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Algeria: Detentions

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Algerian Government do not release information on the number, category or location of prisoners in Algeria. However, I refer the noble Lord to a US State Department report dated 30 January 1998 (copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House) which indicates that, while state of emergency regulations authorise the Algerian Ministry of the Interior to detain suspects in special camps administered by the army, the last such camp closed in November 1995. Although there have been subsequent reports that some of those released were rearrested, we have no information about possible numbers or location.

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Kosovo

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 2,000 Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe verification monitors are now in place in Kosovo and when the British contingent will be fully deployed.[HL112]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: At the OSCE Ministerial Council in Oslo on 3 December, the OSCE Chairman in Office stated that there were 500 verifiers in place in Kosovo. This figure is expected to increase by approximately 250 each week until the projected level of 2,000 Verifiers, including the full British contingent, is reached in mid-January.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Given the logistical problems that have been identified by Major-General John Drewienkiewicz, who is leading the British contingent in Kosovo, what action they are taking to assist the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitors in their tasks in Kosovo and to ensure that they are able to perform effectively.[HL113]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government are unaware of the logistical problems referred to by the noble Lord, and will pursue the matter with Major-General Drewienkiewicz. I shall write to the noble Lord in due course.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of comments by the Norwegian spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who said that it will be very difficult for the OSCE mission to Kosovo to have any success without a political settlement in that region.[HL114]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The primary task of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) is to monitor and report on compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199. The contact group is working to secure early agreement to an interim political settlement. The mission will also have an important role to play in implementing this.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are sufficient guarantees for the safety of the international monitors in Kosovo, given that they will be unarmed and that air surveillance will be carried out by non-combat aircraft.[HL111]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The safety and security of all members of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo is of paramount concern to Her Majesty's Government. UN Security Council Resolution 1203 places a mandatory obligation on the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) to ensure the security of all international personnel in the FRY, including Kosovo. We shall hold President Milosevic to his obligations. Meanwhile, NATO is preparing to deploy a multinational force in Macedonia to be used in extremis to extract the verifiers.

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The tasks of the NATO Air Verification Mission, as defined in the NATO agreement with the FRY Government, are not related to the safety of the verifiers.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the chain of command of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitoring mission in Kosovo; and whether the civilian monitoring mission will have effective power to ensure Serbian compliance, given that the OSCE has never carried out a monitoring mission of this scale.[HL115]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: UK Ambassador William Walker has been appointed Mission Director for the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). He will be supported by six Deputy Directors in the following areas:


    Senior Deputy Director Mr. Keller (France)


    Chief of Operations Major-General Drewienkiewicz (UK)


    Human Rights Mr. Borchardt (Germany)


    Police Matters Mr. Perugini (Italy)


    Political Affairs Mr. Ivanovsky (Russia)


    Chief of Staff General Nygaard (Norway)

Ambassador Walker has already made it clear that he expects the mission to play an intrusive role in verifying Serbian compliance with UNSCRs 1199 and 1203. Various agreements have been signed with the FRY Government to ensure that the KVM is able to perform its tasks satisfactorily. Though the KVM is the largest undertaking by the OSCE to date, the organisation has gained wide experience in the Balkans from running its other missions there since the Dayton Peace Agreement. The UK will do all that it can to ensure the KVM achieves its objectives.

Burmese Foreign Minister's Visit

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they allowed the new Burmese Foreign Minister, U Win Aung, to fly to London on Sunday 22 November; and whether this contravened the European Union Common Position on Burma, which imposed a ban on entry visas for senior members of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SDPC).[HL151]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: U Win Aung remained Ambassador to the Court of St. James until 28 November. Until then, he was entitled under the Vienna Convention to the privileges and immunities of an Ambassador. He returned to the UK as Ambassador (and as such already had a valid visa) to discharge his Ambassadorial duties.

He has now relinquished his post as Ambassador, and left the UK. Having done so, he is subject to the visa restrictions under the EU Common Position.

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Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consulted the European Commission prior to the visit of U Win Aung to London on 22 November; and whether the European Commission supported the Government's action in allowing the visit.[HL152]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government did not consult the European Commission, nor were we under any obligation to do so. We pursued urgently with EU Partners the updating of the EU visa restrictions list to catch all those affected by the Burmese Cabinet reshuffle: agreement was reached on 3 December.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received representations from other European Union member states concerning the visit of U Win Aung to London on Sunday 22 November.[HL153]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Some EU Partners asked about Win Aung's status: we explained that Win Aung remained Ambassador until 28 November. He was allowed to return to the UK as such in order to discharge his Ambassadorial functions.

Estonia

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many short term placements on an ad hoc basis have been allocated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other government departments to the Republic of Estonia to assist in the pre-accession negotiations; and when they will be taken up.[HL160]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: One short-term placement for an Estonian official has been offered so far by the FCO. This is likely to involve other government departments and will be taken up in the early part of 1999. We welcome this latest development in our deepening relations with Estonia.

This department has already hosted a number of diplomats from the Central European candidate countries, and further placements are in the pipeline. The FCO is also encouraging other government departments to offer similar placements in their sectors.

Chevening Scholarships: Baltic States

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Chevening Scholarships will be awarded to university students in 1999 from:


    (a) Estonia


    (b) Latvia


    (c) Lithuania

    and what is the cost of the scholarships.[HL161]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Chevening Scholarship allocations for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for the 1999-2000 Financial Year have not yet been agreed. I will write to the noble Earl when they are.

In the current financial year (1998-99) four students from Estonia, four from Latvia and three from Lithuania received new scholarships at a cost of £65,000, £60,000 and £66,600 respectively.

In addition to the above, about four students from each of these three countries were awarded centrally jointly funded Chevening scholarships. The cost of each centrally joint funded scholarship is approximately £15,000. The FCO pays one-third of this; the other two-thirds is paid by British universities, commercial and other co-sponsors.


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