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22 Jul 1996 : Column WA85

Written Answers

Monday, 22nd July 1996.

Cameroon Republic: Assistance with Elections

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether through the Commonwealth, EU or the United Nations, they will work towards the establishment of a fair electoral register and other necessary reforms well in advance of the 1997 Presidential election in the Cameroon Republic.[10th July]

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.

Northern Iraq: KDP Actions

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reply they have received to their request that Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, should release the 40 hostages from the al-Sourchi tribe, originally detained on 16th June; when Mr. Frank Baker from the British Embassy in Ankara will visit the village of Kilken; what reports they have received from United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross or non-governmental organisations personnel on the killing of members of the al-Sourchi tribe; and whether they consider that the perpetrators of these crimes are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and would be liable to prosecution in the courts of other states.

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.

For obvious security reasons, it would not be appropriate for us to publish details in advance of visits by officials to northern Iraq.

We have received no reports from the UN, ICRC or NGOs about the incident.

Although we are deeply concerned about the incident, we do not have sufficient information to classify it in either of the ways suggested.

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Indonesia: Death of Journalists, Balibo, 1975

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Indonesian Government has yet responded to the Australian request for its views on how to seek further clarification, within Indonesia, of the event surrounding the deaths of five Australian-based newsmen, including two British citizens, Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters, on 16th October 1975, following the report on the crime, dated 21st June 1996, by Mr. Tom Sherman to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the hon. Alexander Downer MP; and whether they have expressed any interest to the Indonesian authorities in receiving statements from persons in Indonesia with direct knowledge of the circumstances of the killings, including in particular former Colonel Dading Kalbuadi and former Major Yunus Yosfiah.

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.

Rwanda: Human Rights Abuses

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have read African Rights' statement Rwanda: the Genocide Continues, of 4th July 1996; whether they will encourage UNHRFOR to conduct investigations to identify the perpetrators of continuing attacks on the survivors and witnesses of the genocide and systematically to gather evidence of threats against survivors and witnesses; and if so, what additional resources they consider should be provided to UNHRFOR for these purposes.

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.

Burma: Sanctions Proposal

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 12th June 1996 (WA 168), whether they will now support the imposition of international

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    economic sanctions against the military regime in Burma for gross violations of human rights and democratic freedoms, analogous to the international economic sanctions successfully imposed against apartheid in South Africa.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have no plans to support the imposition of international economic sanctions against Burma.

Former Yugoslavia: Arrest Warrants

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 1st July 1996 (WA 83), whether they will support instructions to IFOR to execute the warrants issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the arrest of Radovan Karadic and Ratzo Mladic; and, if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: IFOR is already instructed to detain any indicted individual it encounters in the course of its duties if circumstances allow.

Albania: Conduct of Elections

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Secretary General of NATO was accurately reported as stating that Albania was an early candidate for NATO membership, if so, whether he had been explicitly authorised to make such a statement; and if so, what is the status of that statement in the light of the reports on the conduct of the recent elections in Albania from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are not aware that the Secretary General of NATO has made such a statement.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have received about (a) the recent elections in Albania; and (b) the implications of the bilateral US-Albania military agreement for NATO and for the Implementation Force (IFOR).

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.

The bilateral US-Albania military agreement is a matter for the countries concerned. It is entirely separate from NATO and the Implementation Force.

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NATO Enlargement: Costs

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, if it is NATO's intention to take decisions about enlargement later this year, they have still not produced estimates of the costs of enlargement, and how, without properly-derived cost estimates, they can decide whether the enlargement of NATO can be afforded.

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.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are conducting studies of their own, or collaborating with other parties, on the costs of NATO enlargement, and when they expect to have properly-derived cost estimates.

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.

General Affairs Council and IGC Ministerial Meeting, 15th-16th July

The Viscount of Oxfuird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the General Affairs Council and the IGC ministerial meeting on 15th-16th July.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The A Points in Documents 9021/96 (add. 1 and add. 2), which will be placed in the Libraries of the House as soon as they are available, were approved.

The Council noted the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament in Documents EP8001/96 PE-RE45, 8162/96 PE-RE51 and 8751/96 PE-RE56.

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 acknowledged Slovenia's letter of application for EU membership.

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The Commission gave a progress report on relations with Switzerland. The Council reaffirmed the EU's wish to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.

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 President of the Council and Commissioner Van den Broek reported on their recent visit to the region.

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 reached political agreement on the MEDA regulations on aid to countries in the Mediterranean.

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 discussed the Middle East Peace Process.

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.

The Council agreed a declaration welcoming the 10 July resolution of the OAU Heads of State and Government on Burundi.

The Presidency announced the appointment of Ambassador Kester Heaslip as the Presidency's special representative on Cyprus.

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.

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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.

There was also the customary briefing session with representatives of the European Parliament.

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