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Lord Chesham: We and our EU partners have made clear our serious concern about the situation in Serbia following the annulment of a number of the 17th November municipal election results. As the Dublin European Council conclusions state, respect for human and democratic rights will be a key factor in determining the European Union's future relationship with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The EU has decided to freeze the award of autonomous trade concessions to the FRY.
Lord Chesham: The financial savings resulting from withdrawal from UNIDO will be approximately £4.7 million a year from financial year 1998-99. The use of these funds will be for Ministers to decide in the annual resource allocation round, the results of which will be set out in the Departmental Report to Parliament in 1997.
Whether any new agreement indicates that the British Government is content with, and supports, Israel's failure to adhere to its international commitments under the Oslo agreements, its use of torture on prisoners, its settlement policies in the occupied territories and in Jerusalem, and its continuing occupation of parts of Lebanon.
Lord Chesham: The article referred to described the visit to Britain of Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai on 21st November. No such agreement was signed or discussed during his visit. Israel and the UK have a range of defence contacts appropriate to the relationship between two friendly countries.
Lord Chesham: We have no record of any member of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv having attended the seminar at Haifa University in 1995. We continue to urge Israel to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state.
Lord Chesham: We share Israel's concerns about reports that Iran and Iraq have been trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. We have, in the past, held informal discussions with Israel, as we have with other countries, on ballistic missile defence, but this did not extend to discussing collaboration on weapons systems.
Lord Chesham: The article referred to in Ha'aretz described the visit of the Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discussed human rights and Israeli/Palestinian relations with Mr. Mordechai, among many other matters. We regularly raise human rights issues with both Israeli and Palestinian authorities, focusing on individual cases.
The Council agreed as "A" points, among other things, a joint action creating a directory of competences in the fight against organised crime, and a joint action establishing a European Community funded incentive and exchange programme to combat trafficking in human beings and child sex abuse.
The Presidency reported progress in negotiations on the draft External Frontiers Convention, and on the Europol draft regulations. The United Kingdom hopes to ratify the Europol Convention before the end of the year.
Meetings were held with Ministers of associated Central and Eastern European countries and, separately, with Cyprus. These concentrated on the fight against drugs and the need to co-operate against trafficking in human beings and paedophile rings.
Two reports were considered on the fight against organised crime, one dealing with the situation in 1995, the other looking forward to future possibilities for closer co-operation and assistance. The first report will be presented to the European Parliament in due course.
A draft report to the European Council on drugs in the European Union was discussed. Some amendments were agreed and the report will now be forwarded, via the General Affairs Council, to the European Council.
There was extensive discussion of a draft joint action, proposed by France, on approximation of laws and practices to combat drug consumption and drug trafficking. While a strong will was shown on all sides to combat drug trafficking, final agreement of the text of the action was deferred pending further consultations by several countries.
Priorities were outlined by the Netherlands for its Presidency in the first half of 1997. These included implementation of the Europol Convention, further work on action to combat drugs and organised crime, trafficking in human beings and abuse of the Internet, and development of the structured dialogue with the countries which are candidates for accession.
Conventions were signed allowing Sweden, Austria and Finland to accede to two conventions on jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and on the law applicable to contractual obligations. Protocols were signed providing on an optional basis for European Court of Justice jurisdiction in the European Union Conventions on the Protection of the European Communities Financial Interests and on the Use of Information Technology for Customs Purposes.
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