Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the Stability Pact for South East Europe

  1.  The Stability Pact was established at the Cologne European Council in June 1999 in response to the Kosovo crisis. The Pact is a mechanism for co-ordinating political and economic reforms and reconstruction in the countries of South East Europe.

  2.  The Pact's activities are divided between three Working Tables, with an over-arching Regional Table to ensure central co-ordination:

Working Table IDemocracy/Human Rights
Working Table IIEconomic/Reconstruction/Development
Working Table IIIDefence/Justice and Home Affairs


  3.  The Government is fully committed to ensuring the success of the Pact, and has earmarked £100 million in technical assistance in the region over the period 2000-2003. The UK also contributes some 17% of EC aid. Several of the Pact's early wins, for example the Media Charter and Investment Compact, are as a result of UK initiatives.


  4.  The UK has also contributed approximately £70,000 to Stability Pact democracy/human rights projects: OSCE Regional Association of Election Monitors, Citizens Pact youth network, MPs network in South East Europe. A further £100,000 is being considered for a project on democratic control of the military. Until September 2000 the UK chaired the Media Task Force, which last June secured the adoption of a Charter for Media Freedom in the region. Under the UK's chairmanship the Task Force also processed a number of media projects aimed at facilitating and sustaining independent media; during 2000 the UK provided some £ 1.3 million in support for independent media in the FRY. In October 2000 the chairmanship passed to France.

  5.  A joint UK/German/Soros Foundation initiative, working through the Stability Pact, aims to increase and assist NGO participation in the process of democratic reform. The first meetings between the Stability Pact and the NGOs were held in June and October 2000. A Declaration on NGO-Government Partnership in SE Europe was approved at the Pact's Working Table I meeting in Bucharest in October 2000.


  6.  The UK and OECD co-chair the Investment Group. Following the adoption of the Investment Compact in February 2000, work to develop country road-maps for implementation is now complete. An Investment Compact meeting in London in July 2000 agreed the next steps to take the work forward and a review of the Compact's aims and focus is now nearing completion. Turning the commitments in the Compact into a reality will be a key to revitalising the economy of the region. The UK has invested £116,000 in supporting the work on the Compact.

  7.  The Department for International Development is contributing a further £ 1.8 million towards other business and trade related activities, including support for a Macedonian-led group working towards trade liberalisation in the region. At a meeting in Geneva in January 2001, the countries of the region agreed to aim for signature of trade MoUs by mid-year.

  8.  A UK proposal for an e-initiative for SE Europe under the auspices of the Stability Pact was agreed at a Pact meeting in Istanbul in October 2000. The initiative aims to ensure that the information revolution is firmly on the agenda as a priority in all aspects of reconstruction in the region. The UK contributed to the launch of this initiative through discussion of the Digital Divide at an FCO conference on SE Europe in July 2000. The FCO also sponsored a follow-up conference at Wilton Park in October 2000, and the first meeting of a core team of regional "e-Envoys" took place in London on 11 December. Sweden took over leadership of the initiative (with Croatia as co-chair) as part of its EU Presidency in January 2001.


  9.  The UK is providing £40,000 for a project, in co-operation with Bulgaria, to increase transparency in military budgeting in the region. A meeting to take this forward will be held in Vienna on 13-14 March. The UK has also seconded an officer to the Pact's regional arms control initiative based in Zagreb and is currently discussing with the FRY authorities secondment of a Yugoslav army officer to Zagreb, financed by the UK.

  10.  The UK is supporting the Stability Pact's initiative on people trafficking by helping to fund the next meeting of the task force in Skopje in March. The UK is also contributing to the Pact's asylum and immigration initiative by funding a pilot project for assisted returns of illegal immigrants stranded in Croatia and more generally through action with our EU partners to tackle people smuggling and trafficking in the region. This initiative includes through the deployment of UK (and other EU states') immigration experts to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and the attachment of immigration liaison officers to embassies in the region.


  11. Following the political changes in the FRY, the Pact is developing a regional infrastructure strategy. This, together with a report on implementation of the Quick Start Package, must be put in place before a further regional funding conference can be held; this is expected to take place after the FRY donor conference later this year. Work on the strategy and implementation report began with a meeting in Rome in January; a progress report is expected at the next Working Table meetings, provisionally scheduled for April/May.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

20 February 2001

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