HC Deb 10 June 1999 vol 332 c392W
Mr. Worthington

To ask the Prime Minister what undertakings were given to the Government of Macedonia during his recent visit to Macedonia, with respect to(a) levels of aid from the United Kingdom, (b) the willingness of the United Kingdom to accept refugees from Macedonia, (c) assistance and the speed of delivery of assistance from the European Union and (d) help from international financial institutions; and what progress has been made in fulfilling these undertakings. [84788]

The Prime Minister

[holding answer 24 May 1999]During my visit to Macedonia, I gave the following undertakings to the Government of Macedonia:

  1. (a) The UK would allocate an additional £20 million for humanitarian assistance to the refugees in the region, including Macedonia, making a total of £40 million since the crisis started. £14.5 million of the additional £20 million has now been committed. I also promised £5 million of technical assistance to Macedonia to increase the capacity of the Government to absorb international assistance and to carry out reform. The Department for International Development is in the process of identifying suitable projects.
  2. (b) I made clear to the Government of Macedonia that the UK was willing to accept refugees from Macedonia provided that they were properly selected by the UNHCR. The Government have since accelerated the arrival of refugees from the region and has now taken 2,782 people.
  3. (c) I promised the Macedonian Government to press for the European Union to disperse the 25 million euro of budgetary assistance as soon as possible. I spoke subsequently to the President of the Commission to make sure that this happened. The first instalment was paid by the European Commission on 12 May, the second instalment will be released on 1 July and the third on 15 October. The European Commission has also provided technical assistance to the Macedonian Treasury to help them to disburse these funds through the budget.
  4. (d) On my return from Macedonia, I also spoke to the Managing Director of the IMF in advance of the Donor Conference on assistance to Macedonia on 5 May. I asked that the IMF and other international financial institutions should speed up their support for Macedonia. At the Donor Conference, the international community, including the international financial institutions, pledged ․252 million in financial assistance to Macedonia.