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Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the level of violence in Indonesia; and if he will make a statement. [131191]

Mr. Battle: We receive regular reports on Indonesia from our Embassy, NGOs and others. We are particularly concerned by the sharp escalation of violence in Maluku, and the extensive loss of life and serious injury. I discussed this with the Indonesian Ambassador on 3 July and the Head of the Diplomatic Service raised our concerns directly with President Wahid on 4 July. There is an urgent need to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis. We are working closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish mechanisms for managing the international humanitarian response. The UNDP has recently despatched three teams to Maluku to assess current needs.

Helsinki Final Act

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the Government intend to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act; and if he will make a statement. [130665]

Mr. Vaz: To mark the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, the Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE will host a Commemorative Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 19 July to which leading academic and NGO representatives (and others) have been invited. Her Majesty's Government will be represented by an FCO official, who has published a history of the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Act on 1 August 1975.

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EU Enlargement

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice has been given to applicant countries with EU candidacy status about the need to have institutions charged with promoting awareness about equal opportunities which are empowered to seek aid and assistance and to enforce rights consistent with European Union norms; and if he will make a statement. [130661]

Mr. Vaz: Before negotiations for accession can begin, the EU requires that applicant states achieve stability of institutions guaranteeing human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.

Article 13 of the Treaty of Rome requires member states to take action on discrimination whether based on sex, racial origin, religious belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The issue of discrimination is a prominent part of the Social Policy and Employment acquis of the EU. Applicant states are expected to implement the acquis and treaty obligations by accession. The Commission monitors applicant states implementation of these requirements in its annual progress reports and makes specific recommendations to each applicant.

The EU currently operates a programme on equal opportunities for men and women. This programme is open to all applicant states and has a budget of 30 million euro. The Community is to adopt an action programme to combat discrimination based on race, sex, religious belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. This programme will be open to applicant states. It will have a budget of 98 million euro. The programme objectives include improving the understanding of discrimination and developing the capacity of applicant states to address it.

Separately, the Home Office meets regularly with Government officials from applicant states to discuss race equality matters. This includes advice on the function of the Commission for Racial Equality.


Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations his Department is having with (a) other Government Departments, (b) the Government of Gibraltar, (c) trade unions in Gibraltar and (d) representatives of the maritime industry operating in Gibraltar, prior to the United Kingdom formulating its response to the proposals about the future of competition in European ports outlined by the Commissioner for Energy and Transport; and if he will make a statement. [130859]

Mr. Vaz: The Commission have not yet made any concrete proposals on this subject and we do not expect them to do so until the end of the year. There will be full consultation with interested parties once these proposals emerge.

British Council

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which country directorates in the British Council will be assessed for closure over the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [131255]

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Mr. Hain: The British Council is conducting a strategic review to ensure the sustainability of its overseas network and maximise the impact of its work, for example by taking full advantage of new information technology. This review may recommend reallocation of resources to the new priorities and the closure of some country directorates on the basis of their relative importance to the UK. As yet no decisions have been taken; my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be consulted over any closures.

General Affairs Council

Mr. Jim Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the outcome of the General Affairs Council held in Brussels on 10 and 11 July; and if he will make a statement. [130428]

Mr. Vaz: The General Affairs Council in Brussels on 10 July adopted the A points in document 10051/00 and noted the resolutions, decisions, and opinions adopted by the European Parliament at its part-session in Strasbourg listed in document 8849/00. Copies of these documents will be placed in the House Libraries as soon as they become available.

Western Balkans

The Council held an open debate on the Western Balkans, but also discussed it as a formal agenda item, and adopted conclusions.

The Council confirmed the EU's intention to hold a summit between the EU and the Western Balkans this autumn. This will confirm that these countries are bound to Europe, will clarify the reciprocal commitments between them and the EU, and will reiterate that the door will also be open to a democratic FRY.

The Council noted with great concern the revision of the FRY constitution. The Council reiterated its support for the democratically elected authorities in Montenegro and urged them not to yield to provocation from Belgrade.

The Council extended the suspension of the ban on flights between the territories of the European Community and the FRY until 31 March 2001, and welcomed the Commission's intention to increase the number of companies on the financial sanctions "white list".

Follow-up to Feira

The Presidency announced its work programme for the various items following up the Feira European Council, notably on enlargement and European defence.

Ministers agreed that continued work on the latter should be a priority for the French Presidency, and took note of Presidency papers outlining future work on permanent structures within the EU; EU/NATO working groups; and elaboration of the headline goal for military capabilities. They looked forward to the Capabilities Commitment Conference in November, which would represent an important measure of progress on enhancing military capabilities; and also to continued work on the relationship between the EU and the six European members of NATO outside the EU.


The Council adopted conclusions on Russia which underline the importance of the Common Strategy in developing a strategic partnership with Russia; orient the work plan on the Common Strategy towards institutional/

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economic reform, democratization, and the strengthening of civil society and the independent media; and urge the Commission to resume preparation of the TAXIS indicative programme for 2000-03 and to propose a targeted action plan for 2000. The Council emphasized that a long-term relationship with Russia must be based on common values, that it remained concerned by the situation in Chechnya, and that it would remain vigilant to ensure that Russia respected its commitments to the Council of Europe and the OSCE.


The Council agreed Conclusions on the recent elections in Zimbabwe. These call on the Zimbabwean Government to take steps to bring those responsible for the pre-election violence to justice; to tackle urgently Zimbabwe's economic and social problems; and to work for a rapid solution to the problem of land reform on the basis of the principles of the 1998 Land Conference.


The Council invited the Commission to examine the possibility of a quota-based regime based on the "first-come first-served" licensing system. It also asked the Commission, once it had done this, to report back on possible solutions, including a tariff-only regime and its implications. The Council highlighted its desire to reach a solution as quickly as possible, having regard to WTO rules, the interests of Community procedures and the commitments of the Union to the ACP, especially the most vulnerable.

Institute for European-Latin American Relations

Under Any Other Business, the Council supported a Spanish proposal to create a working party to seek a solution to IRELA's financial difficulties.

Inter-governmental Conference

Ministers held a general exchange of views with the EP President Fontaine and Commission President Prodi, following which the Presidency set out its work programme for the next six months.

The Council was followed by Association Councils with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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