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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We have no plans to convene such a conference. However, Her Majesty's Government have played a leading role both in the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia and in the European Union in seeking to persuade the Government in Belgrade and the leaders of the Kosovar Albanians, including Dr. Rugova, urgently to begin a meaningful dialogue, without preconditions, on the future status of Kosovo. Her Majesty's Government firmly believe that the Kosovo crisis can only be satisfactorily resolved through dialogue and, in conjunction with their partners in the Contact Group, have made clear to both sides their willingness to help facilitate such a process.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As the Foreign Secretary made clear in his speech to the Dependent Territories Association on 4 February, I am the Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with overall responsibility for the United Kingdom Overseas Territories. As Gibraltar is the only Overseas Territory within the EU, the bulk of the work on Gibraltar will continue to be handled by the European Departments reporting directly to the Minister for Europe, Mr. Henderson. However, I will be responsible for generic Overseas Territory issues which affect Gibraltar.
The EU has noted Sassou Nguesso's creation of a National Forum for Unity Democracy and the Reconstruction of the Republic of the Congo and his plans for the re-establishment of democracy. The EU remains concerned both at the continued presence of Angolan troops and about the proposed transition programme. The EU will press Sassou Nguesso on the need for an inclusive political progress.
Separately, while noting that Sassou Nguesso has approached the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate alleged genocide crimes, the EU also intends to raise its concerns about the human rights violations at the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer I gave him on 12 January (Official Report, col. WA 124) and to the Written Answer my noble friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement gave him on 22 January to his Question on the terms of reference of the review of NATO's Strategic Concept (Official Report, col. WA 265).
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The use of force, including in self-defence, is governed by general international law and in particular the Charter of the United Nations. The freedom of the high seas, which is codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, includes freedom of navigation for military vessels and the right to engage in lawful military activities.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The EU made a demarche to the Jamaican Government on 5 January, requesting that it reconsider its decision to withdraw from the First Optional Protocol. We are now considering how best to continue our dialogue with Jamaica. We would consider making similar demarches to any other country which announced its intention to withdraw from the First Optional Protocol.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I indicated in the House on 30 July, the Government do not at present propose to commemorate the end of the mandate, and since there is already substantial British aid, directly and through the EU, to the Palestinian authority, there are no proposals to mark the anniversary by increasing our bilateral assistance to them.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Three thousand, one hundred and fourteen statutory instruments were made in 1997, of which 1,663 were general instruments. It is not known how many of these were to implement European Union legislation, but, in 1996, 80 of the 1,832 general instruments were for that purpose. One thousand, eight hundred and forty-five pieces of secondary legislation were made by the EU institutions in 1997, but a further 1,124 such pieces were repealed or expired leaving a net increase of 721.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The terms of reference of the Euro-X committee are set out in the Luxembourg European Council conclusions. Euro-X is an informal committee and has no base in either the Treaty of Maastricht or the Treaty of Amsterdam.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Economic and Financial Committee will be a formal body of the EU, established under the Treaty which sets out its scope and functions in detail. These do not include any reference to Euro-X, which is an informal body to be established by the countries participating in the euro in line with the conclusions of the Luxembourg European Council.
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