington on 23 May by the United States, Russia and the main countries of the European Community. Convinced of the international community's impotence, Presidents Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman proposed, on 16 June, that Bosnia-Herzegovina be given a confederal structure and divided into three entities: President Izetbegovic initially rejected this plan, but – following its acceptance by Radovan Karadzic and Mate Boban on 24 June – finally agreed to it “provisionally” on 30 July. The way to peace seemed open, particularly since NATO's 9 August threat that air strikes would follow, if the Serbs failed to lift the siege of Sarajevo, seemed to work: on 18 August, an agreement on demilitarisation of the city placed it under UN control for two years. Unfortunately, the new peace plan unveiled in Geneva on 21 August by Lord Owen and Thorvard Stoltenbergoooooo proved hardly more successful than the Vance-Owen plan of a few months before.
The "Owen-Stoltenberg" peace plan (21 August 1993)
The Owen-Stoltenberg plan provided for division of the future “Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina” into three largely autonomous republics, 52 % of the territory going to the Serbian republic, 31 % to the Muslim republic, and 17 % to the Croatian republic. It was opposed by the Bosnian Serbs, who refused to surrender their territorial gains, and by the Muslims, who objected to the acceptance of faits accomplis implicit in the changes made between the Vance-Owen plan of January and the Vance-Stoltenberg plan of August. The plan's failure finally disabused all those who still clung to the hope of a diplomatic solution: with even Slobodan Milosevic unable to call the Bosnian Serbs to heel, it was clear that the conflict was out of control, and that only the use of force by the international community or the total defeat of one or more of the warring parties could halt it.
At a safe distance from the slaughter in Bosnia, the Council was heading for a historic spring – one that would see its membership rise, in the space of a few weeks, from 26 to 31. The Assembly set the ball rolling by successively adopting, on 11, 12 and 13 May, favourable opinions on the accession of Lithuania, Slovenia and Estonia74 The Committee of Ministers at once confirmed this positive signal, and the three countries were solemnly admitted at the Ministers' 92nd session on 14 May. Six weeks later, it was the turn of the Czech Republic and Slovakia to get the Assembly's green light75 again confirmed at once (on 30 June) by the Committee of Ministers. Spectacular this second wave of new accessions might be, but others were sure to follow shortly, as no fewer than nine further countries were officially waiting to joinpppppp.
With these dizzying prospects before it, the Assembly decided that the “Council of Greater Europe”, now in the making, should be based on two things:
- sweeping reform of the organisation's aims, structures and resources: in Recommendation 1212 on the adoption of a revised Council of Europe Statute, which it voted on 11 May, the Assembly set out, firstly, to bring the 1949 text into line with the changes – some of them substantial – which had taken place in the meantimeqqqqqq and, secondly, to anchor the Council of Europe's pan-European role and confederal vocation in a formal legal text. Lord Finsberg's explanatory memorandum in his report to the Assembly76put it like this: “The ad hoc committee wished to ensure that the amendments would have the practical effect of approximating the Organisation to a confederation, but avoided using the actual term "confederation"”.
- monitoring of member states' compliance with the conditions of membership: convinced of the need to open the Council broadly to the new democracies, but aware (Helmut Kohl's point) that this open-door policy would work only if the Council stayed true to its values and kept its credibility, the Assembly adopted, at the urging of Tarja Halonen (Finland), Order No. 488 of 29 June 1993 on the honouring of commitments entered into by new member states. Its three paragraphs read as follows:
“1. Recent Assembly opinions on applications for membership of the Council of Europe refer to specific commitments entered into by the authorities of the candidate states on issues related to the basic principles of the Organisation.
2. The Assembly considers that the honouring of these commitments is a condition for full participation of parliamentary delegations of new member states in its work.
3. The Assembly therefore instructs its Political Affairs Committee and Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to monitor closely the honouring of commitments entered into by the authorities of new member states and to report to the Bureau at regular six-monthly intervals until all undertakings have been honoured.”
Note The commitments accepted by Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
Note vis-à-vis the Parliamentary Assembly
Note For the five new member states, these commitments involved signing and ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights (including Articles 25 and 46, covering the right of individual application to the Commission and compulsory jurisdiction of the Court). But the Assembly had no hesitation in going beyond this minimum requirement which it had already applied – explicitly or implicitly – to earlier accessions:
Note - in Lithuania's case, it referred to “the Council of Europe's attachment to the principles enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government, an essential pre-condition for pluralist democracy everywhere” and hoped that this text would be accepted soon by the Lithuanian authorities;
Note - in Estonia's case, it expected that the Estonian authorities would “base their policy regarding the protection of minorities on the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201 (1993) on an additional protocol on the rights of minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights”;
- in the case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it asked their authorities to base themselves, in their action for the protection of minorities, on the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201, and coupled this request with a number of more specific demands, reminding Prague that membership carried certain political obligations (particularly that of solving problems by dialogue and negotiation) and listing for Bratislava a whole series of measures which had been, or should be, taken to protect and recognise the rights of minorities living on Slovak territory.
These two fundamental texts (and particularly the “Halonen Order”) were not just the “backbone” on which the Assembly went on to build the Council's enlargement, but a vital guarantee that enlargement would not in fact end by destroying the Council – an outcome which would ultimately harm its weakest members first. In calling for revision of the 1949 Statute, the Assembly was returning to the essentially political ambitions which had fired the “founding fathers” and suggesting that the Council be made the crucible of European unity, on the basis of values – pluralist democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law – now acknowledged by all the countries of Europe; in setting up a procedure for permanent monitoring of compliance with commitments, it was also underlining its determination that taking up this formidable challenge would in no sense undermine the Council's past achievements or damage its credibility.
Thus, on the eve of its first Summit, the Council was not simply growing faster than ever before, but was also getting ready – while insisting more than ever on the statutory values which gave it its identity – to change character: from being an exclusive “club” for accredited democracies, it would gradually become a “campus” for “students” of democracy, both advanced and beginners. This campus, however, would have no teachers and pupils, no masters and apprentices: all would be equal in law and in dignity, all would be equally engaged in pursuing a democratic ideal which could be sought, but never completely realised, and all would have something to learn from the others.
Obviously, this imminent transformation of the Council was bound to affect the European process as a whole. There was disagreement, however, as to what its longer-term effects would be, and the differences were reflected in the statements made in the Assembly by its two main guests that spring, Hanna Suchocka, Prime Minister of Polandrrrrrr, and Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark.
- Addressing the Assembly on 13 May 1993, Hanna Suchocka paraphrased John Kennedy's famous words: “Do not ask what Europe can do for you, ask what you can do for Europe!” While stressing that the challenges facing Europe must be met collectivelyssssss, she insisted on the close correlation between national problems and the way in which European policy was planned and implemented. In this connection, she urged the European Community to show more generosity and openness (“If it turns its back on its neighbours, that attitude must eventually backfire and affect unfavourably the Community itself”) and called for the building of “an all-European community”, the only objective compatible with the long-term interest of all the countries of Europetttttt.
- Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President in office of the European Community, responded on 29 June, insisting on the importance of ever-closer co-operation between the Council of Europe, which had blazed a trail by first bringing the countries of central and eastern Europe into the European process, and the European Community, the fullest expression of that processuuuuuu. With his country's 56.8 % “yes” to the revised Maastricht Treaty (put to referendum on 18 May) behind him, the Danish Prime Minister insisted that all the Council's states had a duty to uphold – and even strengthen – the democratic standards on which their membership was basedvvvvvv. This was the first condition that Europe must fulfil to take, as François Mitterrand once put it, a step forward into the 21st century, and not a step backward into the 19th!
Everyone was aware, as these words were being uttered, that events in Russia, where the contest between Boris Yeltsin and parliamentary President Ruslan Khasbulatov was continuing, would play a large part in determining whether Europe advanced or retreated. Strengthened by the referendum held on 25 April 1993, in which 58.7 % of the electors had backed him, and 67.2 % had favoured early electionswwwwww, Boris Yeltsin had his draft constitution – establishing a powerfully presidential system – approved during the summer by a constitutional conference which comprised the various “subjects of the federation” (republics, regions and territories), the executive and legislative powers, political parties and social organisations. Consistent obstructed by the Congress of People's Deputies prompted him to dissolve it on 2 September and call elections for 12 December. Ruslan Khasbulatov at once responded by declaring Yeltsin dismissed and promoting the Vice-President, General Alexander Rutskoy, to succeed him as President of the Russian Federation. This trial of strength ended in bloodshed on 4 October, when the Russian army stormed the “White House”, where the Deputies had entrenched themselves, and Rutskoy and Khasbulatov were arrested.
This was the background when the Assembly set out, a few days before the Vienna Summit, to consider the most delicate of the “second wave” applications for membership – that of Romania. Here, for the first time, the approach outlined that spring was fully deployed: on the one hand, the Assembly accepted the arguments of its rapporteurs, Friedrich König (Austria), Gunnar Jannson (Finland) and Theodoros Pangalos (Greece)77 and decided to take the risk of trusting both the Council and Romania itself; on the other, relying on its Order concerning compliance with commitments, it had no hesitation in substantially increasing the number of elements on which it intended to be vigilant. Thus, although the draft Opinion presented by the Political Affairs Committee referred only to Romania's promise to sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights (including Articles 25 and 46) and the written declaration in which it undertook to base its policy for protection of minorities on the principles laid down in Recommendation 1201, the final text – amended during the debate in plenary session – also78
- referred explicitly to monitoring of the commitments given concerning protection of minorities, in accordance with the procedure detailed in the “Halonen Order”;
- insisted on the need for a separation of powers, guaranteeing genuine independence of the media and establishing the conditions required for the free functioning of local government, and called on Romania to sign the European Charter of Local Self-Government as soon as possible;
- detailed changes which needed to be made in Section 19 of the Act on organisation of the judiciary (to ensure that ministers could not in future give instructions to judges) and Article 200 of the Criminal Code (to decriminalise homosexual relations between consenting adults);
- called on the Romanian Government to return property to churches and permit the establishment and operation of church schools, with a particular view to teaching children of minority groups their mother tongue;
- called urgently on the Romanian authorities to improve conditions in prisons and “reconsider in a positive manner” the release of “persons imprisoned on political or ethnic grounds”;
- “proposed” that the Romanian authorities and parliament adopt and implement “as soon as possible” legislation on national minorities and education, in accordance with Recommendation 1201, and “use all means available to a constitutional state” to combat, and prevent incitement to, racism, anti-semitism and all forms of nationalist and religious discrimination;
- recommended that the Committee of Ministers encourage the Romanian authorities to press ahead with their efforts to implement the principles of the rule of law, respect for minorities and independence of the judiciary, and to take the measures advocated by the Assembly in accordance with the Council's requirements.
On that same day, 28 September, the Assembly received another distinguished guest – the President of Iceland. There was a certain aptness in the fact that the President of Europe's westernmost state – and the world's oldest parliamentary democracy79– should be addressing the Assembly on the very day it found itself discussing admission of the country which best illustrated both the problems and successes of the transition to democracy in the East. Drawing on Icelandic mythology, Vigdis Finnbogadottir spoke powerfully of the need for cultural co-operationxxxxxx and, as president of a country where humans and nature live in harmony, stressed the benefits society would reap by ensuring that economic development respected the environment and by drawing on live forces – particularly women and young people – which were often neglected.
The Committee of Ministers having confirmed the Assembly's “yes” to Romania on 7 October, thirty-two full member states were present when the Heads of State and Government met in Vienna on 8-9 October 1993 for the Council's first-ever Summit. Unique in the organisation's history, the meeting passed its first test with flying colours, since no fewer than twenty-nine of those countries sent their top political leadersyyyyyy. The “family photo” taken at the Summit, featuring seasoned European statesmen like François Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, Jacques Santer, Felipe Gonzalez and Franz Vranitzky alongside “newcomers” like Vaclav Havel, Vladimir Meciar, Hanna Suchocka, Zhelyu Zhelyev and Ion Iliescu, offered a striking image of that new Europe “full of both promise and turmoil”, as Catherine Lalumière put it, which confronted the participants. As she insisted, there could be no forgetting that they were meeting “to talk about Europe, peace and democracy at a tragic moment in our history: thousands of dead in former Yugoslavia and, in Moscow, scores of dead in a struggle for or against reform, for or against democracy”.
In fact, this “new Europe” was omnipresent in the Austrian capital, where the Congress of Vienna had – for better or worse – established a “concert of the nations” in the early nineteenth century. Now, 178 years later, the Council of Europe's heads of state and government were sketching in the outlines of a new twenty-first-century "concert of Europe", in which every instrument (state, nation, people or international organisation) would have its own appointed part to play in guaranteeing the stability of the continent and the security of its inhabitantszzzzzz.
The twin keynotes of the Vienna Summit were hope (first of all, the hope of uniting the continent on the basis of values acknowledged and shared by all its countriesaaaaaaa) and urgency. In fact, there was a powerful sense of urgency, of the need to find an institutional framework for this new, extended unitybbbbbbb, and also political solutions to the terrible dangers which continued to weigh on Europe's future – in Bosnia, the Caucasus and Russiaccccccc.
This fundamental challenge was clearly defined at the Summit's very outset by its President, Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky: “We have to realise that the Vienna Summit will be measured by the extent to which it sends out the necessary political impetus for real solutions to be found to the burning issues confronting us. What we need is concrete progress towards the construction of a democratic system of security embracing the whole of Europe, towards the genuine protection of minorities and towards the combating of intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism in all the member states. For nothing would be more dangerous than to allow a generation to grow up in Europe that would be lost to tolerance and democracy, to the 'principle of hope'.”
The aim defined by the Assembly and by François Mitterrand ultimately proved too ambitious: the Vienna Summit marked neither the birth nor even the conception of a European confederation, which remained a mere dream without substance. None the less, this first top-level meeting of the member states' leaders did mark a decisive phase in the building of a new Europe:
- by confirming the Council's status as “the pre-eminent European political institution capable of welcoming, on an equal footing and in permanent structures, the democracies of Europe freed from communist oppression” and by making their accession “a central factor in the process of European construction based on our Organisation's values”;
- by confirming “the policy of openness and co-operation vis-à-vis all the countries of central and eastern Europe that opt for democracy” and defining an enlargement policy based on two requirements: fidelity to the Council's values and respect for the obligations of membershipddddddd;
- by sending, in this context, an important positive signal to Russiaeeeeeee, which had, as Boris Yeltsin stressed in a message to the Summit, opted irrevocably for democratic reforms – reforms designed to bring this “integral part of European civilisation” into the Council in due course;
- by taking, finally, a whole series of decisions on such questions as the establishment of a single Court of Human Rights, the protection of national minorities (with the help of confidence-building measures, legal aid and new legal instruments), the launching of a pan-European policy against racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance, and the setting-up of an advisory body to give local and regional authorities a part in building greater Europe80
At the end of the Vienna Summit, Europe – the Europe of “bits” and “fragments”, of which Francois Mitterrand had spoken - could look to the future with renewed confidence. “Belonging to all the democratic peoples of Europe”, as Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds put it, the Council itself was now engaged in forging, if not a European confederation, at least the unity of a continent determined to consign its old demons forever to the past. And, looking ahead to ever-closer co-operation with a European Union which the coming into force of the Maastricht Treaty had at last made a realityfffffff, the Committee of Ministers was determined to lose no time in putting the guidelines and decisions adopted in Vienna into practice.
Meeting on 4 November 1993, for their 94th session81 with Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock in the chair, the Ministers:
- instructed the Secretary General to prepare a report on ways in which the Council's activities should be adjusted and strengthened, and submit it to them at their next session (May 1994);
- made sure that Protocol No. 11 to the European Convention on Human Rights, setting up the single Court, could be opened for signing at that same session;
- set up an ad hoc committee with a double brief: to draft, by 30 June 1994, a framework convention (also open to non-member states) spelling out principles for the protection of minorities, which contracting states would undertake to respect; and to start work on a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the cultural rights of individuals, and particularly members of minorities (this task to be completed by 31 December 1994);
- took steps to launch the European Youth Campaign for a tolerant society and implement the Plan of Action against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance;
- took the last decisions needed to ensure that the “Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe”, approved in principle at the Summit, could come into being at the beginning of 1994ggggggg.
The seed sown in Vienna had fallen on fertile ground – in the shape of an organisation which was still, and now more than ever, alone in responding adequately to the new situation created in Europe by the fall of the Berlin Wall – and the harvest in 1994 and the years after that promised to be a rich one for the Council. And Catherine Lalumière, who had paved the way so effectively, made it clear that she wanted to be there when harvest-time arrived. Why indeed – to keep the nautical metaphor which is the title of this chapter – change captains just as the ship was preparing to weigh anchor and leave the sheltered waters for the open sea?
THE FRONTIERS OF EUROPE
The beginning of 1994 found the Council of Europe half-way, as it were, through its enlargement process:
- nine central and east European countries had joined since the fall of the Berlin Wall, boosting its membership from twenty-three to thirty-two, and another nine, most of which had emerged from the wreckage of the Yugoslav and Soviet Federations, had officially declared that they wished to do so as soon as possible. Already reflected in the Assembly's award of special guest status to their parliaments and the accession of most of them to the European Cultural Convention82 this ambition had recently received fresh encouragement from the decisions taken by the Heads of State and Government at the Vienna Summithhhhhhh;
- the fact that the largest and the smallest of the candidate countries, Russia and Andorra, had recently held their first free elections (on the same day), and that these had gone smoothly, made the outlook seem even brighter. In Andorra, the elections held on 12 December 1993 set the seal on the exemplary transition to democracy which the country had initiated in the early 1990siiiiiii. In Russia, the results of the various ballots were more mixed: Boris Yeltsin's success in winning 60 % approval
for his draft constitution was offset by the alarmingly high score recorded by the ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose "Liberal Democratic Party" topped the parliamentary polls with 24 % of the vote;jjjjjjj
- 1994 also marked the end of Catherine Lalumiere's five-year term of office as Secretary General, which had begun in May 1989. It was true that, regardless of the change of French government in March 1993, she was seeking a second term – a "first" in Council history – but the contest with the Swedish candidate, Daniel Tarschys, seemed likely to be close: already noted in the Assembly (which chooses Secretaries General) for the prominent part he had played in its recent work, Daniel Tarschys could also take hope from the fact that no Scandinavian had ever filled the post, although the Scandinavian countries had played a leading role in setting up and later developing the Council;
- finally, although the curtain had barely come down on the first summit, which had encouraged the Council to expand to the east and given it a new role to play in building post cold-war Europe, there was already talk of a second one. The idea was Poul Nyrup Rasmussen's: he had suggested in Vienna that a second summit should be held to evaluate the whole enlargement process, once it was complete and the Council had attained its full pan-European dimension.
First of all, however, one basic question – a question which had been exercising both the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers since 1991 – needed definite answering: where could, and should, the Council's growth stop? In a word, the time had come at last to determine the contours of a concept which politicians, intellectuals and the media had been using for close on fifty years, without ever quite defining it: Europe.
This was a delicate issue, of vital importance for the Council's future, and two years of talk had done nothing to dispel the profound disagreements which surrounded it. These disagreements centred on a single question: were the three trans-Caucasian countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) part of Europe or not? The two opposing views on this were represented in the Assembly by the Political Affairs Committee and the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries, and
particularly their respective chairmen, Gerhard Reddemann (Germany) and David Atkinson (United Kingdom). The “yeas” and the “nays” were so closely balanced that Gerhard Reddemann, whose report on enlargement of the Council83had proposed a definition of Europe which would have prevented the three countries from even applying for Council membership, wisely withdrew his proposal, just as the Assembly was preparing to discuss it in plenary session on 26 January 1994: "We cannot pass the final declaration on where, in our opinion, the boundaries lie by a formal vote with a majority of only two or three. If we did that, we should be putting ourselves in a position in which we should, after some time, merely find ourselves back in the present situation." He simply reminded the Assembly of the various existing schools of thoughtkkkkkkk, while insisting that the guidelines laid down at the Summit – but also, and above all, the significance which the Assembly itself attached to special guest status – made finding an answer even more urgent than it seemed.lllllll
The Assembly's debate of 26 January 1994 on "The future of the Council of Europe" was accordingly limited to evaluation of the Vienna Summit and discussion of the action it should lead to. Like their rapporteur, Peter Schieder (Austria), the parliamentarians were largely positive in their general verdict: the Summit had not only confirmed the importance of the Council's political role in the new Europe, but had also taken a series of vital decisions which directly matched the Assembly's own concerns. It had taken some tough talking to secure consensus on such complex issues as reform of the Council's human rights machinery or the protection of national minorities, and it was agreed that only a top-level political meeting could have
provided the impetus needed for a breakthrough (even if progress on minorities had been limitedmmmmmmm). Some speakers were satisfied, others disappointed, but one general sentiment stood out clearly: the vital thing now was to make the most of the "vigorous impetus" (Daniel Tarschys' phrase) which the Summit had given the Council, and to implement all its decisions – quickly.
This was the background when Jacques Santer addressed the Assembly the following day. The Luxembourg Prime Minister, who would succeed Jacques Delors as President of the European Commission a year later, insisted that 1994 would be a crucial year for Europe and the world. Without minimising the problems still unsolved in the wake of the upheavals which had shaken the continent since the decade opened, he declared his faith in its future: "A new European order is emerging". Three main ideas underlay his vision of this "new order":
- the Council of Europe's new task of providing a structure for European unity on the basis of its statutory values: this called for a resolute policy of vigilance, but also openness, towards the new democraciesnnnnnnn, and the prospect of Russia's joining – in the near or more distant future – was the central element hereooooooo;
- the emergence, alongside the traditional "concert of nations", of a full-scale "concert of institutions": just established by the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union now seemed more than ever set to become the central pillar of the new Europe; around it, the new European order showed signs of becoming both pluri-dimensional and multi-institutional, and the time had come to forget rivalries and stress co-operation and complementarity. Jacques Santer referred to the CSCE and the Council of Europe here, but also to NATO, which had just sent the countries of central and eastern Europe a positive signal with its "Partnership for Peace"ppppppp and whose role (going well beyond its basic function as a military alliance) had been strengthened by the new concept of "security", as had its prospects for co-operation with the other European organisationsqqqqqqq;
- the need to involve everyone in this process, so that everyone could derive full benefit from it: here, Jacques Santer was obviously defending the basic principle of equality between states, regardless of differences in size, population or prosperity, but he was also voicing his own conviction that building a united Europe, and developing constituent nations' identities, were not conflicting aims – far from it – and that each process reinforced the other.rrrrrrr
Apart from Europe's future (and specifically its boundaries), the other big issue on the Assembly's agenda in early '94 was the developing situation in two of the world's main trouble-spots, the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. A link between the two was provided by Thorvard Stoltenberg: as Norwegian Foreign Minister, he had played a major role in the "Oslo miracle", which had led to the spectacular handclasp between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in Washington on 13 September 1993; as co-chairman of the International Peace Conference for the Former Yugoslavia, he had been facing an even tougher task ("the most difficult that I have ever had”) since spring 1993.
Both clear and franksssssss, his speech in the Assembly on 25 January 1994 shed invaluable light on the situation for those who were desperately trying to understand the insane logic which had pushed a European nation into something very like collective suicide, and the reasons for the international community's failure to grasp what was happening and take action to stop itttttttt. He was speaking at a critical moment, when the escalating horrors on the ground and the breakdown of all attempts at peacemaking meant that outsiders – even those, like himself, who had personal links with the peoples of the former Yugoslavia – were more tempted than ever to stand back and let the war run its courseuuuuuuu, merely trying to prevent it from spreading through the regionvvvvvvv. The international mediators were obviously facing an impossible task, one in which every step forward was immediately checked, the gap between the warring camps' demands was steadily widening (and getting further from anything approaching legitimate interests), and the negotiations themselves were overshadowed by the unfolding tragedies in the backgroundwwwwwww. Thorvard Stoltenberg admitted banishing the word "optimism" from his vocabulary, but he still refused to give up hope: "We have had seventy-two cease-fire agreements, but one has worked – the agreement in Croatia. That has not happened by chance. It has worked because another attitude is beginning to work in Croatia. Therefore my answer is that I am hopeful".
The Assembly also clung to this hope and, on 28 January, decided to send Bosnia-Herzegovina a positive signal by granting its parliament special guest status. In the meantime, it looked more closely at the effects which the sanctions imposed on Serbia and Montenegro were having on adjacent ex-Yugoslav countries. The memory of the ringing words spoken in the chamber by Bulgarian Prime Minister Ljuben Berovxxxxxxx on 30 September 1993, when he castigated western countries for their selfishnessyyyyyyy, was one of the factors which led the Assembly to take a firm stand and rapidly adopt a whole series of measures to promote enforcement of the sanctions (the only hope of compelling the chief warmongers to accept the need for peace at last), and also to make good the losses suffered on this score by neighbouring former Yugoslav countries84
Suddenly, indeed, Thorvard Stoltenberg's hopes for Bosnia-Herzegovina seemed to be taking on substance, thanks to the wave of revulsion caused when a Serb shell hit the marketplace in Sarajevo on 5 February, killing 68 people and wounding over 200. International public outrage at this fresh tragedy pressured NATO into taking a firm line; the Bosnian Serbs were given an ultimatum and ordered to lift their siege of the martyred city. Apart from the respite which this gave Sarajevo after two years of barbarism, the new situation created by Russian and US involvement in the Bosnian crisis led to a spectacular rapprochement between Croats and Muslims: on 1 March 1994, their representatives met in Washington, where they signed an agreement providing for a Croat-Muslim federation – and totally upsetting the balance on which the earlier peace plans had been based. The "Contact Group" (set up on 25 April and comprising France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and Russia) reacted to this development by proposing a new division of Bosnia's
territory, with 51 % going to the Croat-Muslim federation and 49 % to the Serbs. A cease-fire agreement was signed on 8 June by Serbs, Muslims and Croats, but the new peace plan was wrecked yet again by the Bosnian Serbs' intransigence – although rejecting it cost them their diplomatic and economic ties with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The split between Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic marked a turning point in the war: its initial effect was simply to create a new diplomatic impasse, but it also exploded the dream of "Greater Serbia" and opened – at last – the way to short-term resolution of the conflict.
In the early months of 1994, however, all eyes – the Assembly's included – were fastened on another peace process, one which seemed to offer a historic opportunity of writing finis to the "50 years war" between Israelis and Arabs. This was the "Oslo miracle", and the two main protagonists came separately to Strasbourg to tell the Assembly, which had always kept a close, concerned watch on developments in the Middle East, how they saw the region's future.
The Parliamentary Assembly's involvement in the searching for peace in the Middle-East
The Assembly's involvement in efforts to find a just solution for the peoples of the Middle East (offering them peace and development) is nearly as old as the Assembly itself: it was reflected in the participation of a delegation from the Knesset in the Assembly's work from July 1957 on, in a series of high-level visits to Strasbourg (particularly those of Golda Meir in 1973, Moshe Dayan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali - then Egyptian Foreign Minister – in 1979, of Shimon Peres in 1986 and of Chaim Herzog in 1992). Very recently, it had again found expression in Recommendation 1221 and Resolution 1013 of 29 September 1993 on the peace process in the Middle East (these two texts were adopted two weeks after the declaration of principle on Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, signed by Israel and the PLO in Washington on 13 September 1993). The historic handclasp between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in Washington marked a vital turning point in the long and tragic history of Israeli-Arab conflict, the only comparison being with Sadat's spectacular visit to Jerusalem (which led to the Camp David agreements in 1979): relaunching the multilateral process initiated in Madrid in October 1991 (a few months after the Gulf War), it showed that direct dialogue between the two sides was essential, however much they might disagree on certain issues. The Parliamentary Assembly gave enthusiastic support to this approach, receiving successively its two main protagonists (in January and April 1994), as well as the one who immediately joined their efforts, King Hussein of Jordan (in October 1995).
The statements successively made in the Assembly by Yitzhak Rabin (on 26 January 1994) and Yasser Arafat (on 13 April 1994) showed how deeply both were committed to a process they had launched and were directing – and how deeply they differed on threats to that process and ways of averting them:
- The political and personal commitment of both men was beyond question: echoing the Israeli Prime Minister, whose dedication to the peace process was rooted in his life-long experience of war and the suffering it causeszzzzzzz, the President of the Palestinian National Authority declared: "I reiterate in front of your august Council the commitment of the Palestine people, the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestine National Authority to peace and to the peace process; and I reiterate, as well, that the peace we are seeking is the just, permanent and comprehensive peace which will achieve security, stability and tranquillity for all the peoples of the region, and which guarantees ending the occupation and enabling the Palestinian people to live in their homeland in sovereignty and freedom."
- Both men were fully determined to see the peace process through to the end, but they disagreed on priorities and conditions for steering it through the successive stages worked out in Washington: thus, while Yasser Arafat insisted that maintaining the impetus and respecting the timetable were absolutely vitalaaaaaaaa, Yitzhak Rabin stressed one basic requirement which was central to the process and a prerequisite of its continuing: "As the son of a people who were exiled from their land and in their exile lost millions of its sons and daughters in pogroms, in 'Aktionen' in the Holocaust, as the son of a people to whom the picture of the child with raised hands in the Warsaw ghetto returns at night, I ask for your understanding and undivided attention. For us, peace, important as it is, cannot prevail without security. Israel will be very forthcoming in its quest for peace, but it will not compromise on its security. Israel is ready for peace and is willing to take risks and make dramatic decisions. But any risk or decision should be well calculated, for hasty actions can bring about irreversible results."
- The two men also disagreed on the obstacles and dangers on the road to peace. For Yasser Arafat, the "major obstacle” was the establishment and expansion of Jewish settlements, as well as the Israeli authorities' ambivalent stance on this issue, both of which he denounced - but he also struck a balance by condemning extremists on all sidesbbbbbbbb. Yitzhak Rabin, for his part, condemned only "the blind and indiscriminate terrorism initiated by Palestinian extremists", clearly underestimating the fanaticism in his own camp. No one indeed could have imagined that the unthinkable - assassination of an Israeli Prime Minister by a Jew would happen just eighteen months later !
- The Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the Palestinian Authority were agreed on one thing, however: Europe must play a bigger part in the peace process, as guarantor of its ultimate success, but also - and above all - as a privileged economic and trading partnercccccccc. Responding to Yitzhak Rabin's call for the opening of a new era in the Middle Eastdddddddd, Yasser Arafat proclaimed his faith in the future in terms not so far from those used by Martin Luther King when he spoke of his “dream”: "Our people will be able to continue their creative activities and will put all their capabilities into building our civic and democratic society, our free economy and our integrated social institutions, which will form the foundations for peace, co-existence and future co-operation in the area. Our people are able to carry out the operations of building and reconstruction under the best technical and legal terms and in a manner characterised by transparency, seriousness and efficiency under a democratic parliamentary system based on the foundations of freedom of opinion and the freedom to form political parties, a system in which the majority safeguards the rights of the minority and where the minority respects the decisions of the majority. It will be a system based on social justice and equality without discrimination on the basis of race, creed, colour or sex and within the framework of a constitution that ensures the sovereignty of law and an independent judiciary. This is in full conformity with Palestine's spiritual and cultural heritage of tolerance and peaceful co-existence with other religions over centuries.”
At the Council itself, in that spring of 1994, a change was on the way which took some people by surprise: the contest between Catherine Lalumière and Daniel Tarschys for the Secretary Generalship proved even tighter than expected and, unpredictably, it was Daniel Tarschys who finally carried the day on 12 April 1994 with a majority of just four votes in the Assembly. In other words, even Catherine Lalumière – who had identified herself more closely than any of her predecessors with the organisation she had steered through the most dramatic, but also most exhilarating period in its history – could not break the unwavering second-term taboo. On a symbolic level, the election of Daniel Tarschys – a polyglot Swede with a specialised knowledge of central and eastern Europe – reflected that shift in Europe's centre of gravity which she herself had predicted shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall.
In these circumstances, the general progress report which she had been asked to prepare for the Ministers' 94th session became something like a "political testament"85 In eleven closely argued pages, she looked at the way in which the Council had developed since 1989 and assessed the likely effects of continued enlargement – and particularly of Russia's joining. Five years on, she found that the Council's role had changed profoundly: it was no longer static, but dynamic, and – like Europe itself – had become "less homogeneous and more unstable"eeeeeeee. The overall picture, however, was still largely positive: "Five years on, the Council of Europe may be considered to have been the pre-eminent political framework for dialogue and for a change of attitude, perspective and scale in Europe. In an institutional architecture that is still wide open, it has established its role as the promoter of democratic security. Its adjustment to this new role is well under way, but several important initiatives or measures which are urgent in the context of further development still need to be taken. Its action has created a momentum that is now being substantially supported and even carried further by other institutions, particularly the European Union and Nato. In an unstable and, in many ways, multi-speed Europe, the Organisation is confirming its usefulness."
She went on to outline some of the prospects for further enlargement (with a special emphasis on Russia's accession), which would clearly be the Council's main challenge in the next few yearsffffffff:
- First of all, she proclaimed her confidence that the Council and its future new members would both be able to meet that challenge. Indeed, she was convinced that enlargement would give the Organisation's new dynamic role "its full specificity and its permanence", and enrich the entire European process;
- At the same time, she made no secret of the problems which "radical pursuit” of the “open-door policy" she was urging the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly to pursue would cause in the short term. She connected these problems with "increasing heterogenisation within the Organisation" and "risks in the form of a lessening of member states' common resolve and a weakening of the Organisation". To overcome them and expand "without watering down its role or indeed imploding", the Council would have to meet a whole series of political and institutional conditions, which she listed. It would need "political support at the highest level" (with another summit in due course) and substantially increased resources (without which it would be “doomed to failure"). She also insisted, however, on the need for all member states to respect their commitmentsgggggggg, and referred to Hungarian, Dutch and Norwegian proposals for monitoring machinery within the Committee of Ministers to make sure that they did so.
All of this was in the Ministers' mind when they met on 11 May 1994 for their 94th session, with Willy Claes, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Belgium, in the chair. This session, like the previous one, was largely taken up with implementation of the Summit's decisions. The Ministers looked at progress made with action to protect national minorities, and combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance (with the setting-up of ECRI – the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance). Most important of all, they opened Protocol No. 11 to the European Convention on Human Rights – radically reforming the Convention's monitoring system by establishing a single Court of Human Rights – for signature.
This long-awaited reform of the first and most effective of the instruments set up to monitor member states' compliance with their commitments paved the way for a generalised monitoring procedure: the Ministers took this second step at their next session, when they adopted their "Declaration on compliance with commitments accepted by member states of the Council of Europe".
The Declaration on compliance with commitments accepted by member States of the Council of Europe
This Declaration, which was adopted by the Committee of Ministers at its 95th session on 10 November 1994, marked a turning point in the Council's history, by providing a legal basis for a permanent procedure, on an intergovernmental level (after the one set up on a parliamentary level the year before), of monitoring of compliance with commitments accepted by member States of the Council of Europe. It symbolically concluded Bulgaria's chairing of the Committee – the first time that one of the new member states had discharged this function.
Without waiting for the Ministers, the Assembly pushed ahead on the trail blazed by the "Halonen Order” a year earlier. Resolution 1031 of 14 April 1994 on respect for the undertakings accepted by member states on joining the Council of Europe indicated that it meant to keep a special eye on states which had joined since 1989 – but also stressed that "all member states of the Council of Europe are required to respect their obligations under the Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights and all other conventions to which they are parties". And focusing on the latest recruits, particularly through top-level political dialoguehhhhhhhh, did not in fact divert the Assembly's attention from the older members. Greece, which had imposed an embargo on the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"86came in for sharp criticism. So did Turkey, where six parliamentarians of Kurdish origin had been arrested and imprisoned (their party, the Party for Democracy, was dissolved shortly
afterwards): the Assembly expressed grave concern, and asked its President to lead a "good offices mission" to Turkeyiiiiiiii 87
The Assembly's determination to ensure that, as the Council grew, the requirements concerning respect for its values would be upheld – and even made more stringent – received powerful backing from Mary Robinson, Ireland's first woman President (and future United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights). Speaking in the chamber on 29 June 1994, she referred to the major responsibilities which the Council bore in the wake of the recent upheavals in Europejjjjjjjj, and suggested that it should embody what Hans Küng had called the "global ethic": "the notion that while we follow different belief systems and cultural systems, there is something that transcends all of that – the human being." Citing an old Irish legendkkkkkkkk, she hoped that the Council, which extension to the east had brought to full maturity, would become "the fifth province' – “the meeting point between east and west, the centre of humanist values, the concern with healing and reconciliation, the check on excesses of government".
An ambitious aim certainly – but the new top men at the Council, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stanislas Daskalov (now chairing the Committee of Ministers) and Daniel Tarschys, clearly had no fault to find with it. In the immediate future, however, their main concern was continuity: Daniel Tarschys lost no time in allaying fears that his election reflected a potentially destabilising left/right cleavage ("I believe there is a general consensus both in the Assembly and among member states that the time has come to consolidate democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout Europe, and particularly in our new member states."). Stanislas Daskalov welcomed the "new life for Europe" implicit in enlargement, and stressed that playing an active part in building Europe was important for the new democracies: "Joining the Council of Europe means recognition for a state, but it also means new responsibilities. […] This is a tremendous stimulus for democratic social change in the transition countries."88 In the meantime, both set out on a “pilgrim's tour" of eastern capitals, successively visiting Tirana (24-25 August) and Moscow (12 September), and later Chisinau, Kiev and Minsk (19-21 September).
The next country to join was a long way off their route – and indeed the only new recruit since 1989 which was not in central or eastern Europe. This was Andorra, and the Assembly had no difficulty in accepting the positive conclusions of its rapporteurs, Gerhard Reddemann (Germany), Birger Hagärd (Sweden) and the Earl of Dundee (United Kingdom), and unanimously voting to admit it on 3 October 199489 At the same time, its favourable opinion reflected the fact that membership was now regarded as "conditional", and listed the commitments Andorra had accepted. Principally, it had promised to sign (on joining) and ratify (within a year) the European Convention on Human Rights (including Articles 25 and 46, and Protocol No. 11), accept the European Social Charter, the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, and the conventions on extradition and transfer of sentenced persons, and adopt legislative measures, "facilitating access to Andorran nationality”, particularly for people integrated by long-term residence.llllllll 90
On the following day (4 October 1994), the Assembly devoted an in-depth debate to an essential question, which every passing year made more pressing: abolition of capital punishment. The rapporteur appointed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Hans Göran Franck (Sweden), ringingly denounced the death penalty which, removed in principle from member states' punitive arsenal by Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, was still current in Europe: in 1993, 59 people had been executed in seven applicant countries, and at least 575 were under provisional sentence of death. He urged the Assembly to adopt a firm line, declare capital punishment a fundamental violation of human rights, and prohibit it once and for all in both peacetime and wartime.
The Council of Europe and death penalty
Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, opened for signing in 1983, prohibits the death penalty in peacetime - a prohibition which is all but irreversible in legal terms. By the end of 1994, however, there were still eleven Council member states which had not ratified it – although all of them, except Lithuania, had for several years carried out no executions. The Assembly's firm stance on this issue, confirmed at the highest political level by its member states' leaders at the Strasbourg Summit three years later, has resulted in spectacular progress: 33 member states have now ratified Protocol No 6, another 5 have signed it, and no one has been executed in any of the 41 Council countries since 1997 (with the exception of one special case - Chechnya, which does not consider itself bound by Russia's commitment in this area).
The ensuing debate showed how controversial the question still was: some speakers, particularly the British parliamentarians Richard Alexander ("It is not a matter of deterrence: In my view it is a matter of an appropriate penalty for an appalling act") and John Townend ("One thing is sure: a dead murderer cannot murder again") clearly favoured the “eye-for-an-eye” approach; others, like Tim Rathbone (United Kingdom) and Jean Valleix (France) held that the Council had no right to impose abolition on its member states; others again, such as Erdal Inönü (Turkey), were reluctant to extend the peacetime ban to wartime. Most, however - like Lydie Err (Luxembourg), who quoted St. Thomas ("Since human justice is essentially fallible, men should refrain from passing irreparable sentences") – sided with the rapporteur. The result was a sizeable majority for Recommendation 1246 on the abolition of capital punishment, in which the Assembly:
- declared that the death penalty had “no legitimate place in the penal systems of modern civilised societies”, and might well “be compared with torture and be seen as inhuman and degrading punishment within the meaning of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights";
- pointed out that the death penalty had proved ineffective as a deterrent, and had also – human justice being fallible – produced tragic consequences in cases where innocent people had been executed;
- held that there was no reason why capital punishment should be inflicted in wartime, when it was not inflicted in peacetime;
- recommended that the Committee of Ministers adopt a whole series of measures to eliminate capital punishment once and for all from the law and practice of member states, and consider the attitude of would-be members to the death penalty when deciding whether to admit them to the Council.
Having sent this fundamental message not only to member states, but also – and above all – to states which wished to join, the Assembly still had to answer the question which had been pending since the beginning of the year, and which was becoming steadily more urgent. This was, of course, the question of Europe's frontiers. The long process of discussion, negotiation and compromise in the previous few months finally bore fruit on 4 October 1994, when the Assembly unanimously adopted Recommendation 1247 on the enlargement of the Council of Europe, in which it confirmed the Council's specifically “European” character and set geographical limits to its expansion. Dropping the idea of imposing artificial boundaries on areas where no natural ones existed, it took a pragmatic line and listed states which qualified for membership:
- it confirmed the ”European” status, not just of the Council's thirty-two member states, but also the nine “special guest” countries;
- it formally recognised the “potential member” status of Andorra (on which it had recently adopted a positive opinion, and which the Committee of Ministers admitted as thirty-third member state a month later), and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), once it had rejoined the international community;
-“in view of their cultural links with Europe”, it acknowledged that applying for membership was a “possibility” for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, provided they clearly indicated “their will to be considered as part of Europe”mmmmmmmm.
The Assembly then went a step further by opening the door to contact with “neighbouring countries” outside this zone, which should be viewed as “possible candidates for suitable co-operation”, and countries on the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, which should be able to enjoy “privileged relations” with the Assembly if they so wished91 This gesture, however, merely underlined the fact that the Council now considered some countries “in”, others “out”. Ultimately it was clear, as Marie-Thérèse Bitsch pointed out, that the sense of belonging to Europe was the main criterion in deciding how far Europe extended. Like Mary Robinson's “fifth province”, Europe was thus defined more as a “spiritual principle” or the expression of an “aspiration towards community” (Ernest Renan's definition of the nation) than as a geographical reality. And so, following in the footsteps of
Altiero Spinelli, who saw the peoples' acceptance of the European idea as an essential element in European identity, the Assembly opted for a fluid, adjustable definition of Europe and its boundaries. Implicitly approved by the Committee of Ministers, this decision would launch the Council (and the whole European process) on an enlargement trajectory which none of the “founding fathers” - not even the most visionary – would have dared to predict.
“ALL DIFFERENT, ALL EQUAL”
"All different, all equal": this was, primarily, the slogan of the European Youth Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and Intolerance which the Council of Europe launched throughout its member states on 10 December 1994. With a telling black/white logo and celebrity sponsorsnnnnnnnn to back it, the campaign took its message of tolerance and brotherhood the length and breadth of Europe for close on two years. One of its climactic highlights was the vast youth assembly which brought thousands of young Europeans to the Council in midsummer 1995. Converging on Strasbourg by train, they brought with them a heady sense of youthful celebration and vitality which helped to exorcise the memory of those other trains which had once carried countless thousands to the death camps.
"All different, all equal": this was also the Committee of Ministers' motto as it set out to build a secure future for that inextricable complex of peoples, nations, and language and cultural communities which together make up Europe. As part of this process and after long months of negotiation, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was adopted and opened for signing by member (and non-member) statesoooooooo. Avoiding the trap of attempting to define the term "national minority", this fundamental text listed principles for governments to implement in their laws and policies: there was, for example, to be no enforced assimilation or discrimination, and minorities were to be free to use and be educated in their own language, to preserve their own culture, to engage in international and transfrontier co-operation, and to participate in economic, cultural, community and public life. The convention, which is the first international agreement of its kind, marks a considerable step forward by making minority rights a matter of law, and not merely policy (with machinery to ensure that states honour their commitments): its adoption confirmed the Council's pioneering role in protecting national minorities and achieved one of the essential breakthroughs rendered possible by the first Summit. The "Vienna compromise" was also intended to produce a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing a series of cultural rights and applying particularly to national minorities – but this goal remained unattainable.
"All different, all equal": these words could also have applied, finally, to the Council's member states, both present and future, in a year which saw their number rise from thirty-three to thirty-eight. This was the "third wave" of the enlargement process which, in Andorra's wake, brought countries as dissimilar as Latvia, Albania, Moldova, the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and Ukraine into the Council. To varying degrees, each of them presented the organisation with new challenges. The greatest challenge of all, of course, was integrating them successfully in the space of a few months, at a time when the whole issue of the Russian giant's joining was looming – and only their determination to be not just "all different", but also, and chiefly, "all European" enabled the Council to meet it.
Latvia, the first of the new arrivals, should really have been a “second wave” recruit, but the presence on its territory of a very large Russian minority (representing nearly half the population), whose access to nationality was predictably complicated by troubled relations with Russia in the past, had prevented it from joining with its two Baltic stable-mates. After many twists and turns, a compromise was eventually hammered out in summer 1994, a new Nationality Act was passed on 22 July, and the last Russian troops (the Red Army's successors) withdrew on 31 August. The Council, which had provided expert advice on the Nationality Act, was closely associated with these developments – one of the reasons why the Assembly and its rapporteurs, Ole Espersen (Denmark), Friedrich Vogel (Germany) and Luchezar Toshev (Bulgaria)92watched them with special attention.
The Assembly thus knew exactly what it was doing when it decided, on the basis of specific commitments negotiated with Latvia, to give “the last state still suffering from the consequences of the second world war"93the green light. Significantly, the Russian special guest, Vladislav Tumanov, while urging the Council to be vigilant, agreed with the majority that accession was “a constructive move” and that Latvia's joining was desirable. The only dissenting voice was Vladimir Zhirinovsky's: he compared the situations in Latvia and Chechnya ("in both cases, armed bandits are holding the population to ransom and killing innocent people") and angrily complained of "the discrimination which a million inhabitants face on the pretext that they have to know Latvian, which, like Lithuanian and Estonian, is a totally useless language."pppppppp None of this stopped Anatolijis Gorbunovs, President of the Latvian Parliament, from welcoming "this decisive moment for the future of our nation", and thanking the Council of Europe for its positive, but demanding attitude, which had ultimately produced a successful outcome: "Our finest reward today is the internal political stability which the Council's help has allowed us to achieve".
Note The commitments accepted by Latvia on the occasion of its adhesion to the Council of Europe
Note In addition to implementing the Nationality Act and preparing a law on the rights and status of "non-nationals" (in close co-operation with the Council), Opinion No. 183 of 31 January 1995 on the application by Latvia for membership of the Council of Europe committed the country to:
Note - signing the European Convention on Human Rights and its main protocols (and ratifying them within a year);
Note - signing and ratifying the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture;
Note - studying the Council of Europe's Social Charter, with a view to ratifying it, and promising to "conduct a policy along the principles set forth in this Charter and in Assembly Recommendation 1201 (1993) on the question of an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights on the rights of national minorities";
Note - studying "the central principles of other Council of Europe conventions - notably those on extradition, on mutual assistance in criminal matters, on the transfer of sentenced persons, and on laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of proceeds from crime", with a view to ratifying and applying them;
- co-operating "in the implementation of Assembly Order No. 448(1993) on the honouring of commitments entered into at the time of accession to the Council of Europe on issues related to the Organisation's basic principles".
The Assembly had little time, however, to savour the thought of the 34th member's imminent arrival (confirmed by the Committee of Ministers on 10 February): its attention was entirely taken up by the crisis which had developed between the Council (plus the whole international community) and Russia, whose government had just taken the disastrous decision to use force in Chechnya. Described by David Atkinson (United Kingdom) as "a tragedy for Russia and for Europe", the war which followed the sending of Russian troops into the secessionist Caucasian republic on 11 December 1994 nullified the remarkable progress already made towards Russian membership of the Council: critical and constructive dialogue between the Assembly and the Russian authorities had in fact resulted in a solemn twenty-point agreement (each point corresponding to a problem raised by the Assembly and the Council's legal experts) with Russia's four supreme authoritiesqqqqqqqq, which had opened the way to its becoming the Council's 35th member.
Discussing the situation in Chechnya and Russia's application for membership on 2 February 1995, the Assembly adopted a clear position94
- while acknowledging that the political conflict between Chechnya and the central authorities of the Russian Federation was an internal matter, it considered that the means employed by Russia violated its international obligations;
- it thus unreservedly condemned “the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the Russian military, in particular against a civilian population", constituting "a grave violation of the Council of Europe's most elementary human rights principles", which Russia, in applying to join, had promised to uphold;
- it expressed concern at "the absence of parliamentary control over the decisions of the Russian Security Council and the apparent non-implementation by the military of presidential orders", and supported the Duma and the Federation Council in their efforts to stop the military operations in Chechnya;
- it supported the Committee of Ministers, which had issued a press statement condemning the disproportionate and blind use of force in Chechnya, and joined the entire international community in calling for an immediate cease-fire and political dialogue to resolve the conflict peacefully;
- finally, it suspended “the procedure concerning its statutory opinion on Russia's request for membership" and instructed the committees concerned95to follow developments and report to it - as soon as they thought this useful - with a possible view to resuming its examination of Russia's application.
The Assembly's approach to management of the Chechnyan crisis was a clear combination of firmness (condemning those who had ordered in the troops and suspending the accession procedure) and openness (supporting the progressive forces in Russia, represented in Strasbourg by Sergei Kovalev and Vladimir Lukinrrrrrrrr, and expressly referring to possible resumption of the accession procedure at some future
date). Backed by French Prime Minister Edouard Balladurssssssss (France had occupied the EU presidency since 1 January 1995) and Portuguese President Mario Soarestttttttt, this policy was neatly summed up by Walter Schwimmer (Austria): "I should like to see Russia in the Council of Europe, but it must be a Russia that, as represented by Mr Kovalev and Mr Lukin, observes human rights and the rule of law; a Russia in which there is a functioning democracy and in which decisions of the elected parliament are respected; a Russia that does not use military force against innocent civilians and, in particular, a Russia in which there is no 'liquidation', an expression used by a 'very' special guest - this is how I shall describe him - in his speech here today. We do not wish to see such a Russia. Rather, as a member of the Council of Europe we want to see a democratic Russia."
The other big issue on the Assembly's mind in those early months of 1995 was the situation in Cyprus. Unlike the Chechnyan crisis, discussed on the same day, this question (frequently considered by the Assembly since Turkish troops had occupied the northern part of the islanduuuuuuuu) was not on the agenda because fresh dangers were looming, but, on the contrary, because of new and promising developments. Indeed, there were several reasons for thinking that the “end of the beginning", if not "the beginning of the end"96 of the Cypriot crisis might be in sight:
- political leaders and international public opinion regarded the Cyprus situation, which had stayed unchanged for the past twenty years, as an anachronism, and this feeling was strengthened by the emergence of a "new European order", which inevitably made the island's partition seem a mere relic of the past – the last division to resist the shock-wave set up by the Berlin wall's disappearance;
- against this background, the UN Secretary General's efforts seemed - at last - to be opening the way to a political settlement based on a simple solution (accepted, according to Lord Finsberg, the Political Affairs Committee's rapporteur, by "the overwhelming bulk” of the people he had spoken to in all parts of Cyprus): unity of the island, accommodating the two communities in a federal, bizonal state;
- acceptance of this basic principle seemed a first decisive step towards overcoming the legacies of hatred and distrust and securing rapprochement and dialogue instead. The Assembly was counting here on the long-term positive effects of the new instruments which the Council had devised since the Vienna Summit to help different communities to live harmoniously together - legal instruments, like the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, but also "confidence-building measures", which formed an essential back-up and could be used to forge the necessary links between politics and civil society on the groundvvvvvvvv;
- finally, one major new development had upset the established order in that part of the Mediterranean: meeting in Essen on 9-10 December 1994 (at the end of Germany's presidency of the European Union), the European Council confirmed the principle of future EU enlargement to the countries of central and eastern Europe and launched a "pre-accession strategy" for that purpose. It also started the countdown to Cypriot accession to the EU (which had had fifteen members since 1 January 1995). This prospect immediately created a positive dynamic, particularly since Turkey had itself received an encouraging signal from the EU, in the shape of a customs union agreement, concluded on 6 March 1995 and due to take effect - after ratification by the European Parliament - on 1 January 1996.
Although not directly concerned (the Cypriot question was primarily a matter for the UN), the Council could not turn its back on a problem which had gnawed at the European process for the past twenty years, and which affected four of its members (Cyprus, of course, but also Greece, Turkey and - to a lesser extent - the United Kingdom). Moreover, Cyprus itself chaired the Committee of Ministers from November 1994 to May 1995 and, unsurprisingly, made this matter one of its priorities. Indeed, its Foreign Minister, Alecos Michaelides, was resolutely optimisticwwwwwwww.
The Assembly debate on 2 February 1995 showed, however, that the tensions were still great, and dialogue difficult. The rapporteur, Lord Finsberg, came under fire – for diametrically opposite reasons – from the Greek and Cypriot members on one side, and the Turkish members on the otherxxxxxxxx. The balanced position finally adopted by the Assembly97found little favour with either – a sure sign that a lot of ground still needed to be covered before grievances and enmities could be laid to rest and a lasting solution secured.
In that winter of 1994-1995, it actually seemed that another of Europe's long-running problems – undoubtedly the most painful of all – might at last be nearing solution. With the help of mediation by former US President Jimmy Carter, who had come to back the efforts of his former Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, the first lasting cease-fire was secured in Bosnia – giving the martyred Bosnian people an invaluable four-month respite. This diplomatic success coincided with Bosnia-Herzegovina's accession to the European Cultural Convention on 29 December 1994, just as the Council was celebrating the fortieth anniversary of that instrument, which had enabled the peoples of Europe to progress, in the space of a few decades, from "reconciliation" to "joint action"98 Deeply symbolic in itself, Bosnia-Herzegovina's choice of cultural co-operation as a “way into Europe” came at a time when the interest shown by several non-European states in activities conducted under the convention was testing the limits of "cultural Europe" (as compared with "political Europe")99
The success of the final Conference on stability in Europe, attended in Paris on 20-21 March by the 52 OSCE countriesyyyyyyyy, strengthened the impression that things were under control at last, but a sudden resurgence of tension in Bosnia and Chechnya – and on the frontier between Turkey and Iraq, where the Turkish army had launched a massive onslaught on the rear bases of the Kurdish Workers' Party - showed that the progress made was still fragile and that much remained to be done before the fine words used in Paris ("guaranteeing frontiers, reassuring minorities") became a reality. In May, the stand-off between NATO and the Bosnian Serbs (who used UNPROFOR "blue helmets" as a human shield against air strikes on Pale) dramatically raised the stakes in Bosnia. In June, a Chechnyan commando force raided Russian territory and seized hostages at the hospital in Budennovsk – an operation which left 114 dead in its wake. While Budennovsk brought down the "hawks" in the Russian government, opening the way to the process which eventually produced a fragile cease-fire in Chechnya on 30 July, the Bosnian Serbs' increasing isolation pushed their leaders (particularly Radovan Karadzic and General Mladic) into even greater excesses, with new and appalling results in the "safe havens" of Srebrenica and Zepa.
In these circumstances, and with four new accessions in the offing, action to ensure that member states respected their commitments increasingly became the Council's main challenge. That spring, two vital initiatives were taken in this area:
- on 20 April, the Committee of Ministers followed the example set by the Assembly two years earlier and introduced permanent machinery to monitor implementation of its Declaration of 10 November 1994 on compliance with commitments accepted by member states. The new procedure was distinct from those already applying to certain conventions (above all the European Convention on
Human Rights), and the approach adopted was both thematic and horizontal. On the basis of factual reports submitted by the Secretary General, the performance of all member states in pre-selected "areas of concern"zzzzzzzz was to be scrutinised. The Ministers were relying on dialogue "based on the principles of non-discrimination and co-operation" to keep states up to the mark. The procedure was also confidential, being conducted at special closed-door meetings;
- on 26 April 1995, spurred on by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and its rapporteur Dumeni Columberg, the Assembly adopted Order No. 508 on the honouring of obligations and commitments by member states of the Council of Europe, which clarified and supplemented the procedure set up by the “Halonen Order” in 1993. The new order confirmed the country-by-country approach followed by the Assembly for the past two years, and also the leading role of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (on the principle that joining the Council was a question of politics, but monitoring a question of law). There were two important innovations: the Assembly now meant to monitor all member states (and not simply those which had joined since 1989) and the committees concerned were authorised to report to it directly in plenary session (making a state's compliance or non-compliance with its obligations a matter of public debate).
These two procedures were intended to complement each other. On the one hand, the Assembly was counting on public discussion of specific member states' compliance with all their commitments to push defaulters in the right direction, and sanctions were explicitly envisaged for persistent offendersaaaaaaaaa. On the other, the Committee of Ministers was relying on diplomatic dialogue, conducted behind closed doors and reviewing all the member states' performance in a given area, to highlight – and solve – problems. It insisted on the "constructive spirit" of this dialoguebbbbbbbbb. Together, the two approaches were a concrete expression of what was to become the Council's main political priority in the next two years. At the time, some observers were increasingly afraid that the quickening pace of enlargement might irreparably damage the organisation's credibilityccccccccc - although others (particularly the new Secretary General) were confident the challenge could be met and insisted on the many things which the new members could contribute, and were already contributing, to the Councilddddddddd.
When Vaclav Havel returned to Strasbourg on 29 June for the solemn inauguration of the new Human Rights Building constructed to house the future single Court100 the scene was already set for full implementation of the doctrine which journalist Jean-Claude Kieffer termed "therapeutic accession". Thus, in the space of a few weeks, the Council of Europe successively opened its doors to Moldova, Albania, Ukraine and the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", taking Daniel Tarschys' dictum, "Better include than exclude", as its motto and assuming that membership would encourage these countries - all of them having enormous difficulty in making the transition to democracy and a market economy – to persevere on the right path.
The first element in “therapeutic accession" was a series of core requirements applying to all new members. Specifically, they were expected to:
- sign the European Convention on Human Rights and its main protocols on joining, and ratify them within a year;
- impose an immediate moratorium on enforcement of the death penalty, as a prelude to abolishing it (by ratifying Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights) within three years;
- sign the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture on joining and ratify it within a year;
- sign the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on joining and ratify it within a year, and undertake to base their policies for the protection of minorities on the principles set out in Assembly Recommendation 1201 on an additional protocol on the rights of national minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights;
- sign the European Charter of Local Self-Government on joining and ratify it within a year, and examine the European Social Charter and the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages, with a view to ratifying them;
- examine other Council of Europe conventions - particularly those on extradition, mutual legal assistance, the transfer of sentenced persons and the laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime - with a view to ratifying them, and apply the basic principles enshrined in them;
- undertake to resolve international and internal disputes peacefully - an obligation which applies to all member states;
- co-operate in implementing the monitoring procedures set up by the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers.
In addition to this impressive list of "universal" requirements, there was another, equally substantial list of “specific” requirements, often very detailed and reflecting the situation in the state concerned:
- Thus Moldova promised, among other things, to: adopt a new criminal code and code of criminal procedure in line with Council standards within a year of joining; modify (again within a year) its Constitution to ensure independence of the judiciary; relax the regulations on knowledge of the official language and extend the time allowed for learning it; transfer responsibility for the prison system from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Justice by autumn 1995; guarantee complete freedom
of worship for all citizens without discrimination, and find a peaceful solution to the dispute between the Moldovan Orthodox Church and the Bessarabian Orthodox Church101
- Albania promised to: ensure that no religious community would be deprived in practice of the opportunity to flourish; move swiftly to encourage and protect independence in broadcasting and the printed media, guaranteeing complete editorial freedom, even-handed tax treatment, free availability of newsprint, and equal access to broadcasting and printing facilities and distribution outlets; change the role and functions of the Prosecutor's Office, turning it into a body consistent with the rule of law and Council of Europe standards; ensure independence of the judiciary, particularly by protecting judges against unjustified or arbitrary dismissal, and by keeping courts' operating budgets under their direct control and having them approved by parliament; set up, within a reasonable time, a constitutional commission comprising representatives of the parliamentary parties and international consultants (including experts from the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission) to draft a new constitution102
- Ukraine promised, among other things, to: introduce a new constitution (based on the constitutional agreement concluded on 8 June 1995 between President Kuchma and parliament), a framework law on national legal policy for the protection of human rights, a framework law on legal and judicial reform, a new criminal code and code of criminal procedure, a new civil code and code of civil procedure, a new law on elections and a law on political parties – all within a year of joining; guarantee independence of the judiciary (particularly with regard to the role and functions of the Prosecutor's Office and the appointment and tenure of judges); transfer responsibility for the prison system, the execution of judgments and the registration of entries to and exits from Ukraine to the Ministry of Justice before the end of 1998; promote the finding of a peaceful solution to the disputes existing between the Orthodox churches, while respecting their independence of the state, and introduce a new, non-discriminatory system of church registration and a legal solution for restitution of church property103
- finally, the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" promised to: adopt laws on organisation and functioning of the courts, guaranteeing independence of the judiciary (particularly by reforming the role and functions of the Prosecutor's Office and protecting judges against arbitrary dismissal) within a year of joining; adopt a new criminal code and code of criminal procedure, again within a year of joining; revise the laws corresponding to a civil code and code of civil procedure to permit an "open society" to develop and a market economy to function; adopt and implement, in the near future, laws on secondary and higher education according with Council standards; protect independence of broadcasting and the printed media by guaranteeing complete editorial freedom, even-handed tax treatment, free availability of newsprint and equal access to broadcasting and printing facilities and distribution outlets; respect the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 New York Protocol (i.e. not deport asylum-seekers and refugees to countries where their human rights might be violated, and ensure, before deporting them to any other country, that they would be effectively and permanently protected against transfer to a country where they might be at risk); ensure that the question of telephone tapping was immediately regulated in a manner consistent with Council standards104
Once these requirements (general and specific) had been stated, and - in principle - accepted freely by new memberseeeeeeeee, the next step was to involve those new members in the full range of co-operative activities conducted by the Council (covering co-operation between governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities, NGOs, youth organisations, etc.), and give them any assistance they needed to complete the transition to democracy. Compliance with Council requirements (monitored with the help of two general procedures and various specific structures) on the one hand, and co-operation and assistance on the other – the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers were counting on these two elements to propel the organisation into the twenty-first century and put it safely on the track they had planned for it.
Each of these four countries got a unanimous green light from the Assembly, whose positive opinions were rapidly confirmed by the Committee of Ministersfffffffff, but these "third wave" accessions did not pass off without uncertainties, and indeed anxieties. The chief uncertainty concerned the real scope (and credibility) of the undertakings given the Assembly by the new members, undertakings which were not always taken up - far from it - by the Committee of Ministersggggggggg. The anxieties
centred on the fear that enlargement was getting out of hand, and the Council moving too far, too fast: this fear was voiced on various sides and also - significantly - within the Council itself.hhhhhhhhh
However, in that autumn of 1995, when mounting pressure on the Bosnian Serbs gave rise to growing hopes that an end to the conflict (which eventually outran the first world war) might at last be in sight, and reason seemed to have triumphed in Chechnya, the general feeling was no longer one of anxiety or pessimism. Like Helmut Kohliiiiiiiii, a statesman who had marked the history of Germany and Europe in the closing years of the twentieth century, the Council was looking to a better future – and a better Europe too. On 26 September, he gave the Assembly's unanimous decision to restart the procedure for Russia's admission105his firm and unqualified support: "Decades of conflict between east and west have made many people here in Europe forget that Russia is part of Europe, not only geographically but in an historical and cultural sense. This is why I particularly welcome your decision to put consideration of Russia's accession back on the Council's agenda. I wish to add here, to make my personal standpoint absolutely clear, that I hope we shall soon take a positive decision. We must make it our business - and I say this again as Germany Chancellor - to support all those in Russia who want and are working to secure the reforms needed to turn their country into a state ruled by law and into a free democracy."
As a result of this vital decision, the countdown was running again towards the Russian giant's arrival on the Strasbourg scene. The prospect indeed was breathtaking: the Council, for which "all different, all equal" was not a mere slogan, but a living credo, was now preparing to test that principle on a state like no other in Europe - a state larger than all its other members together, with a population running to a quarter of their collective total, a state which had (for better, and sometimes for worse) decisively shaped the recent history of Europe and the world.
FROM REYKJAVIK TO VLADIVOSTOK
Barely a few days old, 1996 was already being dubbed "Year of Europe" by the continent's main dailies.
The first reason for this was the crucial decision, taken by the EU at the European Council in Madrid on 15 December 1995, to adopt a final scenario for introduction of the new single currency – to be known as the “Euro” - at the turn of the twenty-first century. The second was the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) scheduled for March, under Italy's EU presidency, at which the Maastricht Treaty would be reviewed and overhauled (as provided for in the text itself) to fit the EU for the new challenges ahead, and particularly enlargement to the countries of central and eastern Europe. Meticulously prepared by a think-tank under Carlos Westendorp, Spanish Secretary of State for European Affairs, the conference roused great hopes among those who wanted to see the EU take a decisive step towards becoming the "United States of Europe", and also those who saw it as a golden opportunity to forge closer links between "small" and "greater" Europe. This was the thinking behind the texts adopted for submission to the conference by the Council's Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly, although the conference itself was disrupted, before it even started, by the surprise arrival of unwelcome cross-Channel visitors - the "mad cows"jjjjjjjjj 106
For the Council of Europe, however, this "Year of Europe" was mainly significant for another reason. Above all, it marked a "return” to Europe, to that Europe of which the Council's founders had originally dreamed - as Leni Fischer107 the new Assembly president, pointed out when she cited the aim laid down in 1949 by her distant predecessor Edouard Herriot ("freedom and rights throughout the continent"). Clearly too, this “return” would acquire its full form (and true dimension) from the accession of Russia, a giant piece in a jigsaw which would now stretch from Reykjavik in the far west to Vladivostok in the far east.
The background to the Assembly's debate on Russia's application for membership on 25 January 1996 was one of great uncertainty. For one thing, the situation in Chechnya was still extremely tensekkkkkkkkk. For another, the elections held on 17 December 1995, in which the democrats had again lost ground to the ultranationalists and communists (who had increased their score from 44 % to 55 % of the total vote since December 1993), had thrown fresh shadows on Russia's political future. Admittedly, the large electoral turnout and the satisfactory conduct of the elections (judged "free and fair" by all the international observers, including the Council's parliamentary delegation) were positive factors, but continuation of the difficult process of democratic reform was clearly in the balance. The "disaster" scenario (disastrous both for Russia and the whole of Europe) - a relapse into communism, or even tsarist-type autocracy - never seemed likelier than it did in those first six months of 1996, when an ailing and politically weakened Boris Yeltsin was preparing once again to face the electorate.
In these circumstances, the decision facing the Assembly was anything but easy: on the one hand, it seemed sensible to wait a few more months, since the outcome of the presidential election would certainly clarify the situation108 on the other, it seemed wise to send Russia a positive signal and respond, while there was time, to Sergei Kovalev's urgent plea ("democrats in the west must help democrats in the east"). The Council's member governments already knew which way they meant to go, and Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen109made this utterly clear on 24 January when he delivered the Committee of Ministers traditional communication in the Parliamentary Assembly: "The democratic security, which was highlighted at the Vienna Summit in 1993 as the most important vocation of the Council of Europe in these years, will be fully obtained and secured only with Russia as a member of our Organisation. […] Russian membership of the Council of Europe will be conducive to co-operation between and within European countries, with our different organisations and with our partners outside Europe."
Prolonged internal discussion had brought the three Assembly committees concerned to much the same conclusion, which their rapporteurs put to the Assembly at the beginning of a debate rendered historic, not just by the major political issues involved, but also by the unprecedented turnout it attracted:lllllllll
- Ernst Muehlemann (Switzerland), speaking for the Political Affairs Committee, encouraged the Assembly to make a long-term "strategic choice" and, quoting Voltaire, reminded it that "we are responsible, not just for the things we do, but also for the things we do not do";
- Rudolf Bindig (Germany), speaking for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, admitted that Russia was not, at the present stage in its transition to democracy, a law-governed state, but immediately declared: "The decision we have to take today is, however, not primarily a legal decision, but a political one. We are not making a legal assessment of the existing situation, but a political assessment of the successes achieved and the prospects for further improvements in the future. And we are not deciding on a particular president or government and their conduct, but on admitting the people of the Russian Federation.";
- David Atkinson (United Kingdom), speaking for the Committee on Relations with European Non-member Countries, was at once the most optimisticmmmmmmmmm and the most resolute of all those who contributed to the debate: "Let us have faith in this institution, in our mechanisms and in democracy. […] So let us trust the Russian people to be good Europeans, and let us say yes to Russia today."
The pro-Russians got powerful support from the Irish Prime Minister, John Bruton, who had actually come to speak in the Assembly of his hopes for peace in Northern Irelandnnnnnnnnn: "If Russia is within the Council of Europe, all problems, including human rights problems, can be talked through. If Russia is left outside the Council, momentum in the painful and necessarily gradual task of extending western-style constitutional order in Russia will be lost. Which country, which of the older democracies, in this Assembly can say that they became democracies overnight? In many cases, becoming a true democracy took a century of constitutional development. Let us not set for others tests that we did not pass ourselves." While Vladimir Zhirinovski's blustering rhetoric produced the reverse effect of that probably intendedooooooooo, his compatriot Vladimir Lukin found words to fit the occasion: "If Russia is admitted, it will join the Council of Europe in the state that it is in at that moment. The rule of law has not been completed and there are people, even those in high places who are trying to slow the process. […] However, if the Assembly admits Russia, it will not simply be admitting politicians who say one thing and do another: it will be showing solidarity with a great country which, for the first time in its history, has embarked on the path to the rule of law and has guaranteed freedoms that Russians have never had before. It will be admitting millions of young people who are no longer afraid and who say what they think, retired people who curse democracy but are willing to defend their voting rights, and a parliament resolved to fight for its lawful rights. […] If the Assembly refuses to admit Russia, there is a danger that the iron curtain may come down again. If it admits Russia, Russia will become a state ruled by law.”
At the close of an impassioned and unusually earnest debate, the Assembly finally adopted a positive opinion on inviting Russia to join by 164 votes in favour, 35 against and 15 abstentions (i.e. considerably more than the requisite two-thirds majority). This decision marked a new stage in the theory of "therapeutic accession", since the Assembly's "yes" to Russia was coupled with three series of commitments110
- the first series comprised the traditional "core" requirements imposed on all new members, concerning signature and ratification of the main Council of Europe conventions, particularly those relating to human rights;
- the second series supplemented the first by detailing, as had been done in the case of countries like Albania, Moldova, Ukraine and the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", a whole series of specific measures which Russia was expected to take - in the medium or longer term - to bring itself into line with Council of Europe standardsppppppppp;
- the third series of commitments differed from the two others (and from all the requirements previously made in the case of new member states), in reflecting the special responsibilities which were Russia's by reason of its status as heir to one of the two 20th century superpowers and its still existing role as a major Eurasian power. Thus, the Assembly first asked Russia to bring the final consequences of the second world war to a fair conclusionqqqqqqqqq; it then noted that Russia intended to settle its international disputes, not only "by resolutely rejecting all threat of using force against its neighbours", but also "respecting the existing international treaties" in questions relating to frontiers; it finally asked the Russian authorities "to denounce as mistaken the concept of two different categories of foreign country, which involves treating some of them, which are known as 'near foreign countries', as a zone of special influence" (a criticism aimed at the vision, then widely current in Russia, of a police role for the zone corresponding to the former Soviet Union, a role which Russia had tried unsuccessfully to get the UN to recognise).
Finally, the Assembly made it clear that the future thirty-ninth member was not just a state like any other by adding, in its opinion, after the usual two concluding paragraphs recommending that the Committee of Ministers invite the Russian Federation to join and give it eighteen seats in the Assembly, a final paragraph aimed at ensuring that the Council's “means and capabilities” would be increased “to meet the consequences of these decisions”. It is true that, after the years of expansion at the start of the decade, when the Council's financial and human resources had practically doubled, a "lean" period had set in since 1994, due to the austerity cure which the economic crisis and the constraints of planning for the Euro had imposed on member states. Putting it mildly, this "brake” on its resources could hardly have come at a worse time for the Council, which was just facing into the most critical phase of its enlargement, and having to give practical follow-up to the new responsibilities entrusted to it at the Vienna Summit.
The Council of Europe: modest means
In the early 1990s, the new tasks assigned to the Council were reflected in a period of rapid budget growth - admittedly from a very modest base (a budget of FF 450 million and a full-time staff of 800 in 1989). The middle of the decade marked a turning point, since economic problems and the constraints involved in launching the single currency led a significant number of member states, including the four "main contributors" (Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom)111to insist on "zero growth in real terms", the only increases in the Council's budget being adjustments to offset inflation and new members' contributions. The Council's budget today (including the various Partial Agreements) is approximately FF 1.3 thousand million, and the Organisation has some 1700 staff (30 % of them temporary). This means, as a matter of comparison, that its budget is less than half that of Strasbourg, its home city, and its staff is ten times smaller than that of the European Commission.
One of the biggest of these new responsibilities was contributing to "democratic security" in Europe. Unsurprisingly, in those early months of 1996, the Council's main energies were focused on Bosnia-Herzegovina. While US pressure had pushed Presidents Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic into signing a peace agreement in Dayton on 21 November 1995, the hardest part - putting a country devastated by 3½ years of savage civil war back on its feet – still lay ahead. Essentially, the military aspects of this mission were entrusted to NATO (and its "strong arm", IFOR), and the civil aspects to the OSCE (and its "high representative", Carl Bildt), confirming in both cases the vital role played by the US. But Europe, having failed to end the war, was none the less determined to do everything it could to make the peace work: while the European Union co-ordinated economic aid (the "donors' conference", held in Brussels on 13 April 1996, resulted in the international community's pledging 1.3 thousand million dollars for that purpose), the Council of Europe played a leading role in helping Bosnia-Herzegovina - which had applied to join on 10 April 1995, six months before Dayton – to acquire new democratic institutions112
The Dayton agreements: the end of Bosnian suffering
The “Global Peace Agreement" for the former Yugoslavia, signed at Dayton (Ohio) after three weeks of non-stop negotiations, conducted behind closed doors and steered by Richard Holbrooke, Deputy Secretary of State responsible for European Affairs, was actually close to the Contact Group's peace plan of spring 1994: it preserved Bosnia-Herzegovina's 1992 boundaries, but provided for two distinct entities, the Serb Republic or "Republika Srpska" (49 % of the territory) and the Croat-Muslim Federation (51 %); Sarajevo was capital of both and the seat of a federal government and parliament comprising representatives of the three nations, who were to be appointed after the general elections scheduled for 14 September 1996. A multinational force of 60,000 men, the IFOR (Implementation force), was on hand to ensure, under NATO's aegis, that the peace plan was respected: it replaced UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 20 December 1995.
The peace agreement had the immense merit of stopping a war which had seemed never-ending, but everything suggested that the healing process would be, at best, long and difficult, and that unity and sovereignty in Bosnia-Herzegovina could be achieved only in the medium or long term – and only with the international community's continuing support (both civil and military). Moreover, comprehensive as they were, the Dayton texts skated over certain issues, all of them potential time- bombs: thus, nothing was done to stop the lethal trap from closing on Kosovo, where Slobodan Milosevic's intransigence - strengthened by the criticism which acceptance of the Dayton agreement had earned him at home – made advocates of the "peaceful way", like Ibrahim Rugovar, lose heart, and encouraged the emergence, within Kosovo's Albanian community, of paramilitary groups favouring armed resistance to Belgrade.
To help it keep track of the changing situation a few months after hostilities had ceased, the Assembly held a wide-ranging debate on "Implementation of the Dayton peace agreements in Bosnia-Herzegovina" on 24-25 April 1996. This threw an unusually full and detailed light on the problems faced by the men and women who were trying to make the agreements work on the ground: the participants included Elisabeth Rehn (the UN Human Rights Commission's special rapporteur), Gret Haller (the OSCE's Human Rights Mediator in Sarajevo), Antonio Cassese (President of the International Tribunal for Crimes Committed in the former Yugoslav), Hans Koschnick (former EU administrator in Mostar) and Rolf Ryssdal (President of the European Court of Human Rights).
Speaking at the start of the debate, Elisabeth Rehn was cautiously optimistic, but insisted that the Council of Europe and the whole international community must face up to their responsibilitiesrrrrrrrrr. The points she made were accepted by most of the other speakers, who gave the Assembly the benefit of their personal experience and the practical lessons they had learned in the field: the shooting might have stopped, the situation might gradually be stabilising, but everything - or nearly everything - still needed doing to consolidate the peace and make democracy work. The general feeling was summed up by Rolf Ryssdal: "The Dayton agreements have been the subject of criticism in certain quarters. Given the circumstances under which the accords were concluded, it would be surprising if they were perfect in every detail. However, let me say clearly that, before Dayton, there was war, and, without Dayton, there might well be war again. There is no other choice for the international community. It is in our direct self-interest that its full implementation should be accomplished as speedily and effectively as possible."
In that spring of 1996, the main blot on the immediate post-war scene in the former Yugoslavia was the failure of the parties to the peace agreements to co-operate with the international tribunal set up to try crimes committed since summer 1991. Antonio Cassese made no secret of his disappointment at the reactions of all of them, although the authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the "Republika Srpska" attracted his special indignationsssssssss. He emphasised that the effectiveness and credibility of the Tribunal, and also the future of the whole peace process, were at stake: "Without justice, peace is but a sandcastle, to be washed away by the relentless tide of ethnic hatred."
Unreservedly supporting the efforts of all those who were trying to enforce the peace agreement on the international community's behalf, the Assembly took these warning words to heart and recommended that the Committee of Ministers take as its yardstick for future relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) the latter's:
a. respect for, and implementation of, Council of Europe values, principles and standards;
b. strict compliance with the Dayton agreements, and particularly co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia;
c. response to Assembly Resolution 1077 (1996) on Albanian asylum-seekers from Kosovo.113
While urging the Committee of Ministers to take a firm line, the Assembly sent Belgrade a positive signal by adding that a decision on special guest status for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would probably be taken “in the near future”. The message to Slobodan Milosevic was a clear one: the sins of the past could be forgiven – but must not be repeated in the future. It hardly needs saying that the Belgrade dictator proved unable, or unwilling, to seize the hand extended to him.
The day before its debate on implementation of the peace agreements, the Assembly extended an encouraging hand to another of the Dayton protagonists, when it adopted a favourable opinion on the application for membership submitted by Franjo Tudjman's Croatia nearly four years previously. As in Russia's case three months earlier (though the stakes and situation were clearly very different), one central question divided the Assembly: with the Bosnian peace process still trembling in the balance, was this the right moment to pour "democratic unction" on a country whose internal situation and foreign policy were being heavily criticised by the OSCE, among others? Should the Council wait until the smoke cleared (or even, as some suggested, consider Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia together)? Or should it stick to its policy of "therapeutic accession", which seemed to have brought good results so far?
Some parliamentarians thought admitting Croatia premature114 but a broad majority accepted the favourable conclusions of the three rapporteurs, René van der Linden (Netherlands), Gunnar Jansson (Finland) and the Earl of Dundee (United Kingdom)115 Three decisive elements helped to tip the balance:
- the first was the list of twenty-one commitments which the Political Affairs Committee had submitted to the Croatian authorities, and which President Tudjman (and the President of the Croatian Parliament) had solemnly accepted, in a joint letter despatched on 15 March;
- the second was the unanimous support which Croatia received from its neighbours, the countries most directly concerned - Slovenia, the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", and also Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose “special guests”, Pero Vasilj and Edhem Bicakcic, both favoured admission;
- the third was the wholehearted backing which Croatia's application got from “civil society” at home - opposition parties, minority representatives, non-governmental organisations, etc., all of whom felt that its joining was bound to strengthen their position.
Of course, the Assembly's "yes" to Croatia was accompanied by an impressive list of conditions. These fell into two categories:116
- the 21 commitments officially accepted by Croatia's supreme political authorities: apart from satisfying the usual requirements concerning the Council's main conventions, Croatia was, among other things, to guarantee the security of its Serb population, to facilitate the return of displaced persons and refugees (and enable them to exercise their right to recover their property or receive compensation), to comply with its obligations under the Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, and co-operate with the United Nations Transitional Administration for this region (UNTAES), to co-operate fully and effectively in implementing the Dayton/Paris Agreements for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to actively assist the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in bringing before it without delay persons accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, to review media legislation (laws on public information, telecommunications and protection of competition), to continue with the procedure for election of a mayor of Zagreb in accordance with Council recommendations, to bring election laws and practices (particularly concerning representation of minorities and the diaspora, voter registration lists and voter anonymity) into line with Council standards, to increase the state broadcasting corporation's independence, and to carry out a population census "as soon as possible";
- in addition to these 21 commitments, the Assembly adopted a further 9 requirements in plenary session, during the actual debate on accession: these particularly concerned strict compliance with international humanitarian law and co-operation with the international humanitarian organisations, application of the law on the High Judiciary Council, effective guarantees for the rights and freedoms of ethnic and national minorities and for freedom of the media, a general amnesty for all former combatants not suspected of war crimes (to encourage the return of Croatian Serbs), and settlement of problems relating to the confiscation of property under the fascist and communist regimes.
In the opinion which it sent to the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly thus backed its "green light" with no less than 30 commitments (of which two-thirds had already been accepted by the Croatian authorities). In Russia's case, the Committee had rapidly confirmedttttttttt the Assembly's positive opinion, but it made no secret of its hesitations here. As often in diplomatic relations, the things left unsaid were more eloquent than those said or written: in the final communiqué on their 98th session (3 May 1996), which Russia's Foreign Minister, Yevgeni Primakov117 was attending for the first time as a full member, the Ministers said nothing of the Assembly's vote a week earlier! A few days later, the Committee initiated an uncompromising dialogue with the authorities in Zagreb, eventually deciding, on 2 July, to invite Croatia to join the Council. At the same time - and this was unprecedented - it added to this invitation:
- an explicit reference to a series of "priority commitments and expectations" accepted by the Croatian authorities (undertakings given directly to the Committee of Ministers itself and not simply during the pre-accession dialogue with the Assembly). Although the promises given the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers were largely the same, this distinction was vital, since it offered a basis, long after Croatia had joined, for specific dialogue between the Committee of Ministers and the Croatian authorities on compliance with their commitments;
- a suspensive clause allowing the Ministers' Deputies, in the second half of September, to reconsider this decision in the light of the manner in which, according to information they might receive “from all relevant sources”, Croatia
- had respected its obligations under the peace agreement for Bosnia-Herzegovina, and had, in particular, contributed to “the proper conduct of the elections” in that country;
- had demonstrated its willingness to honour all its commitments on joining and respond to the Council's “priority expectations”, as specified in the appendix to the letter of 7 June 1996 from the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to the Croatian Foreign Minister, and also its ability to comply with the other conditions required by the Statute;
- was co-operating with the Council of Europe, for example “in applying the constitutional law on human rights and freedoms and the rights of national and ethnic communities or minorities in the Republic of Croatia."118
In these months before the summer break, events seemed at first to be lending weight to fears that the Council might end by losing its soul in the enlargement process, which had started as a marathon and now become a sprint. While pressing ahead with its high-level political dialogue119 the Assembly adopted a more forceful tone and took a firm line on several delicate issues:
- first of all, it reminded Russia of its promises, particularly concerning a peaceful solution to the Chechnyan crisis120 There was at the time, both in the Assembly and elsewhere, considerable alarm at President Yeltsin's apparent inability to implement the plan he had proposed on 31 March 1996, which covered, among other things, a cease-fire, the withdrawal of federal troops, the convening of a "political forum for peace, bringing together representatives of the Chechen people and federal institutions", and talks on the future status of Chechnya;
- Turkey was next in line for its attention. Its difficult dialogue with Ankara since 1991 had already produced results which were far from negligible, since the constitutional reform of July 1995 had introduced important changes concerning political parties, the status of parliamentarians and parliamentary immunity, parliamentary and local elections and trade union freedoms, and since the anti-terrorist laws had been relaxed in October. Faced with a situation of governmental instability, in which the Head of the Refah (the Islamic Party), Necmettin Erbakan, having triumphed in the elections on 24 December 1995, was preparing to take over on 28 June 1996, the Assembly expressed its indignation at the continued detention of four of the six parliamentarians sentenced in 1994, but decided - in view of the progress made in the meantime - to continue reviewing the situation as part of the monitoring procedure it had launched for Turkey121
- Croatia, too, received a stern warning on compliance with the “commitments” accepted and “expectations” voiced in the run-up to the Assembly's positive vote on 24 April. A month later, the Assembly was dismayed to find that the Croatian authorities had since acted "in blatant disregard of their commitments", particularly concerning respect for local democracy in Zagreb, freedom of the media and co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, and supported the firm line taken by the Committee of Ministers in its recently launched dialogue with Zagreb122
- finally, Albania came under fire, because of the irregularities and violence which had marred the elections held on 26 May 1996123 Serious as these incidents were, the international observers felt that they did not compromise the newly elected parliament's legality, but they still reflected the country's lamentable political climate (symbolised by the "anti-genocide" law, which barred many opposition representatives from standing for election, supposedly because of their communist pasts) and roused serious doubts concerning Sali Berisha's ability to make Albania a fully-fledged democracy. The Assembly's proposal for a round table, at which all the country's political forces could meet and find a way out of the crisis, fell on deaf ears: on the contrary, as clash succeeded clash, the downward slide towards chaos continued inexorably.
These setbacks were proof - if proof were needed - that the path to peace and security in Europe was still anything but smooth. Pressing on regardless, the Council set out, in that summer of 1996, to explore what its magazine, "Forum", called its "last political frontier". Following their peripatetic predecessors' example, the new Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Siim Kallas124 and Secretary General Daniel Tarschys successively visited Baku (12-13 July), Tbilissi (14-15 July) and Yerevan (15-16 July), the capitals of the three Caucasian countries, to which the Assembly had decided to leave the door open two years earlier. Their journey proved a fruitful one, since the lead given by Armenia, which had already applied to join the Council on 7 March, was followed by Azerbaijan and Georgia, on 13 and 14 July respectively. This also spelt a new challenge, since all three countries, while genuinely enthusiastic about the European project125 were – in addition to the problems they faced in making the transition to democracy – riven by regional conflicts. South Ossetia and Abkhazia were the trouble spots for Georgia, and Nagorno Karabakh the flashpoint for both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In near-by Russia, after months of uncertainty, the results of the presidential elections on 16 June and 3 July restarted the drive for reform and peaceful settlement of the Chechnyan conflictuuuuuuuuu. The political success scored in Chechnya by the short-lived Yeltsin-Lebed tandem came as a huge relief to the international community, as did the successful holding of the first general elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 14 September, which resulted in the appointment of Alija Izetbegovic as first leader of the shared Bosnian presidency. Buoyed by these positive developments, which gradually gained ground over the logic of conflict still present in various parts of the continent, the Council of Europe could reasonably hope that another few years would bring it close to the goal - all but a mirage just eight years before – of bringing together, under one roof, all the states of Europe on the basis of a shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
To lend it substance, however, this prospect needed a powerful political gesture – the only kind capable of giving the now discernible unity of Greater Europe its true symbolic dimension, of making it, as it were, part of history. The Assembly was fully aware of this; on 24 September, in the wake of President Leni Fischer's official meeting with Jacques Chirac in Paris in the spring, it adopted Recommendation 1303 on the proposal for a second summit of heads of state and government of the Council of Europe. Unanimously approving the conclusions of the co-rapporteurs appointed by the Political Affairs Committee, Miguel-Angel Martinez and Jean Seitlinger, it:
- noted that the Council of Europe was facing great challenges which required “fresh thinking on resources and long-term goals for the role it should play in promoting a model of society for Europe in the twenty-first century”;
- declared that summit meetings of heads of state and government were “the sole means of renewing the political impetus of international institutions”;
- requested that a second Council of Europe summit be held in Strasbourg in the second half of 1997;
- made a whole series of proposals on questions for discussion and texts for adoption at this second summit.
A few weeks later, when they met for their 99th Session on 7 November 1996, the Ministers welcomed Croatia as the fortieth member state, thus taking the Council a step closer to its pan-European objective. Following the Assembly's lead, they stressed that a second summit would “foster the sense of a common European identity on the basis of shared values and promote the cohesion of the continent as a whole”, and welcomed France's willingness to organise the summit during the French chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers126 Behind the diplomatic language, the message was clear: the Council and Greater Europe were heading for a rendez-vous in autumn 1997, and everyone hoped that the meeting would prove fruitful for the continent's peace and stability.
THE SUMMIT OF GREATER EUROPE
More than seven years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, it seemed that 1997 might at last see the shock-wave triggered by the collapse of the second world war's bi-polar legacy channelled into a new system - if not at world level, at least in Europe. While US dominance and a general lack of direction were the main features of the world scenevvvvvvvvv, Europe was gradually evolving a “new order” of its own. This was chiefly reflected in a complex system of international institutions and organisations, some solely European (European Union, Council of Europe), others rooted in the Euro-Atlantic connection (NATO), and others again far broader in their geographical scope (OSCE, OECD). “Complementary” was the word diplomats liked to use of them, and the efforts of each were supposed to reinforce those of all the others (the “interlocking institutions” concept)wwwwwwwww. The main aim in 1997 was to organise this complementarity, sharing out tasks in the new Europe, and a whole series of top-level diplomatic meetings were programmed for this purpose:
- the first, on 2-3 December 1996, was the OSCE's Lisbon summit, at which its 54 member countries adopted a “Declaration on a common and comprehensive security model for Europe” and paved the way for preparation, by the end of the decade, of a security charter to guarantee peace in Europe in the twenty-first century;
- the next, on 16-17 June 1997, was the European Council in Amsterdam which, in the wake of the agreement painfully hammered out at the Dublin Summit (13 December 1996) on Germany's proposal for a stability pact, since renamed “stability and growth pact”, was set to conclude the work of the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference by adopting a new treaty for European Union;
- the third, on 8-9 July, was the NATO summit in Madrid, where the leaders of the 16 NATO countries would have to decide which of the ten would-be members in central and eastern Europe to admit – and when;
- the Council - the only European organisation which was not simply planning extension into central and eastern Europe, but had to a large extent completed it - was next on the list. Its Summit, scheduled for 10-11 October, would be taking stock of the spectacular changes which had catapulted its membership from 23 to 40 between 1990 and 1996, and working out new action priorities and a "post-enlargement" strategy;
- finally, on 12-13 December, the European Council would again be meeting in Luxembourg, to decide (in the light of the Amsterdam meeting's outcome) on enlargement of the EU to include the 10 applicant countries in central and eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus and Turkey.
In the space of a bare twelve months, the four organisations most involved in building the new Europe would thus be holding no fewer than five major meetings. If ever the "sherpas"127deserved their name, they deserved it in 1997, as they toiled across the intervening ranges towards an Everest - the new European order – which was still a long way off, but now seemed, for the first time, not entirely beyond reach.
At the Council, one of Europe's master builders was on hand to point the way. Feted by his country (France), his city (Strasbourg) and Europe (the European Parliament and Council of Europe), Pierre Pflimlin marked his ninetieth birthday on 5 February 1997 with a speech which held the political leaders, parliamentarians, ambassadors and senior government officials who had come to hear him at the Council spellbound. After a life spent serving Europe, witnessing - and frequently helping to shape - all the major stages in its development, he urged those who were now taking up the torch to respect "the primacy of spiritual values":
"What will the foundations of the future Europe be? It will certainly need the solid economic foundations provided by a market economy which respects the requirements of social justice - an economy whose keystone will be the single currency. The framing of a joint foreign and security policy will turn Europe into a major power, capable of bringing its full weight to bear in world affairs. The main aim of this policy will be peace. People sometimes forget that the founders of the Community were setting out, after half-a-century of war, to secure peace. And they succeeded. Western Europe has now had fifty years of peace, something it has not enjoyed in four centuries. The next stage is to lay the foundations of a lasting peace in security – yes, a Europe of peace. But the main link between peoples as diverse as the peoples of Europe is necessarily a spiritual one. When the peoples of central and eastern Europe rose against communist tyranny, when they threw off the shackles of Soviet domination, they were certainly motivated by a desire for greater prosperity, for a better standard of living. Above all, however, they wanted to live in societies ruled by western values: freedom, democracy, respect for human rights. The one thing which unites Europe, all of Europe, is a shared spiritual heritage, a civilisation centred on human beings and inspired by the humanism of the Enlightenment. I fully acknowledge that building this great Europe will be a difficult task. The Euro-sceptics and the Euro-pessimists have been dinning that into us for years. Jean Monnet had a stock answer for people who asked him if he was optimistic or pessimistic: "I am neither one nor the other, I am determined". It is determined men and women that Europe needs today – men and women determined to fight for the noble ideal of a Europe united in peace and liberty. I have laid aside all my offices and functions, but I still do all I can to fight for that ideal. The time is coming when I shall have to pass on to others the torch of faith and hope which I have tried to carry. I hope that this torch will light the way for those who have the task of building twenty-first century Europe - a prosperous Europe, a powerful Europe, but above all a Europe capable of ensuring that the primacy of spiritual values is recognised world-wide."
Writing in the Council's journal, “Forum”, Secretary General Daniel Tarschys struck a similar note when he rejected suggestions that the Organisation's rapid enlargement marked "the triumph of politics over principle". He felt, on the contrary, that the new member states' admission embodied “the politics of principle", since the nascent new Europe was being raised "on a rock-solid base of shared values: democracy, human rights, and the rule of law". He looked forward to the upcoming Summit in Strasbourg, which would help to build a "shared European civilisation, based on democratic societies".128
All the signs therefore suggested that, after years of "Euro-pessimism", optimism and confidence were on the way back. Soon, however, events in three European countries - including one Council member state – would provide a stern reminder that nothing could be taken for granted:
- in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko's constitutional coup of 24 November 1996 pulled the country up short on its progress towards Europe. On 13 January 1997, the Assembly suspended the new parliament's special guest status, simultaneously freezing the whole accession processxxxxxxxxx;
- in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, society was rocked by the Serbian authorities' attempt to override the victory scored in the municipal elections by the united opposition's "Together" coalition, and by the massive daily demonstrations, which followed from November 1996 to January 1997, until Slobodan Milosevic was forced to back down and acknowledge defeat;yyyyyyyyy
- finally, in Albania, the collapse of the "pyramid" savings scheme on 15 January 1997 triggered a state of insurrection, which lasted for months, ending only when a "national reconciliation" government was set up under joint OSCE, EU and Council of Europe supervision, and a multinational force, proposed by Italy and sponsored by the UN, arrived to restore order (“Operation Alba").zzzzzzzzz
Knowing full well that past successes were still fragile, and conscious of the dangers still facing parts of the continent, the Parliamentary Assembly deployed its usual strategy - organising fact-finding missions, despatching teams to monitor elections, inviting conflicting parties to round tables, scheduling emergency debates and issuing political declarations129 Its special attention was focused on Albania, where – for the first time in a Council member state - public order had practically collapsed. It gave the Committee of Ministers its unqualified support for implementation of the "multi-institutional initiative", launched by the OSCE, the European Union and the Council itself as a way of rescuing the country from chaos
In Resolution 1115 of 29 January 1997, the Assembly also imposed stricter checks on member states' compliance with their commitments by setting up a special committee for that purpose. Significantly, the birth of the new "Monitoring Committee" was accompanied by the demise of the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries – an unmistakable sign that the Council was now less concerned to attract new members than to ensure that existing ones did not undermine its credibility and authority by “playing the game” in theory, while ignoring some of the rules in practice. Significantly, too, the Assembly opted for tighter monitoring at the very time when the author of the 1993 "Halonen Order", now Finland's Foreign Minister, was herself chairing the Committee of Ministers. In her new office, Tarja Halonen set out to vitalise the Committee of Ministers' still tentative procedure by opening the door to dialogue with the Assembly in this area.aaaaaaaaaa
In the meantime, the Assembly's first public review of member states' compliance with their commitments left it largely satisfied. The verdict on Albania was mixed (with good reason), and the Assembly decided to continue monitoring that country, but Estonia (in January), Romania (in April), the Czech Republic and Lithuania (both in September) all passed the test, and monitoring of those countries was concluded130 The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, of which Genevan State Councillor Claude Haegi had been President since July 1996, also contributed to the process by setting up its own monitoring procedure, essentially focused on keeping member states up to the mark in the matter of local democracy (with specific reference to the Council's basic text, the European Charter of Local Self-Government).
In those early months of 1997, however, abolishing capital punishment in Europe was still top priority for the Assembly – and its rapporteur, Renate Wohlwend (Liechtenstein). Across the Atlantic, executions were running at an all-time record level in the United States, but the Assembly took an uncompromising line with Russia and Ukraine, the only two members to enforce the death penalty in 1996. On joining the Council, both countries had promised an immediate moratorium on executions, and the Assembly - realising that this was an important test case - was quick to threaten sanctions if they persisted in "flagrantly” breaking their word. It was, if anything, firmer with Ukraine than Russia, which had effectively halted executions since 2 August 1996, five months after joining the Council (there had been 53 in the first six months of the year). This positive trend was not matched in Ukraine, which had joined earlier, but had steadily ignored all the Council's warnings. Indeed, reliable sources indicated that, in addition to the 89 executions officially recorded in the first six months of 1996, many others had been carried out in secret, without even informing the victims' families.131
The Committee of Ministers, of course, would soon be entirely taken up with preparation of the Summit. In the meantime, it concentrated on pursuing and extending the Council's pioneering work in formulating European standards in new areas (or devising new approaches to old problems which had suddenly become more pressing). Every year since the Vienna Summit had brought some new and significant breakthrough: reform of the system for supervision of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1994, opening for signature of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1995, completion of the process for revision and revitalisation of the European Social Charter in 1996 (when the revised Social Charter, bringing the old Charter and its Protocols together in a single instrument, and increasing to thirty the number of basic social rights protected, was opened for signing).
One of the main events of 1997 was undoubtedly the opening for signature, on 4 April in Oviedo (Spain), of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, adopted by the Committee of Ministers the previous Novemberbbbbbbbbbb. Worked on for years, particularly by the Steering Committee on Bioethics, and batted back and forth between the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly (the first draft had been submitted in June 1994), the text laid down general principles to guide European countries in the field of bioethics, where a number of potentially incompatible values – economics and ethics, scientific progress and respect for nature in general and human beings in particular, the tremendous possibilities offered by medicine and the indefinable dividing line between life and death - were ranged against one another. “Flawed” for some, "too permissive" for others (in Germany, where nazi practices were still a traumatic memory, the text provoked fierce public debate), the convention had the immense merit of filling a yawning gap in the law: the significance of that gap itself was highlighted, that very spring, by the birth of “Dolly”, the world-famous cloned sheep, in Scotland.
Shortly after that, on 5 May 1997, the Committee of Ministers celebrated its 100th session. Enlargement of the Council, which had figured on the programme at the first-ever session, on 8 August 1949 (Greece and Turkey joined the ten founder members the following day), was now – paradoxically - off the agenda for the first time in years. Of course, the 100th session, at which France took over in the chair, was also, and chiefly, significant as the “kick-off” point in preparation of the Summit: the Ministers' attention was particularly taken up by the series of proposals which the French Foreign Minister, Hervé de Charette132had recently added to those put forward six months earlier by the Assembly133
As the major meetings scheduled for the summer and autumn drew closer, the issues they would have to discuss became clearer. One of the most important, by any standards, was co-operation between the principal European organisations, and this was successively confirmed by the leaders of the Council's three main partners when they spoke in the Assembly:
- Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission, had no doubts concerning objectives, and took it as self-evident that, when tasks were being shared out, each organisation should get the job it could do best: "Redesigning the institutional landscape of Greater Europe is our most important task for the years leading up to the start of the third millennium. Ensuring that our continent enjoys peace, stability, security and prosperity while observing the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights represents the historic moral responsibility which we must assume. We must resolve in Europe to ensure our common future in the full sense of the term. This task will be all the easier if we have an institutional organisation which meets three requirements: the requirement of security, the requirement of political dialogue and the requirement of economic integration." He saw the task facing European governments and European organisations as necessarily global: all their efforts must focus on achieving a joint and historic objective which was now within reach – that of reconciling Europe with itself;134
- for Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO, the main concern was security in Europe, a necessary (though not the only) condition of the continent's prosperity and development. New approaches, geared more to preventing than managing crises, were needed, and so were imaginative solutions making it possible to involve all the states of Europe - whether or not they belonged to particular organisations - in the shared endeavour. Co-operation between all the organisations actively involved in
building Europe was vital: "I said earlier that no single organisation could guarantee security now. We are at the end of the twentieth century. We are almost touching the twenty-first century with the tips of our fingers. We need interlocking institutions all working together so as to create a net of relationships and of interest that will be impossible to break.";135
- his sense of the vital need for security and stability in Europe was fully shared by Niels Helveg Petersen, Danish Foreign Minister and President of the OSCE. Having chaired the Committee of Ministers just a short time before, he was well qualified to speak of the prospects for co-operation between the two organisations: "The OSCE and the Council of Europe are partners. We must enrich each other with new ideas and practices. We must strengthen the complementary elements of our work, for only with close, mutually reinforcing co-operation can we effectively meet the challenges ahead to the benefit of the future Europe."136
The Council of Europe's Secretary General followed the same line when he cited the old adage, "Solidarity is the most intelligent way of being selfish", and called, fifty years after the launching of the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe in spring 1947, for a "substantial action plan” to promote its democratic stability. In this connection, Daniel Tarschys stressed what he called the "comparative advantages” of the Council.
"First, there is our scope. With our pan-European dimension, we can extend co-operation to the whole continent and include all European democracies. In this way we also strengthen the sense of community and cohesion in our reunited continent.
Secondly, there is our experience. Through many decades of work in the most diverse areas, we have built extensive networks of knowledge and expertise throughout Europe. These are now available to our new member states and help them to integrate smoothly into the European co-operation structures.
Thirdly, we have our standards, which provide a common European frame of reference, give coherence to our activities and have come to play a very important role in national policy reforms.
Fourthly, there are our many partners. Council of Europe bodies bring together ministers, parliamentarians, academic experts and people from the local authorities and government. We draw heavily on the non-governmental organisations and the youth organisations of Europe. The chemical mixture of these components has produced many impressive results.
Fifthly, there is the efficiency of our working methods. The Council of Europe is a flexible and cost-effective organisation that can easily respond to new challenges. Its decision-making processes have coped well with the substantial increase in its membership. Where necessary, we use variable geometry forms. And we are efficient, not least through our leverage effect, by mobilising efforts and resources far beyond our own modest means."137
This repeated insistence on the virtues of international co-operation, echoed by a "plaidoyer pro domo" from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, was useful in turning the "new European order" into a global project, on which all the European organisations could work together, but none could claim as its own exclusive preserve. This was not, however, the whole story. Equally important was a serious effort to prepare Europeans - particularly politicians and the public in central and Eastern Europe - for the painful decisions taken at the EU and NATO Summits, where, in the biblical phrase, "many were called, but few were chosen":
- the EU had made undeniable progress in some areas, particularly by strengthening the democratic legitimacy of its institutions (with substantially increased powers for the European Parliament) and also its "social dimension" (employment policy was now part of its remit), but the Amsterdam Treaty totally failed to achieve its original goal - institutional reform. The new emphasis on social questions and more democracy certainly reflected the "pink Europe" heralded by the election victories of Tony Blair in Britain and Lionel Jospin in France, but the EU's failure to overhaul its institutional and financial machinery inevitably brought the enlargement process to a near-standstill: designed for six members, and finding it hard to function with fifteen, how could the EU accept another ten or twelve without grinding to a halt? In these circumstances, the Commission's publication in July of "Agenda 2000" – recommending that negotiations on membership be started with six countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia and Cyprus) early in 1998 – seemed an act of sheer political determination, and came as a welcome surprise to some of those countries, which had lost all hope of "first wave" accession;
- the decisions taken by NATO at its Madrid Summit on 8-9 July were even more restrictive. Enlargement, in the run-up to the Organisation's fiftieth anniversary in 1999, was limited to the "Visegrad triangle” countries (Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic), while Romania and Slovenia were merely promised a place in the "second wave", but given no actual dates. Strengthening its ties with the 11 "Partnership for Peace" countries (by setting up a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to replace the COCONA), the Alliance also institutionalised its links with the two main players in central and eastern Europe: after the agreement concluded with Russia on 27 May, a charter on machinery for consultation between NATO and Ukraine was signed on 9 July.
NATO promised security, and the EU economic development – so membership of both was clearly top of the new democracies' wish-list. Small wonder, then, that the delight of the favoured few was matched only by the disappointment of the others, far more numerous, whose hopes of joining the European process had now been dashed for years, if not decades. In these circumstances, where could the continent achieve reconciliation with itself – where, if not at the Council of Europe?
This, in a fundamental sense, was what the Strasbourg Summit, on 10-11 October, was all about. From the impressive turnout, it was clear that Europe's leaders realised this. No fewer than 46 heads of state and government, representing nearly all the countries of Europe,cccccccccc accepted French President Jacques Chirac's invitation. Symbolically, the extraordinary "family photo" taken to mark the occasion came fifty years, almost to the day, after the Marshall plan's rejection, under Soviet pressure, by the countries of central and eastern Europe (a move which sealed the division of Europe into two blocs, making the iron curtain, which Winston Churchill had seen descending over Europe in 1946, a fixture). Otherwise, of course, the Strasbourg Summit did not signal the "end of Yalta", which had actually occurred when Hungary joined the Council in 1990. What it did express – coming back yet again to Jacques Santer's phrase – was Europe's reconciliation with itself. Never in all its long history had the continent seen such a massive gathering of all its leaders. Were those leaders themselves fully aware that they were making history? Perhaps not - but that, none the less, is what Jacques Chirac, Lionel Jospin, Helmut Kohl, Romano Prodi, José-Maria Aznar, Tony Blair, Boris Yeltsin, Vaclav Havel, Mesut Yilmaz, Leonid Kuchma, Edward Chevardnadze and all the others were doing in that month of October 1997.
All of this was striking and symbolic, but symbolic significance was simply not enough to make the Summit a success. To outlast the "family photo", Europe's reconciliation with itself needed firm foundations to make it permanent:
- the first of those foundations was provided by the Council's "fundamental principles". This was why the Final Declaration adopted at the Summit lost no time in declaring: "We, Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe, meeting in Strasbourg on 10 and 11 October 1997 for our Organisation's Second Summit, […] solemnly reaffirm our attachment to the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe - pluralist democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law - and the commitment of our governments to comply fully with the requirements and meet the responsibilities arising from membership of our Organisation." This solemn, shared commitment to the fundamental values written into the Council's Statute did not simply hark back to the sources of the European project. It was also, and above all, a message for the future - a collective task entrusted to the Council and its members. As Jacques Chirac put it in his opening speech: "This second summit first of all bears witness to the increasing role played by the Council of Europe: as a symbol of the recovered unity of our continent, it is the essential instrument for anchoring democracy and the promotion of human rights in the whole of Europe";
- the second foundation was equality of all the states of Europe. For the purpose of stifling, once and for all, that spirit of confrontation and conquest which had caused so much tragedy throughout the continent's history, a partnership pact, based on mutual respect and enrichment, was concluded: "All different, all equal"! The statements made at the Summit by the leaders of Europe's largest country and one of its smallest are worth recalling here. The conviction voiced by Russia's Boris Yeltsin ("We are now poised to begin building together a new, greater Europe, free from dividing lines: a Europe where no state will impose its will on others, a Europe where big and small countries are equal partners united by common democratic principles.") was echoed by Liechtenstein's Head of Government Mario Frick: "When fundamental values of the community are seriously challenged, a clear commitment is necessary. In this context, it is precisely the smaller countries which can never be accused of pursuing hidden interests and which are called upon to combat lawlessness, unscrupulousness and violence.";
- the third foundation of Europe's nascent unity was the dual emphasis placed on internal diversity and external openness. In a world increasingly interdependent and well on the way to becoming the "global village" prophesied by McLuhan in the late 1960s, Europe could best affirm its identity by preserving and making the most of the infinitely diverse elements which together gave the "common European home" its character – and affirmation of this multi-faceted identity naturally made for exchange with other continents. The Summit participants were fully aware that Europe was necessarily a plural entity, and fully aware that the diversity they hailed as its greatest asset was a matter, not just of differences between states, but of differences within states and between transfrontier communities – in short, that extraordinary mosaic of peoples, nations and cultural and linguistic communities which together made up the continentdddddddddd. But Europe also needed to remember its responsibilities to the rest of the world (this was the force of the paragraph in the Final Declaration which called for "understanding between the citizens of the North and the South, in particular through information and civic education for young people, as well as initiatives aimed at promoting mutual respect and solidarity among peoples."). Europe's determination to unite on the basis of its values, while opening itself to the rest of the world, was saluted by Bill Clinton, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and the Canadian Government in written messages to the leaders at the Summit. This dual stance found its fullest expression in the Final Declaration's appeal for universal abolition of the death penalty. Here, the heads of state and government were counting on the force of example – insisting, in the meantime, that “existing moratoria on executions in Europe" must be maintained.
But proclaiming Europe's unity - even while realising that securing it might take a little time - and laying its foundations were still not enough. It also had to be given practical expression, to be anchored progressively in reality. This was the purpose of the action plan appended to the Final Declaration adopted in Strasbourg138 As UK Prime Minister Tony Blaireeeeeeeeee stressed at the Summit, promises mean nothing unless they are backed by resources and practical measures. There are five main points which deserve emphasising here:
- the Council had certainly put out to sea at the first Summit in Vienna, but shipwreck remained a possibility, and the second Summit's job was to keep it on course and save it from the fate of that other “unsinkable” vessel whose story would soon be getting wide-screen treatment and breaking cinema box-office records. As the Organisation expanded to bring all the countries of Europe together under one roof, clear-sightedness and vigilance were the qualities it needed to serve its members' best interests (particularly in cases where democracy was still a fragile growth). Assembly President Leni Fischer put this bluntly: "Unfortunately our Organisation's principles are not always universally respected. That is a matter of common knowledge. There are constant violations of human rights in our member states, and even torture and executions. The separation of powers continues to be infringed, the press is muzzled, minorities are oppressed, freedom of religion is flouted and opposition parties are the subject of undemocratic attacks. We cannot just sweep such facts under the carpet in order to retain 'family harmony', families must be able to speak the truth, and the truth sometimes hurts";
- the second major element in the Summit's strategy was action to help the Council do even more in the area where it had most to offer: democracy and human rights. Chapter 1 of the Action Plan embodied three striking initiatives for this purpose: within a year, the new European Court of Human Rights, already approved in Vienna, was to become operational; Finland's proposal, made a year earlier, for a Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner was to be implemented; and the brand-new Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine was to get a protocol, banning the cloning of human beings;
- the third element was the new priorities spelled out for the Council in Chapters II, II and IV of the Action Plan, dealing respectively with social cohesion, citizen security and "democratic values and cultural diversity";
- the fourth was structural reform of the Council, called for by the Assembly in spring 1993, and again by the Vienna Summit – but so far without effect. This time, Europe's leaders left the Committee of Ministers in no doubt that they wanted action taken, in the run-up to the Organisation's 50th anniversary in 1999, to adapt it “to its new tasks and its enlarged membership and to improve its decision-making process". This priority was written into Chapter V of the Action Plan, and backed by specific instructions on implementation of the Summit's decisions;
- the fifth element was incorporation of all these commitments and measures within a coherent whole – the "new European order". The Summit leaders were determined that the Council must intensify “its contribution to cohesion, stability and security in Europe", but they also wanted it to co-operate more broadly with "other European and transatlantic organisations, in particular the European Union and the OSCE", a point which they made again when they called for speedy implementation of the Action Plan, “by the various Council of Europe bodies, in co-operation with the European and other international organisations."
These were the Final Declaration's concluding words, and they set the Council's agenda for the next eighteen months. The message was a clear one: in the time remaining to its 50th birthday, it was – working closely with its European partners, particularly the EU and the OSCE – to focus all its energies on implementing the Summit's decisions. In short, as the Secretary General put it in a memorandum at the Committee of Ministers' 101st session a month later, the time had come to turn words into deeds...
FROM WORDS TO DEEDS
The curtain had barely fallen in Strasbourg, and the fifth and last in the year-long series of summits was yet to come in Luxembourgffffffffff, when the Committee of Ministers switched all its energies onto pursuit of just one aim: full and rapid implementation of the decisions taken at the Strasbourg summit – those embodied in the Action Plan, of course, but also those spelled out in certain sections of the Final Declaration, which were plainly not mere rhetoric.
Opening the Committee of Ministers' 101st session, less than a month after the summit (on 6 November 1997), Pierre Moscovici made it clear what the Council's political priority would be in the eighteen months still left till its fiftieth anniversary: “From a national angle, I am very pleased with the media coverage and political success of the summit. But beyond this, the long-term effectiveness of the event very much depends on whether it can produce tangible results.”
Decisions on implementing two parts of the Action Plan were taken at once:
- the first concerned the cloning of human beings: the Ministers banned this in a protocol to the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which they decided to open for signing by Council member states in Paris on 12 January 1998gggggggggg;
- the second concerned corruption: the Ministers adopted twenty principles to guide member states when legislating against this – and provide points of reference for the Council's own standard-setting work in this area.
Two new committees were also established: a “Committee of Wise Persons” (composed of leading figures on the European scene) to make proposals on structural reform of the Council by the end of 1998hhhhhhhhhh; and a “Follow-up Committee”, chaired by the French Ambassador, to monitor progress with implementation of the summit's decisions and report to the Ministers at all their sessions up to the Council's fiftieth Anniversary. France and Germany were set to play a major part in all of this, since Germany succeeded to the chair immediately after this session, and its deputy Foreign Minister, Helmut Schäfer, at once submitted – on behalf of Klaus Kinkel – a twelve-point programme reflecting its priorities for follow-up action on the summit.
Deeply involved from the outset (the summit itself and nearly all the measures finally included in the Action Plan had been its suggestions), the Assembly was no laggard either. Three months later, it was already sizing up the outcome. Politically, the summit had been an undoubted success – the top-level attendance and quality of the texts adopted were sure signs of that – but the Assembly agreed with the Ministers that it was “implementation of the decisions taken” which would count in the long run, and insisted that “adequate funding” would be indispensable139 It was itself determined to do all it could to ensure that the summit's “words” became “deeds” without delay. Its rapporteur, Miguel-Angel Martinez, noted that it would “probably
be chiefly concerned with the follow-up in the coming months”, and warned the members that failure was certain unless they all put their shoulders to the wheeliiiiiiiiii.
His words were wise and timely: while waiting for them to take effect, the Assembly itself took four immediate steps to meet the challenge facing the Council as a whole:
- first of all, at this January session – a few days after the Russian Duma had voted for ratification of the European Convention on Human Rightsjjjjjjjjjj – it elected 31 of the 39 judges who, before the year was out, would be sitting as full-time members of the new and permanent Court of Human Rights (the eight remaining judges were chosen at the April session);
- secondly, harking back to its own earlier statements on the question, but also to the firm and solemn declaration adopted by the summit, it repeated its stern warning to Ukraine, which had broken the pledge it had given the Council on joining by carrying out further executions in 1997. Knowing that the question was causing internal political problems, both among voters and many politicians, and that the forthcoming elections were likely to prove difficult for the parties most in favour of
aligning the country on Europekkkkkkkkkk, the Assembly held back from imposing the immediate sanctions demanded by some members; but it warned the authorities in Kyiv (and the future parliament) that the Ukrainian delegation's credentials would not be approved at its next session unless the secrecy surrounding executions were lifted, and “documentary and undeniable proof” produced that a moratorium had been imposed on enforcement of the death penalty140
- on the basis of its longstanding work on this question, and of the policy line solemnly laid down in the summit's Final Declarationllllllllll, the Assembly also decided to set up a new committee to promote equal opportunity for women and men in the member states, and encourage implementation of the equal opportunity policy pursued within the Council Secretariat (at Catherine Lalumière's initiative) since the early 1990s141
- finally, in response to the summit's insistence on the importance of social rights and social cohesion as essential complements to democracy and human rights, the Assembly devoted two in-depth debates to the future of the European Social Charter and action to combat social exclusion and strengthen social cohesion in Europe. Concerned at the threat which social division might pose to democracymmmmmmmmmm, it proposed a whole series of measures to the Committee of Ministers. These were essentially designed to make the Council's reference texts in this area (above all, the revised Social Charter) the basis of a “European social model”, which would provide the incentives needed to generate wealth, and at the same time guarantee basic social rights for all, and particularly the poorest members of the community142
Alongside follow-up action on the summit, the Council's main concern throughout 1998 was the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 January, the Assembly devoted a first current affairs debate to “Recent developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and their implications for the Balkan region”. As the storm clouds gathered over Kosovo (with the coming to power of an ultra-nationalist coalition in Belgrade and the growing strength of the KLA – the Kosovo Liberation Army – within the Albanian community), and hopes of securing a peaceful solution seemed to fade by the day, the Assembly set out to help before it was too late. Building on its own freedom of action and faithful to the summit's declared policy of ultimately bringing the entire “European family” together in the Council, it sought to pave the way for what its rapporteur, Andras Barsony (Hungary), Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee, called “permanent dialogue with Yugoslavia”. The fact that a Yugoslav parliamentary delegation took part in the debate was the first practical sign of this.
The discussions on 28 January showed, however, just how difficult the dialogue was going to be. The Belgrade government's spokesman, Ljubisa Ristic, took an encouraging position (“The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is ready to promote – on a lasting basis and in our mutual interests – its relations with all European countries within the Council of Europe. Therefore, it expects to be granted full membership of the Council soon, with special guest status in the Assembly as a first step.”), but neither he nor his opposition counterpart, Mr. Milan Komnenic, showed any sign of knowing what Council membership actually implied. Both minimised their country's responsibility for the Kosovan crisis and repeatedly insisted that this was a purely domestic matternnnnnnnnnn. Their performance left the Assembly divided: some members were prepared to swallow the Yugoslav lineoooooooooo, but the great majority shared Lord Russell-Johnston's angry surprise: “They seem to think – extraordinarily enough – that there should be no interference of any kind in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. What is the Council of Europe all about, then? For us, there are no boundaries or borders when it comes to human rights.“
The resolution adopted by the Assembly at the close of the debate left no doubt concerning its reasons for initiating dialogue – and its conditions for letting it continue143
- the Council of Europe, and the international community as a whole, could not remain indifferent to “the deteriorating political situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”: this was not only a serious threat to stability in the Balkans, but a matter of direct concern to the Council, since all the states adjacent to the FRY were members – apart from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had applied to join;
- it was clear what needed to be done: “only the immediate introduction of democratic constitutional and legislative reforms, guaranteeing, in particular, the freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary and the protection of human rights and rights of minorities, as well as a fair and clear democratic attitude shown by the political leadership” would allow the FRY to rejoin the European family;
- on Kosovo, the Assembly adopted a balanced attitude, without leaving any doubt concerning primary responsibility for the crisis: it condemned “the continued repression of the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo”, which had sparked armed resistance, while expecting “the political representatives of the Albanian community in Kosovo immediately and unconditionally to condemn and refrain from the use of violence as a means to resolve the conflict with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”;
- the international community must judge Belgrade by its actions, particularly when it came to respecting the Dayton agreements, and must use both carrot and stick to bring Slobodan Milosevic to heel: “Positive steps by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should be rewarded by economic assistance, while sanctions should be kept in place, or increased, in case of persistent failure to comply with the demands of the international community”;
- finally, no explicit move was made at this stage towards closer links with the FRY: it was true that Belgrade was still obstinately demanding to be regarded as the former Yugoslavia's full and natural successor, refusing to ask for something which it considered a right144 The Assembly merely referred to the conclusions reached in 1992 by the Badinter Commission, which had decided that Slovenia, Croatia, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were all “equal successors to the disintegrated Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia”.
Having signalled the route, the Assembly focused all its energies on achieving its short and long-term aims: the first was to secure “a second Dayton, without a second Bosnia” (as Albania's Namik Dokle put it); the second was progressive reintegration of the FRY (and the Serbian people) into the “European family”. The first move was spectacular: following a visit by Assembly President Leni Fischer to Belgrade (where she met Slobodan Milosevic) and Pristina (where she talked to the Albanian community's leaders) on 12-14 March, the FRY officially applied, through Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, to join the Council. In their letter, the Belgrade authorities affirmed their willingness to accept without reserve all the principles and aims written into the Council's Statute, and to respect the obligations of membership, and promised that, on joining, the FRY would sign the European Convention on Human Rights and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
However, good intentions on paper were belied by bad actions in the field: two-faced as ever, Slobodan Milosevic had just launched a vast military offensive in Drenica, where dozens of Albanians were killed in violent clashes with the Federal Yugoslav forces. Ibrahim Rugova, “President” of the Kosovan Albanians since 1992 and a staunch advocate of peaceful solutions, was confirmed in office on 22 March (in elections which, once again, were recognised neither by Belgrade nor the international community), but this changed nothing – violence was again the order of the day. In the weeks and months which followed, the champions of reason, dialogue and conciliation gradually lost ground, on both sides, to the hard-liners, whose policies could lead to only one thing – war.
There were still hopes, however, in that spring of 1998, that the crisis in Kosovo could be contained and tragedy averted. Optimists in need of encouragement could look to Northern Ireland, where spectacular success was being made towards finding a political solution to another long-running conflict which had so far seemed intractable. On 10 April, Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern met at Stormont (in the suburb of Belfast) to sign a peace agreement – an agreement which earned its two main protagonists, the Protestant David Trimble and the Catholic John Hume, the Nobel Peace Prize in the autumn.
Northern Ireland: peace, endly?
The “Good Friday Agreement” (so-called because signed on that day) won massive approval from the people of Northern Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, in the referendum held on 22 May. Without being directly involved, the Council of Europe made its influence felt, since three of its most important conventions (the European Convention on Human Rights, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages) were an integral part of the legal norms on which Ulster's future was to be built. In political terms, the new Northern Ireland Assembly and the government based on it held the keys to making the peace process work: the outcome of the election held on 25 June and David Trimble's appointment as Prime Minister on 1 July offered solid guarantees here, even if tension has risen again in Spring 1999. The Stormont process, the most spectacular aspect of the impressive drive for institutional reform and decentralisation launched by Tony Blair on coming to power in the United Kingdom in May 1997, has an importance going well beyond the setting-up in Scotland and Wales of new institutions symbolising a modern, decentralised state: for the Irish, the British and Europeans everywhere, it holds out the hope that a civil-war-type situation which has no place in twenty-first century Europe will be brought to an end once and for all.
On 4 May, David Andrews, Irish Foreign Minister, and Paul Murphy, British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, presented the agreement to their colleagues on the Committee of Ministers. Welcoming the success of the peace-making efforts, the Committee - at the suggestion of Bronislaw Geremek, Polish Foreign Minister and President-in-office of the OSCE – suggested that the breakthrough might hold lessons for other parts of Europe which were also a prey to deep-seated tensions. The Assembly also found, when it discussed the question on 24 June, that lessons could be learned from Northern Ireland, and even identified a series of principles which had worked in Ulster and might, it felt, help to settle conflicts in other parts of Europe and elsewhere.pppppppppp
The other bright spot that spring – one which seemed to hold the promise of unity and prosperity for Europe in the future – was the EU leaders' decision, taken at an extraordinary summit meeting in Brussels on 1-2 May, to give the future single currency a broad international base by choosing eleven countries to launch the euro on 1 January 1999. This vital decision was taken at a time when the world economy was threatened by the stock-market crash which, starting in Thailand, had gradually spread through south-east Asia, plunging even the powerful Japanese economy into problems unknown since the post-war era. The final swing towards the euro saved the countries of western Europe from the worst of the crisis, which rocked the Russian and South-American economies that summer. In Moscow, the economic and financial debacle toppled the short-lived government of Sergei Kiryenko, imposed on a reluctant Duma by Boris Yeltsin on 24 April (to replace Viktor Chernomyrdin, who had been dismissed on 23 March) and finally succeeded by a new team under Evgeni Primakov's leadership.
These two “rays of sunshine” – the Northern Ireland peace agreement and the EU's plans for launching of the euro – encouraged the Assembly to ignore the setbacks and hold to its course. The emphasis at its April session was again on ensuring that members lived up to their commitments:
- the first of its annual debates on the progress of its monitoring procedures (following the setting-up of a specific monitoring committee) gave it a chance to spell out the thinking behind this exercise, and also the resources involved. A “non-confrontational long-term approach, based on the logic of persuasion” was to help solve specific problems in monitored countries. The central element in this approach would be political dialogue (with the national parliamentary delegation as prime interlocutor), taking full account of “the geopolitical context and domestic concerns” of the country under review. In the full sense a “discourse on method”, Resolution 1155 of 21 April 1998 on the progress of the Assembly's monitoring procedures (April 1997 - April 1998) also detailed the aims of this operation and insisted on the need for greater co-operation and more dialogue with the Committee of Ministers in this area;
Note The aims of the monitoring of compliance with commitments, according to the Parliamentary Assembly
Note “i. The purpose of monitoring is to help ensure that all countries build upon, and stay within, a common legal and political framework of the rule of law, of parliamentary democracy, and of human rights protection according to the standards of the Council of Europe;
Note ii. The opening of a monitoring procedure – in respect either of a limited number or wide range of issues – has, as such, no implications for the status of any country as a member of the Council of Europe;
Note iii. Monitoring is the expression of the Assembly's political will to ensure that:
Note - no unnecessary strains are placed on the European Court of Human Rights;
Note - commitments entered into upon accession to the Council of Europe should be met;
Note - the principles of pluralist democracy are respected;
- a crisis of state authority does not put basic human rights at risk.”
- in the information report on Russia's compliance with its obligations and commitments, presented on 22 June by Ernst Muehlemann (Switzerland) and Rudolf Bindig (Germany), the Assembly stressed the “undeniable progress” made by Moscow since joining the Council – above all, its ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention on the prevention of torture, which had given 150 million Russians basic guarantees unthinkable just a few years before. It also recognised, however, that much still remained to be done. Daniel Hoeffel (France) summed up the priorities: “The application of rights and obligations throughout Russia – and we do realise what an effort it takes to ensure that decisions taken in Moscow are applied everywhere; a clearer division of responsibilities between the Ministries of Justice and the Interior, and increased parliamentary control; implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights, taking it from ratification to practical application; the maintenance of friendly relations with all Russia's neighbouring states – which is vital to sustaining a climate of confidence between the new partner countries of eastern Europe; and effective action against corruption and organised crime, which must continue if the transition to a market economy is to succeed.”;
- finally, Turkey came under scrutiny again on 25 June, when the Assembly discussed the humanitarian situation of Kurdish refugees and displaced persons in south-east Turkey and northern Iraq. This debate, which took place outside the framework of the monitoring procedure, highlighted the irreconcilable differences between Greek and Cypriot parliamentarians and their Turkish counterparts – and also the extent to which members from other countries differed in their attitudes to the Kurdish problem and the situation in Turkey as a whole. Those who favoured firmness, including the rapporteur, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold (Switzerland), were warned by other speakers, like Walter Schwimmer (Austria), that breaking off the dialogue with Turkey could be dangerous in the climate of political instability which had followed Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's forced resignation and the dissolution of his Islamic party, the “Refah”. At the end of a heated debate, the Assembly adopted a balanced position. Among other things, it145
- strongly condemned “the violence and terrorism perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers' Party”, which had contributed to “population displacement and movements”, and urged it to cease all armed activity;
- also condemned “the burning and evacuation of villages by the Turkish armed forces”;
- condemned “the armed confrontation between the various Kurdish political organisations”, which were exploiting the Kurdish people for their own ends, and making it hard to provide and distribute humanitarian aid effectively;
- stressed that any criticisms levelled at member states such as Turkey were “made in a constructive spirit” and emphasised “the importance of Turkish participation alongside other states and the need to reconcile absolute respect for its territorial integrity and respect for minority rights”;
- recommended that the Committee of Ministers invite Turkey to adopt an impressive series of 18 measures which would, in its view, help to improve the situation146
- called for resumption of the financial co-operation promised by the EU, with a view to fostering economic development in Turkey, and particularly its south-eastern provinces;
- decided to continue examining the question of the Kurdish minority as part of the monitoring procedure applying to Turkey.
However, in those early months of summer 1998, the main focus of concern, for the Council of Europe and the whole international community, was neither Moscow nor Ankara, but still and unchangingly Belgrade and Kosovo. he increasingly frail thread of dialogue between Serbs and Albanians finally snapped as a result of two things: the massive, 95 approval which Slobodan Milosevic's rejection of foreign mediation in Kosovo received in a referendum held among Serbs on 24 April and, above all, the fresh military offensive unleashed by the Yugoslav army on 19 May. Triggering a first massive influx of Kosovan refugees into Albania, this offensive sounded the death-knell over the efforts of those who, from Richard Holbrooke to Boris Yeltsin, were still working desperately for a political solution.
Mindful of its special responsibilities in that part of Europe, Greece (then chairing the Committee of Ministers) also submitted, through its Deputy Foreign Minister, Giorgios Papandreou147 a four-point action plan in a last attempt to stave off the final calamity:
- the first point was to demand an immediate cease-fire, putting an end to both the “terrorist attacks” of the KLA and the “ethnic cleansing” practised by the Serbian security forces;
- the second was to introduce “continuous and credible monitoring of the human rights situation in Kosovo by the Council of Europe”, so that political action taken by the international community concerning Kosovo could be based “on an objective assessment and global information”;
- the third was to look beyond Kosovo to the entire Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where the most elementary rights – particularly concerning freedom of information and free expression of opinion – were everywhere at risk;
- the fourth and final one was to draw up a list of measures which Belgrade must immediately take to bring its laws and practices into line with Council standards, so that its membership application of 18 March could be considered.
Like all the others, this appeal to reason was ignored by those who seemed bent on plunging into the abyss, with results as catastrophic and suicidal as those triggered by the same choices in Bosnia six years earlier. Discussing “the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” again on 24 June, the Assembly could only note the helplessness of the Council and the international community. At the same time, it:
- squarely put the blame where it belonged (“the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and President Milosevic personally, bear a primary responsibility for this new escalation of violence”), and
- coupled this new appeal for a change of heart in Belgrade with a warning: “In case of failure to abide by the requests of the international community and the continuation of violence against the civilian population, all options at the disposal of the international community, including military ones, should be kept open to prevent further bloodshed.”148
The Committee of Ministers showed that it shared the Assembly's view of the situation when it declared, in its reply of 9 September to Recommendations 1368 and 1376, that discussion of the FRY's application for membership had been suspended because of its “lack of seriousness and credibility”, and that “a radical change of policy by Belgrade” would be needed before it could be considered. Keen-eyed observers of the international scene were under no illusions, and Thierry de Montbrial noted, in his introduction to “Ramses I999” (written in late summer 1998): “The war – for that is what it is – has started in Kosovo”.
The international community's immediate priority, however, was to stave off a general conflagration in the Balkans, where Albania – in the throes of yet another crisis – was again the focus of concern. The discussions under way between the various Albanian political groups on giving the country a badly-needed democratic constitution were abruptly broken off when six former leaders of Sali Berisha's Democratic Party were arrested on 31 August. The tensions spiralled out of control on 13-14 September, when Azem Hajdari, a parliamentarian, was murdered, and a wave of violence erupted, culminating in a failed attempt by Sali Berisha and his partisans to seize power by force. Rapid, co-ordinated action by the OSCE, the EU, WEU and the Council of Europe helped to calm the situation, and the international community's long-term commitment to Albania found firm expression in the “Friends of Albania Group”, comprising various states and international organisations. In these circumstances, finalisation and adoption of the long-awaited constitution was a spectacular result – for Albania itself and for the international community which had rallied round to help it make the transition to democracy.
With relative calm restored in the region, the Committee of Ministers was able to turn its attention once again to the priority set for the Council at the beginning of the year – follow-up action on the second summit. At its 103rd session, held in Strasbourg on 3-4 November, significant progress was made on several fronts:
- following the creation of the “Group of States against Corruption” (GRECO) in May, the Ministers adopted a criminal law convention on corruption. Giving member states a major new legal instrument, this marked an important step forward in international co-operation in this area. A convention covering civil law aspects of the fight against corruption and organised crime was to be added the following year;
- the Council's new priority of promoting social cohesion throughout Europe found expression in: the establishment of the European Committee for Social Cohesion in June, the launching of the childhood programme on the initiative of Sweden and Norway, and the Social Development Fund's financial involvement in the new social cohesion strategy devised by the Committee of Ministers;
- structural reform of the Council, called for at the summit, came a decisive step nearer when the Committee of Wise Persons submitted its final report, “Building Greater Europe without Dividing Lines”, after ten months' intensive work under Mario Soares' chairmanship;
- finally - and this was obviously the most significant and spectacular development – the new European Court of Human Rights was solemnly inaugurated on 3 November. With the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (proclaimed on 10 December 1948) just a month away, the setting-up of a permanent court, to ensure that the 765 million inhabitants of the Council's member states could enjoy rights and freedoms denied to nearly half of them just ten years before, showed that Europe still led the way, when it came to making universal human rights a reality. This was an inspiring task for the thirty-nine judges elected by the Assembly, with Luzius Wildhaber (Switzerland) as President – and a heavy responsibility for the Council, which faced the challenge of extending to the whole continent standards which even the most advanced democracies found it hard to uphold…
The establishment of the new Court, and the crucial role it was instantly given in making enlargement of the Council (decided at the Vienna summit) a success, prefigured the challenge the whole organisation would find itself facing at the dawn of the new century. Faced with the old, fatal processes in parts of Europe (particularly the Balkans), and the new “walls” of money, intolerance and irredentism which were threatening to rise between, and even within, some of its member states, the Council – “of Western Europe” in 1989, “of Greater Europe” now – was still bent on achieving that unity which, a dream for so long, now seemed almost within reach. As its fiftieth anniversary drew near, its task was as difficult as it was ambitious – to “build Greater Europe without dividing lines”.
FOR A GREATER EUROPE WITHOUT DIVIDING LINES
For the Council of Europe, 1999 is first of all the year in which it celebrates the first fifty years of its existence. Predictable as clockwork, anniversaries like this are essentially symbolic: in the lives of individuals and international organisations, they mean something only when they prompt us to look back and take stock of the past - which holds the key to building a viable future. As it happened, the Council celebrated its first half-century in May under the leadership of Hungary, the country then chairing the Committee of Ministers: who could have imagined, just ten years before, that the climactic celebrations would take place in Budapest, at the very centre of a continent whose geography had been utterly disrupted by the iron curtain? The distance between Strasbourg, symbol of a Europe rebuilt on the basis of Franco-German reconciliation, and Budapest, capital of the country which put an end to the agonising process started at Yalta, is 1300 kilometres, but the distance covered by the Council in the ten years from its fortieth to its fiftieth anniversary marks a light-year surge in the pace of history - and has given Europe a head-start on the twenty-first century.
The jubilee year kicked off with a historic event which had deep European significance, but no direct connection with the Council: on 1 January 1999, the 300 million inhabitants of the eleven countries which had joined in launching the Euro, woke to a new single currency – still not a presence in the pocket, but very much a presence on the world's money markets. This notable step forward in the integration process masterminded by the European Union was matched by further progress, less spectacular but real, towards unity of the Greater Europe entrusted to the Council:
- first of all, the Principality of Monaco, Europe's smallest state and a member of the United Nations for the past five years, applied to join the extended European family. Officially submitted to the Committee of Ministers by Minister of State Michel Lévêque on 21 October 1998, Monaco's application came as the country was preparing to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Prince Rainier's accession (coinciding with the Council's own jubilee) and marked a further stage in that process of rapprochement which its signing of the European Cultural Convention had initiated in 1994. By declaring itself capable of satisfying all the obligations of membership (including full acceptance of the European Convention on Human Rights) and promising to do so if admitted, the Principality was affirming its commitment to Europe and its desire for political modernity, following the examples set by Liechtenstein in 1978, San Marino in 1988 and Andorra in 1994;
- next, Bosnia and Herzegovina took an important step forward on the difficult path to membership when the Committee of Ministers decided, on 13 January 1999, to ask formally the Assembly for an opinion on Sarajevo's application. The election of an ultra-nationalist, Nikola Poplasen, to the presidency of the Republika Srpska had recently triggered an institutional crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovinaqqqqqqqqqq, and the Committee's decision came as a sign that the international community was determined to preserve the ground won with so much difficulty since Dayton - without necessarily prejudging the question of early accession to the Council;
- finally, the three trans-Caucasian countries continued to move, at varying speeds, towards membership. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia had started neck-and-neck, but now - two and a half years after all three countries had been visited by the Secretary General and the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, and eighteen months after they had signed the European Cultural Convention - one had now established a clear lead. While the applications of Armenia and Azerbaijan continued to mark time, as a result of the ongoing, covert conflict in Nagorno-Karabach, Georgia's spectacular progress, and particularly the political determination shown by Edward Chevardnadze and its other leaders, convinced the Assembly that the time had come to discuss accession at its January session.
While the contours of a 45-member Council were starting to emerge, the organisation itself was preparing, as it had done ten years before, when Catherine Lalumière and Anders Björck had taken over from Marcelino Oreja and Louis Jung, for a radical change at the top. First of all, on 25 January, Lord Russell-Johnston succeeded Leni Fischer as President of the Assembly, becoming the fourth British national to hold the post (and also the first genuinely elected president, since a surprise candidate, Flavio Rodeghiero (Italy), appeared on the scene when the Assembly's political groups had already made their choice149. From the start of the year, however, attention was already shifting towards the forthcoming contest for the post of Secretary General in June, which promised to be as close as that between Daniel Tarschys and Catherine Lalumière five years before. Two leading members of the Assembly, Walter Schwimmer (Christian Democrat, Austria) and Terry Davis (Socialist, United Kingdom), were in the running, with Hanna Suchocka, Polish Minister of Justice and Lech Walesa's Prime Minister from 1992 to 1993, a distinguished outsider.
One of the three candidates, Terry Davis, was particularly prominent on the Assembly scene in the early months of 1999 when, as the Political Affairs Committee's rapporteur150 he acted as spokesman on Georgia's accession. Without minimising the problems still unsolved (the most serious being continuing secessionist tensions in Abkhazia and south Ossetia), he made no secret of his satisfaction at the "impressive results" achieved in the space of a few yearsrrrrrrrrrr, or his faith in the determination of Georgia's leaders to press ahead in the right direction. This determination was clearly reflected in the impressive list of thirty commitments, with deadlines ranging from three months to twelve years, which the Georgian authorities accepted in the framework of the discussions for accession held with the Assembly.
The 30 commitments accepted by Georgia vis-à-vis the Parliamentary Assembly151
a. to sign the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as amended by its Protocols
Nos. 2 and 11, on joining;
b. to ratify the ECHR and Protocols Nos. 1, 4, 6 and 7 within a year of joining;
c. to sign and ratify the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its protocols within a year of joining;
d. to sign and ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and
the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages within a year of joining;
e. to sign and ratify the European Charter of Local Self-Government, the European Outline
Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation and its protocols and the Council of Europe
conventions on extradition, on mutual assistance in criminal matters, and on laundering,
search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime within three years of joining, and
to apply their basic principles in the meantime;
f. to sign and ratify the Council of Europe's Social Charter within three years of joining, and
try to pursue a policy according with its principles in the meantime;
g. to sign and ratify the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of
Europe and its protocols within a year of joining;
h. to sign and ratify the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967
Protocol within two years of joining;
ii. domestic legislation
a. to set up, within four years of joining, the legal framework needed for the establishment of a second
parliamentary chamber, in accordance with the constitution;
b. to enact, within two years of joining, laws determining the status of the autonomous territories and
guaranteeing them a broad measure of autonomy, details being negotiated with their representatives;
c. to adopt legislation on the electronic media within a year of joining;
d. to adopt legislation on attorneys within a year of joining;
e. to adopt, within two years of joining and after consulting the Council of Europe, laws opening the
way to repatriation and integration (including the right to Georgian nationality) of the Meskhetian
population deported by the Soviets, to begin the repatriation and integration process within three years
of joining, and to complete repatriation within twelve years of joining;
f. to amend the law on the Ombudsman within six months of joining, ensuring that a report on his
activities is submitted to parliament and published every six months;
g. to take legislative measures within two years of joining, and administrative measures within three
years of joining, to permit people forced from their homes in the 1990-94 conflicts to recover their
ownership and tenancy rights or receive compensation for lost property;
h. to amend, within three years of joining, the law on autonomy and local government, to provide for
election, rather than appointment, of all heads of councils;
i. to adopt, within two years of joining, a law on minorities based on Assembly Recommendation 1201
a. to maintain and continue reform of the judicial system, the public prosecutor's office and the police;
b. to continue and intensify action to combat corruption in the judiciary, the public prosecutor's office
and the police;
c. to adopt the law transferring responsibility for the prison system from the Ministry of the Interior to
the Ministry of Justice within three months of joining, and implement it within six months of its
d. to review the scale of sanctions, with a view to reducing the length of prison sentences, and to
provide for alternative penalties;
iv. human rights
a. to ensure that the human rights of prisoners are strictly respected, to abolish the present system,
which puts prisoners previously active in politics in the same cells as other offenders, and to continue
improving conditions of detention in prisons and remand centres;
b. to provide human rights training for prison staff and the police, with the Council of Europe's
c. to respect the maximum length of detention on demand;
d. to implement, within six months of joining, the right of prisoners to choose their (own) lawyers;
e. to review the cases of persons convicted or imprisoned for their part in the political upheavals of
1991-92, within two years of joining;
f. to prosecute resolutely and impartially the perpetrators of war crimes committed during the conflicts
in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including members of its own armed forces;
v. the conflict in Abkhazia
a. to continue its efforts to settle the conflict by peaceful means, and to do everything in its power to
put a stop to the activities of all irregular armed groups in the conflict zone and protect the safety of the
collective peace-keeping forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the United Nations
Observer Mission (UNOMIG) and representatives of all the international organisations involved;
b. to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the groups hardest hit by the conflict;
vi. the monitoring of commitments
to co-operate fully in implementing Assembly Resolution 1115 (1997), which established the
Monitoring Committee, and also the monitoring process set up under the Committee of Ministers'
declaration of 10 November 1994 (95th session).
It was these thirty commitments, and the strict set of deadlines attached to them, which fuelled the Assembly's unanimous decision to give Georgia the green light – and the Committee of Ministers a chance to push Greater Europe's boundaries back to the outer limits of the Caucasus. The Assembly went on to give the Greater Europe project added political substance by devoting a major debate to it on 26 January. After this debate, which took reports on follow-up action on the Wise Persons' conclusions, the European project, and a continental dimension for Europe as its starting points152 the Assembly took a firm position with a view to:
- urging the Committee of Ministers (regardless of its own feeling that the Wise Persons' recommendations were sometimes lacking in vision and ambition) to endorse their report and start implementing their reform proposals as soon as possible, together with a whole series of practical suggestions from the Assembly itself on the Committee of Ministers' procedures and working methods, on greater powers for the Assembly within the Council, on monitoring member states' compliance with their obligations, on institutional reforms to make the Council more credible and more efficient, on co-operation with other international organisations, and on action to give the Council and its work a higher profile, taking full advantage of the fiftieth anniversary for this purpose;
- "rising to meet the challenges of the third millennium", through a European process based on four pillars: "the people's acknowledgement of a European identity, which is complementary to their national identity and which places ethical principles at the heart of political action", through the preparation of a "European institutional charter "bringing together the principles and values laid down by the Council of Europe and "serving as a template for a European constitution"; "the democratic functioning of peoples' representative system so that all strive towards the same goal", by promoting citizen participation in public affairs and strengthening civil society; “an area of social justice and solidarity”; and “a joint security policy capable of protecting common values and individual and collective rights”;
- promoting the holding of a third Council Summit, which would emphasise “a continental approach to European integration” (and for the agenda of which the Assembly makes a series of proposals with a view to creating "a link between political vision of the Council's role, as defined by the first Summit, and operational guidelines laid down for its activities by the Second Summit”;
- maximising the Council's resources through the implementation of the structural reform proposals made by the Wise Persons and by the Assembly itself;
- acknowledging the importance of the European project's parliamentary dimension by taking steps to increase the impact and efficiency of the Assembly, and the role and influence of national parliaments - steps complementing the increased powers and influence which the European Parliament would shortly enjoy under the Amsterdam Treaty.153
Having given the Council a policy blueprint for the twenty-first century and shown that the Organisation could still count on it for new ideas, the Assembly looked ahead with confidence to a “fifth wave” of new arrivals which - with Georgia already waiting in the wings as 41st member state - seemed set to bring the Council's membership up to 45 in the course of the year 2000. The prospect of further enlargement was encouraging enough, but all the Council's energies were already focused on the leitmotif and aim spelt out in the fiftieth anniversary slogan, “Europe under a single Roof”. In pursuing this vision, the Organisation was more determined than ever to stay faithful to its founding ideals and principles, themselves the most precious legacy which the second half of the old century was leaving to the new one. That determination was clear in the “single roof” slogan – indeed it could hardly be clearer. Abandoning false modesty, the Council had no hesitation in proclaiming itself “Europe's democratic conscience”.
“The Democratic Conscience of Europe”
(the Council of Europe's official message for its fiftieth anniversary)
For the first time in its history, the whole of Europe is united under a single roof, that of the Council of Europe. Its primary goal is to guarantee the dignity of the nations and citizens of Europe by enforcing respect for our fundamental values: democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This unification process, which for forty years was confined to Western Europe, spread to the entire continent from 1989 and now involves 41 states and some 800 million individuals. Fifty years of co-operation at the governmental, parliamentary, regional and local levels, supported by the voluntary sector, have contributed to transform a devastated and divided continent into an environment where freedom and justice can triumph.
On the eve of a new century, the Council of Europe is determined to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by this Greater Europe of democracy. In an ongoing effort to uphold the ideals and principles that, more than ever, constitute our shared heritage, the Council of Europe will expand its activities to promote social cohesion, solidarity, education for democracy, cultural diversity and the quality of life, and will resolutely endeavour to build a Europe of the citizens, a genuine “Council of Europeans”.
In those early days of 1999, the optimists could point to a number of breakthroughs which suggested that the old post-war dream of a world where law would be prior to raison d'état might at last be starting to come true. The first hopeful sign was the historic UN-sponsored agreement, concluded in Rome, on an international criminal tribunal to try the authors of war crimes and crimes against humanity (18 July 1998) - a major step towards realisation of the principle that all criminals, even state leaders, must answer for their actions. The second was the life sentence passed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on the former Rwandan Prime Minister, Jean Kambanda, for his part in the 1994 genocide (4 September) - an example of what that principle might mean once a universal tribunal had replaced its various ad hoc predecessors (the latest being the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda). The third and last was the arrest in London of Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean leader and present life senator (16 October), followed by the House of Lords' refusal to grant him the diplomatic immunity demanded by Chile (27 November), and his appearance before a British court as a prelude to his probable extradition to Spain to answer charges of genocide, terrorism and torture. All of this suggested that the twenty-first century might not be a good one for dictators! Coincidentally, General Pinochet's first appearance in court (11 December) came just one day after the world-wide celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…
One man, however, ignored the growing sense, as the end of the century approached, that limits must be set to state sovereignty, and states themselves compelled to respect the basic rights of peoples and individuals within their jurisdiction. That man was Slobodan Milosevic. A first stand-off between NATO and Yugoslavia in the autumn had led to the adoption of UN Resolution 1199, calling on Belgrade to order an immediate cease-fire in Kosovo and start talking to representatives of the Albanian community (23 September 1998). This was followed by Richard Holbrooke's success in extracting a number of political concessions from Belgrade (the Kosovars were offered “a measure of self-government”) and securing the deployment of international observers (the OSCE's “Kosovo verification mission”). But the lull was short-lived, and military action by the Serbs at Christmas brought an end to the truce unilaterally proclaimed by the KLA on 8 October. A wave of revulsion swept through the international community when 45 Albanian civilians were massacred at Racak on 15 January 1999: France and the United Kingdom led the way in stepping up the diplomatic pressure at and between the Rambouillet (6-23 February) and Paris (15-19) meetings. These efforts eventually led the Albanian community's representatives to accept the “substantial autonomy” offered them within the frontiers of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – only to fall foul of Belgrade's obstinate rejection of an international force in Kosovo, itself the only way of ensuring that the agreements stood some chance of being respected.
Milosevic's intransigence led the Atlantic Alliance, which had recently acquired three new members (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic) and was now preparing to celebrate its own fiftieth anniversary, to take an unprecedented decision, one unthinkable just a few years before: to take military action, without an explicit UN mandate, against a sovereign state which had committed no aggression outside its internationally recognised frontiers. The statement made by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana shortly after 11 p.m. on 23 March 1999, acting on the instructions of the 19 NATO countries' leaders and following the failure of Richard Holbrooke's “last chance mission” to Belgrade, was thus historic in the fullest sense: “I have just directed the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark, to initiate air operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. All efforts to achieve a negotiated, political solution to the Kosovo crisis having failed, no alternative is open but to take military action. […] We must stop an authoritarian regime from repressing its people in Europe at the end of the twentieth century. We have a moral duty to do so.”
The days immediately after the launching of NATO's operation “Allied Force” against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were supremely testing for the international community in general and the Council of Europe in particular. Yugoslavia's stubborn resistance to allied bombing and the Serb people's instinctive closing of ranks around their leader surprised western strategists, who had expected a short military campaign and rapid acceptance of the Rambouillet agreements. Worse still, the FRY's “horseshoe” plan, which it had started working out in mid-October (when Slobodan Milosevic had just signed a political agreement with Richard Holbrooke and seemed on the way to seeing reason), forced hundreds of thousands of Albanians to flee Kosovo, rapidly swamping near-by countries and provoking a massive humanitarian disasterssssssssss. The western powers responded as best they could by launching “Allied Harbour”, a spur-of-the-moment rescue and relief operation. If the Belgrade dictator had hoped that his latest cynical ploy would work to his advantage, he was wrong: instead, it merely strengthened the unity and determination of the nineteen governments ranged against him.
In the first few days of the Kosovan crisis, such a unity was by no means the keynote at the Council of Europe. While the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers (through its Hungarian chair) took a firm position in favour of the action taken against Milosevic154 a minority of parliamentarians, led by Sergei Glotov (Russia), fiercely condemned the allies' intervention, blaming NATO itself for the humanitarian disaster which had overtaken Kosovo and was destabilising its neighbours: more seriously, the Russian Government denounced NATO's “open aggression”, terming it a “fatal mistake”tttttttttt. In these circumstances, the goal of building “a Greater Europe without dividing lines”, which the Council had set itself in the run-up to its fiftieth anniversary, suddenly seemed as remote – or nearly – as it had been ten years before.
It was against this tragic and unexpected backdrop that the two organisations established in the immediate post-war era to structure the European continent – one in military, the other in civilian terms – found themselves celebrating their golden jubilees, within days of each other. Both NATO and the Council of Europe chose to adopt a low profile, keeping their commemorative programmes non-festive. Thus the Washington Summit on 23-25 April was marked by high seriousness, reflected in the adoption of a “new strategic concept”, giving the Atlantic Alliance global responsibility for conflict management in Europe, and the decision to step up the bombing until Milosevic accepted the five demands made on him, i.e.: a halt to “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo; withdrawal of all Serbian forces from the province; return of the refugees; deployment of an international armed force; and acceptance of autonomous status for Kosovo within Yugoslav frontiers. At the Council of Europe, where the effects on Russian diplomatic efforts of Boris Yeltsin's appointment of Viktor Chernomyrdin as his “special representative” for Yugoslav affairs were already being felt, the Committee of Ministers – powerless as long as the fighting continued – took a first step towards preparing for the post-conflict stage by adopting a programme for political and democratic stability in south-east Europe. This was intended as the Council's contribution to the “Stability Pact” which the EU was preparing for the Balkans, under the German presidency's leadership.
On 26 April, with the Council's stability programme on the table, Janos Martonyi, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, opened the official two-week celebrations for the Organisation's jubilee155 He spoke of the occasion's “underlying significance” (unity of the continent), of “legitimate pride” at the work accomplished, but also of sadness at the Kosovan tragedy, which “shows, in spite of the extraordinary progress made in the last ten years, that the road is still a long one until that European unity, which the Council of Europe has the task of embodying, becomes a reality”. But he also, and above all, spoke of his “faith in our ability, in the ability of the Council of Europe and its member states, to build a future which is better than the past. The Kosovan tragedy does not prefigure Europe's future; it is the product, dire but profoundly anachronistic, of those lethal forces – aggressive nationalism, intolerance, political extremism – which plunged our continent into the abyss where it found itself in 1945. 'Never again!', the oath sworn by the Council of Europe's founding fathers, must remain our rallying cry in building the Europe of tomorrow.”
The day after that, at the official ceremony for Georgia's accession to the Council, a distinguished visitor lent Janos Martonyi's firm and hopeful vision his support. Far from distancing himself from NATO's action in Kosovo, Georgian President Edward Chevardnadze insisted that order could not prevail in Europe unless each and every European conflict received the same attention and the same effort. Emphasising the grave dangers inherent in the persistence, in Kosovo and certain parts of the Caucasus (especially Abkhazia), of a clash between “two completely different outlooks on international order, one based on the ideology of authoritarianism, the other on the principles underpinning free, open societies”, Mikhail Gorbachev's former Foreign Minister warned the international community against the temptation to do nothing and let barbaric crimes go unpunished: “Present-day theorists and practitioners of ethnic cleansing make a good use of peace talks. By drawing them out endlessly, they try to legitimise the consequences of their crimes and perpetuate an unfair status quo. Peace talks must not become an end in themselves. Unless they help to restore justice, the very concept of the peace process may be discredited. […] We must respond to these new threats with a partnership based on a humanist, moral approach, and not just on considerations of geopolitics and the balance of power – a partnership in which the pain experienced by any one state, no matter how great or small, becomes a shared concern for the entire Euro-Atlantic family.”
The points powerfully made by Janos Martonyi and Edward Chevardnadze found an unexpected echo in a message transmitted to the Council on its fiftieth birthday – from outer space. From 360 km above the earth's surface, Viktor Afanasyev and Sergei Avdeyev, crewing the Russian space station Mir's twenty-seventh mission, found the right words for the occasion: “The name of our station is Mir. In Russian that means not only peace, but also the world around us, the universe. From space, Europe is seen as one, without borders. We hope that the Council of Europe will continue to foster this unity and cohesion (…), [and] we wish it, and all of us, success in building one big united Europe, so that all generations of Europeans may live as good neighbours in conditions of peace, tolerance and social harmony.”
Perhaps these words had a magic of their own. Back on earth, at any rate, things suddenly seemed to be shifting in the international community's favour, as it pressed home its onslaught on Slobodan Milosevic. Meeting in Bonn on 6 May, the foreign ministers of the G8, representing the seven most advanced industrial countries plus Russia, laid down the “general principles” which, embodied in a UN Security Council resolution, would bring a rapid solution to the crisis. This watershed decision reflected Russia's vigorous reappearance on the diplomatic scene as a central player in the search for a political solution to the conflict, putting an end to Milosevic's insane dream that Moscow would shield him while he pursued his exactions unpunished – even if this meant merging Yugoslavia in a new union with Russia and Belarus.
The prospect of finding a political answer in Kosovo lent a new and hopeful note to the solemn ceremony held in the Hungarian Parliament that same evening, at which the Prime Minister of Hungary and the President of its Parliament received the Council's representatives. It also lent a special significance to the Committee of Ministers' 104th session, at which the Ministers of the 41 member statesuuuuuuuuuu – just one day after the political breakthrough achieved in Bonn – took a series of decisive steps towards determining the Council's future by:
- adopting the “Budapest Declaration for a Greater Europe without Dividing Lines”, which laid down four main aims for future Council action: stability of the European continent, which was to be “based on democratic institutions” and involve honouring “all the commitments we have given to each other, to the Council of Europe and to our citizens”; political, legal, social and cultural cohesion of Greater Europe; primacy of the human person in European policies; a shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law, based on action to develop the existing partnership between governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities, civil society and the various international organisations which were helping to develop and structure the continent;
- deciding to appoint a “Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights” by 1 January 2000, to promote education in, awareness of, and respect for the human rights protected by the various Council of Europe instruments;
- adopting a declaration and programme on education for democratic citizenship based on citizens' rights and responsibilities: this sets out to develop a new educational approach, based on a balance between promoting human rights, which are a basic facet and component of the individual's identity, and making people aware of their responsibilities as citizens, which condition their ability to function as members of a community;
- adopting a declaration on a European policy for new information technologies, the aim being to ensure that they develop in a manner consistent with the Council's principles;
- encouraging rapid implementation – in close co-operation with the new Secretary General – of the structural reforms proposed by the Deputies in the light of the Wise Persons' report;
- expressing (in a declaration by the Chairman) their full support for the G8's principles for political resolution of the Kosovan crisis, and approving implementation of the Council's stability programme for south-east Europe, as soon as a solution had been reached156
At the same time, 44 signatures and 13 ratifications of Council conventions confirmed the Ministers' commitment to the “common legal area” which those conventions (now totalling 173) had built up for member states in the fifty years of the Organisation's existence. The effects were immediate and substantial, opening the way to significant progress towards abolition of the death penalty (under Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in Budapest by Bulgaria and Cyprus, and ratified by Latvia and the United Kingdom), in the protection of social rights (with the coming into force – on 1 July – of the revised Social Charter, thanks to ratification by France, Romania and Slovenia), in the fight against corruption (with the coming into force of the enlarged Partial Agreement setting up a Group of States against corruption – GRECO), in extension of the ban on the cloning of human beings (with the signing of the Protocol to the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine by Croatia, Poland and Switzerland), etc.vvvvvvvvvv
Having given the Council pointers for its development in the years ahead, prepared it to play an active role in the aftermath of the Kosovan conflict, and consolidated the common legal area which bound its members together, the Committee of Ministers could look to the future with confidence. And indeed, none of the incidents which marked and sometimes marred the month of May – NATO's tragic error in targeting the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (8 May), Boris Yeltsin's triumphant emergence from yet another stand-off with the Duma (which approved the appointment of Sergei Stepachin as Prime Minister, following the dismissal of Evgeni Primakov on 12 May), the charges brought against Slobodan Milosevic and four other Yugoslav leaders before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (27 May)wwwwwwwwww – could arrest the march of events. When Viktor Chernomyrdin and Martii Ahtisaari, President of Finland and the EU's emissary, visited Belgrade on 2 June, the Yugoslav authorities were forced to face the fact that their room for manoeuvre was exhausted, and had no choice but to accept the G8's demands. The way was now open for adoption by the UN Security Council of a global settlement (Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999), based on the seven principles agreed by the G8 a month earlier.
The seven general principles for political settlement
of the Kosovo crisis
1. immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo;
2. withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and paramilitary forces (this withdrawal was synchronised with deployment of KFOR, the international force responsible for keeping order in Kosovo);
3. deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences, endorsed and adopted by the United Nations, capable of guaranteeing the achievement of the common objectives (responsibility for maintaining the province's security was essentially entrusted to KFOR, comprising 50 000 men and commanded by Britain's General Michael Jackson);
4. establishment by the United Nations Security Council of an interim administration for Kosovo, to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all the inhabitants of Kosovo (this was the role of the civilian administration, headed by Bernard Kouchner from 2 July, and given the task of ensuring unity of the province across the four military zones, for which the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany and Italy were responsible);
5. the safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons and unimpeded access to Kosovo for humanitarian aid organisations;
6. a political process leading to substantial self-government for Kosovo, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region, and providing for demilitarisation of the KLA;
7. a comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilisation of the crisis region (this was the subject of the “Stability Pact” for the Balkans, adopted in Cologne under EU auspices by a group of countries and international organisations “friends of Kosovo” on the very day that Resolution 1244 was adopted).
The end of the Kosovan conflict was greeted with huge relief in Europe and the world at large – showing the extent to which the crisis had been political, and not a matter of economic or strategic interests. Through its determination and staying power, NATO had shown that the international community could force a dictator to back down, holding out the hope that Europe might become, in the twenty-first century, a democratic and a peaceful continent. Through its part in securing a political settlement and the role assigned to it in implementing both civilian and military aspects of that settlement, the UN had shown that it remained irreplaceable, as the repository of international legality, since only law could ensure the permanence of a solution imposed by force. Through its consistent diplomatic stance and the military participation of its chief members, the EU had overcome the grave institutional crisis provoked by the Commission's collective resignation on 16 March, and was again on the way to becoming a “European power” with an impact and importance going far beyond those conferred by a single market and currency. And the Council of Europe, powerless while the fighting continued, could at last reassert the relevance of its founding principles and play a major role (alongside the “front-line” organisations responsible for implementing Resolution 1244, the UN, the EU and the OSCE) as "main institutional partner" in tackling democracy/human rights aspects of the settlement.
The Parliamentary Assembly, which had followed developments from March to June with the closest attention157 gave Council involvement its full backing when it took stock of the Kosovan crisis and the situation in the FRY in its debate on 23 June, attended by Viktor Chernomyrdin. In so doing, it took up and reinforced the appeal issued just a week before by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities158 which had first sounded the alarm (in March 1998) and had played an important role, together with the Venice Commission, in trying to find an institutional solution acceptable to both sides in Kosovo, before NATO air-strikes began.
That same day, after a first-round ballot which produced a neck-and-neck result between Terry Davis (122 votes) and Walter Schwimmer (119 votes), with Hanna Suchocka (21 votes) being eliminated, the Austrian candidate was elected Secretary General by an even slimmer margin than his predecessor five years beforexxxxxxxxxx – an outcome which reflected the conservative majority in the Assembly. Scheduled to take office for five years on 1 September, Walter Schwimmer lost no time in spelling out his priorities:
- the first was action in the field: he detailed his vision of a Council open to the outside world and playing its full part in Europe's multi-institutional context (the most pressing need being, of course, to take up the challenge of achieving stability in the Balkans);
- the second was monitoring of member states' compliance with their commitments: he insisted on the vital need to ensure that Council principles were respected in all the member states, and that the Council itself kept its credibility and authority as the “defender of human and citizens' rights” throughout Greater Europe;
- the third was to improve the dialogue between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers, and try to ensure that the latter acted more systematically on the former's proposals.
Barely elected, Walter Schwimmer could already gauge the problems he would face as leader of an organisation which enlargement had left more dynamic on one side, and more fragile on another. That same day, 23 June, the Assembly stepped up its pressure on the Committee of Ministers – in the person of its new Chairman, Icelandic Foreign Minister Halldor Asgrimmson – urging it to use its full powers in three human rights cases (“Hakkar v. France”, “Socialist Party and Others v. Turkey” and “Loizidou v. Turkey”) where the countries concerned seemed reluctant to give full effect to decisions taken in the framework of the control system of the European Convention on Human Rightsyyyyyyyyyy.
The following day, it was again Ukraine which attracted the Assembly's critical attention. Having, under its monitoring procedure, taken an unsparing “way-stage” look at the situation in Turkey and Latvia159 having scrutinised Croatia's record of compliance and decided to keep the procedure open in its case160 the Assembly found itself considering a harsh report from its Monitoring Committee (with sanction proposals concerning the Ukrainian delegation's credentials in the Assembly and the launching of the procedure laid down in Article 8 of the Statute)161 It finally decided to grant the Kyiv authorities a further respite, until its session in January 2000. The de facto moratorium on enforcement of the death penalty and the upcoming presidential elections (due in October 1999) tilted the balance, inclining a majority of the Assembly towards patience, rather than punishment.
Finally, on 29 June, it was a provisional epilogue to the “Abdullah Öcalan” case which raised questions concerning the future in the Council of another member state, Turkey. At the close of a trial during which the Organisation had used all its influence to ensure that the accused received all the guarantees provided by the European Conventionzzzzzzzzzz, the leader of the PKK was declared guilty of founding an armed terrorist organisation, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and ordering acts which had resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, with the aim of establishing a separate Kurdish state on a part of Turkey's sovereign territory, and was sentenced to death. As soon as this became known, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, the President of the Assembly and the Secretary General issued a joint statement, pointing out that no executions had been carried out in Council member states for the past two years, hailing this as a “historic achievement which must be upheld”, emphasising that Turkey itself had not enforced the death penalty since 1984, and calling on Ankara to seize the real opportunities which existed “to put an end to the terrorist activities in the south-eastern part of Turkey and to establish peace”.
Thus, in the jubilee year which has seen the Council proclaim itself “Europe's democratic conscience”, its credibility is challenged in three fundamental areas: enforcement of judgments given under the European Convention on Human Rights, member states' compliance with their obligations, and abolition of the death penalty in Europe. And with its credibility, it is also a part of its future which is at stake…
In the space of five years, the Council of Europe has progressed from Daniel Tarschys' dictum, “better include than exclude” (1994) to Walter Schwimmer's three targets, action in the field, compliance with commitments, dialogue (1999). The change is not just a matter of words: it says a great deal about the new challenges the Council finds itself facing as the century draws to a close – and about the new priorities those challenges imply.
Enlargement has been the major challenge in the last ten years, and is still an important topic on today's agenda. The Council will be opening its doors to another four states around the year 2000, and it will also have a pioneering role to play in bringing the nations which have gone astray – Belarus and, above all, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - into the European process. But enlargement is no longer the crucial issue it used to be - partly because the Council has most of its growing behind it, partly because its credibility (or lack of credibility) in its present composition is now a thornier problem than the effects of any further increase in its membership.
Throughout the last decade, the Council of Europe has repeatedly shown that its founding principles are more valid than ever, and its structures remarkably capable of adjusting to meet new requirements. It has managed to prepare some of its members for EU membership in the near future, while offering the others an indispensable platform for co-operation. It is within the Council that Europe, in its full continental dimension, is becoming day by day a living reality; it is through the Council's legal work that patterns of mutual aid are being forged, helping to unite the continent and also guarantee its security; it is through the Council that Europeans everywhere, including the most vulnerable (refugees, asylum-seekers, members of national, cultural or religious minorities) can claim the protection which democratic states have a duty to provide for them.
In a continent whose geo-political contours are still uncertain, the Council of Europe's future is closely bound up with that of the European political project as a whole. In the first few decades of the twenty-first century, will it be possible, as Michael Emerson (the European Commission's former Ambassador in Moscow) puts it in a recent bookaaaaaaaaaaa, both to “widen the deep Europe” and “deepen the wide Europe”? Of all the alternative future maps of Europe, does the one which Emerson calls “civil Europe”, and which he regards as the best for the continent's long-term future, i.e. “the wide European map of the Council of Europe and a strong European Union core”, stand a chance of hanging in tomorrow's classrooms? Or will other scenarios (which he considers likelier) – a return to the old “two-bloc Europe”, “Brussels Europe” (with everything outside the EU “a geo-political no-man's land”) or “security Europe” (based on the OSCE-NATO tandem) – carry the day?
Born at a time when international institutions were all but unknown in Europe, the Council is now having to carve out a role for itself in an institutional landscape of daunting complexity – daunting even for the experts. It has an obvious complementary function in relation to the EU and the various regional co-operative initiatives, but its position in relation to the OSCE is more problematical. It is a fact that governments feel more at ease with the platform for diplomatic co-operation offered them by the OSCE, which extends to North America and Central Asia, has flexible structures, and makes less stringent demands on its members. It is up to the Council to respond by making the most of its own special assets – its parliamentary dimension, the presence of the European Court of Human Rights, the growing involvement of local and regional authorities in co-operation (through the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities) and its participation structures for NGOs, youth organisations and civil society. It is by exploiting the richness and diversity of those assets to the full that the Council will best serve its member governments - and their citizens. It is up to the Europeans of all generations to follow the Council's work, to take an active interest in its future, to keep it on the right track, and indeed to adopt it as their own. That is the best wish anyone can frame for the Council itself (which must deserve it by successfully completing the renewal process launched by Catherine Lalumière at the start of the decade), but also, and above all, for the 800 million men and women, who - regardless of legal, geographical or political structures - are the real “Greater Europe”.
Note a Cf. Article 1 of the Council of Europe's Statute, which assigns to it the aim of achieving “greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress”.
Note b These emblems are the blue flag with twelve golden stars (adopted by the Council's Committee of Ministers as soon as December 1955 and taken up by the Community in 1986), the prelude to Beethoven's 9th Symphony, better known as the “Ode to Joy” (adopted as European Anthem by the Committee of Ministers in January 1972, and also taken up by the Community in 1986) and Europe Day (fixed on 5 May, the anniversary of the Council's establishment in 1949, by the Committee of Ministers in October 1964, and “shifted” to 9 May, the anniversary of Robert Schuman's historic declaration in 1950, by the Heads of State and Government of the Community in 1984).
Note c The constitutional reform adopted by the Supreme Soviet established a legislative body, the Congress of People's Deputies, elected from a list of candidates, an executive authority in the person of the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (head of state), elected for five years by the Congress, and a constitutional control body, the Constitutional Control Committee. Without putting an end, at this stage, to the Communist Party's monopoly of power, this reform paved the way for a “Socialist law-governed state” in the Soviet Union, based on two fundamental principles which radically modified the logic of the totalitarian system inherited from Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev: the “supremacy of law over state, not state over law” and the idea that “power derives from the people”.
Note d Set up in Helsinki in 1975 to provide a framework for East-West dialogue, the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) is an on-going diplomatic process, organised in three “baskets”: the first, which covers security questions, is the most important, since it is the only one where participating states accept binding commitments, particularly on disarmament; the second, covering economic co-operation, has stayed largely restricted to pious intentions; the third, dealing with “humanitarian and other fields”, for a long time treated human rights as a mere background issue to the four main themes (movement of persons, information, culture and education), before turning, around the early 1990s, to a new concept – that of the “human dimension”, in which human rights, including minority rights, are central (although the commitments given are political, and not binding, like those accepted by Council of Europe member states). There is another major difference between the CSCE and the Council: its geographical scope is greater, since it takes in North America (the United States and Canada) and central Asia (the former Asian republics of the Soviet Union). The CSCE was institutionalised from 1 January 1994 as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is based in Vienna.
Note e The European Economic Area (EEA), designed to extend the Single Market of the Twelve to the seven members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Austria, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland) was agreed in Oporto on 2 May 1992 and took effect – except in Switzerland, where a referendum defeated it – on 1 January 1994. A year later, it lost much of its meaning when Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the European Union, which now comprises 15 of the 18 EEA countries.
Note f Five areas of co-operation were identified: culture, education, sport and youth; nature conservation and protection of the environment; local authorities; social and health questions; selected legal co-operation topics. “In particular cases” and “having regard to the situation in each country”, it was also envisaged that “a European non-member state might be invited […] to accede to one or another Council of Europe convention or agreement”. Finally, the Committee of Ministers instructed the Secretary General to submit to it, twice yearly, “a summary report, giving the latest situation with regard to action undertaken (including results) or envisaged, and contacts in hand or projected.”
Note g Information and Documentation Centre on the environment and nature.
Note h “The consequence would be a more efficient and stronger economy which, if not accompanied by dramatic political changes, would without doubt mean a greater, not a lesser, military threat from the Soviet Union.”
Note “Wisdom suggests that the West should be much more supportive than it has been in recent months.”
Note “European unity, to be complete, should include all countries from the Atlantic to the Urals but, in the short term we all know that this is not possible.”
Note k The Treaty establishing the Council of Europe was signed in London on 5 May 1949 by the ten founding states (Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom), which were joined a few months later by Greece and Turkey (9 August 1949) and then Iceland (9 March 1950).
Note l In particular, the report's proposals on links between the Council of Europe and the European Community have lost none of their relevance: removal of the East-West division in Europe means that the two organisations' geographical areas are clearly distinct, and certain to remain so in the foreseeable future. The respective roles of the Council (which is working to create a vast European area of joint legal standards and shared values) and the European Union (which wants to establish a more limited area of integration and affirmation – almost a kind of “European state” – vis-à-vis the rest of the world) now seem both clearly defined and plainly complementary.
Note With which the Council identified fully, even selecting “The Human Dimension” as the slogan for its 40th anniversary.
Note n “Co-operation with these East European countries should lead to the promotion of human rights, the rapprochement of individuals and groups across frontiers and the finding of solutions to the challenges of society today, thus contributing to awareness of Europe's cultural identity and of the heritage Europeans share in the values of democracy and freedom.”
Note o Addressing the Assembly on 5 May 1989, François Mitterand reminded it, as he was fond of doing, that he had been one of the thousand people present (from some twenty European countries) at the “Europe Congress” in The Hague in May 1948. Organised by the European Movement and chaired by Winston Churchill, this historic congress can be regarded as the “first step” in building the new Europe – first, a “Europe of values”, spanning the whole continent, and, secondly, a “federal Europe”, more ambitious in its scope, but necessarily more limited geographically.
Note p “The day will come when you, France, you, Russia, you, Italy, you, England, you, Germany – all of you, all the nations of the continent – will, without losing your distinguishing features and your splendid distinctiveness, merge inseparably into some high society and form a European brotherhood.[…] The day will come when the only battlefield will be markets open for trade and minds open to ideas.”
Note q “The philosophy of the concept of a common European home rules out the probability of an armed clash and the very possibility of the use or threat of force, above all military force, by an alliance against another alliance, inside alliances, or wherever it may be. It suggests a doctrine of restraint to replace the doctrine of deterrence. This is not just a play on notions, but a logic of European development imposed by life itself.”
Note r “Facing the European parliamentarians, and consequently the whole of Europe, I should like to say once again a few words about our straightforward and clear-cut positions on disarmament. These positions are the result of the new thinking and they were laid down on behalf of our entire people in the Resolution of the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR, according to which: we are in favour of a nuclear-free world and in favour of eliminating all nuclear weapons by the turn of the century; we are in favour of complete elimination of chemical arms at the earliest possible date, and we favour the destruction, once and for all, of the production base for the development of such arms; we are in favour of a radical reduction in conventional arms and armed forces down to a level of reasonable defence sufficiency that would rule out the use of military force against other countries for the purposes of attack; we are in favour of complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territories of other countries; we are absolutely opposed to the development of any space weapons; we are in favour of dismantling military blocs and launching immediately a political dialogue between them to that end; we are in favour of creating an atmosphere of trust that would rule out any surprises; we are in favour of a deep, consistent and effective verification of all treaties and agreements that may be concluded with respect to disarmament issues.”
Note “The following projects, for example, are equally urgent both for the East and West of Europe: a trans-European high-speed railway; a common European programme on new solar-energy technologies and equipment; processing and storing nuclear waste and enhancing the safety of nuclear power stations; additional fibre optic channels for transmitting information; an all-European satellite television system.”
Note t “A world where military arsenals would be reduced, but where human rights would be violated, would not be a safe place. We have come to this conclusion ourselves once and for all.”
Note “We are convinced that the all-European process should rest on a solid legal ground. We are thinking of an all-European home as a community rooted in law. And for our part we have begun to move in that direction.”
Note “It might be said, historically and of today's world, that the house of Western Europe and the house of North America are both parts of a larger house of freedom.”
Note This tradition found powerful expression in the 1970s (Finland launched the process which led to the Helsinki Summit Conference and Final Act in 1975), following the country's brave and successful effort to preserve its independence, in very difficult conditions, after the second world war. Its policy of neutrality led (very unfairly) to the concept of “Finlandisation”, coined by Franz Josef Strauss, and to its being the last West European state admitted to the Council of Europe.
Note x “We want to strengthen parliamentarianism still further, build a democratic state based on the rule of law and convert the planned economy controlled by the ruling party, which only a short time ago, was still highly centralised, into a market economy. We want a free press and open democracy, and not least we want to guarantee Hungary's national minorities full individual and collective rights to preserve their cultural and linguistic identity.”
Note “Western Europe needs the other Europe and, by the same token, what they have contributed in the past and may contribute in the years to come to this unity and diversity which is called Europe – Europa nostra.”
Note z A reference to the bloody repression which had killed all hope of change on Tien-an-Men Square in June 1989.
Note aa The applications of these two countries to join the Council (an official application for Hungary, a statement of intention for Poland) had been submitted by their Foreign Ministers – in Strasbourg for the Committee of Ministers' 85th Session (16 November 1989) - a few weeks previously. On the same day, MM. Horn and Skubiszewski had also deposited their countries' instruments of accession to the European Cultural Convention.
Note bb “The objectives, the work and the achievements of the Council of Europe must be conveyed through a dynamic information policy. A whole policy of communication – I prefer this term – comprising the publications, journals and studies that we produce, and ranging far beyond information in the narrow sense and relations with the press, will accordingly have to be put into operation – not only at the level of the administrative unit directly concerned, but also in the behaviour of every unit in the house. In this respect, I hope we can look forward to a marked change in attitudes and working methods.”
Note “If we wish to have an influence in the different countries, we must surely first make the effort to select from the wide field of our activity, not those themes which we think are most interesting but those which, at a given moment, elicit a response in the country whose attention we aim to capture.”
Note “The tradition at the Council of Europe is one of serious-mindedness and competence. Work of a high standard is done here, and this is appreciated. Since 1949, however, little attention has been paid to what the general public thinks […] I fully understand why specialists are tempted to stick together: they are people of great ability who understand each other and speak the same language. But, from the standpoint of the general interest of our organisation, this state of mind is fatal.”
Note ee “I have done a fair bit of research on bureaucracy as a phenomenon, and I taught the subject at the Sorbonne. I have always been interested in bureaucracies, the attitudes involved, why you get this resistance to change, these demarcations and little empires. I must say I now have a splendid opportunity to observe life-size the things I read about in the literature.”
Note “At the moment there seem to me to be far too many pointless rules that ultimately are harmful because they paralyse innovation in the Organisation, particularly as regards staff management. You have no idea how many rules and regulations there are for an organisation that only has 800 staff members. There are so many that sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry.”
Note gg This development, symbolised in France by the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, actually marked a return to the heady post-war years, when Europe was very much a public issue and a source of impassioned political debate. It could thus be said that one very positive effect (admittedly indirect) of the Berlin Wall's disappearing was bringing the European process out of its ivory tower, and to some extent (there is still a great deal of room for progress here!) “giving Europe back to Europeans”.
Note hh Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) was established on the USSR's initiative on 25 January 1949 in response to the western countries' founding of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), which had the task of co-ordinating American aid under the Marshall Plan and became the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961. The original six member countries (USSR, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania) were soon joined by Albania (which left again in 1961) and the German Democratic Republic. Comecon set out to promote “economic rationality”, based on a “socialist international division of labour”, which was supposed to ensure the economic development and integration of Eastern Europe. What this East European “common market” mainly did, however, was to keep the countries of central and eastern Europe economically dependent on the USSR. It did not survive the Berlin Wall's disappearance, but was wound up on 28 June 1991 – three days before its military counterpart, the Warsaw Pact (founded on 14 May 1955 as a counterweight to NATO and dissolved on 1 July 1991).
Note ii This second circle comprised the seven members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), with which the Twelve were negotiating establishment of the European Economic Area (EEA) (cf. footnote 5). Jacques Delors clearly saw the projected EEA as providing an alternative for Community states which were unwilling to go for political union. In that 1989-90 period, he also thought that Comecon might provide a permanent framework for a third integration circle – not concentric, however, with the other two. This vision of a “multi-circle Europe” was soon overtaken by events – the disappearance of Comecon in summer 1991, and the decision taken by the leaders of the Twelve, a few months later in Maastricht, to maintain the United Kingdom and Denmark in the Community at the expense of not “deepening” it.
Note jj “The changes in progress in central and eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, the concomitance of these changes with the speeding up of European integration since the Single Act. All that gives us reason to set ourselves the target of overcoming the division of the Old World. In a word: we must wipe out Yalta!”
Note kk “Although the Community and Council share the same aim – European unity – our fields of activity and our methods differ, as no doubt too do our ambitions. This has to be said frankly. But the two institutions must complement each other, with the intergovernmental Council of Europe as the guardian and advocate of democratic values throughout Europe, and the Community, which has chosen an integrationist policy, working for European union with all who unreservedly accept the full contract.”
Note “For my part, I favour the signing of your Charter by the Community as such […] I believe that the Community, by adding its signature to those of the twelve member countries which wish to sign, would thus show its commitment to what constitutes the essence of the Council of Europe's work, as well as its support for this organisation.”
Note mm With hindsight, this probably marked the apotheosis of the policy of “dynamic equilibrium” which Mikhail Gorbachev had been pursuing in the USSR. The new constitutional provisions adopted by the Congress of People's Deputies a few days before gave him extended powers, including power to appoint and dismiss members of the government, the army, the KGB and the senior judiciary, declare states of emergency, adopt special economic decrees, arbitrate disputes between republics, etc. Checks and balances were also included: thus, to declare a state of emergency in one of the republics, the President needed the consent of the Supreme Soviet of the republic concerned (or, if it refused, a two-thirds majority of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR); if disputes regarding legislation arose between the President and the Supreme Soviet, the latter could “quash” the former's veto by two-thirds majority vote; finally, in the field of constitutional control, the President of the Supreme Court of the USSR could not be dismissed by the President. In spite of the danger signalled by some (particularly Andrei Sakharov, speaking on television on 14 December 1989, a few days before he died) of “an iron fist in a velvet glove”, this “presidentialisation” of the system marked a decisive step forward in the process of separating the Communist Party and the Soviet state, particularly since the 1990 constitutional reforms included two spectacular measures tending in the same direction: abolition of the party's “directing role” and introduction of the multi-party system (limited, however, by the fact that the state was to remain “socialist”), and also election of the President by universal suffrage from 1995 (Mikhail Gorbachev having been elected by the Congress of the People's Deputies for a five-year term, renewable once, with an age limit of 65).
Note nn “In spite of all the changes which are being established as irreversible, the question still remains: is the picture of Europe which is taking shape a realistic one? Have the forces of yesterday entirely disappeared? Have they definitely gone?”
Note oo Expressed a few days earlier at a ministerial meeting of the Warsaw Pact (Prague, 17 March 1990).
Note pp As Ralf Dahrendorf emphasised in his 1990 “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” (a title inspired by Burke's famous polemic on the French Revolution – paradoxically, since Dahrendorf's jubilation at the events of 1989 is light years away from the nostalgic dread which the events of 1789 inspired in Burke): “Economic reforms are invariably followed by a period in the wilderness. Things will necessarily get worse before they get better.”
Note qq “As regards the resources and means of the Council of Europe, we agreed that the new tasks should be met by the necessary resources. Therefore we asked the Secretary General to submit to our next meeting proposals for an adequate increase, as from this year, of the appropriations for the programme of assistance to Central and Eastern European countries, as well as indications of the parameters for the increase and improvement, as from 1991, of the Council's programme resources and operational capabilities. At the same time, reappraisal of existing programmes will be undertaken to improve the Council of Europe's efficiency, bearing in mind the need for a strict budgetary approach.” (Extract from the “Conclusions of the Chair” of the special ministerial meeting).
Note rr The European Community and NATO were certain to remain off-limits for the central and east European countries for many years to come, and EFTA was on the point of losing most of its substance, with Austria, Finland, Norway (which withdrew its application after a negative referendum) and Sweden all waiting to join the Community. As for the idea of setting up a new organisation for the new Europe, this never really got off the ground: the plan for a European Confederation, launched by François Mitterrand on 31 December 1989, was buried once and for all in Prague in March 1991 – at the very meeting organised to bring it into being.
Note ss After a first observer mission to monitor elections in the GDR on 18 March, the Assembly successively sent observer delegations to monitor the first free elections held in Hungary (24 March and 8 April), Slovenia (8 April), Croatia (6-7 May), Romania (20 May), Czechoslovakia (8-9 June) and Bulgaria (10-17 June). These few months could indeed be termed the “springtime of democracy” for people in those countries !
Note tt “What we consider important in the almost two-year-long dynamic and peaceful transition to democracy is this: in spite of the very different programmes proclaimed by the wide variety of political parties, we all agree on one thing – we all want to establish a constitutional state, a parliamentary democracy with a multi-party structure, where human rights are fully implemented.”
Note uu “If we have managed to survive as an entity, we owe this partly to our deep attachment to certain institutions and certain values regarded as the norm in Europe. We owe it to religion and the Church, our attachment to democracy and pluralism, human rights and civil liberties and to the ideal of solidarity. Even when we were unable to give these values their full potential or put them into practice in our public life, we still held them in esteem, we clung to them and struggled for them, and therefore we know them and we know their value. We know the price of being European, the price of the European heritage which westerners today have inherited without even having to pay the rights of succession. We can remind them of this price. We therefore offer Europe our faith in Europe.”
Note Poland made it its business to set an example in this area by bringing in the “Balcerowicz” plan, aimed at using “shock therapy” to rebuild the economy, on 1 January.
Note “It will certainly not be a European area with free movement of goods, capital and people, but it might be a Europe where borders and tariffs would be much less of an obstacle, a Europe wholly open to the young. For the fate of our continent depends on what kind of young people we bring up. It might be a Europe in which contact between the creative and the scientific communities, fostering permeability of national cultures and thereby bringing them closer together, will be richer than it is today. It will not be a Europe with a common currency, but it might be a Europe in which economies will be complementary and where differences in living standards will be smaller and international economic exchange richer. It might also be a Europe with a healthy climate, pure water and unpolluted soil, an environmentally clean Europe. But above all it will have to be a Europe which has made distinct progress towards disarmament, a Europe which will make an impact on the rest of the world as a factor for peace and international coexistence.”
Note xx The Kosovar crisis in summer 1990, when the Kosovan Parliament adopted a constitution proclaiming separation from Serbia, and the latter reacted by forcibly removing the Kosovan authorities, was the first serious upheaval provoked by the coming to power of Slobodan Milosevic, backed by the fatal ideology of “ethnic cleansing”, which would soon plunge the whole country into bloodshed.
Note yy “Because we thought, we also dreamed. We dreamt, whether in or out of prison, of a Europe without barbed wire, high walls, artificially divided nations and gigantic stockpiles of weapons, of a Europe free of 'blocs', of a European policy based on respect for Man and human rights, of politics unsubordinated to transient and particular interests. Yes, the Europe of our dreams was a friendly community of independent nations and democratic states.”
Note “One is never wrong to think about alternatives, however improbable, impossible or quite simply fantastic they may seem at the time. We didn't dream, of course, just because the results of our dreams might come in handy one day; we dreamed, as it were, on principle. Apparently, however, there can be moments in history when the fact of having dreamt 'on principle' may suddenly prove useful.”
Note aaa “What we have inherited from the former regime is a devastated landscape, a disrupted economy and, above all, a mutilated moral sense. The overthrow of totalitarian power was an important first step, but it was only the beginning of our journey, on which we shall have to make rapid progress with many more pitfalls ahead. […] I am not saying all this to gain undeserved advantages or even compassion, but because I am accustomed to telling the truth, even in a situation where it might seem more advantageous for me and my fellow citizens to lie, or at least to say nothing. It is my opinion that a clear conscience outweighs all other advantages.”
Note Vaclav Havel's vision of the future Europe covered four areas:
Note - security, based on a great “northern” security zone (or “Helsinki zone”), with NATO radically reformed and the Warsaw Pact progressively disappearing;
Note - politics, with the establishment of an “Organisation of European States”, which might develop into a European confederation (the Council of Europe would be its “crystallising core”);
Note - economics, with “transitional ground”, where the countries of central and eastern Europe could be rapidly accommodated, as a first step towards the European Community,;
Note - civic values, with support for Lech Walesa's proposed “European Civic Assembly”.
Note He also took a near-prophetic look at the Soviet Union's future: “Apparently the time is not far off when some republics will become completely independent and others will establish a new type of community either confederative or of a looser type. In my view there is no reason why, against the background of an extensive “Helsinki” security system, some or all of the European nations of the present Soviet Union should not at the same time be members of a European confederation and of some form of “post-Soviet” confederation.” Referring to Mikhail Gorbachev, he concluded: “There is no turning back, and the future of the world is no longer determined by one man. Nor is it in anyone's power to stop what has now become the inexorable course of history.”
Note ccc The European Council in Dublin (25-26 June 1990) asked the European Commission to make a preliminary study of practicalities and prospects for regarding possible Community aid for the USSR: this was too little and too late to “save Gorbachev”, but it gave Chancellor Kohl a precious political boost before he left for Moscow. Again in Dublin, the leaders of the Twelve made German reunification a definite part of the European integration process when they set dates for the two intergovernmental conferences (one on economic and monetary, the other on political union) which led to the birth of the European Union at the European Council in Maastricht in December 1991. This decision came a few days after the two German parliaments had, in ratifying the state treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, reaffirmed the inviolability of the Oder-Neisse line between the future Germany and Poland (21 June 1990).
Note Thus, when the Federal German President, Richard von Weizsäcker, repeated, during a state visit to Moscow in July 1987, that political forces in West Germany were unwilling to accept partition of the country (“the Germans living today in East and West have not stopped – and will not stop – thinking of themselves as one nation”), Mikhail Gorbachev merely replied: “History will decide what happens in a hundred years' time.”
Note eee “Hungary now has a President of the Republic, a government and local authorities freely and democratically elected, a multipartite parliament which functions and which, in recent months, has given the country a new constitution.”
Note fff “Hungary is determined to make a constructive, exemplary contribution to settling the problem of minorities both inside and outside the country. […] Five million Hungarians live outside our country, including three and a half million in our direct vicinity; we are responsible for their fate, just as we are for that of minorities living in our country. We would like them to be able, while remaining Hungarian, to be loyal citizens of the country in which they live, and we are ready to do our utmost to help them achieve this, in accordance with international law.”
Note ggg The “division” supposedly agreed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 is actually more of a myth than a reality. Far from handing half the continent over to Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill did their best to ensure that the liberated peoples could determine their own future themselves – particularly in Poland, where free elections, without duress, were to be held on the basis of universal suffrage and a secret ballot. In other words, the problem was less the Yalta agreements than the Soviets' failure to honour them.
Note hhh The Helsinki Final Act was signed on 1 August 1975 by 35 heads of state and government, representing all the then states of Europe (less Albania), and also Canada and the United States. As a result of the geo-political upheavals of 1990-91, the CSCE increased its membership considerably, without – Albania excepted – modifying its geographical scope, which extends from Vancouver to Vladivostok. It became the OSCE on 1 January 1994 and now has 54 member states (plus Japan, which has special status, equivalent to associate membership). The only country currently excluded from the process is the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro), shunned by the international community because of the policies pursued by Slobodan Milosevic.
Note iii At the time, technology transfers between western countries and the countries of central and eastern Europe were still severely restricted by the “Co-ordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls” (better known as Cocom) – set up during the cold war to ensure that the West maintained its lead in the advanced technologies. The debate on relaxation of the Cocom rules, repeatedly revived from the mid-eighties to the early nineties, will be remembered as a sign of the West's distrust of Mikhail Gorbachev, since Cocom did not disappear until the USSR had disappeared as well.
Note jjj “The first requirement is to have healthy money. This requires macro-economic policies to be correspondingly disciplined. Secondly, one should have the right institutions in the economy. The ownership structure is important, and privatisation is necessary to increase competition. Thirdly, if privatisation is to enhance economic efficiency, each enterprise should be subject to competition. In small countries such as Poland, competition requires a liberal trade regime.”
Note “The minimal level of Romania's external debt, the existence of a highly qualified labour force, the advantageous geographical location of the country and certain of its natural resources – oil, coal and natural gas – are advantages we have in hand from which foreign investors could also benefit.”
Note lll “I cannot prevent myself from reminding the Assembly of the Council of Europe of what President Vaclav Havel said in this chamber – that Europe would not open its doors to Czechoslovakia unless it could guarantee the integrity of its state. It is on that aspect of the problem that I have the most specific reservations. In fact, it is undeniable that the activity of minorities, whether Hungarian, Ukrainian or Slovak, has not finished raising problems for the Czechoslovak state.”
Note Quite by chance, the Austrian Chancellor found himself addressing the Assembly in the very middle of the debate on Czechoslovakia's joining the Council.
Note nnn “The republics are at present concluding treaties with one another, and I hope that a new treaty of union will come out of them. This union will obviously rest on the consent of those concerned, that is to say, the peoples; that is why it has been decided that referendums will be held in all the republics. If one of them prefers to remain outside the union, it will be entirely free to do so, in accordance with the law on leaving the union, which has already been adopted.”
Note “In a single year the situation in Bulgaria has changed substantially: for the first time for years there have been free, democratic elections in the country; a pluralist parliamentary system has once again begun to operate legitimately within the framework of the state; a President of the Republic has been democratically elected; in December 1990 a new government was formed, comprising all the political forces represented in parliament, and that government took upon itself the grave responsibility of setting economic reforms in motion; the interests of workers are defended by independent trade unions; radio, television, institutions of higher education and the press enjoy complete autonomy.”
Note ppp “Nationalism and chauvinism are a real threat to peace and democracy in the region. In this context, Europe-wide complementarity and interaction necessitate a new approach to the Balkan situation. The only way not to fall into painful traps is untiringly to promote democratisation in the Balkans, and Bulgaria is prepared to play its part in this.”
Note qqq “Our extraordinary meeting today is being held at a time when the optimism aroused by the events of 1989-90 is being put to the test. On the one hand, the effects of the past and serious political, economic and social difficulties in Europe are far from having been overcome. On the other, serious developments outside Europe, and particularly the Gulf War, are raising in an acute form the problem of Europe's position and responsibility in the world. Despite all these difficulties, the Council of Europe will resolutely pursue its policy of openness towards the countries of central and eastern Europe.” (Extract from the “Conclusions of the Chair” of the extraordinary meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, held in Madrid on 21 February 1991).
Note rrr “Never has the Council's value as a reference point for legitimising and buttressing emerging democracies been so apparent. We Spaniards are particularly aware that the Council of Europe has provided the first point of institutionalised contact between countries which have freed themselves from imposed political regimes and a democratic Europe committed to co-operation and the defence of human rights.”
Note “During our six months in office, we will make every effort to help new states to join the Organisation. I might perhaps recall that last September, in the Parliamentary Assembly, I stressed the need to apply the main criterion for accession – the need for a democratic system – generously and with an eye to the future.”
Note ttt “True, we deserve some criticism. We know better than anyone else the mistakes we have made in implementing our reforms and we are paying in full for those mistakes. But at all times along the path of perestroika we have never tried to conceal its problems either from our own people or from the outside world.”
Note A first step in this direction was taken when a referendum on independence was held in Lithuania on 9 February. This was followed by similar referendums in Latvia and Estonia on 3 March, and Georgia on 31 March. The result in all cases was a massive vote for independence – 90 %, 78 %, 73.7 % and 98.93 % respectively.
Note vvv These nine republics (all of which had proclaimed their sovereignty) were Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan, as well as Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan and Turkmenistan. The six non-signatories, which were on their way to independence, were the three Baltic countries, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia.
Note “We rose up in 1968 in order to be able to take our own decisions and contribute to the creation of a new European scene where there would be no superiors or inferiors. However, our attempt resulted in failure following the military intervention. Whatever assessment one makes of the role played by Mr Gorbachev, the fact remains that he has made a great contribution by intervening courageously in the development of the Soviet superpower and allowing the countries within the Soviet sphere of influence to take their decisions more freely.”
Note xxx “The free, democratic development since November 1989 has also been reflected in the life of each of our nations. The nations want to develop their national identity and achieve national sovereignty, although this is not inconsistent with coexistence within the same state. I support the development of the national identity of my Slovak nation. Nevertheless, I have devoted my life to the coexistence of Czechs and Slovaks. In my opinion, a federal organisation is the best solution, one that is supported by the overwhelming majority of our people.”
Note “It is crucial not to neglect those countries where democracy is most vulnerable, where the future is least certain – the Balkan countries, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia. Some of them are still governed by convinced communists who will go some way towards democracy only if they feel forced to do so. Some are beset with considerable economic problems and nationalistic pressure. Others are paralysed by an ideological identity crisis and do not really know whether they would like to be communist or democratic. The rest of Europe is duty-bound to guide, encourage and support them, and even at times to goad them firmly onward. It is certain that if Europe does not take an interest in the Balkans they will become as unstable at the end of this century as they were at its start.”
Note zzz The following were specifically mentioned: “the Kurdish problem [which] has a political as well as a humanitarian dimension”, “the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Palestinian problem”, “the fragmentation, foreign occupation and hostage-taking in Lebanon” and “the Cyprus problem”.
Note “If the balance in the European positions on this matter is gradually tilted more and more towards the Arab side, I am afraid that the Europeans will impose themselves on a Middle East peace process. Because of that, we who had and who have strong feelings towards Europe hope that in the future Europe will create a new approach and a new performance based on an understanding of Israeli interests.” (Extract from statement by Shevach Weiss, 25 April 1991).
Note bbbb Parliamentary elections, monitored by an Assembly observer delegation, had been organised in Albania for the first time on 31 March. These elections, held in the shadow of successive mass exoduses, first to Greece (from July to December 1990) and then to Italy (from February 1991), resulted in victory for the Albanian Workers' Party (AWP), led by the “neo-communist” President Ramiz Alia, and were followed by the formation of a transitional government under the “moderate” communist, Yili Bufi. The Council of Europe made its first high-level contact with the Albanian leadership when Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Andersson (who had succeeded Francisco Fernandez Ordonez as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers) went to Tirana on an official visit with Catherine Lalumière on 23-24 May 1991. A month after this “premiere”, Albania, which had been isolated from the international community for decades, was allowed to join the CSCE process, in a sense occupying the “35th seat”, left vacant by the German Democratic Republic.
Note cccc Stipe Mesic should actually have succeeded on 15 May 1991 to the rotating federal presidency after Boris Jovic, a Serb, but his election was vetoed by the “Serb bloc”, which commanded four (Serbia, Kosovo, Vojvodina, Montenegro) of the eight federal votes. Finally secured on 1 July with the help of pressure from the European Community, Mesic's appointment brought no solution, since the federal army refused to obey him, although he was nominally head of the armed forces. The Yugoslav presidency finally collapsed on 3 October 1991, and the last federal officials (Prime Minister Ante Markovic and Foreign Minister Budimir Lonçar) stepped down on 20 December 1991.
Note Between July and December 1991, fourteen cease-fires, none of them lasting more than a few hours, were signed under European Community auspices.
Note eeee Boris Yeltsin had been elected President of the Russian Federation by universal suffrage two months earlier (on 12 June). Held on the strength of a constitutional amendment adopted by the Russian electorate on 17 March (on the occasion of the referendum on the new Treaty of Union), the election did not affect his institutional position – he had been President of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation since May 1990 – but the democratic legitimacy which it gave him played a crucial role in the events of August 1991.
Note The example of Estonia and Latvia, which had declared themselves independent on 20 and 21 August respectively, was rapidly followed by Ukraine (24 August), Belarus (25 August), Lithuania (26 August), Moldova (27 August), Azerbaijan (30 August) and Uzbekistan (31 August), with Armenia bringing up the rear on 21 September. The three Baltic states' independence was at once recognised both by Russia and the whole international community. Thus, when the Council of Europe Ministers' Deputies held a further extraordinary meeting on 30 August, they welcomed the restoration of the sovereignty and independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which allowed those states to resume their rightful place among Europe's democracies after more than fifty years, resolved to work with them towards full Council membership on the basis of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and hoped that their problems with the Soviet Union would be solved rapidly and constructively.
Note gggg At its summer session, held in Helsinki from 25 to 28 June 1991, the Assembly had followed up its January current affairs debate on the situation in the Baltic republics by organising a “round table”, attended by Presidents Arnold Rüütel (Estonia), Anatolijs Gorbunovs (Latvia) and Vytantas Landsbergis (Lithuania), and by Alexei Elisseyev, leader of the Soviet parliamentary delegation to the Assembly.
Note hhhh The rapporteur of the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries, Daniel Tarschys (Sweden) divided these new states, some of them envisaged as sovereign members of a revived union, others as fully independent, into four groups: the first comprised the Baltic states, which had already applied to join the Council; the second comprised “the four essentially European republics” (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova), contacts with which were to have priority; the third and fourth comprised the three Caucasian republics and the five Central Asian republics respectively, for all of which a “wait and see” policy was proposed. Devised to meet the needs of the moment by the man who was to succeed Catherine Lalumière as Secretary General of the Council three years later, this classification was logical, if slightly over-empirical – and important in anticipating the Assembly's 1994 decision concerning the frontiers of Europe (see Chapter VI).
Note iiii This round table, patterned on that held in Helsinki in June between the Baltic countries and the USSR, was attended by representatives of the federal parliament and of the parliaments of Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vojvodina and Kosovo were not represented). From start to finish, it proved a terrifying “dialogue of the deaf”, prefiguring the horrors still to come.
Note Swedish Foreign Minister since the centre-right coalition's victory in the September 1991 elections, and first woman to chair the Committee of Ministers. One of her colleagues in the new government was none other than Anders Björck, Defence Minister, who accordingly resigned as Assembly President on 26 November. For an interim period of several months, he was succeeded by Sir Geoffrey Finsberg.
Note Where the first free elections had been held on 27 October.
Note llll The Hague Conference, chaired by Lord Carrington, was the forum within which the European Community representatives and all the Yugoslav parties had been trying - unsuccessfully – to find a negotiated solution to the crisis since 7 September.
Note mmmm Apart from the Baltic countries, whose independence had already been recognised by the international community, Georgia was the only absentee from this new community – designed to replace the USSR – which it did not join until October 1993.
Note nnnn In international law, the “continuator” status accorded Russia differs from the “successor” status accorded the other former Soviet republics in establishing a real continuity between the defunct USSR and Russia. This means that Russia inherits all the USSR's rights and obligations, and particularly its much-coveted permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The other former Soviet states may certainly rely on the USSR's international commitments to facilitate the taking of certain steps (acceding to the European Cultural Convention is the main example at the Council), but there is nothing automatic about this.
Note oooo As Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, René Felber chaired the Committee of Ministers, on Switzerland's behalf, from November 1991 to May 1992. From 1 January 1992, he combined the functions of head of the Swiss foreign service with those of President of the Helvetic Confederation. Under his leadership, Switzerland not only played a strikingly dynamic role in the chair, but also pursued a resolutely pro-European policy, culminating in its official application, on 26 May 1992, to join the European Community. This impetus was broken some months later, however, when the “antis” triumphed in a referendum (6 December 1992) on Switzerland's joining the European Economic Area.
Note pppp “Organisations, like people, sometimes have to take calculated risks. The Council can opt to be geographically narrow in the belief that widening out could endanger what it stands for, and that a smaller, homogeneous family of nations is best. But this somewhat timorous option – of keeping out the draught and playing safe – has great dangers of its own: out there on the periphery there may be a hurricane developing that could blow away the draughtproofing, however snugly we might want to remain together. Ultimately, the wisest course is perhaps to let in partners who may complicate our lives a little but who are our partners none the less. The real risk would be to shut them out. The best solution, once the main requirements have been complied with, is to take our courage in both hands and open the door.”
Note This plan came to fruition some months later – in a form less ambitious than that projected by Catherine Lalumière – when the Committee of Ministers set up the “Themis” and “Lode” programmes alongside the “Demosthenes” programme, in place since 1990 (cf. footnote 56).
Note rrrr “During its 700-year history, Switzerland has had its troubles – a good deal of strife, civil war even – but over a century and a half ago we had the good fortune to hit on an arrangement that accommodates religious, cultural and other minorities and thereby forge a new nation. And I think the Swiss experiment can still be transposed to other countries. The vital thing for any minority is to retain full cultural rights and maintain contact with its roots, and at the same time have the same rights as everyone else in the state it belongs to.”
Note ssss After the tragedies of Vukovar (Eastern Slavonia) and Dubrovnik (on the Dalmatian coast), and after fourteen failed attempts, a first lasting cease-fire was secured under UN auspices on 3 January. This was guaranteed by 14,000 “blue helmets” (UNPROFOR), despatched to Croatia under Security Council Resolution 743 of 21 February 1992. But the failure of Belgrade's attempt to create a “third Yugoslavia “ (after those of the inter-war years and of Tito), centred on Serbia and comprising all the former Yugoslav republics except Croatia and Slovenia, was set to trigger a fresh conflict - even more murderous and brutal than the first - in Bosnia-Herzegovina that spring.
Note tttt The setting-up in Moscow on 18 February (following visits by Secretary of State James Baker to several CIS countries) of an “International Science and Technology Centre”, which was jointly funded by the European Community and the United States, and designed to check the brain-drain by putting the former USSR's nuclear specialists to work on peaceful projects, is particularly indicative of this radically new line – remembering that Mikhail Gorbachev had pleaded unsuccessfully in Strasbourg, two and a half years before, for a simple relaxation of the Cocom rules.
Note At the Summits in Rome (7-8 November), where the leaders of the sixteen NATO countries worked out a “new strategic concept” for the Atlantic Alliance, and Maastricht (9-10 December), where the Heads of State and Government of the twelve Community countries signed the European Union into being.
Note The creation of which had already been decided… in 1971!
Note wwww Lech Walesa had been elected President of Poland on 9 December 1990, getting 75 % of the vote, the other 25 % going to the independent candidate, Stan Timinski, in the second round of an election marked by sharp divisions within Solidarnosc and the elimination of the Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, in the first round.
Note xxxx “In Poland, we now have a democratically elected parliament. Human rights and the rights of national minorities are being respected. We are establishing ever better contacts with all our neighbours. Poland, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and Hungary have been linked by the treaty on co-operation. We have proved that we are able to act jointly, to overcome stereotypes and do away with prejudices. We have ratified a bilateral treaty with Germany. We are engaged in negotiating similar treaties with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.”
Note “Democracy is not an end in itself. It is a means to a better, more secure and more prosperous life. Nowadays, however, our own people are not getting the feeling that they are any better off. The fruits of victory have turned sour. Already, one can hear some people asking why we have ever done it. Democracy is losing its supporters. Some other people say: 'All right, let us go back to authoritarian rule'.”
Note “The Polish revolution has reached inside the Kremlin walls. We have cracked communism. We have freed the western world from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism. We have done it smoothly, we have handled it with velvet gloves, without a drop of blood having been shed. And yet, we have risked a great deal. Today, the difficult task of building a new system lies ahead of us. So, we are working. We are making an enormous effort. But, on our own it is going to be difficult for us. We need your help.”
Note aaaaa All the speakers considered this distinction vital. In fact, although the Council only started working on protection of Europe's “historical” minorities in the early 1990s (in response to the political pressures generated by the conflicts in central and eastern Europe), the rights of migrants had been one of its concerns for a long time before that. Thus, the rights of migrant workers and their families are protected by Article 19 of the European Social Charter (1961) and by a specific convention, the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers (1977). The most important instrument concerning political rights was opened for signing by the Committee of Ministers the day after the Assembly's debate on the rights of minorities (5 February 1992): this was the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level. This pioneering text sets out to generalise the advisory bodies already set up to represent immigrant communities in some member states, and, above all, to secure for foreigners the right to vote and stand in local elections – but is still waiting for the ratifications it needs to take effect.
Note bbbbb These reservations were voiced in particular by: Henri Collette (France) (“I would like to draw my colleagues' attention to the danger of allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by the urgency of situations that are undoubtedly very painful, by promoting the adoption of a new convention aimed at specific protection of the rights of minorities, the insidious effect of which would be to call into question the very basis of human rights, namely, the principle of equality of all citizens in the sphere of public freedom.”); Toby Jessel (United Kingdom) (“When we discuss the rights of minorities, we must be aware of the dangers of ignoring the rights and interests of the majority, otherwise we will cause more problems than we solve.”); Alexander Papadoganos (Greece) (“It is equally important that by producing a convention of the sort that is proposed, proper care is exercised to avoid lending even implicit support to activities undertaken by small minorities that might endanger the internal peace and security of states. The right of self-determination continues to command our utmost respect, but we must register our concern about unqualified support of that right, especially when it endangers the rights of majority populations, political stability and the territorial integrity of long-established and ethnically homogeneous states.”); and Bülent Akarçali (Turkey) (“In politics, it is not enough to defend good causes: it is necessary, indeed imperative, to choose the right moment. And I believe that this is far from the right moment.”).
Note ccccc The Assembly had itself shown the way by incorporating a declaration of this kind in Recommendation 1134.
Note Here again, the Assembly had shown the way in Order No. 456 of 1 October 1990, in which it made mediation and conciliation in conflicts involving minorities, at the request of the parties, one of its responsibilities.
Note eeeee Where the elected president, Sviad Gamsakhurdia, discredited by supporting the August 1991 putsch, had been overthrown by a military council early in January, and Edward Shevardnadze arrived to save the situation in March.
Note “I am personally very attached to this work. It was at the Congress of the European Movement at The Hague in 1948 - just count up the years! - where I was present, that the project for a Convention on Human Rights was conceived. I voted in favour of its ratification on 3 May 1974, and on taking up my present responsibilities I was determined that France should recognise the right of individual petition provided for in Article 25. In that same year, 1981 – need I recall? – the French Government put before parliament the bill to abolish the death penalty. As a result, France was one of the first signatories of the sixth protocol. More recently, in November 1990, I was keen for France to adopt, as soon as it was open for signature, Protocol No. 9, extending to individuals the right to submit cases to the European Court of Human Rights, a right hitherto reserved to the Commission and to states.”
Note ggggg At this point, the Committee of Ministers was considering three proposals:
Note - the most radical involved merging the European Commission and Court of Human Rights, turning them into a single, permanent body, whose decisions would be final;
Note - the “Netherlands-Swedish” proposal kept two levels of jurisdiction, but streamlined the process by giving the Commission's reports judgment status and making the Court an appeal body;
Note - an intermediate proposal combined the two others, setting up a single court and providing for “internal” appeal against judgments given by its chambers.
Note The final compromise was based on this third proposal: Protocol No. 11 to the European Convention on Human Rights, setting up a single, permanent Court, was adopted at the first Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government in Vienna on 8-9 October 1993; the single Court was officially inaugurated on 3 November 1998, in the wake of the second Summit, which was held in Strasbourg on 10-11 October 1997 (see Chapters V, IX and X).
Note hhhhh “This is an essential factor because there is scarcely an institution where this applies to the weakest or newest member, the least well-organised – even though it will not always remain so – the country emerging from a bloody crisis, weakened by a power that has denied its identity for too long – I shall not name countries, but there are many which could appear on this unhappy list. I affirm here and now that such countries possess equal sovereign dignity to those which founded Europe several decades ago in the aftermath of the second world war, and whose peoples are now among the most prosperous on our continent.”
Note iiiii Articles 25 and 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights (still optional at that time) have special importance, since they give the monitoring system real weight by allowing individuals to apply to the Commission for redress when they believe that rights guaranteed them by the Convention have been violated, and by making the Court the final and sovereign decision-making body.
Note “The state-controlled economy has been destroyed but not yet replaced by the market economy. Industrial output has been reduced by 50 %, oil production by 45 % and the mining of copper and chromium by 70 % and 65 % respectively. We have succeeded in privatising the ownership of land, but 40 % of the area lies waste. The farmers are short of agricultural machinery, pesticides and so on. The total volume of transport has fallen by 50 %. Inflation is rising by 15 % per month and unemployment affects half the active workforce. The annual income of wage-earners ranges from 150 to 200 dollars. A ridiculous law which guarantees workers 80 % of their wage without working is ruining the economy and we are determined to repeal it.”
Note kkkkk “The Albanians currently form a nation which is split in two: some 3 million live in their age-old homeland in Yugoslavia, deprived of human and national rights. They are the only citizens on this continent who have never known free voting. They are being subjected to apartheid by the communist dictator Milosevic, whose policy of violence has made contention degenerate into warfare, causing great bloodshed and claiming countless victims in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and who has concentrated large armed forces in Kosovo, threatening the Albanian population with an absolute massacre.”
Note “Furthermore, a large number of Albanians live in Macedonia. There are no exact figures, but they are believed to number between 700,000 and 900,000 people. We are in favour of the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, but it must respect all the individual and national rights and freedoms of the Albanians.”
Note The “self-governing districts” proposed by Sali Berisha for the Republic of Macedonia were inspired by solutions then envisaged as a way of bringing the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina to an end, which led to the “Vance-Owen” plan of January 1993 (see Chapter V).
Note nnnnn The CSCE had just welcomed, on 30 April, its 52nd participating state: Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Note ooooo As far as relations between the Council and the US were concerned, the first official visit to Washington by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General on 10 February 1992, in the course of which René Felber and Catherine Lalumière met President George Bush, brought no immediate results. It was not until 1996 that the granting of observer status to the US brought an institutional rapprochement.
Note ppppp This was the last session attended by Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who had just retired as German Minister for Foreign Affairs, having served the Federal Republic, and then the reunited country, in that capacity for eighteen years. Bidding farewell to his colleagues, the man who had been the prime mover behind the launching of the Council's “Ostpolitik” in January 1985 (cf. Chapter I) declared that, while other European organisations, such as the European Communities and the CSCE, were “working to ensure that a single Europe became a reality”, none of them was better placed to achieve European unity than the Council, which was expressing “not only the shared values, but also the history of the European continent”.
Note As Andrei Kozyrev himself put it: “We are talking of a whole continent entering Europe, not just a pocket-sized state.”
Note rrrrr When war broke out in April 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina had 1.9 million Moslems, 1.4 million Serbs and 750,000 Croats, accounting respectively for 44 %, 31 % and 17 % of the total population.
Note On 30 May, a week after Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia had joined the United Nations, the Security Council adopted Resolution 757, providing for a trade, oil and air traffic embargo on Serbia and Montenegro. On 10 July, at the CSCE Summit in Helsinki, NATO and WEU agreed on concerted naval and air force action to monitor this embargo; that same month, 7,000 “blue helmets” were despatched to Bosnia to protect international humanitarian operations, gravely threatened by the fighting. In August, an international conference, jointly chaired by the former British Minister for Foreign Affairs Lord Owen (for the European Community) and by the former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (for the United Nations), started meeting in London in an effort to find a political solution which all the belligerents would accept.
Note The Central European Initiative (CEI), launched at Italy's suggestion in November 1989, initially covering Austria, Hungary and Yugoslavia, and later extended to Czechoslovakia and Poland, had welcomed Croatia and Slovenia at its meeting in Vienna in July 1992. Similarly, at Turkey's initiative, Black Sea Economic Co-operation (BSCE), an organisation of 11 Black Sea countries, had been set up on 25 June.
Note uuuuu The parliaments of Belarus and Ukraine were accordingly granted special guest status on 16 September 1992, followed by Moldova on 5 February 1993.
Note On this occasion, Ukraine applied formally to join the Council, in a letter from Anatoly Zlenko, its Foreign Minister.
Note “If we really want to decide where Europe stops, I feel that our main criterion should be the values for which Europe stands - values which find their clearest expression in the Council of Europe. From the time it was founded, the Council has been working to defend and promote those values, and I feel that its main purpose now should be to spread them. I believe that we should approach the whole question of Europe's frontiers from this angle.”
Note xxxxx Because of the civil war raging in his country, the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan did not attend.
Note yyyyy The Lombard League took 20 % of the vote in northern Italy (and 10 % at national level) in the April 1992 elections.
Note In 1992 alone, Germany received 436,000 requests for political asylum, most of them from Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Altogether, in the course of the Yugoslav conflict, Germany took in more refugees than all the other countries of Europe combined!
Note aaaaaa After a first phase, in which the Serbs pursued classic territorial objectives (attaining them rapidly, thanks to their overwhelming military superiority, which gained them control of 70 % of Bosnia's territory in a matter of weeks), the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina changed character in summer 1992. The deadly policy of “ethnic cleansing” not only set out to destroy the cultural heritage and the economic and human resources of “the enemy”, but led to the systematic use of terror against the civilian population, which was elevated to a military strategy and used by all sides. Moreover, the military alliance which Croats and Muslims initially formed against the Serb “steamroller” soon fell apart when it became clear that the Croats shared certain interests with the Serbs. In these circumstances, the situation of the two million or so Bosnian Muslims rapidly became dramatic: in spring 1993, a year after the fighting had begun, some 200,000 had been killed, between 20,000 and 50,000 women had been raped, nearly 700,000 were refugees in Croatia or outside, and the remainder (over a million people) were penned up in “security zones” (Sarajevo, Bihac, Tuzla and Srebrenica) where they had no water, electricity, food or medicines, and were shelled round the clock.
Note The alliance between the “national communists” and the far right in the elections held on 20 December 1992 resulted in the fall of the Yugoslav Prime Minister, Milan Panic, on 29 December. A few months later, on 31 May 1993, the Federal President, Dobrica Kosic, was ousted, while the leader of the democratic opposition, Vuk Draskovic, was jailed. Panic and – to a lesser degree – Cosic, appointed to lead the new-born FRY after the federal elections of 31 May 1992, were seen in the West as open to dialogue and compromise, and had played a positive part in the negotiations which led to the Vance-Owen plan of January 1993.
Note cccccc In their applications for Council membership, dated 1 January 1993, the two Foreign Ministers, Josef Zieleniec (Czech Republic) and Milan Knazko (Slovakia) declared their countries bound by the European Convention on Human Rights (including the right of individual petition and compulsory jurisdiction of the Court) and gave notice of accession to the European Cultural Convention (with immediate effect, since both were “successors” of the former Czechoslovakia). The Assembly granted their parliaments special guest status on 14 January.
Note dddddd The United Kingdom had taken over from Turkey in the chair, for the period from November 1992 to May 1993, and had also – from 1 July to 31 December 1992 – been chairing the European Community's Council of Ministers. It took advantage of this fortuitous conjunction to emphasise co-operation between the two institutions: thus a first joint programme (of assistance to Albania) was agreed by the Council of Eurooe and the Community in April 1993. These joint programmes developed spectacularly from the end of 1994. Some were aimed at specific countries (the programmes for the Baltic states, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and again Albania), others were thematic (the multilateral programmes on protection of minorities, on action to combat corruption and organised crime, and on bioethics).
Note There were three principles, and Lord Owen himself formulated them as follows when he spoke in the Assembly on 3 October 1992:
Note - Inviolability of frontiers: “There will not be territorial acquisitions as a result of taking up arms. Boundaries are not to be changed simply by force majeure. We can all think of theoretical examples to show why the map of that part of Europe should not have been drawn as it was in the early days of the Tito regime, but that map has to stay. […] The London Conference laid down that the Tito map was sacrosanct unless changed by mutual agreement.”;
Note - Refusal to accept faits accomplis: “There is another principle – and it is one to which I personally attach great importance. I refer to the principle that ethnic cleansing must be reversed. If we meant it when we said that we would never allow another holocaust, never allow groups of people to be discriminated against on ethnic grounds, never allow concentration camps and closed wagons full of people to be shipped around without any form of respect for human rights, and never again allow people to be killed, mutilated or raped purely and simply because they espoused a religion different from the majority, then we must in all conscience reverse ethnic cleansing. We have seen in Europe and in this Assembly the human capacity for reconciliation, for forgiving, and for a new generation to emerge that is not haunted by the past. To those who say that ethnic cleansing cannot be reversed, I say that they are wrong. To those who say that reversing ethnic cleansing will be difficult, I say that they are right.”;
Note - the duty of interference: “The alternative, of course, which is also espoused by some editorial writers and others is that it has nothing to do with us. It is a faraway country of which we know nothing. However, we know what that brought us; it brought us the second world war. We should not forget that the first world war started off in Sarajevo. Those who believe that it would be morally acceptable for Europe to turn its back on what is happening in the Balkans and to throw their hands in the air and say, 'Let them fight it out, it's got nothing to do with us', are, I believe, abandoning the construction of the wider Europe to which this Assembly is dedicated, to which the European Community is dedicated, and to which most of our parliaments are dedicated.”
Note ffffff This demand was satisfied only partially, the United Nations Security Council preferring to follow an ad hoc approach and set up a specific tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Resolution 808 of 22 February 1993), followed a year later by the setting-up of a tribunal for Rwanda. It was not until 18 July 1998 that the statute of a permanent international criminal court was adopted in Rome – a court which will be constituted only when at least 60 UN member states have ratified the statute.
Note gggggg The three positions on this were voiced by Sir Russell Johnston (United Kingdom), who favoured using force (“My intention is to say that there are circumstances when the evil that one faces is such that an olive branch can achieve little, and when force has to be contemplated”), Jaakko Laakso (Finland), who warned, like François Mitterrand, of the danger of “adding war to war” (“We cannot support ideas to change the role of the United Nations peace-keeping troops to that of so-called peace-making troops. There is a real danger that an intervention under the pretext of peace-making may lead to an international conflict. All international peace-keeping efforts must aim to end the war rather than expand it”) and Lord Finsberg (United Kingdom), who wanted far more drastic sanctions (“We must cut off those territories from civilisation – they have already cut themselves off from it.”) and a broader mandate for UNPROFOR in its job of supporting humanitarian assistance. The strongest statements undoubtedly came from Peter Hardy (United Kingdom) (“In the past two years we have seen horrors in Europe which would not and could not have been imagined. Any politician who fails to act wisely in the face of those horrors deserves the same condemnation that we are today offering to the murderers.”) and Jacques Baumel (France), who explained that he was speaking “on a strictly personal basis”: “In the face of events reminiscent of the past, Europe should have demonstrated greater unity and resolve. We all have only ourselves to blame. Who would actually risk sending fellow countrymen into a conflict where their lives would be in danger? Which governments have the courage to go beyond diplomatic messages and do more than give insincere responses giving the impression of doing everything possible? Which European authorities might attempt to decide what to do, when the fact is that nobody else steps in if the Americans ignore a conflict. The Americans intervened in Iraq, and other nations followed. For reasons of which we are aware, the United States have few interests in Yugoslavia and consider the problem not vital to their security. They therefore do not mind leaving the Europeans to demonstrate their impotence and disarray. This is why we have been standing still for almost a year and a half in the face of a worsening conflict, a real insult to all compassionate people and to civilised society as a whole. We are today discussing the crisis in former Yugoslavia. That is right and proper. Our discussions serve a useful purpose. We shall still be talking about it in a few days or a few months, and all that time men, women and children will be dying every day.”
Note hhhhhh There was indeed a striking contrast between Helmut Kohl, who warned the Assembly against “Europessimism” (“I have again heard the word 'crisis'. Actually, I do not hear about anything else but crises. I cannot understand this word. I do not believe that Europe is in crisis. I contest this view. If I really consider the historical dimension of what has happened in the past forty years, I cannot see that we are in crisis. What we need in Europe is patience. That is something completely different, it is not a crisis.”) and Franz Vranitzky, who had no hesitation in starting with the words: “When, almost two years ago, I had the privilege of addressing you from this very spot, I was obliged, in view of the bloody conflicts in the Gulf and the Baltic at that time, to make a very bitter assessment in many respects. Two years on, I have little reason to paint that dismal picture in brighter colours. Again people are dying because of their convictions or because they belong to a particular religious or ethnic group, the most elementary human rights are being trampled underfoot and atrocities are being committed that we thought no longer possible in Europe. […] There has been no lack of efforts to get a grip on these conflicts and to put into practice the democratic principles so much vaunted by the United Nations and the CSCE, as well as by the Council of Europe. We must admit to ourselves, however, that all these efforts have so far had little success and that all our hopes have in the end been disappointed.”
Note iiiiii “Both the European Union and the enlarged European “home” must remain right at the top of our agenda.” (Helmut Kohl)
Note jjjjjj “In view of the dangerous developments in some parts of Europe, we need the Council of Europe both today and tomorrow as the custodian of our cultural heritage and the fundamental values which unite us.” (Helmut Kohl); “We are witnesses of a development that will continue to be difficult and strenuous, but which in the end, I am convinced, will lead to a peaceful European order. Whether this expectation can be fulfilled will not least depend on how quickly we can succeed in bringing the countries of central and eastern Europe closer to the principles enshrined in the Council of Europe Statute, of democracy, the protection of human rights and the rule of law.” (Franz Vranitzky); “In the long run, everyone stands to gain from the widest possible adherence to the basic principles that represent the sine qua non of the Council of Europe: respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” (Gro Harlem Brundtland).
Note “We have become aware that the Council of Europe also plays an important role in maintaining peace on our continent. Security is not confined to military or socio-economic considerations but has also become a question of the mentality, the outlook and the democratic attitude of the European citizen and European society. This is the Council of Europe's great task: to form a factor for integration in Europe which, through respect for human rights, humanist values and democratic principles, helps to ensure that, together, instead of creating new frontiers in Europe, we continue to forge our European identity or, in the words of Edgar Morin, our 'common destiny'.” (Franz Vranitzky).
Note llllll As Helmut Kohl pointed out, this dynamic balance of openness and firmness was particularly important in the case of Russia's application to join the Council: “When Russia knocks on the door here and says: 'We want to join', then the answer should be 'Yes', but on one condition, namely that the high standards set by the Council of Europe are adhered to, so that a show of special goodwill does not lead to a lower standard. That would be quite the wrong policy. If the demands made here correspond to the standard required, that offers a man like Boris Yeltsin the best chance of moving things forward at home.”
Note mmmmmm “The purpose of such a plan of action would be threefold: firstly, to give new political impetus to restoring tolerance at national level, by governments and by individuals and by non-governmental organisations; secondly, to inspire a more comprehensive, cross-sectoral approach, addressing not only the symptoms but the possible root causes such as poverty, socio-economic conditions and unemployment; and, thirdly, to promote closer co-operation in such endeavours between members of the Council of Europe.”
Note “A European youth campaign would mean that the young people in Europe could unite in a common struggle for our common European values. Such a campaign could have a core of common activities and manifestations at European level, as well as a core of common information material, assisting and inspiring parallel national campaigns in all the member countries, adapted to the situation in each country. A European youth campaign should form a central part of the broader plan of action. It must also include activities by governments and non-governmental organisations as well as by the Council of Europe itself. In addition to the youth campaign, a plan of action could include the following elements: firstly, renewed commitment by governments to using the full potential of their legal systems, administrative procedures, educational systems and information agencies to counter all forms of discrimination against national ethnic and religious minorities; secondly, increased research into the nature and extent of racial violence, by effectively pooling the attitudes of people of all ages, in order to fully understand the depth of the problem; thirdly, international co-operation in the field of legal instruments and law enforcement procedures. This could include the creation of a distinct expert body within the Council of Europe, which would be charged with monitoring member countries' compliance with the legal framework, collecting and exchanging information, and stimulating action at national level. Finally, integration of multi-national tolerance into all relevant fields of inter-governmental co-operation within the framework of the Council of Europe, such as education, culture, mass media, migration, youth and social and economic affairs.”
Note oooooo Thorvard Stoltenberg, Foreign Minister of Norway, had taken over from Cyrus Vance as co-chairman of the International Conference for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, following the latter's resignation on 31 March 1993.
Note pppppp In addition to Romania (which joined three months later), and also Latvia, Russia, Albania, Ukraine and Croatia (whose applications were already being examined by the Assembly), Belarus, Moldova and the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” had recently applied to join – on 12 March, 20 April and 25 June respectively. After those of Belarus and Moldova (see Chapter IV), the Macedonian Parliament was granted special guest status in the Assembly on 13 May.
Note qqqqqq These changes were concerned, in particular, with adjustments made to the Statute by the Committee of Ministers in the many statutory resolutions which it had adopted since 1949, some of them (like that requiring the Committee of Ministers to consult the Assembly before inviting new states to join the Council) appreciably changing the balance of power within the organisation, and others giving the Council new co-operation instruments (e.g. partial agreements for co-operation involving only some member states). Some of them also affected the Council's internal balance (such important bodies as the European Court of Human Rights, the various conferences of specialised ministers and the Standing Conference – now Congress – of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe were all established after the Statute was adopted), and its “external relations” with the other institutions (above all, the European Community) set up as time went on to structure the European process. Flexible and effective as it is (a revised Statute would require formal ratification by all the member states), resolution-based adjustment has one serious limitation: it can be used to make additions to the 1949 Statute – but not to change it.
Note rrrrrr Hanna Suchocka had succeeded Jan Olszewski on 11 July 1992, thus being the first woman to accede to the highest political responsibilities in a Central and Eastern European country. Two weeks after her speech in the Assembly, on 28 May, her government fell, which led to dissolution of the Polish Diet by Lech Walesa and early elections, from which the Alliance of the Democratic Left (neo-communist) emerged victorious.
Note “The triumph of democracy demands a high price to be paid both in internal affairs and international relations. We face huge tasks commensurate to the difficult end of the century. Those tasks are not just a problem of particular countries struggling to find a way to democracy and a development market economy; they concern everyone. The whole of Europe should search for solutions to the difficulties that are so great and severe that they cannot be reduced to problems of any one country.”
Note tttttt “A long-term European policy should originate from the ideals of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, for whom the unity of western Europe was to be only a point of departure, a preparatory stage preceding creation of a common Europe. This moment has now come. The window of opportunity opens before us. Let us not overlook it in an unconscious struggle for a vision of Europe that already belongs to the past. What we need is a political will inspired by those ideals, by the ideal of a broadened Europe, of a Europe that preserves the richness of the different identities of its peoples, but which is at the same time open and generous, of a Europe that is luminous with the value of its economic achievements and cultural creativity, and a sense of obligation towards weaker and poorer societies.”
Note uuuuuu “The co-operation between the Council of Europe and the EC Commission in assisting the countries of central and eastern Europe in their democratisation process is therefore very important and should be strengthened where possible. Here, when we are talking about the division of labour between the Council of Europe and the EC, we could unify and strengthen our co-operation, so that for the rest of the 1990s, when the Council of Europe says that human rights are not being respected, the European Community could act, using economic and other means.”
Note vvvvvv “One should not forget that not only the process towards membership, but membership itself, when acquired, will sustain democracy and human rights in the applicant countries. […] Our well-founded eagerness to ensure that future members live up to the standards of the Council of Europe should not lead us to be more lenient on the question of whether existing members do so. There must be no double standards.”
Note wwwwww In spite of the impressive vote in favour (more than two-thirds of the voters), the referendum did not lead to early elections, since the requisite 50 % vote of registered electors had not been obtained.
Note xxxxxx “For us Icelanders, the Council of Europe has a similar place in the world order to the distinguished mythological god Heimdall in the ancient pantheon of our forefathers, as described in the classic Prose Edda by Iceland's greatest medieval historian Snorri Sturluson: 'Heimdall is called the white god, and he is great and holy. Nine maidens gave birth to him, and they are all sisters.' The Council of Europe is similar, given birth to by its thirty-one member states, who are all sisters too. Snorri continues: 'He lives in a place called Himinbjörg, 'Cliff of Heaven', by the rainbow Bifrost. He is the warden of the gods, and sits there at the end of heaven to guard the bridge from the cliff giants. He needs less sleep than a bird, and can see a hundred leagues in front of him as well by night as by day. He can hear the grass growing on the earth and the wool on sheep, and everything that makes more noise. He has the trumpet known as the horn Gjöll, and its blast can be heard all over the world.' This is probably not the way most of you would think of describing the Council of Europe, but it is one example of the diversity that gives European culture such exceptional depth and strength. Below the level of being Europeans, we are distinct nations, and below that, we are individuals. Respect for the individual, which underlies all European values, is based on tolerance towards, and encouragement of, cultural diversity. We share the fact that we are all different, if you like, and Icelanders take a pride in refusing to become a suburb in uniformity.”
Note yyyyyy The only absentees were the British Prime Minister, John Major, detained at his party's conference, the Greek Prime Minister, Constantin Mitsotakis, caught up in the election campaign in his country, and the Hungarian Prime Minister, Jozsef Antall, stricken by the grave illness from which he died two months later. With San Marino represented by its two Captains Regent, this meant that a total of 30 heads of state or government were present.
Note zzzzzz It was the Austrian President, Thomas Klestil, who drew the parallel, in his opening address, between the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 and the Vienna Summit in 1993: “When Europe's leading statesmen met here in the years 1814 and 1815 for the Congress of Vienna, their aim was to stabilise a Europe disjointed by revolutions and wars. Today, almost 180 years later, Europe again stands at a historic turning point in its history – and still the spectres of war and violence have not yet been banished forever from Europe. And yet – what a difference there is between then and today. At the Congress of Vienna, the aim was primarily the restoration of the old relationships of power and hegemony; what we are aiming for today is an entirely new system – a future order embracing the whole of Europe, an order in which, for the first time, equal partners take the place of old hegemonies.
Note “I believe that all of us – whether from the west, the east, the south or the north of Europe – can agree that that the common basis of all the efforts to integrate Europe is the wealth of values and ideals we share. Among such values and ideals are respect for the unique human being and his or her freedom, the principle of civic society and the rule of law, democracy and a pluralist political system, the market economy, decentralisation, and the determination to create moulds of coexistence, mutual understanding and creative co-operation between different nations and ethnic, religious and cultural groups and between different spheres of civilisation – all in the spirit of universality, of unity, diversity, and mutual responsibility for peace, security and freedom of everyone. This intellectual and spiritual foundation of European civilisation has grown out of thousands of years of history, from its many intellectual and spiritual traditions, and from its vast experience, both good and bad. After the fall of communism, our continent has been presented with a unique opportunity to unite on that foundation and, in the long run, to become – for the first time in a very long time, if not for the first time in history – one of the stabilising factors in today's world.” (Vaclav Havel at the Vienna Summit).
Note “Without an institution, there could be no liberty. Without an institution, there was no democracy. Without an institution, there was no Europe.” (François Mitterand at the Vienna Summit).
Note “Are we really so incorrigible? Twice in the twentieth century the whole of Europe has paid a tragic price for the narrow-mindedness and lack of imagination of its democracies. These democracies failed for the first time when confronted with nazism; they retreated and refused to confront the embryonic form of this evil, only to have to pay a million times more in the struggle against nazism in its more developed form. The second time, they allowed Stalin to swallow up one half of our continent and bring history there to a halt. Today, this failure is coming back tragically to haunt not only those who have recently escaped from Soviet tyranny, but everyone, the whole world. There is a saying: 'Whether good or bad, three always come after two'. Democratic Europe cannot afford a third failure.” (Vaclav Havel).
Note ddddddd “Accession presupposes that the applicant country has brought its institutions and legal system into line with the basic principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The people's representatives must have been chosen by means of free and fair elections based on universal suffrage. Guaranteed freedom of expression and notably of the media, protection of national minorities and observance of the principles of international law must remain, in our view, decisive criteria for assessing any application for membership. An undertaking to sign the European Convention on Human Rights and accept the Convention's supervisory machinery in its entirety within a short period is also fundamental. We are resolved to ensure full compliance with the commitments accepted by all member states within the Council of Europe.” (Vienna Declaration).
Note In the “Declaration on Russia” adopted at the Vienna Summit, the Heads of State and Government declared their “solidarity with the supporters of the reforms under the leadership of President Boris Yeltsin” and hoped that the process of democratisation would be “continued with determination”. They also reaffirmed their “determination to give effective support to the reform process, among other measures, by intensifying, in the framework of the Council of Europe's co-operation programmes with Russia, assistance for the development of democratic institutions and legal systems, respecting human rights and the rule of law.”
Note fffffff The importance of co-operation with the European Union was emphasised by several speakers at the Summit, and particularly Jean-Luc Dehaene, who was President of the EC (for Belgium) in the second half of 1993. Without going the length of Community accession to the Council of Europe Statute (suggested in Vienna by European Commissioner Hans van der Broeck), this co-operation soon found practical expression in the Council's involvement – alongside the OSCE – in implementation of the “stability pact” for the countries of central and eastern Europe, decided by the European Council in Brussels (10-11 December 1993) on the initiative of the French Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur.
Note ggggggg The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (comprising a Chamber of Regions and a Chamber of Local Authorities) was officially established by the Ministers' Deputies on 17 January 1994. It held its first plenary session from 31 May to 3 June 1994 and elected Alexander Tchernoff, Mayor of De Bilt (Netherlands) as President.
Note hhhhhhh Having agreed in principle to continued enlargement of the Council, the leaders at the Summit spelt this out in a message to applicant countries: "We fully intend to promote the integration of candidate states into the European family with a view to establishing a vast area of democratic security in Europe, a security to which our peoples aspire after decades of confrontation between blocs, and of oppressive regimes in several countries of central and eastern Europe. As of now, we are counting on you to help build the new Europe. For our part, we shall do everything in our power to support you in your process of reform, in order to allow you to become members of our Organisation as soon as possible." (From the "Conclusions of the Chair", adopted after the exchange of views with candidate countries' foreign ministers at the opening of the Summit).
Note iiiiiii At the start of this process, Andorra enjoyed what Andorrans themselves called “medieval” status (with power exercised - in law, if not in fact - by its two Co-Princes, the Bishop of Urgell (Spain) and the President of the French Republic). In the space of a few years, it succeeded in turning itself into a fully democratic and sovereign state.
Note jjjjjjj The Constitution of 12 December 1993 might have given Boris Yeltsin unusually wide presidential powers, but the parliament he now found himself facing was hardly more co-operative than the Congress of People's Deputies over which he had recently triumphed: indeed, the new Duma slapped him resoundingly in the face, a few weeks after he had taken office, by voting an amnesty for participants in the putsch of August 1991 and the insurrection of October 1993. Another sign of tragedy to come, barely noticed at the time: of the eighty-nine "subjects of the Federation", Chechnya alone boycotted the elections of 12 December 1993 (Tatarstan came to heel on 14 February 1994 by concluding a bilateral treaty which gave it considerable autonomy within the Russian Federation).
Note kkkkkkk "We have established that there are very different ideas on the question of the geographical limits of Europe. May I briefly point out four schools of thought that have emerged from the many discussions we have had on this subject.
Note The first school of thought clearly excludes Russia from Europe or from the countries which might belong to the Council of Europe, because the view is held that a shifting of the political axis would take place if one of the two great powers of the second half of this century were to become a member of the Council of Europe and the other one were to be left outside.
Note A second school of thought has come out in favour of very strict borders which would no longer include the Caucasus.
Note There is a third school of thought which definitely feels the Caucasus to be a classical part of Europe. However, it is split into two: the first group says all three countries belong, whilst the other group only wishes to accept two of the Caucasian republics as European.
Note Finally, a fourth school of thought would like to consider as part of Europe the former so-called Islamic republics of the now defunct Soviet Union.
Note The most original idea, which I heard this morning, was that the Council of Europe should be opened up to all the countries of the world. I do not intend to comment on that."
Note "We have a problem because we grant states special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly. We have held the view up to now that this special guest status means the first step to full membership. We are now facing a difficulty: if we do not decide soon where the Eastern boundaries of Europe lie we might grant a state special guest status and then have to declare a few weeks later, following a different resolution adopted by the Assembly: Sorry, it was nice while it lasted, but we can't let you come any more!"
Note mmmmmmm In Recommendation 1231 of 26 January 1994 on the follow-up to the Council of Europe Vienna Summit, the Assembly deeply regretted the Summit's failure to act on its suggestion that a protocol dealing with the rights of national minorities be added to the European Convention on Human Rights, and asked the Committee of Ministers to "revise its decision": it hardly seemed likely, however, that the member states' Foreign Ministers, even if legally endowed with sole decision-making powers (the Council's Statute makes no provision for top-level political meetings) would reverse decisions which the Heads of State and Government had taken three months earlier.
Note nnnnnnn "Without discouraging young, fragile democracies by setting the pass mark too high for membership, we must maintain our requirements on respect for the principles and values on which all democratic systems are based. We have to strike this delicate balance, bearing in mind that it is in the interests of peace and security on our continent to integrate into the democratic system those countries which might be tempted to embark on a different road, particularly under the influence of exacerbated nationalism."
Note ooooooo "In a Europe whose geographical contours are hard to locate, Russia is destined to become a member of the Council of Europe. It will shortly be linked to the European Union through a partnership and co-operation agreement. Nevertheless, the following paradox still subsists. While the collapse of the Soviet ideology led to an extraordinary bloom in democratic life, it also caused a formidable revival of particularism and nationalism. We must use all the means at our disposal to help the democratic forces in Russia. A programme of activities drawn up jointly by the Russian Federation and the Council of Europe will also help to reinforce the process of democratisation. I would suggest that priority be given to its implementation."
Note ppppppp On America's initiative, the NATO countries, meeting in Brussels for their Summit on 10-11 January 1994, broached the question of progressive extension of NATO to the eastern democracies. This process, the "Partnership for Peace", was open to all the CSCE countries. The co-operation framework it provided was designed to secure a military rapprochement between the partner and the NATO countries, and to establish a collective security system. All the former Warsaw Pact countries were quick to sign up (including Russia, on 22 June 1994), and the "Partnership for Peace" became a genuine first step towards full NATO membership for countries like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Note qqqqqqq The extension of NATO's role to the non-military aspects of security, and also the Council of Europe's concept of "democratic security", opened the way to co-operation between the two organisations, which had been founded within a month of each other in spring 1949, but had so far had no contacts (it is true that their areas of responsibility are, on the face of it, poles apart, since NATO was set up as a military alliance, while questions of national defence were the only ones explicitly excluded from the Council's brief by its Statute). After the Vienna and Brussels Summits, the two gradually stopped ignoring each other's existence: thus the Council of Europe Secretary General was invited to address the North Atlantic Council for the first time on 10 July 1996 in Brussels, while the NATO Secretary General paid the Council an official visit on 30 January 1997, and addressed the Assembly in plenary session.
Note rrrrrrr "Contrary to what might have been feared, the move towards integration has not destroyed national identities. In the case of Luxembourg, where the concept of nation state was still new, it has probably protected that identity and enabled it to develop: for the European Union has given Luxembourg political weight quite disproportionate to its size. I am convinced that institutions are the best safeguard of sovereignty for all states."
Note sssssss "I have a prepared speech for you which includes a map. However, I feel the need to speak freely, so although I stand by everything in my speech and I stand by the map, I feel that on this unique occasion, when I have the privilege to speak to so many parliamentarians, I should leave aside the script and be as direct and personal as possible."
Note ttttttt "I lived in Yugoslavia three years ago and I have been asked many times, 'Did you believe that this could happen?' I must be frank and tell you, no, I did not. I know some people in the former Yugoslavia relatively well, and even when our friends said that this could happen, we always thought that it was a rationalisation of Tito's dictatorship and that it was not really that bad. That was one of the arguments that I used to explain the necessity of Tito's dictatorship. Now it has happened and we have reached one of the most critical stages of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia."
Note uuuuuuu "The fact that the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate is due to the conflict, not least in central Bosnia, and to intentional obstructions. All three parties have obstructed humanitarian aid. […] The day could come when all the United Nations forces and the humanitarian workers will leave those areas and the people will remain in their dreadful situation. However, there is no doubt that the people of Europe are not ready to send their sons, fathers, daughters and husbands to take part in the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. I have travelled to country after country to explain the drama. There is openness and a willingness to come forward with humanitarian aid, but there is absolutely no readiness for people to go there and risk their lives fighting. That explains why we do not get the necessary resources for United Nations peacekeeping. That is a fairly dramatic example."
Note vvvvvvv "I am constantly worried about the contagious effect of the war in the former Yugoslavia, not least in eastern Bosnia. The fact that it may have a contagious effect or spill into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo and other parts of the Balkans could easily invite a much larger war than we have today. That means that there is not only a moral challenge to us but a security and military challenge."
Note wwwwwww "I started this speech by saying that this is the most difficult job that I have ever had. It is difficult in many respects. I have never had a task where I knew that, when we failed, not only the persons around the table failed but people lost their lives. While we negotiate, people die. On 27 September we failed to reach an agreement on the draft peace agreement. The very same day in Maglaj three children were killed by snipers. Those children could have been saved if we had managed to achieve a satisfactory peace agreement."
Note xxxxxxx "The available data indicate that among the neighbouring countries of the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria is the one that is most affected by the sanctions and the one which implements them most stringently. This is an internationally recognised fact. I should like to quote the latest data on the losses sustained by Bulgaria: total amount for 1992 - $942.6 million; for the period from 1 January 1993 to 30 April 1993 - $810 million; for the period after 1 May 1993, when United Nations Security Council Resolution 820(1993) on stricter sanctions came into effect - $259.2 million per month. By the end of 1993, the total direct losses sustained by Bulgaria will reach more than $3.5 thousand million. This figure excludes indirect losses and missed benefits, as well as losses suffered by the private sector. These are disastrous losses compared with the economic potential of Bulgaria."
Note yyyyyyy "The staggering consequences for Bulgaria of the implementation of the embargo did not receive an adequate response - if any response - from the international community, apart from some compassionate pats on the shoulder. Despite the intentions, in practice, the group of the advanced and affluent European and non-European countries, which dominates the international organisations, unilaterally forces a country that is relatively poor for the moment, such as Bulgaria, to take the heavy burden of implementing an international punitive operation against some countries of the former Yugoslavia without any compensation. It turns out that, because of its geographical location, Bulgaria accidentally has to pay someone else's bill and to be punished to no lesser an extent than Serbia."
Note zzzzzzz "For much of my life I was a soldier. I took part in Israel's wars, as well as in Israel's march for peace. As one who has been a soldier, I can still see - as though it were just yesterday - the rows of fallen comrades lining the road to Jerusalem in our war of independence; the skeletons of the burnt-out vehicles; the burning trucks and the thousands of besieged Jerusalemites coming out towards us to get their sacks of sugar, and rice, and jerrycans of water. As one who was a military commander, I know that before we decided - before I decided - to go into battle, we always saw before us - and will always see - the eyes of the soldiers asking whether this is vital, or whether there is not some other choice. Only one who, year after year, stands facing the thousands and tens of thousands of silent mourners in the cemeteries on our memorial day, only one who has seen worlds destroyed and families devastated, knows just how important peace is to us and to our neighbours."
Note aaaaaaaa "A peace where, in order to be achieved, all agreements, commitments and agendas are totally and sincerely respected. Any delay, procrastination, reluctance and manoeuvring will reflect negatively on all of us, jeopardising the issue of peace, weakening the camp of its supporters and pushing our area into a whirlpool of total confusion, destruction and Balkanisation. With great responsibility and with a deep sense of sorrow and sadness I warn, Mr President, that leaving things to move as they did last September will lead us all to a catastrophe which will kill any remaining hope, confidence and credibility our Palestinian people, our Arab nation and the peace-lovers might still have in the peace process itself and in the capacity, sincerity and seriousness of the international community to help in realising and implementing peace."
Note bbbbbbbb "Our people suffered from two major massacres, in Hebron and in Gaza, during which more than 90 martyrs and more than 800 injured fell. All this is at the expense of peace. Verily and frankly I say to you, had it not been for our interest and commitment to peace, to our people and to the international community, the recent massacres were enough to destroy the whole peace process, because the delay in realising and implementing what we agreed upon in the White House on 13 September 1993 has allowed all the extremists to make this feverish and grave escalation, as has happened recently in Afula, which was perpetrated by Palestinian extremists. These operations, regrettably, are targeted at the innocent Palestinian and Israeli peoples and at jeopardising the peace process."
Note cccccccc "Common interest between Israel and Europe is based on the conviction that there is a link between peace in Europe and peace in the Middle East. Yet Israel and Europe do not only possess common values and historic responsibility, but bear the joint responsibility for the shaping of their future. […] The road to peace crosses Europe - for without it, it would remain incomplete. Consequently, Europe should take a stand that will make it instrumental in the peace process." (Yitzhak Rabin)
Note "Europe has a basic role in making peace and consolidating its foundations in the area as well as in the process of development in its wider context, whether through governmental support or the development of the private sector, to which we give great attention in all our schemes, projects and contacts. […] Once again, from this rostrum, I would like to appeal to you who represent Europe, the neighbour of the Middle East, to help us to save the peace process, to save the hope in our souls. I appeal to you to help in safeguarding the peace process and in implementing what we have agreed upon and signed – we and the Government of Israel – namely the declaration of peace of Washington, what we have signed and agreed upon in Oslo, Davos, Paris and Cairo. […] This is a grave and fundamental issue not only for the Middle East but for the whole world. The peace of the brave needs your support and assistance.” (Yasser Arafat)
Note dddddddd "This is our declaration of intent: this is the vision that we wish to transform into reality. Let me share with you the pledge that 1994 will be a year of peace, not a year of missed opportunities. I will do my very best to reach this ultimate goal. Everything that I have stated here has been said in good faith and emanates from a profound desire to set out on a new path and to shake off the dust of old concepts. Our entire policy can be summed up in a verse from the Book of Books, as it is written in Ezekiel: "I will make a covenant of peace with them, it will be an everlasting peace." We believe that that will make everything possible. Our goal is peace and security for Israel and all the countries of the region."
Note eeeeeeee "The Council is no longer concerned simply with helping its members to remain pluralistic democracies showing respect for human rights: it is often concerned with helping its members (as well as applicant states) to become democracies in that full sense of the term. […] By comparison with the period 1949-89, the Europe of the Council of Europe is thus less homogenous and more unstable. The management of a set of arrangements that have, relatively speaking, been spared by social change is giving way to purposeful, hence political, action aimed at constructing in the face of difficulties a Europe more than ever based on the Organisation's values.”
Note ffffffff "The accession of Russia, like those of other former Soviet republics on the edge of our present European area, may be expected to have repercussions of an unprecedented magnitude. When it happens, Europe will have attained its true dimension. It will then be possible for the creation of an area of democratic security based on common dedication to the same values and rules of conduct to be initiated in practice on a continental scale."
Note gggggggg "The question of supervising and assisting the honouring of undertakings (monitoring) will become more important than ever. This does not only concern the new members' specific undertakings."
Note hhhhhhhh Thus, the Assembly welcomed in turn the Lithuanian President, Algirdas Brazauskas (14 April 1994), the Slovenian President, Milan Kucan (28 June), the Romanian President Ion Iliescu (4 October), the Slovak President, Michal Kovac (5 October) and the Polish Prime Minister, Waldemar Pawlak (6 October). The year after that, it received the Czech Prime Minister, Vaclav Klaus (30 January 1995), the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Jan Videnov (24 April), the Estonian President, Lennart Meri (25 April) and Prime Minister, Maris Gailis (27 June), the Hungarian Prime Minister, Gyula Horn (26 April) and the Moldovan President, Mircea Snegur (26 September).
Note iiiiiiii The parliamentary delegation, led by Miguel Angel Martínez, visited Ankara from 1 to 3 September 1994, but the last word – a legal one this time - has yet to be spoken, as the European Court of Human Rights is still considering this case (following the Commission's decision of 12 March 1994 that the Convention had been violated). It is worth remembering that the Court had already found Turkey guilty of violations in other, similar cases, concerning dissolution of the Communist Party and the Socialist Party in 1991-1992 (cf. the "United Communist Party of Turkey and others" and "Socialist Party and others" judgments of 30 January and 25 May 1998 respectively).
Note jjjjjjjj "You bear responsibilities that could not have been imagined before the removal of the Berlin wall: to contribute to the construction of a new visionary continent, stretching into the heartland of central and eastern Europe, and anchored by a common attachment to fundamental values. Success in this daunting enterprise will sow the seeds for future peace and stability on our continent and lead to an improvement in the democratic conditions of millions of people. Failure, on the other hand, may generate tension between nations and within nations and dash the newly awakened aspirations of formerly oppressed peoples."
Note kkkkkkkk "Geographically, Ireland has only four provinces. The fifth is nowhere to be seen. Ancient legend had it that the fifth province occupied the middle ground between the four quarters of Ireland and provided the necessary balance between them. The old Gaelic term for province is "coicead" meaning fifth. So where is it? It is the place within each one of us, that place that is open to the other, that swinging door which allows us to venture out and others to venture in. The fifth province is thus symbolic of the new Ireland - more open and inclusive, more tolerant - an Ireland of reconciliation and healing."
Note llllllll Nationality – a particularly delicate issue for a country with 62,000 inhabitants, of whom only 11,000 are Andorran nationals - was fixed on by the Assembly as the main obstacle to membership. It is true that, in this particular case, it is very hard to strike the right balance between preserving national identity and ensuring that the overwhelming majority of the population are not deprived of their civic rights.
Note mmmmmmmm The Assembly's list thus gives the Council a potential membership of forty-six states. The geographical area covered actually takes in forty-eight internationally recognised states: apart from the special case of the Holy See, unable to join for obvious reasons, Monaco (although it had acceded to the European Cultural Convention on 6 July 1994) was not regarded as being able – or wishing – to join. This was to change four years later, on 21 October 1998, when Monaco applied officially for membership.
Note nnnnnnnn The committee of sponsors comprised Barbara Hendricks, Mary Robinson, Vaclav Havel, Elie Wiesel, Luc Besson, Jeremy Irons, Jorge Semprun, Liv Ullmann, Steffi Graf and Peter Gabriel.
Note oooooooo Adopted on 10 November 1994 at the Committee of Ministers' 95th session the Framework Convention was signed by twenty-one member states when it was opened for signing on 1 February 1995. It came into force on 1 February 1998, and has now been signed by 37 States (including one non-member, Armenia), of which 27 have also ratified it.
Note pppppppp Following his party's success in the December 1993 elections, Vladimir Zhirinovsky had served on the Russian delegation to the Assembly as a "special guest" (from January 1994 to January 1996), and later (after Russia's accession to the Council) full member. To start with, his clashes with the French authorities (who limited his visa to his parliamentary activities), his provocative remarks and his outrageous statements made sure that he hit the headlines, but he gradually faded from view after his defeat in the Russian presidential elections of July 1996.
Note qqqqqqqq President Yeltsin, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and the Presidents of the Duma and the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament.
Note rrrrrrrr Sergei Kovalev, Chairman of the Russian Presidency's Human Rights Commission, was awarded the Assembly's triennial Human Rights Prize on 27 September 1995 in recognition of his work for human rights in Russia and his commitment to peaceful resolution of the Chechnyan crisis; Vladimir Lukin, as Chairman of the Russian delegation in the Assembly, played a major part in Russia's accession.
Note ssssssss "The Russian Federation is in a difficult position. It is understandable that it should want to preserve its territorial integrity. That is a principle essential to the stability of our continent. We are also well aware that the government of the Russian Federation is responsible for maintaining law and order in Chechnya. But these principles should not be upheld to the detriment of human rights and international humanitarian law. The violence of the fighting, the savage destruction, the large number of victims and widespread suffering of the civilian population are cause for grave concern in all our countries. […] The Council of Europe should not on any account be accommodating when it comes to the human rights violations which have recently arisen out of the conflict in Chechnya." (Edouard Balladur, speaking in the Assembly on 31 January 1995).
Note tttttttt "It would certainly be useful - as many responsible people have argued - if Europe could be forged with Russia. If it became a member of the Council of Europe, this would be a first, very significant step in that direction. But Russia's accession, if it takes place, must be accompanied by full respect for the principles and values which, as we have seen, form the core of the Council of Europe's achievements and sustain its activities. Accordingly it is for Russia, not the Council, to create the conditions needed for future integration. It is Russia, not the Council, that can in truth facilitate or prevent the taking of this fundamental step by pursuing a policy which provides credible confirmation of its commitment to the values of peace and the democratic principles that underpin this Organisation." (Mario Soares, speaking in the Assembly on 1 February 1995).
Note uuuuuuuu Sparked in July 1974, when President Makarios (the "father" of Cypriot independence) was overthrown by a junta which wanted union with the colonels' Greece, military intervention by Turkey - with Greece and the United Kingdom, one of the three guarantors of the island's independence under the 1960 treaty – precipitated a grave international crisis which has not been resolved to this day. Although the military regime in Athens and the authors of the Nicosia coup were both swept away and democracy restored in both countries in a matter of days, the Turkish forces remained in the northern part of the island. The results were tragic displacement of large sections of the population, and de facto partition of the island - confirmed when the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (internationally recognised only by Turkey) was proclaimed in 1983.
Note vvvvvvvv Immediately after the Vienna Summit, the Committee of Ministers had set up a programme of confidence-building measures, geared to civil society and designed to provide technical and financial support for action taken on the ground to dispel inter-community tensions and promote co-existence. Multicultural schools, civic education programmes, language programmes, independent media, social services, multicultural holiday camps – the projects backed by the Council embrace all areas of social and cultural life. The aim in all cases is, as far as possible, to give the communities concerned what they want and to promote good relations between minorities and majorities at local level, thus heading off tensions which can lead to trouble. Projects may be run by central or local authorities, and are implemented by NGOs, associations or schools. Since 1994, over 200 confidence-building projects have been approved and funded either directly by the Council or with the help of voluntary contributions from member states.
Note wwwwwwww "We are committed to a federal solution - to a two-community state with single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship, whose independence and territorial integrity are guaranteed, as provided for in paragraph 2 of Security Council Resolution 939/94. We strongly believe that the accession of Cyprus to the European Union will act as a catalyst, breaking the stalemate and benefiting both communities - the Greek Cypriots (82 % of the population) and the Turkish Cypriots (18 %)." (Extract from interview with Alecos Michaelides in the Council journal, "Forum", March 1995).
Note xxxxxxxx Lord Finsberg's conclusions were rejected by the Turkish parliamentarians, Kemal Mimaroglu ("Frankly, our essential aim is to find a solution to the Cypriot problem, a fair and lasting solution. The texts before us, as worded at present, cannot provide such a solution."), Coskun Kirca ("It must be clearly understood that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will never yield to an ill-conceived partisan approach. Therefore, I shall vote against both the draft recommendation and the draft resolution.") and Selçuk Maruflu ("The Cyprus issue has reached an insoluble stage because of the illusions of the Greek Cypriots and their distortion of the facts not only when presented to the Council of Europe but to international public opinion.") and also by the Greek parliamentarians, Constantinos Vrettos ("It is a policy of 'ethnic cleansing' which the Council of Europe should condemn as it has in other cases. […] The report, although it contains some positive elements and generally supports the policy on the issue followed by the UN, is not satisfactory and does not reflect the realities.") and Aristotelis Pavlidis ("Although I cannot reject the text of the report, my reservations impose an obligation on me to declare also that I cannot vote in favour of it."). Speaking for the Cypriot delegation, Alexis Galanos complained of serious omissions in the report, but none the less accepted the proposals it contained and insisted that Cypriots wished to take control of their own destiny: "Cyprus is neither Greece nor Turkey. We are a separate sovereign state under partial occupation. We are Cypriots of Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Maronite and Latin descent. We are proud of our individual cultures and civilisations, but we are mainly proud to be Cypriots."
yyyyyyyy Following the Budapest Summit (5-6 December 1994), the CSCE had been institutionalised as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). After the final conference in Paris, it was given the task of pursuing the exercise in preventive diplomacy launched by the European Union in 1993 (on the initiative of French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur) under the name “Pact for Stability".
zzzzzzzz The "areas of concern" successively chosen by the Committee of Ministers were "freedom of expression and information" in 1996, "the functioning and protection of democratic institutions" in 1997, "the functioning of the judicial system" and "local democracy" in 1998, "capital punishment" and "police and security forces" in 1999.
Note aaaaaaaaa These sanctions ranged from refusing to ratify a national parliamentary delegation's credentials (preventing it from sitting in the Assembly) to implementing the exclusion procedure provided for in Article 8 of the Council Statute.
Note bbbbbbbbb “Progress”, possibly based on “appropriate assistance” for the states concerned, was the only sequel to review explicitly envisaged by the Committee of Ministers. No mention was made of any sanctions – unless the statement (in the Declaration of 10 November 1994) that the Committee might, “in cases requiring specific action […] take any other decision within its statutory powers” implied the possibility of sanctions.
Note ccccccccc This concern was voiced in particular by David Atkinson (United Kingdom) in the debate on 26 April 1995: "This Assembly constantly pays lip service to the principle that it shall never compromise on its standards of membership. Yet we are doing precisely that. We have been accepting into full membership countries which have not reached our standards, nor satisfied our qualifications. We have been tolerating the continuing failure of new members to honour their commitments, and we have turned a blind eye to old member states for behaviour that we condemn in non-member countries. In short, the credibility of the Council of Europe is in question and the new commitments against intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia called for at the Vienna Summit will count for nothing unless we stop the rot, and stop it now."
Note ddddddddd "By joining the Council of Europe and by ratifying a large number of its conventions, our member states have taken on themselves considerable obligations. Above all, they have made important promises to their own citizens. We must have the instruments to check how these commitments are honoured, how the promises are kept - and we have such instruments. […] All this is good, but as long as there are severe violations of human rights and of democratic principles in our member states, we can hardly be satisfied with past and present achievements. The monitoring machinery must be strengthened and developed in response to new needs and pressure, not only from the new member states but also from the old ones as citizens gradually discover their entitlements under the European Convention on Human Rights. But monitoring is not enough. The Council of Europe must do more than issuing verdicts and pointing fingers. It must also give constructive support to the reform processes now under way in new and future member states. […] In that context, I would like to emphasise the great role that the central European countries can play in our co-operation with countries further to the east. The pioneers of transition from communism to pluralist democracy, and from planned economies to market economies, have accumulated a great deal of experience that can now be very valuable to other countries following them down the same path". (Daniel Tarschys, speaking in the Assembly on 27 June 1995).
Note eeeeeeeee Certain "commitments", however - some of them far from negligible - were the product, not of dialogue between the Assembly and the applicant in the run-up to the debate on accession, but of amendments adopted in plenary session in the actual course of that debate.
Note fffffffff Albania and Moldova became the Council's 35th and 36th member States on 13 July 1995. The “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and Ukraine joined four months later, on 9 November (at the Committee of Ministers' 97th session), bringing the Council's membership to 38.
Note ggggggggg Some governments took the view that the only "hard core" requirement for all new member states was acceptance of the Statute and the European Convention on Human Rights. While agreeing that states must obviously honour obligations they freely contracted by signing specific conventions, they argued that no new member could be constrained to sign or ratify a specific instrument – particularly one (like the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages) which only a minority of members had accepted.
Note hhhhhhhhh A petition prepared by the Council of Europe Staff Trade Union and signed by several hundred staff reminded the Council's statutory bodies and policy-makers of the need to ensure that its credibility (as an organisation standing for democracy, human rights and the rule of law) was not sacrificed to the political imperatives of enlargement.
Note iiiiiiiii "We have made considerable progress in the last 50 years and, if we have the intelligence, the patience and the courage - three things which belong together - to keep this up in the coming years and decades, there is every reason to hope that, after the twentieth century, which has seen so much in the way of distress, horror and suffering, the twenty-first century will yet turn out well." (Helmut Kohl, speaking in the Assembly on 28 September 1995).
Note jjjjjjjjj Although differing in scope (the Assembly's texts were more ambitious, the Committee of Ministers' text was more pragmatic), the contributions made by both to the IGC in 1996-1997 confirmed the Council's unified vision of a European process built on two inextricably connected and complementary pillars. The wording chosen by each is significant:
Note - for the Parliamentary Assembly: "The European Union and the Council of Europe have the common task of setting out guidelines for European construction, which is achieved as much by intergovernmental co-operation as by integration.";
Note - for the Committee of Ministers: "Although profoundly different, and each following its own logic, the Council of Europe and the European Union have a similar purpose: to continue building a stable, democratic and prosperous Europe in a context radically altered by the collapse of communism."
For the Council of Europe it seemed that the time had come to move beyond co-operation to a true dialogue between two European actors which traced their origins to a single political vision. The results of this dialogue would include the accession of the European Union to the main Council of Europe conventions, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights.
Note kkkkkkkkk In spite of the "cease-fire" theoretically agreed on 30 July 1995, clashes were still frequent between the Russian army and the independent Chechnyan forces, and hostages were again seized with considerable loss of life at Goudermes (in December 1995) and Pervomaiskoe (in January 1996).
Note lllllllll Above all, of course, this was parliamentary, since no fewer than 98 speakers had put themselves down, 34 amendments and two sub-amendments had been tabled and, when the day-long debate was concluded on 25 January, 214 parliamentarians (from a total of 263) took part in the final vote. But it was also governmental, since most of the parliamentary delegations were in close touch with their governments, even if each individual parliamentarian voted in accordance with his/her conscience and reading of the situation. Finally, there was an exceptional media presence in Strasbourg and unprecedented coverage in Russia.
Note mmmmmmmmm "The principal reason why we three rapporteurs stand here today to appeal for the Russian accession is simply that we believe that Russia has come close enough to our standards of membership, closer even than countries which are already members. Russia today enjoys basic human rights which we would not have dreamed possible even five years ago. Russia today is a multi-party democracy. It has held not only one parliamentary election that we have judged to be free and fair, but two. It has developed a market economy and 60 % of its industry has been privatised. Would that we could say the same of some of our existing member states."
Note nnnnnnnnn Alas, these hopes were dashed a few days later, when IRA violence resumed and a bomb exploded in central London on 9 February, breaking a unilateral cease-fire which had lasted several months.
Note ooooooooo "If the Council shuts its doors on Russia, it will be doing me a great favour: millions of Russians will vote for me, for I shall be standing in the next presidential election."
Note ppppppppp These specific commitments concerned, inter alia, the adoption of a new Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, a new Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure, a law on the functioning and administration of the prison system, a law on the role, functioning and administration of the prosecutor's department and the office of the human rights commissioner, a law on freedom of assembly and religious freedom, and the bringing to justice of "the people responsible for human rights violations - particularly in connection with the events in Chechnya", improvement of prison conditions (particularly the "almost-inhuman conditions" obtaining in many remand centres), transfer of responsibility for prison administration and the enforcement of sentences to the Ministry of Justice "as soon as possible", reorganisation of the FSB (the Federal Security Bureau, which had succeeded the KGB) to bring its operations into line with Council of Europe principles and standards within a year of accession, the establishment of alternative military service and the reduction, and indeed elimination, of ill-treatment and deaths in the armed forces, otherwise than in the course of military operations.
Note qqqqqqqqq The requirements stated here included repatriation of persons "deported from the occupied Baltic states" and their descendants, withdrawal (within three years) of the 14th Russian army from the territory of Moldova and the settlement of "all questions relating to the restitution of assets claimed by Council of Europe member states, and particularly the archives transferred to Moscow in 1945".
Note rrrrrrrrr "I certainly recognise the terrible difficulties encountered in Bosnia-Herzegovina since the beginning of the year. We have witnessed the departure of tens of thousands of Bosnian Serbs from the suburbs of Sarajevo, and frightful acts of destruction in those communities, Freedom of movement remains seriously curtailed, both within the federation and between the federation and the Republika Srpska. I do believe that we are on the right road, however. Slowly but surely, contacts are being made across inter-entity boundary lines, between people of different nationalities who were friends before the fighting began. Important political developments are also taking place, through small openings that have recently been created. In Sarajevo, in the Republika Srpska and elsewhere, new political voices are starting to make themselves heard. These changes are all part of a process; they may take months or they may take longer. This is where the continued involvement of, and pressure exerted by, the international community will play such an important role. In this regard I commend the Council of Europe for fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to it at this early stage, by appointing members of the Human Rights Chamber and the Commission for Displaced Persons and Refugees. The Council's continued involvement in this process will be critical for the promotion of civil society."
Note sssssssss “The result is utterly disappointing. From a total of more than 120 arrest warrants issued by the Tribunal and addressed to the parties to the peace agreement, so far not one has been executed. The Republic of Croatia argued for months that arrests were impossible in the absence of national legislation regulating co-operation with our tribunal. Now that, at long last, such legislation has been passed, the Croatian authorities contend that the accused have moved to the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and are therefore out of their reach. Reliable reports indicate that these arguments are unfounded. As for Bosnia-Herzegovina, until recently no indictment referred to persons under its control. Now that two persons living in Bosnian territory have been indicted, we shall see whether Sarajevo really intends to fulfil its international obligations. As regards the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it has staunchly refused to execute any arrest warrant, contending that Bosnian Serbs or nationals of the republic must be prosecuted there – a rule that it has, however, failed to pursue. The attitude of the Republika Srpska is by far the most deplorable. No action has been taken against the two leaders of this entity, Karadzic and Mladic. They continue to hold official positions and use them to interfere with the process of reconciliation and democratisation. In short, the attitude of the parties is disappointing. Out of the fifty-seven persons so far indicted by our tribunal, fifty–one still remain at large. […] Zagreb. Sarajevo and Belgrade attach importance to the moral and political support, as well as economic assistance, of the other states of Europe. It is therefore crucial that European countries insist on the linkage between their support and full compliance by the parties with the provisions of the peace agreement.”
Note ttttttttt The Federation of Russia officially became the Council's 39th member state on 28 February 1996, a month after the Assembly's positive vote.
Note uuuuuuuuu The first round left Boris Yeltsin (35 %) and Gennady Zhuganov (32 %) neck-and-neck, while General Alexander Lebed secured an excellent 15 % of the vote. In the second round, Yeltsin allied himself with Lebed (who became President of the Security Council of the Russian Federation) and defeated his communist rival by 53.8 % to 40.3 % on 3 July. On 30 August, Lebed signed a political agreement with the military leader of the Chechnyan separatists, Aslan Maskhadov, putting an end to the fighting and postponing a final decision on Chechnya's status to 31 December 2001. Although Lebed was dismissed on 17 October, the peace process kept its momentum, and Boris Yeltsin went on to conclude a peace agreement, marking the end of four centuries of conflict, with the same Aslan Maskhadov (elected President of the Chechnyan Republic on 27 January 1997). In this agreement, signed in Moscow on 12 May 1997, both sides solemnly promised to reject forever the use or threat of force.
Note vvvvvvvvv Following Bill Clinton's triumphal re-election at the end of 1996, the US made its muscle felt when it blocked the reappointment of Boutros Boutros-Ghali – backed by the vast majority of UN member states – for a second term as UN Secretary General. Ultimately, its veto led to his replacement by the Ghanaian, Kofi Annan, on 2 January 1997.
Note This concept, which is more or less synonymous with that of “interactive organisations”, puts a positive gloss on the actual impossibility of task-sharing between the various international organisations active in Europe. The real situation is a complex one, and complementarity and competition are both part of it. Already crowded and multi-contoured, Europe's institutional landscape is complicated still further by the presence of the UN and its specialised agencies, and by the activities of numerous sub-regional organisations, whose member countries work together on a wide range of issues in their immediate geographical areas.
Note xxxxxxxxx Elected President on 11 July 1994, Alexander Lukashenko provoked a grave institutional crisis half-way through his term when he rode rough-shod over the prerogatives of Parliament and the Constitutional Court to stage a referendum which extended his mandate and greatly increased his presidential powers. This "diktat" effectively paralysed the political scene by removing all opposition to the President, leaving the country ostracised by the whole international community, with the sole exception of Russia. This isolation was political only, since technical co-operation between Belarus and the various European organisations (particularly, in the Council of Europe's case, co-operation under the European Cultural Convention) continued regardless of the crisis.
Note yyyyyyyyy This defeat did not, as many people predicted, mark the beginning of the end of Milosevic's reign in Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Having completed two terms as President of Serbia (from 1989 to 1997), he was elected President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 15 July 1997 and, in Serbia, successfully installed "his" candidate, Milan Milutinovic, as leader of a coalition government, formed with the ultra-nationalist, Vojislav Seselj. This swing towards nationalism in Serbia allowed Milosevic to strengthen his power at federal level, but aggravated the tensions between Serbia and Montenegro, where the reformer Milo Djukanovic was elected President on 19 October 1997, and fuelled the conflict between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo.
Note Apart from its dramatic effects on the difficult process of economic reform, the main political consequence of the Albanian crisis was to bring Fatos Nano to power as prime minister, following the Socialist Party's victory in the early elections held in July 1997. These elections, described as "acceptable in the circumstances" in the report jointly prepared by Catherine Lalumière, OSCE special co-ordinator, Lord Russell-Johnston, leader of the Council of Europe's parliamentary delegation, and Javier Ruperez, President of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, led to the departure of Sali Berisha on 23 July and the election of Rexhep Mejdani as President the day after that.
Note aaaaaaaaaa In spite of the obvious restrictions imposed on this dialogue by the confidential character of the Committee of Ministers' procedure, the shared responsibility of the Assembly and the Committee for monitoring compliance with commitments (and the necessity of their working together for this purpose) was solemnly confirmed by the heads of state and government at the Strasbourg Summit.
Note bbbbbbbbbb Signed by 22 States in Oviedo, the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine has been signed so far by 28 member States, among which 4 have ratified it.
Note cccccccccc Of the 48 states then existing in Europe, the only absentees from the Strasbourg Summit were Belarus and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, both isolated by their leaders' policies, and also Monaco, which had not - yet - applied to join the Council of Europe. Apart from the special case of the Holy See, represented by the Pope's envoy, Monsignor Tauran, the 40 Council states were represented by their top political leaders, as were the four “special guest” countries on the waiting list for membership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Georgia). The total figure (46) reflects the fact that San Marino (with its two Captains-Regent) and France (with President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin) sent two representatives each.
Note dddddddddd In his closing speech at the Summit, Lionel Jospin put it like this: "More than ever, in these closing years of the twentieth century, with increasing globalisation of trade and of the economy, Europe needs to assert its identity which is made of the diversity of its linguistic and cultural heritage. In this respect, regional languages and cultures deserve our particular attention: we must preserve them and give them life." (This declaration announced the signature by France, eighteen months later in Budapest, of the European Charter on regional and minority languages, a signature which would generate a highly controversial – on both legal and political terms – debate in the country: see chapter XI).
Note "Despite this enormous progress, we cannot be complacent. Individuals' rights are still abused in Europe. The Council has not been so successful that it no longer has a role. […] We must take every opportunity to make it more effective and to ensure that it has the means to respond to new challenges."
Note ffffffffff At the European Council in Luxembourg (11-12 December 1997), three weeks after the summit meeting on employment, also held in Luxembourg on France's initiative on 20-21 October, the fifteen EU leaders agreed to set up a “Euro Council” for the countries which would be launching the single currency in spring 1998, and invited the ten central and east European countries which had applied to join the EU (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Estonia were to be included in the “first wave”), and also Cyprus, to start negotiations for that purpose. In so doing, they triggered a diplomatic crisis with Turkey, which found itself provisionally excluded from the membership process.
Note gggggggggg When opened for signing, the Protocol attracted 21 signatories. The figure has now risen to 28, among which 3 have ratified it.
Note hhhhhhhhhh The “Committee of Wise Persons” was officially established on 22 December 1997, with the former Portuguese President, Mario Soares (who had succeeded Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as President of the International European Movement in spring 1996), in the chair. Its membership was mixed, comprising political figures, such as László Kovacs, Foreign Minister of Hungary, Tarja Halonen, Foreign Minister of Finland, Gret Haller, OSCE Human Rights Mediator for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Leni Fischer, President of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Hanna Suchocka, Minister of Justice of Poland (representing the OSCE Presidency), as well as senior civil servants nominated by Russia, the United Kingdom (then occupying the EU Presidency) and France (as host country), and Antonio La Pergola, President of the “Venice Commission”. Hans-Christian Krüger, recently elected Deputy Secretary General of the Council, following Peter Leuprecht's resignation, and Bruno Haller, Clerk of the Parliamentary Assembly, were appointed joint secretaries.
Note iiiiiiiiii “But there is something else, namely our personal responsibility. For a number of years I have been asking myself where we are going wrong. What are the underlying reasons for the failings of this Parliamentary Assembly? I have reflected on the subject and I must admit that I have found the answer. Our failure is due to the fact that once a sitting is over, we not only take off our Assembly hats: we leave our heads and hearts in the robing room as well. At home, we do not speak as members of this Parliamentary Assembly. We must see to it that we remain responsible members accountable for our action here. Outside this chamber we should consistently play our role as members of a European assembly. We must secure the active support of our national colleagues and increase their awareness of the Assembly. We must influence them, so that our parliaments, which are the masters of our respective governments in states governed by the rule of law, can automatically reflect on-the-spot support for an institution without which the design for Europe itself would be confined to a very small area, thereby excluding once and for all millions of European men and women who are entitled to share our aspirations. A design, let it be said, which without the Council of Europe would be meaningless, devoid of ideas and values, a design which would not even be worth the bother of consigning it to the dustbin.”
Note jjjjjjjjjj This decision, taken with a large majority on 20 January 1998 by the Duma (the lower house of the Russian Parliament), was a historic one, since only confirmation by the Council of the Federation (the upper house) was now needed for Russia's full acceptance of the convention, bringing a further 150 million people within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. This positive vote was a direct result of the Strasbourg summit, since the Duma had sent the heads of state and government a message promising, among other things, to ratify the convention without delay. This promise was formally fulfilled at the opening of the Committee of Ministers' 102nd session on 5 May, when Russia's Foreign Minister, Evgeny Primakov (who would become Prime Minister a few months later), deposited his country's instrument of accession to the convention.
Note kkkkkkkkkk The elections held on 29 March 1998 actually resulted in a victory for the Communist Party, which won over a quarter of the vote.
Note llllllllll “We, Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe, […] stress the importance of a more balanced representation of men and women in all sectors of society, including political life, and call for continued progress with a view to achieving effective equality of opportunities between men and women.”
Note mmmmmmmmmm This was particularly marked in the countries which had committed themselves, at various points in the recent past, to making the painful transition from a planned to a market economy, the result being a massive swing in public favour – observed in central and eastern Europe since autumn 1992 – towards the “neo-communists”. The countries of western Europe were also affected, however, and the “social divide”, having been – a little unexpectedly, perhaps – the central theme in Jacques Chirac's election to the French Presidency, was undoubtedly one of the main factors in the rise to power, in the second half of the 1990s and in nearly all the EU countries, of a new generation of moderate left-wing leaders, typified by Romano Prodi in Italy, Tony Blair in the UK, Lionel Jospin in France and Gerhard Schröder in Germany.
Note nnnnnnnnnn “The policy pursued by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and its legislation related to the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, are in accordance with the highest international standards and by far exceed the guarantees granted to minorities in most of the countries in the region. […] What is at stake in Kosovo and Metohija, which is an autonomous province and an integral part of the Republic of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, is not the result of the extent of autonomy, but separatism and failure to honour its constitutional and legal system. The Federal Republic seeks to resolve these problems through political dialogue and in a peaceful manner.” (Extracts from Mr. Ristic's speech in the Assembly on 28 January).
Note “Questions relating to Kosovo and Metohija are internal matters for the Republic of Serbia and 'the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia', as sovereign European states, and are being resolved in pursuance of their constitutions and laws. The problems of Kosovo and Metohija have not been caused by any degree of autonomy, but by the separatist programmes and demands of certain leaders of the Albanian national minority, whose aim is to separate Kosovo and Metohija from the Republic of Serbia and 'the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia'.” (Extract from Mr. Komnenic's speech in the Assembly on 28 January).
Note oooooooooo “All interference must be halted and endeavours made to bring the belligerents closer together. No further encouragement must be given to the separatists. All measures against 'the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' must be lifted and, lastly, Yugoslavia must be allowed to join our organisation.” (Efstratios Korakas (Greece), in the Assembly debate on 28 January).
Note pppppppppp According to Resolution 1163 on the agreement on Northern Ireland, these principles are:
Note i. a series of specific commitments must be given before negotiations started (renunciation of the use of force, a pledge to settle political problems peacefully and abide by the terms of the final agreement, whatever they might be);
Note ii. an international mediator;
Note iii. an open-ended agenda;
Note iv. an agreed deadline for reaching a settlement;
Note v. agreed procedures for conditional release of prisoners;
Note vi. incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into national law;
Note vii. a charter of fundamental rights and action in the spirit of the Council's conventions;
Note viii. involvement of the international community in application of the agreement
Note qqqqqqqqqq Nikola Poplasen's disastrous policy on becoming president of the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina in September 1998 led to political crisis in the Republika Srpska (where he clashed at once with parliament) and paralysed the federal institutions. The tension came to a head on 5 March, when Poplasen was dismissed by Carlos Westendorp, the international high representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and an international arbitration panel decided to make the town of Brcko a neutral, self-governing district within the Federation, depriving the Serbs of the benefits of the majority position which the war had given them. The institutional impasse became total when the Croats also withdrew from the Federal authorities, following the assassination of the Croat Deputy Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 16 March. In these circumstances, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General decided to postpone their scheduled high-level visit to Sarajevo on 15-17 March. This warning proved effective: the leaders of the three communities - Serb, Croat and Muslim - agreed to take part in the political dialogue organised for them in Strasbourg by the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers on 27 April. This in turn made it possible for the Committee's new Chairman, Icelandic Foreign Minister Halldor Asgrimsson, to visit Sarajevo with Daniel Tarschys on 19-21 June.
Note rrrrrrrrrr "Georgia has made significant progress in creating a pluralist society based on respect for human rights and the rule of law. The political system upholds the principle of the separation of powers. Parliament has a major role and counterbalances the powers of the president. It is a multi-party system in which the opposition is free to express its views and criticisms. The legislative framework has been largely put in place, thanks to intensive efforts by parliament. The authorities have shown that they are committed to fully upholding the human rights of all citizens, whatever their ethnic origins or religion". (Cf. Terry Davis's "point of view" in "The Europeans", the Assembly's on-line magazine, January 1999).
Note ssssssssss Between 24 March (when NATO's military intervention started) and the end of May, more than 780,000 people were brutally expelled from Kosovo. Most of them found refuge in Albania (444 600) and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (243 700) in makeshift accommodation and in highly precarious conditions of health and safety. Counting the 200 000 or so persons who had already left in the tense months which preceded the outbreak of hostilities, this means that close on a million people had fled Kosovo between summer 1998 and spring 1999. But the total number of victims of the FRY's “ethnic cleansing” policy in the martyred province was actually even higher, since estimates put the number of civilians – Serb or Albanian - driven from their homes by the savage fighting between the Serb forces and the KLA, but remaining in Kosovo, at 500-600 000, and the number of Serbs hit by the “boomerang effect”, when the Yugoslav army pulled out in mid-June, at about 80 000.
Note tttttttttt The tensions between Russia and the NATO countries peaked on 9 April, when Boris Yeltsin raised the spectre of “a European and perhaps world war” as a possible outcome of the crisis.
Note uuuuuuuuuu Joined on this occasion by the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Minister of State of Monaco, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, as well as senior representatives from the observer countries (United States, Canada, Japan) and the main international organisations working in partnership with the Council (European Union, OSCE, United Nations).
Note vvvvvvvvvv Surprisingly, among all these initiatives – some of them with very far-reaching effects – the one which really hit the headlines was Pierre Moscovici's signing, for France, of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. Although France proceeded with the utmost caution, accepting only 39 of the 85 commitments enshrined in the text (and entering a whole series of reservations concerning their interpretation), the potential effects of this move on French law provoked instant, heated discussion. Fuel was only added to the flames by the Constitutional Council's decision that the Charter was incompatible with the Constitution and by the French President's refusal to initiate the procedure for revision of the Constitution, as requested by the Prime Minister, on the ground that the Charter would endanger “the indivisibility of the Republic, equality before the law and the unity of the French people”!
Note wwwwwwwwww Slobodan Milosevic thus became the first head of state to be charged, while in office, before an international court. With Milan Milutinovic (President of Serbia), Nikola Sainovic (Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia), Dragoljub Ojdanic (Chief of Staff of the Federal Army) and Vlajko Stojiljkovic (Serbian Minister of the Interior), he was charged on four counts by Louise Arbour, prosecutor in the International Criminal Tribunal: three of the charges concerned crimes against humanity (murder, deportation and persecution), while the fourth concerned violations of the laws and customs of war.
Note xxxxxxxxxx Walter Schwimmer defeated Terry Davis in the second round by 138 votes to 136.
Note yyyyyyyyyy In the “Hakkar” case (decision of the European Commission of Human Rights, declared enforceable by the Committee of Ministers on 15 December 1995, in application of the jurisdictional powers conferred on it under the old supervision system for the European Convention on Human Rights) and in the “Socialist Party and Others” case (judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 25 May 1998), the problem was not payment of the just satisfaction awarded to the applicant, since both France and Turkey had honoured their financial obligations, but imprisonment of an applicant whose trial had been ruled unfair. In the “Loizidou” case (judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 28 July 1998), the problem is both simpler and harder to solve, since the government concerned considers the judgment “unenforceable”, and the Committee of Ministers has thus so far been unable to secure even the minimum compliance which payment of the just satisfaction awarded the applicant would represent: it is true that the latter, a southern Cypriot prevented since 1974 from exercising her right of ownership to a house located in the north of the island, had raised a question with far-reaching political implications…
Note Following the arrest of Abdullah Öcalan in Nairobi (Kenya) on 15 February 1999 and his confinement on the island of Imrali, in a prison from which all other prisoners had been evacuated, Turkey honoured its Council membership commitments by allowing a delegation from the European Committee for the prevention of torture to inspect the prison and verify that the PKK leader was being held in satisfactory conditions (2 March), by authorising representatives of the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers to attend all stages of the trial, and by amending the Constitution to modify the court's composition (21 June) so as to ensure that no military judges (not regarded as impartial by the European Court of Human Rights) would serve on it.
Note aaaaaaaaaaa “Redrawing the Map of Europe”, Macmillan Press Ltd., 1998.