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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): EU Special Envoy President Ahtisaari of Finland played a key role in the diplomatic track which has now led to the withdrawal of Belgrade's forces from Kosovo. Following a series of meetings in late May/early June with President Yeltsin's Special Envoy Viktor Chernomrydin and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, President Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin visited Belgrade on 2 June to present President Milosevic with a text elaborating the general principles for a Kosovo settlement agreed by G8 Foreign Ministers in Bonn on 6 May. President Milosevic informed them on 3 June that the Serb Parliament and the Federal Yugoslav Government had accepted the text.
The main role envisaged for the UN Secretary-General's envoys Carl Bildt and Eduard Kukan was to look at the longer term, including regional aspects of the implementation of a Kosovo settlement. UNSCR 1244 of 10 June authorised the Secretary-General to establish an international civil presence in Kosovo to provide an interim administration for Kosovo. The UK is currently providing all possible support to the early establishment of this mission.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Mr. Hashim Thaqi, as Commander in Chief of the KLA, signed on 21 June, an undertaking on behalf of the KLA to demilitarise. The KLA has agreed to comply with the Undertaking and with the directions of the KFOR Commander. Any KLA forces failing to do so will be, as the Undertaking makes clear, liable to military action as deemed appropriate by the Commander of KFOR.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The legal status of NATO forces in Kosovo derives from UNSCR 1244, adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorised member states and relevant international organisations to establish an international security presence with substantial NATO participation and under unified command and control, and the Military Technical Agreement which NATO military authorities agreed with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 9 June.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova formed the GUAM group in late 1996. In April 1999 Uzbekistan announced its intention to join, making it the GUUAM group. The United States is not a member of the group. It is an informal grouping for co-operation on security and economic issues, rather than an alliance, and has not been registered at the United Nations. Her Majesty's Government support the principle of regional co-operation, but have not taken a formal view on the GUUAM, which is a matter for the countries concerned.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are 31 Chapters in the acquis communautaire. The Austrian Presidency opened seven chapters (listed in WA 116). The German Presidency opened eight further chapters (Free Movement of Goods, Company Law, Competition Policy, Fisheries, Statistics, Consumer and Health Protection, Customs Union and External Relations). The Finnish Presidency has indicated that it plans to open a further eight chapters (Free Movement of Services, Free Movement of Capital, Transport, Taxation, EMU, Social Policy and Employment, Energy and Environment) between July and December 1999. The EU is committed to opening the remaining eight chapters (Free Movement of People, Agriculture, Regional Policy, JHA, Financial Control, Financial and Budgetary Provisions, Institutions, and finally others) as early as possible next year.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Two additional short term appointments have been made to the administration staff at MHS headquarters in York. They are responsible to the MHS Chief Executive for taking forward the programme of work that is being identified to achieve the successful transfer of the MHS into the Food Standards Agency. The costs of these staff are being met by the Government and are not a charge on the industry.
Lord Donoughue: A recent MAFF-funded review of the scientific literature pertinent to the road transport of cattle found that the major influence of transport on lean meat quality is through the depletion of muscle glycogen stores by physical activity and physical stress. If glycogen levels are reduced, the decrease in pH, which occurs after slaughter, is also reduced. As a result, the resistance of the meat to microbial action, and thus its keeping quality, are also reduced. The review also found that journey time is generally more important than the distance covered.
Lord Donoughue: The legislation specifies that occupiers of licensed premises should arrange or establish in consultation with Official Veterinary Surgeons (OVSs), a programme to train their staff in the hygiene requirements specific to those operations carried out at their premises.
No specific training in assessing the content and adequacy of slaughterhouse training schemes is given to OVSs as part of the OVS course. However, in order to pass the course, veterinary surgeons have to demonstrate that they have a thorough understanding of the hygiene requirements specified within the Operations Manual. This knowledge puts them in good stead to assist occupiers of licensed premises in establishing appropriate training programmes for their staff.