639th  Meeting - 09 September  1998



Reply by the Committee of Ministers:

Since the beginning of the Kosovo crisis, the question has been regularly discussed by the Committee of Ministers and its Rapporteur Group for Democratic Stability (GR-EDS). The Ministers’ Deputies have brought Recommendation 44 (1998) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) on the crisis in Kosovo to the attention of their governments, and, in view of the Congress’ invitation in paragraph 18, have decided to transmit it to the European Union and to the OSCE.

The Committee of Ministers has taken note of the Congress’s readiness to take action on the plan to open a Local Democracy Agency in Kosovo, and has noted also the proposals by the Congress in paragraphs 16 and 17 of Recommendation 44, in particular concerning the contributions and suggestions put forward by the Congress therein.

Furthermore, the Ministers’ Deputies have continued to deal with the situation in Kosovo as a matter of priority within the framework of their political dialogue, and indeed have pursued discussion of the four-point plan proposed by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, the Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, Mr G. Papandreou, on the occasion of the presentation of the Statutory Report of the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly, on 24 June 1998.

In this respect, the Committee of Ministers recalls its support in principle for ongoing and credible monitoring by the Council of Europe as appropriate, of democracy and human rights in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovo in particular, bearing in mind the need both for co-ordination with other organisations active in the field, and for bringing the Council’s experience and expertise to bear on making a specific, additional contribution.

It has been made clear that the lack of seriousness and credibility of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s application for membership of the Organisation has led to suspension of discussion of this issue. A radical change of policy by Belgrade would be needed before the application can be considered.

As far as proposals aimed at strengthening co-operation between the Council of Europe and representatives of civil society in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are concerned, a number of activities have already been carried out or supported by the Council of Europe, including, in the media field, a seminar on freedom of expression organised by the NGO "Article XIX" in Podgorica (3-4 July 1998), civil society school programmes carried out by the Local Democracy Agency in Subotica within the framework of the Confidence-building measures programme, and, in the human rights field, support to a seminar on conscientious objection organised by the Yugoslav Bureau for Conscientious Objection (Belgrade, June 1998).


Further activities in the media and civil society sectors, including the field of higher education, have been approved by the Ministers’ Deputies. Specific reference might be made to the conference "Broadcasting for a democratic Europe – the case of the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM)", to be held under the auspices of the Secretary General, and organised by ANEM with the support of, inter alia, the Council of Europe on 2-3 October 1998 in Belgrade. The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers has agreed to open this conference.

In a general sense, the topic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and actions undertaken with regard to that country, have featured in recent high-level discussions between the Council of Europe and the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations, with a view to preparing for an effective co-ordination of work when the conditions for Council of Europe involvement will be met.