Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth
Foreign Affairs Committee Report: Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and the Wider Region following the fall
of Milosevic: an update
1. On 28 March 2001, the House of Commons
Select Committee on Foreign Affairs published a report entitled
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Wider Region following
the fall of Milosevic.
The Government set out its response to that report in a Command
Paper in July (Cm 5220).
2. This memorandum outlines progress on
a number of specific points raised by the Committee.
Progress on the preparation of country strategies
under the CARDS Regulation and HMG's influence on these strategies
and progress on UK participation with the Word Bank in the reform
of pensions and benefits systems (paragraph 16)
CARDS country strategy papers provide a valuable
strategic basis for co-ordinating EU assistance and aid to the
region. The Government has contributed significantly to the form
and content of the country strategies, ensuring that they meet
the aims and standards set out in the CARDS Regulation. The UK's
relatively large pool of specialist advisers and strong presence
in-country have played an important role. The CARDS Country Strategy
Papers for Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania have now
been approved. The papers for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
and Macedonia are due to be completed by the end of the year.
Since last October the UK has given £3.4
million to the FRY to help pay arrears of welfare benefits and
has committed a further £5 million over the next three years
towards Family Welfare benefits. The Government is exploring further
opportunities to provide technical support for improved delivery
of social services alongside the World Bank's Social Services
Adjustment Credit. This may involve expanding the UK's assistance
to strengthen social service planning at the municipal level and
continuing support for health care reform.
Further assistance provided by HMG to the development
of an independent and free media in Serbia (paragraph 21)
Assistance to the development of an independent
and free media in Serbia remains a high priority. Independent
media companies have argued that their long-term operations are
under threat unless a regulatory framework is introduced soon
to resolve revenue, advertising and broadcast licensing problems.
They also feel that they are still at a disadvantage in comparison
to those media outlets which prospered under the regime of former
President Milosevic. In July FCO Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State, Dr Denis MacShane, visited Radio B92 to discuss these
concerns and he raised the matter with Serbian Ministers. On 8
November 2001 the British Ambassador in Belgrade, Charles Crawford,
wrote to Serbian Prime Minister Dr Zoran Djindjic, highlighting
the concerns of independent media groups in Serbia about slow
progress on introducing new broadcasting and freedom of information
The Government plans to identify Global Conflict
Prevention Fund (CPF) projects, largely in the independent media
sector, to improve journalistic reporting standards and promote
objective in-depth reporting on public policy issues.
Since the publication of the FAC's report, the
British Embassy in Belgrade has funded English Language training
for Serb journalists and documentary programming for B92/ANEM
on Balkans conflicts; and a project to enable internet access
to the Belgrade Ekonomist magazine. Plans are under way
to support independent TV and radio stations in Novi Pazar, Central
and Southern Serbia, some of which focus specifically on programming
for ethnic minorities such as the Roma, ethnic Bulgarians and
Vlachs. The FCO and Embassy also work closely with the British
Association for Central and Eastern Europe (BACEE) and the Thomson
Foundation, who organise training courses for Serbian editors
Progress on the pardon or retrial of Kosovo Albanian
prisoners held in Serbian jails on charges of terrorism (paragraph
The Government continues to monitor the detention
of Kosovo Albanian prisoners. When he visited Belgrade in July
2001 FCO Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Dr Denis MacShane
raised the matter with President Kostunica's policy advisers.
The British Embassy in Belgrade remains in close contact with
the Serbian Ministry of Justice and continues to press the authorities
in Belgrade on this matter.
Around 2,000 ethnic Albanian prisoners were
transferred from Kosovo to prisons in Serbia during the 1999 conflict.
Many were arrested in groups and detained en masse. Most
such groups have been released. Remaining detainees are held on
an individual basis, with the exception of one group of 15.
Since the new authorities came to power in Belgrade,
around 1,800 prisoners have been released. In some cases sentences
have been served; in others evidence was insufficient or destroyed;
some cases were regarded as initially flawed.
Since Dr MacShane's visit the Serbian Ministry
of Justice has confirmed to the British Embassy that 181 Albanian
prisoners (most from Kosovo) remain in detention, charged under
both the Federal and Serbian Criminal Codes with offences ranging
from acts of terrorism, sabotage and murder to robbery, drug trafficking
and rape. They say that those remaining in detention have been
legitimately tried by courts and found guilty. A number have appealed
to the Serbian Supreme Court but their original convictions have
been upheld. However the Ministry of Justice has confirmed that
34 individual cases are due to be reviewed. The Government will
continue to encourage the government in Belgrade to complete all
outstanding reviews as a matter of priority.
The Serbian government and the UN Interim Administration
in Kosovo (UNMIK) have agreed that those ethnic Albanians charged
with committing offences in Kosovo would be transferred to the
UNMIK prison system "after a review of their cases according
to international standards". This will be a key issue for
the high level working group, agreed in the new UNMIK/FRY Common
Document of 5 November.
Further assistance provided by HMG to the strengthening
of independent media in Montenegro (paragraph 96)
Since the publication of the FAC's report, the
British Embassy in Belgrade has provided financial support over
a six-month period to Radio Mir, an ethnic Albanian station in
Montenegro, for programmes on women's health and youth issues.
The British Embassy also visited media outlets in Montenegro in
October in an effort to help improve broadcasting and reporting
and to promote services offered by British Satellite News, London
Radio Service, UK Today, the London Correspondents Service and
the Picture Library.
The Government continues to look for opportunities
to support the independent media sector in Montenegro. As in Serbia,
support to the independent media has also been provided under
the Global Conflict Prevention Fund (CPF) to help to strengthen
democracy and promote inter-ethnic relations. The Government plans
to identify worthwhile projects, to be funded by the CPF, which
improve journalistic reporting standards generally and facilitate
objective in-depth reporting on public policy issues.
Details of which UK diplomatic staff have visited
Montenegro since 11 May and on what occasions; and HMG's current
position on the case for a UK diplomatic post in Podgorica (paragraph
Since 11 May 2001 FCO and British Embassy staff
have visited Montengero as follows:
|June||Ambassador; Defence Attachê 1st Secretary Development; 2nd Secretary Political
|July||Counsellor Political; 1st Secretary Development
|September ||Ambassador; Counsellor Political; Vice Consul
|October||Head of FRY (Serbia & Montenegro) Section; Eastern Adriatic Department, FCO; Counsellor Political; 1st Secretary Commercial; 1st Secretary Development; 2nd Secretary Political; 2nd Secretary Economic
|November||Ambassador; Counsellor Political; Defence Attachê 2nd Secretary Economic.
The Director of the British Council in Belgrade has also
made monthly visits during this period.
The Government's position on the case for a diplomatic post
in Podgorica remains as set out in the annex to its response to
the FAC's report (Cm 5220).
A progress report on staffing and morale of UN staff in Kosovo
(particularly of the police) (paragraph 105)
Since the Government's response to the FAC's report in July,
further progress has been made on the length of postings in KFOR,
to ensure better continuity and enable staff to make better use
of their experience. General Valentin (Commander KFOR) and his
staff arrived in post in September 2001 and are the first KFOR
personnel to deploy on one year postings, rather than the usual
The Government welcomes the fact that, since a protocol between
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Association of Chief
Police Officers (ACPO) was signed in May 2001, two UK police officers
have extended their tours of duty to the new maximum of two years.
UK police forces are in general understandably reluctant to allow
their serving officers to stay away from their normal duties for
two years, but have shown flexibility when the mission is critical.
The majority of UK police officers (including from the Ministry
of Defence Police, which is not part of the ACPO) choose to extend
their tours from 12 to 18 months, which suggests that the experience
is rewarding and that morale is good.
What specific action the Government has taken and proposes
to take to strengthen law and order in Kosovo, under both UNMIK
and elected authorities (paragraph 114)
The Government fully supports UNMIK's efforts to strengthen
law and order and to improve administration of justice in Kosovo.
The Government plans to support projects in these areas through
the Conflict Prevention Fund.
Support provided by the Government includes contributions
in the following specific areas:
a: policingthrough the secondment of Assistant
Chief Constable Albiston of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
as UNMIK police commissioner, 122 UK policemen for executive policing
duties and 23 UK policemen as trainers for the Kosovo Police Service.
Eighteen UK personnel are also seconded to the Criminal Intelligence
Unit. UK personnel will participate in the Organised Crime Bureau,
which will soon be operational.
b. assisting in the secondment of UK legal professionals
to practice in an international capacity in Kosovo (see separate
answer to paragraph 126 below);
c. through funding provided by the EU pillar of UNMIK,
a new prison will be built in Kosovo during 2002 which together
with another project currently being funded bilaterally by another
partner, will significantly increase penal capacity. We are encouraging
UNMIK to conduct as soon as possible an assessment of current
and likely future penal requirements, to enable sound decisions
to be taken on future prison building.
d. FCO provision to UNMIK in June 2001 of £86,200
to part-fund the establishment of a witness protection programme;
e. criminal defence: the Government has agreed to support
the development of criminal defence capacity in Kosovo, under
DfD's bilateral programme. There has been comparatively little
international support to criminal defence in Kosovo. The OSCE
estimates that out of 700 lawyers who might be eligible for registration,
only 121 are defence lawyers. The Government will fund the short-term
placement of an experienced UK criminal defence specialist in
the Criminal Defence Resource Centre (CDRC), in addition to contracting
a legal consultant to design a longer-term programme of support.
Under the terms of the Constitutional Framework, the Special
Representative of the Secretary General retains significant reserve
powers and responsibilities in the law and order sector: the new
Assembly and provisional self-government will have only limited
administrative responsibilities in this area.
Progress on resolving the failings of the international police
force in Kosovo (paragraph 117)
Work continues to further develop the capabilities of UNMIK
Police, and also to improve the ability of the Kosovo Police Service
to assume increasing responsibilities from UNMIK Police.
UNMIK Police are adjusting their structures to focus on the
regional problem of organised crime and extremism. The establishment
of the Organised Crime Bureau will be drawn from overall UNMIK
Police levels. The UNMIK-FRY Common Document agreed increased
levels of co-ordination and co-operation between Kosovo and Serb/Yugoslav
police authorities, building on earlier contacts between police
authorities in the region, which should help increase the effectiveness
of Kosovo Police in combating regional problems such as extremism
and organised crime.
According to the latest UN figures (dated 31 October), 4,451
international police officers are currently serving with UNMIK
(below the mandated level of 4,718). But capability is more important
than overall numbers, especially as responsibilities are transferred
to the Kosovo Police Service. The key issue is whether police
officers with the right skills are deployed eg to meet the needs
of the Organised Crime Bureau. The Government will continue to
monitor this aspect, and to assess whether it can do more to help
in these areas.
Progress on recruitment of recently retired police officers
to serve in Kosovo (paragraph 118)
The FCO, through its International Policing Unit, widely
advertised the opportunities for recently retired civilian police
officers to apply to serve with the UN in Kosovo. Twenty-five
recently retired officers were selected from applications received;
seven subsequently withdrew. The remaining 18 have now been fully
trained and will be deployed to Kosovo on 6 December.
A report on the Association of Chief Police Officers' response
to HMG's suggestion that armed officers be allowed to perform
executive tasks in international peacekeeping missions (paragraph
The issue of arming police officers who are deployed to UN
peacekeeping missions has been raised with the Association of
Chief Police Officers (ACPO) which has agreed to review its policy.
Progress on the deployment of members of the UK legal profession
in Kosovo (paragraph 126)
Following pressure on UNMIK from the Government to recruit
additional international judges and prosecutors, and the Government's
statement of willingness to respond positively to any request,
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office facilitated interviews in
London in September 2001, supported by the Crow Prosecution Service
and the Lord Chancellor's Department. As a result, four prosecutors
and one judge from the UK were offered employment with UNMIK and
are now in the process of taking up these posts. The Government
remains willing to respond to any further requests for assistance
A progress report on recent developments in the Presevo Valley
The Serbian Government remains committed to implementation
of the so-called "Covic Plan" named after their Co-ordinator
for Southern Serbia, Dr Nebojsa Covic. Covic has recently increased
his activity in the Presevo Valley area to address Albanian concerns
about slow progress with developing confidence building measures
(CBMs). To accelerate implementation of this "Plan"
Covic has proposed eight new joint commissions to address specific
CBMs including state institutions, security/judicial matters,
economy and development, education, sports and child care, culture
and media, health and humanitarian welfare, religious affairs
and cultural heritage, and infrastructure and utilities. Each
commission will be composed of representatives from the main ethnic
communities and both the Federal and Serbian authorities. Covic
has also indicated that the international community could have
a role to play in the work of the joint commissions. The joint
commission on state institutions will prepare the groundwork for
local elections to be held in early 2002; the prospect of elections,
promised under the Covic Plan, has been a particularly sensitive
issue for ethnic Albanians. It remains unclear whether moderate
Albanians will participate in these new structures. However, the
Government welcomes these developments and especially the personal
commitment shown by Covic to address the problems in this region.
The security situation in the Presevo Valley is currently
relatively stable but not without incident. In recent months there
have been isolated terrorist attacks on the security forces, the
most recent being a mortar attack in Muhovac on 21 November and
an improvised explosive device placed under a Serb security vehicle
in Bujanovac in September. The security forces have also found
small amounts of weaponry and ammunition hidden by Albanian extremists.
But although they continue to control entry and exit points to
Albanian villages and patrol the Administrative Boundary Line
(ABL) with Kosovo, the overall security presence is not unduly
intrusive. There is also good co-operation with KFOR on the ABL.
OSCE training of a multi-ethnic police force, whose members are
recruited from all communities, is a key confidence building measure
and will have an important role to play in maintaining internal
stability in the area, alongside the security forces.
As the Government has already outlined in its reply to the
FAC, during the past year international assistance in the Presevo
valley has been substantial. Since December 2000 the EU Agency
for Reconstruction has spent 1.67 million euros on assistance
to the area. The Government is encouraging the Serbian Government
to demonstrate the benefits of a socially inclusive community
in the Presevo Valley, based on a more equitable distribution
of economic benefits and public services, and through an equitable
approach to infrastructure improvements.
An assessment of whether the Macedonia census can go ahead
in the short term, the implications for the region of the census
not going ahead and the relative capacities of the Council of
Europe and OSCE to supervise the census (paragraph 161)
Following the signing of the Framework Agreement on 13 August,
the Macedonian parties agreed that the census should be postponed
from October 2001 to April 2002, to allow time for prior implementation
of the main elements of the Agreement. While we cannot rule out
further delays, a census in April should be achievable. Serious
delay in holding the census, or a census whose results were questionable,
would prolong doubts about the relative size of the ethnic communities
in Macedonia, which have at times been a source of friction. The
Council of Europe and OSCE are co-ordinating to ensure that the
census is effectively supervised.
Progress on KFOR's action to prevent the flow of arms and men
from Kosovo into Macedonia (paragraph 164)
Since the Government's response to the Committee's fourth
report in July 2001, KFOR has continued to act robustly to counter
the flow of personnel and material across the border, with significant
success in terms of arrests and seizure of weapons. A number of
KFOR troops also took part in Operation Essential Harvest, which
helped to stabilise the situation in Macedonia and to bring an
end to illicit cross-border armed activity.
A progress report on recent developments in Macedonia (paragraph
Negotiations between the main political parties in Macedonia,
facilitated by Javier Solana and Francois Leotard for the EU and
Jim Pardew for the US, culminated in the signing of a Framework
Agreement on 13 August. This committed the Macedonian Government
to introduce constitutional amendments and legislative changes
guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens and the ethnic Albanian
community to desist from the use of violence. Shortly afterwards
the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) agreed to disband
and to hand in a number of its weapons to the NATO task force
Essential Harvest established for this purpose under British command.
The exercise was completed within the stipulated 30 days. When
he visited Skopje in September, FCO Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State Dr Denis MacShane urged political leaders and parliamentarians
to ratify the agreement. In September the FCO sponsored visits
by Hon Members and a representative from the TUC to urge Macedonian
political and civil society leaders to back the agreement. Ratification
of the constitutional changes by the Macedonian Parliament was
due to take place over the same timescale but was finally completed
on 16 November. International monitors have been deployed by the
OSCE and the EU to supervise the return both of displaced people
and of Macedonian security forces to the areas previously occupied
by the NLA. A further NATO tasks force ("Amber Fox"),
under German command, is operating in Macedonia at the invitation
of the Macedonian Government in support of the monitoring presence.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Fourth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee, session 2000-2001,
HC 246. Back
Paragraphs refer to the Committee's Fourth Report, HC 246. Back