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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We are ready to work with our Commonwealth, EU and UN partners to assist the Cameroonians in making appropriate arrangements for both the legislative and presidential elections in 1997. Our offer to train election observers has already been accepted.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The KDP have told us that they have released 42 of the 61 armed men they detained from Kilken and that they will release the rest after inquiries; we continue to urge them to do so.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Indonesian Government has responded to the Australian request. They believe that the report sheds no further light on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the journalists at Balibo, and that further investigation would serve no positive purpose, and would only rekindle the grief of the people of East Timor and of the journalists' families. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right honourable Member for Richmond and Barnes, told the Indonesia Foreign Minister on 15th July that we would wish to study the report. We are in touch with the families of the British journalists and the Australian authorities and we are now considering the next steps.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are aware of the report and condemn attacks on survivors of the genocide. We have encouraged the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda to pursue their investigations into these and other human rights abuses. Britain remains the largest contributor to UNHRFOR. We have encouraged others to contribute.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are deeply concerned by the criticisms contained in the OSCE/ODHIR report on the recent Albanian elections. The election process appears to have been seriously flawed. We shall work with our partners to establish a dialogue between the government and opposition with the aim of their agreeing steps to restore confidence in the democratic process.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Estimates of the possible costs of NATO enlargement made without knowing which countries may be invited to join the Alliance can only be speculative. Cost considerations will, of course, be taken into account as the time comes to take decisions.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Naturally the Government are studying all aspects of NATO enlargement and will be sharing the results with other Allied governments over the coming months, in the period leading up to the decisions on NATO enlargement.
The Council began with a televised debate on the Irish Presidency programme. The President of the Council, Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring, presented his priorities, including preparation for EMU, employment, EU enlargement and IGC and work on the third pillar. My right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs highlighted the need to get down to discussion of specific IGC Treaty language; to press ahead with reform of the CAP and the structural funds which is necessary for enlargement and the importance of progress in the Middle East Peace Process.
The Council had a wide-ranging discussion on the Former Yugoslavia, including an exchange of views on the future of the EU's presence in Mostar. The Council approved a Joint Action on Mostar and agreed the appointment of Sir Martin Garrod as EU Special Envoy in Mostar.
The Council agreed conclusions on Former Yugoslavia which note among other things that the requirements of the Florence European Council declaration on the peace process, including that for the removal of Radovan Karadzic from the Republika Srpska political scene, had not yet fully been complied with.
The Council adopted conclusions on the US Helms/Burton legislation on companies trading with Cuba, calling on President Clinton to waive the provisions of Title III of the Act and identifying possible counter measures.
The Council held an exchange of views on the political situation in Russia, and adopted conclusions welcoming the successful conclusion of the presidential elections. The Council also reaffirmed its readiness to continue to contribute to the reform process and to complete ratification of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) but decided to convey its concern over the recurrence of violence in Chechnya to the Russian authorities.
The Council declared its concern over the continuing deterioration of the political situation in Burma and urged the SLORC to restore democracy and respect human rights. The Council reiterated its call for a full and satisfactory explanation from the Burmese authorities of the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the death in custody of James Leander Nichols.
There was a general debate on preparation for the World Trade Organisation Ministerial in Singapore in December. The Presidency drew procedural conclusions: the Council will return to the subject in the autumn.
On 15th July there was an IGC Ministerial meeting. Foreign Ministers had a brief discussion on handling of the IGC. The Irish Presidency confirmed that there would be a Special European Council in October, and that they would prepare a draft revised Treaty text for the second European Council in December.