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Romania: Council Of Europe's Assembly Ends Special Monitoring

Prague, 24 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly has ended its special monitoring of Romania's fulfillment of pledges to the Council made when it became a member three-and-a-half years ago.

That makes Romania the second of 16 Eastern Council member states to achieve what Council officials call "normal status" in the Strasbourg-based organization. Three months ago, Estonia was also relieved of its special obligations to the Council.

In a resolution adopted almost unanimously this morning, the Parliamentary Assembly stated that Romania had "honored the most important obligations" it undertook when it became a member in October, 1993. The Assembly nonetheless retained the option -- as it had with Estonia -- of reopening its special monitoring procedure if Romania failed to honor its pledges completely.

In addition, both Romania and Estonia will be subject to the same regular monitoring of democratic and human-rights practices under which all 40 Council states will now be considered equally.

In its resolution, the Assembly stated that Romania still had to make further progress in several areas. They include improving detention conditions and amending penal-code and other judicial laws to make them conform to the Council's European Convention on Human Rights.

The Assembly also urged Romania to develop policies that would prevent the abandonment of children and encourage adoption of orphans and unwanted children. Thousands of Romanian children today are without parents or permanent homes.

The Assembly similarly urged Romania to take what it called "resolute action" to combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance, particularly toward its Roma population.

The Assembly's rapporteur on Romania, Gunnar Jansson of Finland, said later that he had noted what he called "an atmosphere of cooperation" between today's Centrist Romanian Government and opposition groups.

In a press conference, Jansson said the cooperation was most notable in supporting the presence within the Government of members of Romania's ethnic Hungarian minority.

Other observers, however, note that Romania's Left and nationalist opposition groups frequently criticize the presence of ethnic Hungarians in the Government.

(Michael Shafir also contributed to this report.)