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". (DE) Honoured President, esteemed Representative of the Council Presidency, ladies and gentlemen, it is inappropriate that the Representative for the acting Commission should make a full statement on the Finnish Presidency"s programme here, for this programme will largely be implemented under the new Commission. Permit me, therefore, to restrict my comments in the main to two issues, namely reconstruction in Kosovo and the sentence passed on Abdullah Öçalan. (Applause) However, at the informal meeting of Heads of State and Government in Rio, the Heads of Government agreed that the agency ‘s seat should be in Thessaloniki. We cannot escape the conclusion though, that this was due not so much to the fact that the reconstruction activities, for which this agency was to be responsible, were in the immediate vicinity, but rather to the fact that there was a general need for economic aid throughout the region. The Commission takes the view that it will only be possible to work effectively if the vast proportion of activities is concentrated in Pristina. However, the Commission could envisage a solution whereby, for example, some of the administrative personnel would be based at another location. But this must not be to the detriment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation. The Commission assumes that to uphold these principles accords with the Court of Auditors" position and the first reactions of the European Parliament. However, the Council decided conclusively on Monday this week that the agency"s seat should be in Thessaloniki. The Commission has refrained from stating its position, preferring the Commission"s definitive position to be established by the new Commission. The proposal has now been submitted to Parliament for advice. Meanwhile, as of 1 July, the Commission has been despatching a task force consisting of approximately 20 officials and supporting personnel to Pristina, where it will be responsible for implementing the reconstruction programme. All authority required to effect implementation was transferred from Brussels to the leader of the task force in Pristina in order to create a mechanism which will work with optimum efficiency and speed to provide aid at a time when it is most urgently needed in Kosovo. Finally, a comment on achieving co-ordination amongst the donors. On 13 July, a meeting took place of the High Level Steering Group, the committee managed by the European Commission and the World Bank which is based on partnership and is intended to co-ordinate the Kosovo crisis aid provided by international donors. It was confirmed on this occasion that the first Kosovo donor conference would be held on 28 July in Brussels. This conference is to focus in particular on determining what the pressing needs will be from now until the end of the year. A second donor conference has been planned for October and this will deal in greater depth with the reconstruction efforts. Turning to the Öçalan trial, the Commission takes the same position on this matter as that taken up by the German Presidency on 29 June, following the death sentence passed by the state security tribunal of Ankara on Abdullah Öçalan, and again expresses its absolute repudiation of the death penalty. It was for this reason that on 29 June, the Commission asked the relevant Turkish authorities to take account of the European Union"s repudiation of this death penalty. Consequently, the Commission, knowing that Turkey has not employed the death penalty since 1984, anticipates that as a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey will abide by the obligations that it has entered into. To carry out the death penalty would inevitably place relations between the European Union and Turkey under huge strain. Like the majority of EU Member States, the Commission believes that recent amendments to Turkish legislation have paved the way for the case against Mr Öçalan and the process of reaching a verdict, to be transferred to a civil court. (Applause) Firstly, I should like to remind you that from the very beginning, the European Union was heavily involved in the endeavours being made to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo conflict. The Commission also provided humanitarian aid throughout the conflict. The European Union is, as we are all aware, the largest donor. We gave financial aid to those countries most severely affected by the influx of exiles and refugees. Now that the conflict is over, our immediate priority is to support KFOR"s endeavours to restore peace and order and to reconstruct a functioning civil administration under the leadership of the United Nations. The European Union has a special task to fulfil in this respect. In particular, we bear the responsibility for the reconstruction aspects of UNMIG. Jollie Dixon, the acting Special Delegate for the Commission appointed for this purpose, has now taken up his position in Pristina and it is time to solve the huge number of practical problems. What has been provided so far in terms of aid? The humanitarian aid committed to Kosovo and the neighbouring countries totals EUR 378 million, with the bulk going towards providing essential foods and other goods such as medicines, sanitation equipment and accommodation. This aid is channelled through the UNHCR, the International Red Cross, UNICEF and various NGOs. This amount includes the EUR 196 million currently being mobilised from the Commission"s budgetary reserves. Furthermore, EUR 100 million were committed as macroeconomic aid for the damage sustained by other countries as a result of the Kosovo crisis, 62 million being earmarked for Albania, 25 million for FYROM and 13 million for Montenegro. The first instalments have already been paid out. In addition, EUR 45 million will be committed to Kosovo through the OBNOVA programme, a first priority of which will be to finance a delegation whose task is to ascertain the scale of material damage. The first set of findings will be available on 23 July. The European Commission will then base its definitive aid programme on these figures. In addition, the budgetary requirements for reconstruction will need to be set in the course of the next two to three years, and the anticipated costs which the other donors are to incur will need to be calculated. The measures to be financed under the OBNOVA programme as a matter of priority include such areas as mine clearance, obtaining materials for rebuilding houses and also public buildings, supporting public utilities and customs control, and a village employment and rehabilitation programme. Working in conjunction with KFOR, UNMIG and UNHCR, these projects were prioritised and they are to supplement the on-going work undertaken by the humanitarian organisations. We hope to be able to commit the EUR 45 million before the end of this month. As explained to the budgetary authorities in the trialogue of 2 July, an additional EUR 92 million will still be required this year. It was agreed during this trialogue session that in September the Commission will submit a proposal to increase the budget by means of an amending and supplementary budget which will raise the 92 million required. The funds are largely to be raised by reallocation, with as little utilisation as possible being made of additional funds. It was also agreed that both parts of the budgetary authorities will deal with this proposal in one reading. We are counting on receiving Parliament"s support as far as this is concerned, so that the European Community can continue to play a leading role in the reconstruction process. I should now like to say a few words on the issue of a reconstruction agency. Before the Cologne European Council meeting, the Commission proposed to the Heads of State and Government that a special agency should be set up which would deal with the implementation of the reconstruction work. The European Council followed this recommendation and instructed the Commission back in June to formulate an actual proposal on the basis of experience gained from Bosnia. We at the Commission proposed that the agency should be located in Pristina, that is at the centre of reconstruction activity, where all the other international organisations are located."@en1

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