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Summary: May 14-15, 2001: Conclusions from General Affairs (Brussels)
WESTERN BALKANS - Council Conclusions
The Council welcomed the agreement on a broad coalition government in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and expressed the hope that the new government will achieve concrete and substantial results as soon as possible. The only way forward is peaceful dialogue on internal reforms, in line with the commitments made by FYROM in Luxembourg on 9 April 2001. The EU will continue to fully support this process, through the visit of the EU Ministerial Troika to Skopje on 16 May as well as the continued personal involvement of HR Javier Solana.
The new acts of terrorist violence in the northern region of FYROM are utterly unacceptable. The purpose of these attacks is to provoke the government of FYROM into a full-scale war. The Council called on the government to exercise maximum restraint and to do everything to avoid civilian casualties. It also condemned the vicious circle of interethnic violence. The Council urged leaders of the ethnic Albanian community in Kosovo to condemn unambiguously these terrorist acts and political leaders in Albania to continue to use their influence to re-establish peace and stability. The Council welcomed the forthcoming ministerial SEECP meeting on 16 May 2001 in Tirana as another opportunity to work for regional cooperation and stability.
The Council welcomed the orderly manner in which the elections were held in Montenegro. It called for the immediate resumption of dialogue between Belgrade and Podgorica with a view to the redefinition of the constitutional arrangements of their relations in a renewed federal framework, according to democratic principles and under conditions promoting regional stability. The successful outcome of this dialogue, which should exclude any unilateral actions, would enable the EU to continue with its political, economic and financial support to Montenegro.
The Council expressed its concern about the ongoing serious violations of the ceasefire and the lack of sufficient progress in the dialogue between the Serb authorities and ethnic Albanian representatives in Southern Serbia. It urged both sides to work constructively towards the early implementation of confidence building measures, including demilitarization, establishment of multi-ethnic policing, return of displaced persons and integration of the ethnic Albanian population into local structures. It strongly condemned all attacks on life and property in the area. The EU will continue to follow closely developments on the ground, including through the presence of the EUMM. It will also continue close consultations with concerned international actors, including NATO, OSCE, Council of Europe and UNHCR, in order to contribute to the stability of the region.
The Council welcomed the progress made under the authority of UNSGSR Hans Haekkerup towards the finalization of the legal framework for provisional self government in Kosovo and appreciated his continuing efforts.
The Council condemned all forms of separatism and nationalist violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and fully supported recent measures taken by HR Wolfgang Petritsch in response to developments. The only way forward for the country is reconciliation, peace implementation and European integration. The Council called on all political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in other countries of the region, to clearly express their condemnation of recent events in Mostar, Banja Luka and Trebinje.
The Council welcomed the completion of negotiations and the initialing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Croatia in the margins of today's meeting. The Council looked forward to the early signature of the Agreement. The initialing and the forthcoming signature are historic events, which confirm EU's readiness to promote the integration of Croatia into the political and economic mainstream of Europe. The Council recalled that the path of Croatia towards Europe would go hand in hand with the successful implementation of the SAA.
MIDDLE EAST- Council Conclusions
The Council discussed the worrying situation in the Middle East. It called on the parties to take all necessary measures to stop the tragic escalation and urged them to work for a cease-fire. The Council welcomed and gave its support to the report and to the proposals of the Sharm el Sheikh Fact Finding Committee ("Mitchell Committee") in which the High Representative, Javier Solana, participated, as well as to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative. It mandated the High Representative in this context to explore in concertation with all the other participants in the Sharm el Sheikh summit of October 2000 ways of ensuring political follow-up to the conclusions in the Fact Finding Committee's report.
In preparation for a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi ANNAN later that day, Ministers discussed over lunch possible areas for strengthened cooperation with the UN in crisis management and conflict prevention. Ministers underlined that European Security and Defense Policy, through the enhancement of EU crisis management capacities, would also contribute to strengthen UN peace-keeping capabilities. During the meeting with the UN Secretary-General, the situation in the Middle East was also to be discussed.
AFRICA - Council Conclusions
1. Conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa
- The Council adopted a new Common Position on conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa.
- The Council underlined that the Common Position forms an integral part of the EU’s efforts to develop a comprehensive policy in the field of conflict prevention.
- The Council recalled that the main features of the Common
Position are: strengthening African capacities for conflict prevention; elaborating of regular surveys to identify potential violent conflict in Africa and presenting policy options, thus enhancing the EU’s capacity for early action; improving support for African capabilities in the field of peacekeeping; emphasizing strategic role of development co-operation in conflict, as well as the importance of following up on post conflict situations.
- The Council invited the incoming Presidency to further pursue and develop EU policy in the Great Lakes region as a concrete example of the application of the Common Position, and to report back to the Council at an early opportunity.
- The Council welcomed the proposal of the Presidency to draft an outline for the first yearly survey on potential conflicts in Africa.
- The Council welcomed the close cooperation and coordination between the EU and the UN in respect of crises in Africa, in particular in Ethiopia/Eritrea, in the Great Lakes Region, in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and in Somalia. The Council stressed its intention to further deepen such cooperation and coordination.
2. Great Lakes Region/Democratic Republic of Congo
- The Council reviewed developments in the DRC and the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, which constitutes the consensual basis for peace in the DRC, and for which the Council reaffirmed its full support. While taking note of the many problems facing the process, the Council recognized that progress has been made in key areas. The Council underlined the importance of sustained advances on all the aspects of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. The Council urged all parties to comply fully with relevant UNSC resolutions and to cooperate fully with the MONUC. The Council underlined the importance it attaches to the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and to democratic reform in the country.
- The Council expressed its satisfaction at the advanced state of deployment of the MONUC in accordance with UNSC resolution 1341. It reiterated its full support for the mission. It further welcomed the UN Secretary General’s intention to start planning for a third phase of the MONUC and welcomes the imminent UNSC visit to the region.
- The Council took note of the current state of troop disengagement. It expressed its concern over obstructions that have occurred, in particular by the FLC. It noted commitments on 4 May by the FLC to disengage unconditionally, in compliance with UNSC resolution 1341, and urged the FLC to act accordingly. It further urged all parties to finalize their disengagement and to respect their new defensive positions. It called on all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law, also in areas from which troops have been disengaged.
- The Council took note of the plan, elaborated by the parties, for the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces from the DRC, and called on all the parties to confirm unconditionally their commitment to this goal.
- The Council reiterated the vital importance of the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation of armed groups operating in or from the territory of the DRC. It underlined that for disarmament of such groups to be effective; it should primarily be based on voluntary reintegration and repatriation. The role of the international community is to support such a voluntary process. It underscored the primary responsibility of the parties themselves for the implementation of a DDRR plan. In particular, the Council called on the governments of Zimbabwe and the DRC to cease all support to such armed groups and on Rwanda to continue to honor its commitments with a view to repatriation and reintegration. The Council recognized the need to differentiate between different categories of members of these armed groups and the need to urgently tackle the question of groups of Rwandese origin. The Council pointed to the demobilization of child soldiers as a top priority. The Council agreed that a well-coordinated international response to a DDRR plan devised by the parties is of the utmost importance. It confirmed the EU’s willingness to contribute actively in such an effort and asked its Special Representative to pursue his work on this basis.
- The Council welcomed the results of the meeting in Lusaka on 3-4 May, where the Congolese signatories to the Lusaka Agreement agreed on guiding principles for the intercongolese national dialogue. It called for early progress of the dialogue, stressing that while inclusive, it should be rapid and result-oriented, leading to democratic reform and elections.
- The Council expressed its continued concern over the human rights situation in the DRC. It welcomed the consensual adoption of the resolution of the Human Rights Commission on the situation in the DRC. It further welcomed the DRC vote in favour of the UN Commission on Human Rights resolution on the question of the death penalty, and urged the government of the DRC to work on internal legislation in the spirit of this resolution.
- The Council expressed its continued concern over the humanitarian situation in the DRC and in the region, as reflected in the latest report by the UN Secretary General. The Council urged all parties to guarantee secure, rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. In this context it strongly condemned the recent murder of six ICRC workers. The Council welcomed the decision by the Commission to provide 35 million euro in humanitarian assistance, and expressed the EU willingness to further contribute to the easing of the humanitarian situation, when conditions permit. It encouraged the donor community to provide additional humanitarian assistance.
- The Council welcomed a gradual resumption of development co-operation with the DRC, which started already with the Commission notification of the 8th EDF amount.
- The Council took note of the report of the UN panel on illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC, and its recommendations. It expressed its concern at the general findings in the report, and welcomed the extension of the mandate of the panel.
- The Council recognized that, beyond the immediate implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, there is a need to address root causes of the conflicts in the regions of the Great Lakes and Central Africa. The Council also underlined the potentially destabilizing effect of arms flows in the region. It reaffirmed the EU’s readiness to support an initiative, when the conditions are right, to prepare an international conference under the aegis of the UN and the OAU, for peace, democracy and development in the region.
- The Council expressed its profound concern over the stalemate in the Burundi peace process, the continued violence and the humanitarian situation in the country. It called on the armed groups FDD and FNL to immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities, to join the peace process without further delay and to accept to negotiate a ceasefire agreement.
- The Council called on all signatories of the Arusha agreement to cooperate in a spirit of compromise and national unity towards a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict, and towards reconstruction and development.
- The Council reiterated the European Union’s call on all governments in the region to immediately cease all forms of direct and indirect assistance and cooperation with the armed groups and to put pressure on them to join the peace process.
- The Council condemned the attempted coup d'état in Bujumbura on 18 April.
4. Mano River countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia)
- The Council expressed its deep concern over the deterioration of the political and humanitarian situation in the region and underlined the importance of the high level EU mission to the area, planned to take place in May 2001.
- The Council expressed support for the imposition of sanctions on Liberia.
- The Council expressed its deep concern over recent developments in Zimbabwe, in particular the increased occurrence of unacceptable acts of political violence and intimidation. It recalled its commitment to pursue a constructive dialogue with the government and expressed its firm wish for this dialogue to yield rapid and tangible results. It agreed that it would review developments in June, with a view to considering appropriate measures if progress has been insufficient.
- The Council welcomed the recent progress in the implementation of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and called on them to quickly settle outstanding issues. It expressed recognition and support for the UN/UNMEE efforts to advance the peace process. In this respect the Council called on the parties to continue their cooperation with the UNMEE. It encouraged both countries to work towards full normalization of their relations in the interests of regional stability and development. The Council expressed the EU’s continued commitment to assist the efforts made by the parties in this respect within the broader framework of the EU support to peace building in the Horn of Africa.
- The Council appealed to Ethiopia and Eritrea, should the UN arms embargo not be renewed, voluntarily to limit their arms imports and agree on related verifiable confidence building measures.
- EU Member States will show utmost restraint in arms transactions with the region in compliance with the EU code of conduct on arms transfers. The EU will take initiatives in the UN to encourage all UN Member States to show similar restraint.
- The Council acknowledges the need for the two parties to restructure their armed forces in accordance with the peace conditions.
- The Council adopted a Common Position on Nigeria, highlighting the commitment of the EU to maintain and develop a positive, constructive and consistent policy, based on dialogue, to support Nigeria in its efforts to consolidate democracy and advance socio-economic development.
(See also page XII)
INDONESIA - Council Conclusions
1. The Council underlined the strategic importance of a strong, democratic, united and prosperous Indonesia. It firmly supported the territorial integrity of the country. It reaffirmed its wish and commitment to build a closer relationship with Indonesia, as set out in the Council's conclusions of March 2000. It looked forward to developing this relationship at the Ministerial meeting in Beijing on 24 May.
2. The Council expressed concern at developments in Indonesia. It noted some positive changes since March 2000, which included the consolidation of the freedom of expression, association and religion, the strengthening of the legal and institutional framework of human rights protection, the continued growth of an active civil society and improved relations with East Timor. However, the Council also underlined the slow progress in addressing the many other challenges to which the Government of Indonesia has attached priority, not least judicial, legal and economic reforms. The Council expressed its commitment to support further reforms in these areas by the Government of Indonesia.
To achieve these goals the Council:
(i) Encouraged the Indonesian Government to continue governance reform and further strengthen democracy and human rights. In the Council's view, legal reform, the rule of law, civilian control and democratic accountability of the police and armed forces, a vibrant civil society, decentralization and the strengthening of local administration remain crucial for Indonesia's stability and prosperity.
(ii) Also encouraged the Government to make further urgent efforts to address and resolve peacefully Indonesia's internal conflicts, whether separatist or sectarian in character, such as those in Aceh, Irian Jaya, the Moluccas and Central Kalimantan. The Council underlined that the only viable way to guarantee the territorial integrity of Indonesia is for the Government to engage in a genuine dialogue with the provinces in order to tackle the root causes of separatism. It emphasized the importance of inter-ethnic and inter-regional dialogue and of successful decentralization. It also underlined the responsibility of the Indonesian Government to meet the needs of internally displaced persons and others affected by internal conflict and to protect any populations at risk.
(iii) Further encouraged the efforts of the Indonesian Government to continue to improve relations with East Timor, with a view to establishing a close and good neighborly relationship, thereby contributing to the stability of South East Asia. However, it recalled the responsibility of the Government to prosecute those who have violated human rights and international humanitarian law. It expressed concern that recent legal judgements did not seem to meet the international standards of justice and fairness called for in the Chairman's statement at the UN Commission on Human Rights. It also called upon the Government to disarm and disband the militias in East Nusa Tenggara, as well as to enable the refugees to choose freely whether to return to East Timor, in time to vote in the Constitutional Assembly elections, or to resettle in Indonesia.
(iv) Welcomed efforts to increase poverty reduction focus in government planning and encouraged early implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy presented by the Indonesian Government in October 2000; it also encouraged further measures by the Government to address the country's many environmental problems, including the alarming pace of deforestation.
(v) Underlined the need for the Union to maintain its efforts to strengthen its long-term relationship with Indonesia, including through the pursuit of the political dialogue with Indonesia. It invited parliamentarians from the EU to intensify their contacts with their Indonesian colleagues.
(vi) Reaffirmed the importance of enhanced economic co-operation, including investment and two-way trade, as set out in its conclusions of March 2000.
(vii) Called for closer co-ordination among Member States and the Commission in the delivery of assistance to meet the challenges set out above so as to promote a more coherent, effective and visible role for the Union as a whole. It recalled the joint Council and Commission statement on EC Development Policy and its conclusions on a framework for Country Strategy Papers. It invited the Commission, in consultation with Member States and the Indonesian Government, to prepare a Country Strategy Paper setting out priorities for assistance. Recalling the guidelines on strengthening operational co-ordination, which it adopted on 22 January 2001, it also invited its competent bodies to seek to consider ways to strengthen EU co-ordination in Jakarta, including in the delivery of assistance.
(viii) Encouraged closer co-operation and sharing of information between the Union and other donors, the UN and the International Financial Institutions.
(ix) Invited its competent bodies to keep the situation in Indonesia under close review.