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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/149

Answer given by Mr Marı́n on behalf of the Commission

(21 April 1998)

The Community as such has no jurisdiction over the matter of debt raised by the Honourable Member. The
Commission cannot therefore take direct action to relieve the principal or servicing of Nicaragua’s external debt.
The Commission is nevertheless of the opinion that the debt burden borne by that highly impoverished Central
American country is excessive.

The Commission is of the same view as the Honourable Member: the percentage of its foreign-exchange income
that Nicaragua must use to service its debt annually is far too high. In that context, extensive cooperation by the
Community in a great variety of fields no doubt has a consistent macroeconomic effect, in that it contributes to
balancing the general economic situation of the country.

(98/C 310/206) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0955/98

by Gianfranco Dell’Alba (ARE) to the Commission
(16 March 1998)

Subject: UNDCP programme in Afghanistan

On 19 February 1998 the European Parliament unanimously adopted a joint resolution on the situation in
Afghanistan, which, in addition to reiterating ‘its strong condemnation of the Taliban regime and its policy of
systematic human rights abuses’ (paragraph 1), expresses an extremely critical view of the programme which the
UNDCP (United Nations Drug Control Programme) intends to carry out in Afghanistan, because of doubts
regarding its political expediency and effectiveness and its implications for democracy. The programme provides
for the allocation of funding to the Taliban regime to enable it to launch a programme for the phasing out of
opium poppy cultivation. In this context the EP claims in recital I that ‘the Taliban regime ... does not enjoy any
international legitimacy’ and in recital G that ‘only lasting peace in the region will allow the roots of this trade to
be tackled’. Consequently, the EP states (in paragraph 8) that it is ‘deeply concerned at the agreement concluded
by the UNDCP and the Taliban’ and ‘calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to examine
more closely the practical arrangements for the implementation of this agreement’, going on to ask
(in paragraph 9) ‘for all aid and cooperation programmes (with the exception of humanitarian aid) to remain
suspended until the government in Afghanistan shows respect for the human rights of men and women’.

The Vice-President of the Commission Mr Marin said in plenary ‘we too undoubtedly share Parliament’s doubts
concerning the viability of the large-scale crop conversion programme proposed by the UNDCP, and we do not
feel at present that the situation in Afghanistan is right for the introduction of an alternative development
programme to combat the cultivation of opium poppies’.

Since the EU and the Member States are among the main contributors to the UNDCP programmes, what response
does the Commission intend to make or has it already made to this declaration by the EP?

In particular, can the Commission ensure that no specific contribution will be made by the Community towards
funding this programme?

Answer given by Mr Marin on behalf of the Commission

(2 April 1998)

The Commission shares the Parliament’s doubts concerning the feasibility of the United Nations drug control
(UNDCP) programme in Afghanistan under the present circumstances.

In fact, these doubts are also shared by the Member States and therefore the Community has recently approved
guidelines for donors who are considering giving assistance to UNDCP projects. According to these guidelines
donors will ‘try to ensure that projects and future programmes aimed at achieving poppy eradication are realistic
and workable’ and ‘underline to UNDCP the importance of responding to donor concerns about its programme,
including that its plans should be compatible with the United Nations wider political and aid objectives in
Afghanistan, should take account of concerns about human rights and gender ...’.