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C 110 E/12 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.

2003

(2003/C 110 E/012) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1135/02


by Stavros Xarchakos (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(22 April 2002)

Subject: Commissioner Patten’s views on Albania

In his answer of 26 March 2002 to my question No. E-0331/02 (1), Commissioner Patten reiterates his
original view that there are no grounds to suppose that the Greek minority in Albania is persecuted and
that Albania shows a willingness to cooperate on matters relating to minorities. He also reported the
incredible fact that there are only two Greek-language secondary schools in the country (he literally claims
to be in the ‘fortunate position’ of being able to provide such information) when the Greek ethnic minority
numbers 400 000 and has suffered relentless persecution at the hands of all Albanian regimes for decades.

Nevertheless, the situation in Albania would not appear to be as idyllic as Mr Patten portrays it. On
4 April 2002, the Commission published the ‘Annual report on The Stabilisation and Association Process
for South East Europe’ (Agence Europe bulletin of 5 April 2002, page 10) in which it announces that the
situation in Albania is far from satisfactory. Specifically, it reports that ‘Albania is still beset by a
confrontational political culture, where individual interests prevail over general ones’, ‘elections are not yet
up to international standards’, ‘implementation of the legal framework is poor’, ‘the administration is weak
and corrupt’ and ‘corruption and organised crime is widespread’. It is to such a country that the
Commission has given a total of 1 billion euro since 1991, according to Mr Patten’s written answer, with
the use of which he declares himself to be ‘satisfied’.

Is the Commissioner aware of the content of the report drawn up by his officials? What are his comments
on the report’s polished portrayal of Albania? To which regions in Albania were the 1 billion euro given
and on which specific projects were they spent? What proportion of that amount was for the southern
part of the country, where thousands of the members of the Greek ethnic minority live, and exactly which
projects were carried out there? Does the Commissioner consider that the existence of two Greek
secondary schools in a country with a Greek minority of hundreds of thousands is satisfactory? How is it
possible to put an end to the violence and rigging that marks every election in Albania (which
Commission officials have also confirmed)? Will respect for human rights in countries such as Albania
finally be linked with funding by the EU? On what grounds was a total of EUR 1 billion given to Albania
when so many serious violations of human rights were taking place in that country?

(1) OJ C 52 E, 6.3.2003, p. 4.

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(4 June 2002)

The Commission would like to clarify that, in its answer to the Honourable Member’s written question E-
0331/02, it clearly indicated that, according to available data, there are around 30 elementary schools, 40
secondary schools and two high schools teaching in Greek in Albania. As regards the size of the Greek
minority in Albania, the Commission would like to point out that there is a substantial difference between
the figures indicated by the Honourable Member and the official statistics, which refer to an amount of
around 50 000.

The Commission has never portrayed an idyllic situation in Albania. On the contrary, under the direction
of the Member of the Commission responsible for External Relations, it has clearly indicated,  inter alia,
through its Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) report of April 2002  the considerable challenges
that the country needs to address in terms of political culture, elections, implementation of the legal
framework, fight against corruption and organised crime, etc. The Commission, together with other
international partners and individual Member States continues vigorously to encourage Albania to make
solid progress in these fields as a crucial element for meaningful rapprochement to the Union.

As far as human rights and protection of minorities are concerned, the above SAP report is balanced and
fair and in line with previous Commission’s statements.
8.5.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/13

Since the beginning of the reform process, the Community, the Member States, major international
financial institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Bank for Reconstitution
and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB) …) and other countries have been supporting
Albania to address the very fundamental and difficult problems it had to face. Over that period, project
implementation was temporarily suspended whenever the social and political situation so justified. Today,
the Commission does not consider that the human rights situation in Albania would justify any halt to the
assistance provided to that country.

Community financed projects have generally targeted the country as a whole (assistance to Kosovo
refugees in the North being an exception to this). Support has covered a large number of areas, including
humanitarian assistance, macro-financial assistance, infrastructures, agriculture, health, education, public
administration reform, judiciary and law enforcement bodies, democracy and human rights and cross-
border co-operation. It is important to recall that all the Community projects are submitted to the scrutiny
of Member States, and only after their approval the programme is put forward for funding.

A number of projects have been implemented in the South of the country. Some relevant examples are:
water supply infrastructure at Gjirokaster, waste water and sanitation of Saranda, Kakavija border crossing
point and access road from Gjirokaster, the Tri Urat border crossing and its access road (due for
completion in August), the Korca-Kapsthice road and the border crossing at Kapsthice (due for completion
in June 2002), as well as the Konispoli border-crossing, in co-operation with the Government of Greece.
Furthermore, the Commission is co-operating with the Government of Greece at the Konispoli border
crossing.

The Commission has also financed projects whose aim is to promote the involvement of different ethnic
groups in the local decision-making process and the improvement of inter-ethnic relations (project
completed in the Saranda region, and on-going project for the establishment of a ‘observatory for inter-
ethnic relations’ in the South of Albania).

(2003/C 110 E/013) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1173/02

by Nelly Maes (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(24 April 2002)

Subject: Arms embargo on Israel: halting military cooperation with Israel

Many EU countries have arrangements for cooperation with the Israeli defence industry, and thus support
its defence system. I would particularly draw attention to the EU’s support (under the Fifth Framework
Programme of Research and Technological Development) for research by an Israeli arms company (Israel
Aircraft Industries) into civil applications of UAVs (unmanned air vehicles). The sum involved is
EUR 10 million divided between two programmes over a period of two and a half years. It is well known
that arms companies can easily convert civil applications into military ones. In this case, the EU is funding
research to ascertain whether there are potential civil applications in addition to the military ones.

Can the Commission provide Parliament with a list of all military cooperation agreements between the EU
and Israel? Is the Commission prepared to suspend this cooperation for as long as the Israeli government is
committing large-scale human rights violations? Can the Commission provide details of any military
cooperation there may be between the EU and the Palestinian Authority?

Is the Commission carrying out an investigation to ascertain whether all transactions with Israel should be
denied under the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports? When will the results of this investigation be
available?