HC Deb 25 November 1999 vol 339 cc192-3W
Mr. Wyatt

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe summit in Istanbul. [99591]

Mr. Vaz

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary represented the United Kingdom at the Summit meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe on 18-19 November in Istanbul. The meeting agreed a Charter for European Security, an adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, and a revised Vienna Document on confidence and security building measures. Copies of these documents and the Summit Declaration will be placed in the Library of the House.

The Charter for European Security sets out principles for future security co-operation in Europe and improves the operational capabilities of the Organisation, particularly in response to crises. It also reinforces the immediate and legitimate interest of all participating states in the implementation of their commitments undertaken within the Organisation.

The Summit welcomed the signature of an adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. The adapted Treaty will provide a greater degree of military stability through strict limitations, increased transparency and lower permitted levels for conventional forces in its area of application. My right hon. Friend made it clear that UK ratification would depend on the level of compliance of all states within the agreed limits.

The revised Vienna Document incorporates various decisions taken since 1994. The Forum for Security Co-operation also agreed to study the contribution that the Organisation might make to the international effort to curb the spread of small arms and light weapons.

The situation in Chechnya was a key concern at the Summit. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the issue intensively in a range of meetings with other Ministers, including the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. The Russian Delegation eventually accepted a passage in the Summit Declaration saying that a political solution to the situation in Chechnya was essential and that the assistance of the Organisation would contribute to achieving that goal. The Declaration also welcomed the agreement of the Russian Federation to a visit by the Chairman-in-Office to the region and reaffirmed the existing mandate of the Organisation's Assistance Group to Chechnya.

The Summit also welcomed the separate bilateral agreements between the Russian Federation and the Republics of Georgia and Moldova under which all Russian forces will withdraw from Moldova by the end of 2002 and two of the four Russian bases in Georgia will be closed by 1 July 2001.

The Summit Declaration draws attention to the Organisation's important role in early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area, including particularly the work of the High Commissioner on National Minorities and the Organisation's missions in the field. The Declaration confirms that the Organisation will continue to play an important part in the consolidation of peace in Kosovo.

Austria will assume the Chairmanship-in-Office of the Organisation in year 2000. The Summit agreed that Romania would succeed Austria in year 2001.

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