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SHAPING A COMMON SECURITY AGENDA FOR SOUTHEAST EUROPE

NEW APPROACHES AND SHARED RESPONSIBILITIES

September 5-6, 2003
Sofia
 
Dr. Klaus Schumann
Director General of Political Affairs, Council of Europe
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


The One Europe approach based on the commitment to common agreed norms and standards

- counter non-military threats by the principles, rules and instruments of democratic security;
- transborder and sub-regional co-operation as an integral part of European stability and security;
- a new leadership generation and responsible civil society actors as guarantors of the common interest;

Application of European standards through increased regional capacities and regular monitoring as the recipe for successful action against crime-related challenges

1. The global context and the One Europe approach

The topic of the conference has certainly also to be seen in the context of the present transatlantic relations, as well as of the process of European enlargement, be it in the broader framework of the Council of Europe (45+) or of the increasing EU membership (25+). There is no alternative to close transatlantic partnership in the fight against the new common security threat of international terrorism. There is a close interrelationship between the terrorist threat and the other common security challenges, such as organised crime, all kinds of trafficking and corruption. Terrorism is involved where dirty money is involved, because it finds there a major source of financing.

To face these global and common European challenges, there is an absolute need for a commitment to generally agreed norms and standards, as well as a need to consolidate European co-operation and integration structures, enhanced by complementary action at the regional (sub-regional) level. Terrorism and organised crime are transnational and do not respect borders. They have to be countered accordingly.

Even if the last decade of political and economic transition in Southeastern Europe was marked by many setbacks and this, indeed, includes the effects of corruption and organised crime undermining democratic, social and economic reform, we have to recognise and welcome considerable changes towards more political stability and towards increasing integration into European and transatlantic co-operation structures. Alteration of governments through free democratic elections has become a normal political feature, signs of clear progress on the way to consolidating democratic institution-building and to strengthening political stability. A common European roadmap prevailed over nationalistic temptation and helped to overcome neighbourhood tensions, in particular on matters related to national minorities.

However, until the fall of the Milosevic Regime, three years ago, the situation in former Yugoslavia was still a major source of political and economic instability for the region.

Today, there is equality among the regional partners, there is general agreement on and commitment to common principles and values and the obligations related to them. Since Serbia and Montenegro joined the Council of Europe last April, all the countries of the region belong to the family of European democratic nations. Since the EU Thessaloniki Summit of last June, there exists a clear political signal for a common European perspective of the whole of Southeastern Europe. This is accompanied by a gesture of solidarity from those countries in the region who are already advanced in their accession procedure to put their experience at the disposal of those who embarked on the Western Balkan Strategy towards European integration.

This positive development considerably favours collective responsibilities and joint efforts to face successfully common non-military security threats by using the solid foundations of European democratic and legal standards and rules. With the gradual enlargement of the Council of Europe over the last 14 years to 45 countries and 800 million people, Southeastern Europe became an integral part of a One Europe with a common legal order at its disposal. But only the efficient enforcement of this legal order will contribute to the success in fighting new security challenges.

2. Standard-setting as a security pillar

Both NATO and the Council of Europe are conflict-born organisations. Set up in 1949, their respective task was to provide security by military (NATO) and civilian (CoE) means.

The Council of Europe's 1949 mantra of pluralist democracy, respect of human rights and, above all, the rule of law, became the recipe for a process of European co-operation (CoE) and integration (EC/EU). It became the guidelines for the whole of Europe, when codified, in November 1990, in the Paris Charter for a New Europe of the (then) CSCE. Since the Copenhagen Summit of 1993, the EU made the common values an indispensable part of the criteria for new membership.

The Council of Europe's 1993 Vienna Summit officially recognised democratic security as essential for European stability through the commitment to pluralist and parliamentary democracy, the indivisibility and universality of human rights, the rule of law, and through the linkage of a common cultural heritage enriched by its diversity. These commitments stand today for 45 European countries. Council of Europe norms and standards are benchmarks for the implementation of the EU strategy in the Balkans. This was stressed at the CoE/EU Quadripartite meeting last June when the political leaders underlined the considerable contribution the Council of Europe can make to this strategy, now that all countries of Southeastern Europe are members of the Organisation.

European standard-setting over the last 54 years resulted in setting-up more than 180 Council of Europe conventions, including the basic political and civic rights of the individual (European Convention on Human Rights), the independence of the judiciary and harmonisation of legal norms, the development of democratic institution-building (European Charter of Local Self-Government), the protection of the citizens' economic and social rights (European Social Charter).

Standard-setting is accompanied by the promotion of co-ordinated measures at European level and beyond, especially in fields of particular common concern. A typical example is the "Group of States against Corruption - GRECO" as a co-ordination and follow-up mechanism, called to monitor, through a process of mutual evaluation and peer pressure, the observance of the Council of Europe's Guiding Principles in the fight against corruption and the implementation of international legal instruments, such as the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption. The Council of Europe's Conference of Ministers of Justice considered already in 1994 that corruption was a serious threat to democracy, to the rule of law and to human rights. Today all countries of Southeastern Europe are full members of GRECO. GRECO is also open to non-member States having participated in the elaboration of the Agreement. This is the case of the United States of America: its membership of GRECO is a first in the history of the Council of Europe.

There are specific programmes against corruption and organised crime such as the one known as OCTOPUS for 18 countries of central and Eastern Europe and PACO specifically for Southeastern Europe to strengthen capacities by recommendations for action, training and developing networks of professionals. A similar co-ordination structure, MONEYVAL was set up for the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the proceeds from crime. In the aftermath of 11 September it revised its terms of reference in order to specifically include the issue of the financing of terrorism.

Trafficking in human beings is not only an intolerable affront to human dignity, but it is also a threat to stability and security throughout Europe. The Council of Europe will prepare a European convention against trafficking in human beings as a binding legal instrument requiring states that have not yet done so, to criminalise the trafficking of human beings in their national legislation. The Convention, which is intended to build on the United Nations' achievements in this area, will be geared towards the protection of victims' rights and respect for their dignity. It will also aim at a proper balance between matters concerning human rights and prosecution, and to improve existing mechanisms of international co-operation (including "cyber-trafficking" ) and set up an independent monitoring mechanism.

The European standard-setting activity regularly adapted itself over recent decades to the challenges resulting from scientific and technological developments (such as data protection, bioethics, biotechnology or food security), as well as to threats to democracy and political stability, as mentioned earlier.

The experiences and practices of the Council of Europe and the EC/EU in promoting democratisation and good governance, as well as human rights and the rule of law largely contributed to the creation of a common European space of liberty and security. In the development of a common legal order and for its successful implementation it was essential to complement the European project with comprehensive political and operational co-operation. In addition to its original intergovernmental (Committee of Ministers) and interparliamentary (Parliamentary Assembly) co-operation structures, the Council of Europe also associated representatives of local and regional authorities in member States (Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe), as well as representatives of civil society (a consultative status for INGOs was created as of 1952) with the Organisation's activities. This four-level structure of co-operation and action constitutes a Quadrilogue which is, within the Council of Europe, an expression of democratic pluralism and an essential element for the future development of a citizens' Europe.

Indeed it promotes a real culture of co-operation. This concept largely favours communication and co-operation, across national borders, between states, sub-regions and municipalities, between political and social actors and groups, in every area of community life, i.e. first and foremost between human beings.

3. Implementation of European standards through increased regional ownerships

Commonly agreed standards and norms are milestones on the way towards stability and security. Furthermore, the higher the level of acceptance and adhesion to shared principles and norms to be respected by all, the easier it becomes to promote regional and local ownership of these principles and enhance partnership between international, regional and domestic actors. We have experienced over the last five decades that membership and belonging to a group of equals can greatly contribute to ease difficult relationships between neighbours or within a region. The way to encourage regional and local ownership in conflict rehabilitation and conflict prevention, as well as in the fight against common security challenges goes, inter alia, through inclusiveness in as many co-operation structures as possible in order to provide for a multiplication of experiences and exchanges beyond the national framework.

The Council of Europe always considered transborder and sub-regional co-operation as an integral part of European co-operation. The political achievements of such transborder projects - starting in the early sixties on the Rhine as the historical European "frontline", a model which was followed after 1989 in other European areas with difficult historical heritage, including the initiative for setting up the Carpathian Euroregion - have been accompanied by legal rules (the Council of Europe Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation of 1980).

A major political signal by the EU and the International Community in the last decade was the setting-up in 1999 of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. An initiative to promote regional ownership by developing the will and the means for regional solutions to common challenges. A co-ordination structure to enhance complementarity with and amongst the activities for the region and its individual countries of the various international and European institutions of co-operation and integration.

Referring to the Council of Europe's traditional commitment to transborder and sub-regional co-operation and underlining its political importance for stability and security, as well as for the building of a common Europe without dividing lines, the Committee of Ministers adopted in May 2002 the "Vilnius Declaration on Regional Co-operation and the Consolidation of Democratic Stability in Greater Europe".

During a follow-up meeting to the Declaration between representatives of the various Regional Co-operation Mechanisms in Strasbourg in October 2002, it was clearly underlined that "organised crime and corruption", as well as "human trafficking" are the priority concerns. Therefore, "fighting corruption and organised crime" was chosen as the subject of a first implementation meeting last June organised together with the Lithuanian authorities. It will be followed next October in Cracow by an "International Conference on cross-border and interregional co-operation" associating the Council of Europe with the Central European Initiative (CEI).

Sub-regional co-operation and political co-ordination mechanisms such as the CEI and the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP) can become key players in consolidating regional stability and security. Regional co-operation is indispensable to exchange experiences and practices, as well as to enhance common policies and action. The international and European institutions and structures such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the EU and the Stability Pact, provide common standards and norms, as well as sustained and meaningful support to meet the challenges to democratic development, law enforcement, and regional stability. As the latter are jeopardising stability and security in the whole of Europe, European interest and solidarity must prevail.

4. A leadership committed to the common interest

With the political developments in 2002 and 2003 the whole region of Southeastern Europe has today a fair and realistic chance to become progressively associated and finally fully integrated in the common European project. The present political leadership clearly expressed its commitment towards the road of European integration. They further considerably activated, politically and practically, the existing regional co-operation and co-ordination structures (SEECP, CEI and others). However, the stumbling blocks on the road to full European integration are still manifold, the challenges and dangers are still considerable. There are first of all those who have no interest in stability and the rule of law, for reasons which may still be related to possible loss of political power, but mainly to loss of crime related income.

To counter these negative forces there is a basic need for public support to complete transition and make law enforcement effective. This also needs a broad and new leadership generation. "What makes the difference between success and failure of democracy is that in a healthy democracy all the actors accept that their main interest is to make the whole system work. This is why I believe we need a network of Schools of Politics in South-East Europe". This declaration was made by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Walter Schwimmer, when he proposed last year to set up, under the umbrella of the Council of Europe, an original structure to train a new generation of decision-makers committed to principles and values such as democracy and the rule of law, tolerance and European ideals.

A network of Schools of Political Studies, taking in the region's political, legislative and religious differences can provide these skills by offering flexible and practical training to future leaders. On average below 35 years of age, participants include parliamentarians and members of political parties, administration officials at national, regional and local levels, military, judges, lawyers, media professionals, businessmen and women, and NGO leaders. The setting-up of each School is a civil society initiative (NGO or individual). The concept is based on the very successful experience of the Moscow School of Political Studies, which has been in existence for already ten years.

The Bulgarian School of Politics in Sofia, which opened in spring 2002, was the first operational and very successful element of the network of Schools. It was followed in the first half of 2003 by the Schools in Sarajevo, Pristina and Chisinau, to be joined in the months to come by Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana.

This network of individual Schools will promote dialogue and civic responsibilities within countries; throughout the region it will strengthen co-operation and develop good neighbourly relations.

To make an active civil society an important element in the promotion of democratic principles, as well as of stability and security, was already at the origin of the initiative taken by the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in 1993 to set up Local Democracy Agencies aimed at associating civil society actors with local authorities to promote confidence-building between different ethnic, religious and linguistic communities, as well as at building partnerships between towns and regions, improving local democracy, fostering dialogue and transfrontier co-operation. A dozen LDAs are operational in Southeast Europe. They actively contributed to reconstruction and acts of solidarity in Southeast Europe, as well as to the strengthening of democratic pluralism and the respect of the other.

There is no successful democratic transition without recognised civil society involvement. Therefore, the initiative taken by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung for today's conference is a welcome token of the interaction and synergy between civil society and decmocratically elected governments needed to shape a common security agenda for Southeastern Europe and, indeed, to face the new security challenges.

5. From the mantra of common principles and values to the need for common action

Ongoing enlargement in Europe provides us with the unique chance to develop and consolidate a One Europe approach in order to fight challenges of the greatest relevance for the future of Europe in both its sub-regional and continental dimensions.

Organised crime and trafficking, as well as money laundering and corruption put in danger democratic stability and security. These are problems which need to be tackled together. They are not restricted to 15 or 25 countries of Europe.

The Council of Europe has legal norms and instruments in all these areas; the EU plays a preponderant part in them; the OSCE actively involves the Central Asia neighbourhood in the tackling of these problems. Southeastern Europe, with countries which will soon belong to the Europe of "25 and more", could thanks to the good practice of increased regional ownership through close co-operation considerably reduce the risk of new dividing lines on the continent. Indeed transfrontier and regional co-operation across the future new Schengen borders will help geographical and traditional neighbours and partners from being separated. Therefore, common policy and action through regional organisations in the fight against the challenges to stability and security could take the lead and show the spirit of solidarity which is needed to preserve the One Europe of 800 million people.

Successful common action against organised crime, trafficking, money laundering and corruption consists of three inter-related elements:

- accept and implement existing European standards;
- strengthen capacities through increased and co-ordinated regional co-operation;
- monitor regularly compliance with European standards.

The launching of the European Project fifty-four years ago put an end to the concept of international relations as the result of the total sum of national interests. The political commitment to common principles and values developed gradually and provides today the whole of Europe with a common roof, with democratic institutions and legal norms. The new European order is confronted with a new threat. The lessons of the past almost eliminated any military threat from within the European region. Democratic institutions and the rule of law, however, are endangered today by a non-military threat, i.e. by local and international networks of crime-related interests. This threat must be countered through global interaction between the international organisations. But it has to start with close co-operation with the immediate neighbour across the border, as well as with other partners in the region. In order to assure general commitment and transparency, this co-operation and common fight must closely involve competent civil society actors.
 
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