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Council Of Europe: Report Deplores Instability In Balkans

Strasbourg, 29 January 1998 (RFE/RL) -- This is the text of a report adopted by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe yesterday on "Recent developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and their implications for the Balkan region."

1. The deteriorating political situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) risks having serious implications for the stability of the Balkan region. All of the FRY's neighboring states are members of the council of Europe, with the exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has requested such membership.

2. The assembly deplores the failure of the FRY authorities to implement the democratic reforms recommended by Mr. Felipe Gonzales, the special representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office and endorsed by the assembly.

3. The assembly notes with concern the progress made by political extremists in the recent parliamentary and presidential elections in Serbia. It is also concerned about the findings of international observers who described the re-run presidential elections in Serbia in December 1997 as flawed.

4. The assembly welcomes the agreement between Montenegrin president Djukanovic and his predecessor Mr. Bulatovic to hold parliamentary elections in May 1998, as a means to resolve the political crisis in Montenegro which followed Mr. Bulatovic and the Serbian authorities refusal to respect the outcome of the recent presidential elections.

5. The assembly considers that 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 of the political leadership -- will enable the FRY to rejoin the European family. Such reforms are also the only way to prevent extremists from dominating the political scene.

6. The assembly condemns the continued repression of the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo which has led to the appearance of armed resistance in Kosovo. While supporting the principle of the FRY's territorial integrity, it calls for the instant and full restoration of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the ethnic Albanian population. The FRY Government should also enable the international community to establishing a permanent presence in Kosovo and implement the agreement on education concluded between Mr. Milosevic, then President of Serbia, and Mr. Rugova, leader of the Albanian community in Kosovo.

7. The assembly expects 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 FRY authorities.

8. It calls on Albania to use its influence on the Albanian community in Kosovo to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict, to continue its dialogue with the FRY and to prevent smuggling of weapons looted during the events in Albania in early 1997.

9. The Assembly is ready to assist in contacts between representatives of the FRY authorities and the Albanian community in Kosovo. The Council of Europe has considerable expertise in the relevant areas, such as human rights, minority rights and education, which it could put at the disposal of the parties.

10. The assembly notes with concern that the tensions between the ethnic Albanian minority and the rest of the population in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia led to violent incidents in July last year. It calls on the Albanian minority to refrain from the use of violence and to respect the law. It calls on the authorities to respond positively to the legitimate demands of the Albanian community, on the basis of relevant Council of Europe instruments and principles. It welcomes recent improvements in relations with Albania.

11. The assembly welcomes the improvement in relations between the FRY and the Republic of Croatia. It calls on the Croatian authorities to improve legislative, administrative , material and security conditions for a voluntary return of Croatian Serb refugees currently on the territory of the FRY.

12. The assembly considers that the FRY has so far failed to comply fully with its obligations under the Dayton Agreement. It expects the FRY government to use its influence on the Bosnian Serb leadership to ensure their full co-operation in the peace process, to bring the agreement on special parallel relations with the Republika Srpska in line with the Dayton peace agreement and to arrest immediately and hand over all persons on FRY territory indicted for war crimes by the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

13. The Assembly supports the efforts for an agreement on regional arms control and welcomes the decision by the OSCE chairman-in-office to appoint a special representative to help organize and conduct negotiations, as foreseen by Article V of Annex 1-B of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

14. The assembly welcomes and supports recent initiatives for multilateral regional contacts, such as the recent Balkan summit held on Crete, as well as the Conference of Speakers of the Parliaments of South-eastern countries held in Athens and recent meetings of the South-east European Co-Operative Initiative and the Central European Initiative. It considers that a regular and constructive dialogue between the countries concerned is essential in the search for durable solutions to all regional populations.

15. The assembly calls on the European union, the United States and other states concerned to agree on a common approach concerning the application of the "outer wall" of sanctions and the use of economic incentives such as preferential trade regimes. Positive steps by the FRY should be rewarded by economic assistance, while sanctions should be kept in place -- or increase -- in case of persistent failure to comply with the demands of the international community.

16. The assembly calls on the Governments of Council of Europe member-states in the region to respect the obligations and commitments resulting from their membership. An increased use should be made of the Organization as a political forum for discussions on stability and co-operation in the Balkan region.