component of a successful EU strategy for the reconstruction of Kosovo
and the Baltic region.
This was the underlying message of the Resolution adopted yesterday by the June plenary session of the EU's Committee of the Regions.
the initiative of its vice-president, Gianfranco Lamberti (mayor of
Livorno, Italy-PES), followed a wide-ranging debate on the role of local authorities in the ongoing negotiations towards lasting peace in the Balkans.
In presenting the resolution, Mr Lamberti underlined the need for
'humanitarian help and international solidarity to strengthen the growth of a modern democracy at a local level'. He also expressed the wish that 'the next Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) launch the process for a consistent common foreign and security policy and a European policy on migration and asylum.
'This would serve to underpin the return of refugees to Kosovo and the promotion of a multi-ethnic and democratic state', he added.
COR Socialist group president, Albert Bore (member of Birmingham
City Council), recalling 'the successful results of the
co-operation between local and regional authorities of different
European countries in Bosnia-Herzegovina', urged 'the European Union to give financial support and make full use of local and regional authority expertise in providing technical help for rebuilding the economic and social infrastructure of Kosovo'.
Speaking on behalf of the European People's Party (EPP), the mayor of
Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos, one of the main instigators of the
debate, underlined that 'the search for a political solution was the
key', and demanded 'that a political solution be found as soon as
possible which will bring about a cessation of military action'.
RESOLUTION ON THE SITUATION IN KOSOVO
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
1. stresses the necessity of an active role for the European Union in
combating human rights violations and expulsions at the heart of the
European continent and, at a later stage, in rebuilding that region;
2. underlines the will of the local and regional authorities to set up
twinning arrangements with the local and regional authorities in Kosovo, in order to provide humanitarian relief and to support the
re-establishment of local authority administrations and public utility
institutions when the refugees return;
3. is convinced that the legitimacy of the European unification depends crucially on the European Union's ability to accept responsibility in and for our continent, prevent aggression and safeguard peace;
4. calls for the preservation and protection of cultural, ethnic and
regional characteristics and identities and for the maintenance of
people's ties with their countries and places of origin;
5. is convinced that peace and stability in the Balkans will be in the
interest of the whole of the European Union;
6. encourages allinitiatives to pursue the goal of a multi-ethnic and
democratic Kosovo in which all its peoples can live in peace and
security; and calls for the proper involvement of Russia in the peace
7. expresses its solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of refugees
driven by force from their homes; encourages local and regional
authorities from all member states to accommodate on a temporary basis
part of the refugee flow coming from Kosovo; and calls on the member
states to take in a greater number of refugees from the region, having
regard to an appropriate sharing of the burden in the light of
population size and economic strength;
8. demands that all actions carried out by the Serbian forces against
the civil population be halted, this being an indispensable prerequisite for an acceptable settlement in Kosovo;
9. demands a political solution leading to the ending of military action and guaranteeing the return of the refugees as soon as possible; and is convinced that such a solution requires the deployment of international military forces for a transitory period and a significant role for the United Nations;
10. firmly believes that humanitarian help and international solidarity should be rounded off by technical help in all political, economic and social areas contributing to democratic development of a civil state respectful of cultural diversities. Financial assistance should be sufficient to meet both the oncosts of experts from local and regional authorities and the implementation costs of individual projects; and requests that substantial financial assistance be given to those local and regional authorities wishing to implement a technical programme with a view to the reconstruction of this region and the restoration of citizens' rights, as soon as the conflict is terminated;
11. is convinced that the essential prerequisites for the pacification
and long-lasting economic prosperity of the Balkans are on one hand the EU's willingness to accept due responsibility for the Balkans and on the other hand a high degree of self-government while ensuring that the territorial integrity of the states in this region is respected; and wishes a process to be launched for giving local and regional
authorities in the Balkans more responsibilities and promoting the
gradual development of local and regional self-government;
12. supports the resolutions of the European parliament and the council in which it has been clearly stated that NATO actions are not directed against the Serb or Yugoslav population but are directed against the Milosevic regime given the unceasing violations of fundamental human rights and the process of ethnic cleansing initiated by him;
13. considers that this conflict demonstrates the urgent need to achieve a consistent and real common foreign and security policy and a European policy on migration and asylum as early as the next Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which should also provide for the drawing up of a European charter on the rights of citizens and their minority groups;
14. calls for the swift implementation of measures laid down in the
Treaty of Amsterdam. The COR wishes as soon as possible the appointment of a High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, the establishment of a policy planning and early warning unit with the participation of the European Commission and the formulation of common foreign policy strategies;
15. calls on the council, the European parliament and the European
Commission to start elaborating a Balkan stability pact and a
reconstruction plan, in association with local and regional authorities.