HC Deb 04 November 2003 vol 412 cc550-1W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the European Union's Stability Pact for the Balkans; what projects have been completed; what projects are under way; what stage they are at; when they are estimated to be completed; what projects have been agreed to but have not yet commenced; what projects have been submitted for consideration and are awaiting decision; and which of these relate to Serbia and Montenegro. [135440]

Mr. MacShane

The Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe was established in 1999. It has helped the region address a wide range of issues in support of stabilisation, development and reform. The Stability Pact's activity is divided into three Working Tables: Human Rights and Democratisation (Working Table I); Economic Reconstruction, Development and Cooperation (Working Table II); and Security Issues (Working Table III). The Pact's umbrella currently covers 26 different initiatives. The Pact has six priorities for 2003: Local Democracy and Cross Border Cooperation; Media (both Working Table I): Regional Infrastructure/ Energy; Trade and Investment (both Working Table II); Organised Crime; and Managing and Stabilising Population Movements (both Working Table III).

The Pact has no budget (except for its own Secretariat) with which to fund or implement projects. Its principal function is to act as a conduit for project implementers and donors. It is therefore difficult to provide information on the status of projects profiled under the auspices of the Pact, as these remain owned by the donor(s).

In relation to Serbia and Montenegro (SaM), the Pact has helped with the following items under the six priorities during 2003:

Local Democracy and Cross Border Cooperation Launch of the Nis-Skopje-Sofia local government Euroregion initiative. Establishment of a network of National Associations and Local Authorities in South Eastern Europe (which will cover SaM).

Media Production of a grid of media related projects (the most recent version had nine projects relating specifically to SaM). Support for implementation of broadcast legislation in Montenegro. Identification of donor funds to support specialist schools of journalism in the region, including one in Podgorica.

Regional Infrastructure/Energy Support for Industry Round Tables in Prague in February and Sofia in October. Assistance for a meeting of senior government Energy advisers from the region in Vienna in June was supported. SaM representatives participated in these.

Trade and Investment Facilitation of discussions to help overcome obstacles to the practical implementation of SaM's bilateral free-trade agreements with the rest of the region.

Organised Crime Experts' meetings organised within the South Eastern European Cooperation Process in June and October. SaM representatives attended these meetings.

Managing and Stabilising Population Movements Facilitation of discussions on resolving the issue of pension payments for returnees between SaM and Croatia. Support for a comprehensive return agreement between SaM and Bosnia Herzegovina, signed in October.

Further details can be found on the Stability Pact's website (www.stabilitypact.org).

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