Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - Sixth Report


Supplementary Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

  1.  This memorandum sets out supplementary information as requested following the 25 May oral evidence session.


  2.  The following includes prospective visits:


  Late 1999/early 2000: Possible visit by Joyce Quin, Minister of State, FCO


  June 1997: John Battle (DTI Minister): attended the 1997 Caspian Oil and Gas Show in Baku.

  November 1997: Derek Fatchett, Minister of State, FCO: attended "Early Oil" celebrations in Baku.

  June 1998: John Battle (DTI Minister): attended the 1998 Caspian Oil and Gas Show in Baku.

  June 1999: Lord Macdonald of Tradeston (Scottish Office): attended the 1999 Caspian Oil and Gas Show in Baku, the only Western Minister to do so.

  October 1999: Brian Wilson (Minister for Trade): to open "Visions of Britain" (British Week in Azerbaijan), in Baku, 11-15 October 1999.


  May 1998: Doug Henderson, then Minister of State, FCO: Two day visit to Tbilisi, included meetings with President Shevardnadze and Foreign Minister Menagharishvili.


  October 1998: Joyce Quin: attended the 1998 Kazakhstan International Oil and Gas Exhibition (KIOGE) and conference.


  October 1998: Joyce Quin: One day visit to Bishkek included meetings with President Akaev, Foreign Minister Imanaliev and then Prime Minister Dzhumaliev.


  No outward Ministerial visits.


  May 1998: Doug Henderson: Two day visit included meetings with President Niyazov and Foreign Minister Shikhmuradov.


  Late 1999/early 2000: Possible visit by Joyce Quin.


  3.  The following lists all new positions or upgradings of existing positions in the region agreed to date. The majority of the new staff should be in place this Financial Year. Staffing levels are kept under review in the light of changing circumstances in the region and regular inspections which can recommend changes to staffing. Almaty, Ashgabat, Baku and Tashkent were inspected in 1998. Both Yerevan and Tbilisi are due for Post inspections this Autumn. Posts have flexibility to appoint Locally Engaged staff within a budget set by the FCO.

Armenia (Yerevan)

UK Staff:

  Executive Assistant (support officer)

LE staff:

  LE III—Commercial Assistant

Azerbaijan (Baku)

UK staff:

  Deputy Head of Mission (upgraded to First Secretary)

  First Secretary (Political)

  First Secretary (Commercial)

  Second Secretary (Oil and Gas)

  Second Secretary (Political/Economic)

  Third Secretary (Political)

  Third Secretary (Management/Know How Fund)

  Executive Assistant (support officer—currently filled on locally engaged basis)

LE staff:

  LEI—Commercial officer

  LEII—Press and Public Affairs Officer

  LEII—Know How Fund (DFID-funded)

  LEIII—Commercial Officer

  LEIII—Commercial Officer


  LEIV—Commercial Registry/Receptionist




Georgia (Tbilisi)

UK staff:

  Deputy Head of Mission (upgraded to Second Secretary)

  Third Secretary (Commercial/Know How Fund)

  Executive Assistant (support officer)

Kazakhstan (Almaty)

UK staff:

  Second Secretary (Commercial)

  Executive Assistant (support officer)

LE staff:

  LEIII—Commercial Assistant

  LEIII—0.5 x Visa/Consular Assistant (increase from 0.5 to full time position)

Turkmenistan (Ashgabat)

UK staff:

  Deputy Head of Mission (upgraded to Second Secretary)

  Third Secretary (Management/Consular)

  Executive Assistant (support officer)

LE staff:

  LEI—Commercial Officer

  LEII—PPA Officer

Uzbekistan (Tashkent)

LE staff:

  LEIII—Commercial/Know How Fund/Information Assistant


  4.  "Small posts" (those with four or fewer FCO staff) constitute almost half of all our overseas representation. All six posts covered by the Committee's inquiry are designated as "small". But once the Caspian enhancement programme has been completed only Yerevan will still retain this designation.

  5.  A major review was undertaken in 1996-97 by Mr Peter Hunt, a serving FCO officer, to lighten the administrative burden on small posts. Over 50 recommendations were made and the majority have since been implemented, particularly in the area of statistical returns (eg in respect of consular and visa work). In addition, each post has their own procedural handbook and there is a dedicated Review Team in the Management Consultancy Group of the FCO who can help with particular concerns. Improved communications have also helped small posts enormously.

  6.  A working group set up as a consequence of the Hunt Review continues to meet at least twice a year to discuss issues of concern for Small Posts.


  7.  Annex A (attached) summarises the assistance given by the Government to the countries of the region under the auspices of DFID's Know How Fund.


  8.  The UK Military Training Assistance Scheme (UKMTAS) was replaced by the ASSIST programme with effect from 1 April 1998 ("Assistance to Support Stability with In-Service Training"). ASSIST's objective is to promote respect for civilian democratic government and practices, the rule of law, international human rights standards and humanitarian law within overseas military and police forces.

  9.  ASSIST funds are allocated in the FCO on a Command-wide rather than a country-by-country basis, with posts bidding for funds for individual projects. The ASSIST budget for the Wider Europe Command, covering 30 posts including those in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, is £1.4 million this Financial Year.

  10.  The figures below represent the actual sums spent in sterling to date:
Country1996-97 1997-981998-99 1999-00
Georgia38,80561,742 33,788137,144
Totals:302,172 62,64633,788 137,144


  11.  Human Rights Policy Department (HRPD) in the Foreign Office administers a Human Rights Project Fund (HRPF) which supports FCO human rights related activities world-wide. The Fund was established in FY1998-99, with a budget of:

1998-99 £5.00 million

1999-00 £5.13 million

2000-01 £5.23 million

  Departments and posts also draw on Command (CPB) and other programme budgets (eg the East West Contacts Fund (EWCF)), and Heads of Mission on the KHF-sponsored Small Grants Scheme (KHFSGS), for the same purpose. Past and projected expenditure for each post is as follows:

To fund the publication by the Helsinki Association of a picture book aimed at informing children about human rights.
To assist Oxfam in a project to create a mobile theatre group to raise awareness of disabled issues.
To fund the development of the Armenian version of a reading system for the blind.
To fund projects at the Abovian Juvenile Detention Centre (the only one in Armenia). The first (£4,831) for building renovations, the second (£10,000) to improve education and to promote human rights).
To fund the participation of a delegate at a conference aimed at empowering women in political and public life.
To fund vocational activities for the mentally ill.

To fund a project to raise awareness of election issues amongst women, in Baku and two other cities.
A project organised by a local NGO to publish a hardback book on democratic and political principles.
To fund the publication of a monthly human rights report by a local NGO.
To purchase computer equipment for a local NGO active in the human rights field.

For human rights media training.
Courses run by the Thompson Foundation for TV, radio and press journalists from both the private and public sectors.
To part-fund, with the Council of Europe, a seminar on "European Institutions for the protection of Human Rights".

Financed Elena Sadovskaya, Chairperson of the Kazakh Centre for Conflict Management, to attend six week course on conflict management.
Financed publication on refugee and immigration laws (UNHCR/IFRC).
Conflict management seminar for Central Asian participants.
Women in politics seminar and workshop.
AIDS seminar.
British Council/Thompson Foundation workshop on Media and Parliamentary Reporting.
"Violence Against Women" workshop.
Parliament/Media follow-up seminar.
Fund participant for American Bar Association Seminar on Public Hearings.
Conference on Labour and Social Conflicts.

Save the Children Fund consultant spent five weeks advising on support for street children.
Publication of World Aid booklet on poverty alleviation.
UNHCR Summer Law Course on Human Rights for young lawyers in Central Asia.
Training of social workers and staff for rehabilitation centre for elderly and disabled.
Publication of pocket-sized brochures on human rights for police officers.
English language training for Kyrgyz police officers.
Bid for UNHCR Summer Law Course on Human Rights for young lawyers in Central Asia.
To fund a "Women in Politics" seminar, including looking at discriminatory legislation against women. To be organised by the British Council.

Joint project with the OSCE to send three Tajik election officials to Germany for training during the general elections there in September.

1997-98Sponsored visit Visit by Mr Vladimir Khadirov, Director of the Turkmen Institute of Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR), included parliamentary , legislative and NGO contacts.
1998-99Sponsored visit Visit by Mr Balkan Gafurov, Editor-in-Chief of "Neutral Turkmenistan", to learn about British media practice.
For the provision of videos and publications on human rights, and computer equipment to the Turkmen Institute of Democracy and Human Rights.
To assist with the establishment of a local Citizen's Advice Bureau.

1997-98Sponsored visit Visit to the UK by five Uzbek newspaper editors to familiarize themselves with UK media practice.
To fund a selection of human rights publications for the Uzbek Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Study Centre.
To fund a workshop on the ro®le of women in political parties, and political and public life.
Sponsored visitVisit by a group of senior officials to discuss the legislative framework required for NGOs to operate effectively.
Towards the cost of publishing a colour cartoon booklet for children in Uzbekistan on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Distribution of the booklet organised by local UNDP office.
To fund the participation by a local human rights activist, Mr Tolib Yakubov, in an OSCE human rights conference in Vienna.
1999-00(HRPD)Post have bid for funds to support two Save the Children Fund projects: one for a Post-Institutional Support Centre for children leaving residential care, the other for Research on institutionalised children.

  12.  The FCO also supports a Penal Reform International project in the Former Soviet Union which aims to work with progressive elements in the penal system, to encourage and support practical reform and, through a newsletter, to help to spread good practice. Its focus is on the ground level practitioners and the challenges they face. The FCO provided £250,000 in FY 1997-98, and a further £104,000 from this year's HRPF.

  13.  The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) supports good governance projects in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia. HMG has contributed £160,000 in FY 1998-99. The programme first started in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and is now being extended to cover Turkmenistan. HMG has also recently given OSCE US$20,000 for a project to help increase the participation of women in politics and democracy in Uzbekistan.


  14.  The UK's efforts in addressing the threat from crime in the region have so far been focused on anti-drugs cooperation. We monitor the threat from other forms of criminal activity and remain ready to consider broader cooperation.

  15.  Since the submission of the first FCO memorandum to the present inquiry, the FCO has completed a review, coordinated with all concerned Government departments and agencies, of the UK's international counter-drugs priorities as part of the strategy in the White Paper "Tackling Drugs to build a better Britain". The review produced no evidence to suggest that the Central Asian Republics present a current drugs threat to the UK either as producers or as transit countries. In particular, HM Customs and Excise have no record of seizures in the last five years of drugs entering the UK that have either originated in or transited through the Central Asian republics. But the situation remains under regular review. Should evidence of a growing threat emerge we will adjust our strategy accordingly.

  16.  We have discussed with the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) their estimate that 65 per cent of Afghan heroin is trafficked through the Central Asian Republics. Their figures are based on an extrapolation from figures for seizures by Turkmenistan Customs in 1997. They estimate total production of opiates in Afghanistan in that year at 2,100 tonnes, of which around half (1,000 tonnes) would be exported as unprocessed opium, heroin or morphine. They assume that Turkmenistan Customs seize about 10 per cent of opiates transiting Turkmenistan (EU customs services interdict around 20 per cent of drugs; Turkmenistan customs are less efficient). They equate the 2 tonnes of heroin seized by Turkmen customs in 1997 to 20 tonnes of opium prior to processing and therefore extrapolate a total figure for opiates transiting Turkmenistan of 200 tonnes, or roughly 20 per cent of total estimated exports from Afghanistan. UNDCP figures for other Central Asian Republics have been extrapolated in the same way from that, based on the assumed relative efficiency of the local customs services and the lengths of borders, suggesting approximately 400 tonnes crossing the Tajikistan border and 50 tonnes crossing into Uzbekistan, giving a total of around 650 tonnes: 65 per cent of 1,000 tonnes, We do not share this assessment.

  17.  There are great difficulties in trying to extrapolate from incomplete data. But our assessment is that Central Asia remains far less important than Iran as a trafficking route for Afghan opiates for the present. In 1997 Iranian customs seized 174 tonnes of opiates, while seizures in Central Asia amounted to only 9 tonnes (including the two tonnes of heroin seized in Turkmenistan). Even allowing for the greater experience and efficiency of the Iranian customs service as compared to their Central Asian counterparts, this suggests that far more Afghan opiates transit Iran than Central Asia. This is the major route of which we are aware for Afghan heroin reaching the UK.

  18.  We monitor the situation bilaterally and in conjunction with the EU and UNDCP. We recognise the potential threat to both the UK and the region and therefore undertake anti-drugs assistance to the countries of the region including through coordinated multilateral activity. We promote regular discussion between the European Commission and UNDCP. As a result of such dialogue the EU is no longer pursuing the project for a sniffer dog centre in Uzbekistan to which Sir John Stanley referred when the Committee took evidence from the Minister of State.

  19.  EU activity on drugs is channelled through the Central Asia Drugs Initiative described in paragraph 23 of our first memorandum. The Commission has still to produce the terms of reference for the five projects envisaged under the Initiative: law approximation, technical assistance to the police, ports controls, reinforcing key border posts and reinforcing border management on the Trans-Caspian Sea link. EU funds may also be channelled through a UNDCP drugs project in Tajikistan.

  20.  UN drugs activity in the region and UK support for it is set out in the memorandum provided to the Committee by Mr Bogdan Lisovich of the UN office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Tashkent, as well as in the individual country annexes to our first memorandum.

Joint Operations

  21.  HM Customs and Excise report one successful joint operation in the region, with Kazakhstan, which resulted in the seizure of 12 kilograms of heroin and the arrest of three persons in August 1998.

  22.  The UK Drugs Liaison Officer (DLO), based in Islamabad, visits the region four times a year. At present, the threat level does not justify the permanent presence of a DLO in the region—although this is kept under review. Operational cooperation is good and improving (Customs Agencies in the region have only been established within the last 4-5 years). We expect the seizure rate from future joint operations to increase.


  23.  There are no formal or informal contacts between the Government and the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). But the Government does maintain a wide range of contacts with all CIS member states, currently Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Georgia.


  24.  The following is our understanding of the strength of US-based representation in the region:
Armenia (Yerevan)- 42 (including 25 support staff)
Azerbaijan (Baku)- 69 (including 47 support staff)
Georgia (Tbilisi)- 55 (including 30 support staff)
Kazakhstan (Almaty)- 67 (including 18 support staff)
Kazakhstan (Astana)- Nil
Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek)- 22 (including 9 support staff)
Tajikistan (Dushanbe)- Nil. But pre-Autumn 1998 complement was 8
  (including 3 support staff)
Turkmenistan (Ashgabat)- 12 (including 3 support staff)
Uzbekistan (Tashkent)- 31 (including 9 support staff)

June 1999

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Prepared 27 July 1999