De mensenrechtensituatie van ontheemden in Zuid-Oost Europa.

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Eindelijk is het dan zover. Mijn rapport “Population displacement in South Eastern Europe” wordt plenair besproken in de parlementaire assemblee. Om dit rapport te kunnen schrijven heb ik vorig jaar een bezoek gebracht aan Kroatië, Servië en Bosnië-Herzegovina.

De terugkeer van vluchtelingen en ontheemden heeft een grote vlucht genomen in 2000 en 2001. Veel mensen zijn naar hun oorspronkelijke plek teruggegaan. Maar nog lang niet iedereen. Momenteel zijn er nog steeds 1.2 miljoen mensen die niet terug kunnen of willen gaan naar hun huizen. De problemen zijn groot. Zo is er vaak geen werk, is de infrastructuur niet op orde, zijn de huizen nog verwoest of kunnen de kinderen niet naar school gaan. Ook zijn er veel bureaucratische obstakels.
Vooral Kroatische Serviërs die naar Kroatië terug willen moeten eindeloos lang wachten op toestemming en het is erg ingewikkeld om aan te tonen dat ze eigenaar van hun huis zijn. Jonge mensen gaan niet terug omdat er voor hun geen werk is. Het onderlinge wantrouwen is groot.

De internationale gemeenschap laat het ook afweten. Geldgebrek is hier het grootste probleem. In Bosnië-Herzegovina klinkt steeds meer kritiek over het Dayton akkoord. Het zou een goede zaak zijn als het Akkoord binnenkort geëvalueerd zou worden.

Het rapport geeft een aantal aanbevelingen voor de regeringen en vraagt de internationale gemeenschap ook in de toekomst middelen beschikbaar te stellen om stabiliteit in deze regio mogelijk te maken. Investeren in economische projecten alleen is niet voldoende. Investeren in mensen is en blijft noodzakelijk.

Hieronder volgt mijn bijdrage in het debat.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Ms Zwerver, Rapporteur of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography. She has eight minutes.

Ms ZWERVER (Netherlands). – The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography has been concerned with the humanitarian situation and in particular with the displacement of the population in the Balkans since the beginning of the outbreak of hostilities in the region.

The order adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly in 1991 instructed it to “monitor the situation of refugees and displaced persons in the former Yugoslavia, and to report to the Assembly at regular intervals”. In accordance with it, the committee has presented a number of reports and draft recommendations on specific refugee problems encountered by different countries from the former Yugoslavia.

Nearly all the reports were based on fact-finding visits by the rapporteurs or delegations of the committee. This means that the rapporteurs were not drafting their texts based on information gathered by others. They were present in the field, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to become well acquainted with the real situation on the spot.

The delegation of the committee visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 in an extremely difficult period, and again on several occasions. The committee also visited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia directly after the Nato strikes. I hope that it will not be necessary again to visit the region in such dramatic conditions. I hope also that the committee will be able to take less and less interest in the situation in the Balkans. However, interest should remain, and that applies to the Assembly.

I note that the debate was not mentioned in the press release of the Parliamentary Assembly’s winter session. I hope and assume that this was a small mistake and that the debate will be given the necessary reference in the upcoming Parliamentary News of the Assembly.

I gathered information for the report and I carried out a fact-finding mission throughout the region. It was not dangerous but it was quite exhaustive and emotional. That can be said especially of my visit to the women of Srebrenica. It should be said that the overall picture allows for optimism. There has been a visible breakthrough. It is particularly spectacular in so-called minority areas, when people return to the places where they constitute a minority.

There are practically no more security concerns and nor are there political obstacles. The authorities of the countries concerned are ready to accept those who wish to return, and they follow in general the advice given by international organisations about the introduction of specific laws and other measures, for example. There are, of course, some particular concerns but in general the situation is satisfactory. My report contains some concrete figures.

Of course, not everybody will return. Some refugees have already settled somewhere else and some do not wish to return to the places that are marked by their suffering. We must respect their choices and allow them to sell their property and move to where they wish to move.

There are also certain numbers of people who wish to return, but cannot do so because of the difficult economic situation in their homeland – for example, lack of accommodation, lack of job opportunities and lack of prospects. There is room for an international contribution. It is our duty to assist all those people who wish to return, and to help their governments to deal with a problem that exceeds their capacities.

In that respect, the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe should obviously play an important role. Therefore it is important to have a discussion of the pact at the political level. I am very satisfied with the idea of debating the two reports together, one presented by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development and the other by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography. Thus, refugee questions will be put in the broader context of the reconstruction and development of the region as a whole. For that reason, I consider that it is useful to hold parliamentary conferences on the subject, such as the one organised in Tirana last October, to which Baroness Hooper referred.

There are obviously still some concerns when we examine the problem of displacement in the Balkans as a whole. I have tried to give an account of those concerns, and perhaps for that reason some people felt that I was too critical or too pessimistic.

I have received a letter from Ms Feric-Vać, the head of the Croatian delegation, in which she makes a number of comments about the part of the report that relates to Croatia. I included information on new developments that took place after the adoption of the report. Therefore, there is a revised version of the report before us.

I wish to be clear: I am impressed by the progress that has been made on the issue of return by the efforts of the governments concerned and by reconciliation among peoples. If I raise certain difficult questions such as tenancy rights, my purpose is to direct attention to seeking possible solutions. Financial resources would solve much of the problem. Social housing, which would provide accommodation to all those who have lost their tenancy rights, would be such a solution. However, that again implies a great deal of financing, which Croatia cannot afford on its own.

In February, I will probably go with Mr Cilevic, the rapporteur on displacement in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, to gather information about the specific situation of the Roma displaced population and returnees, in a broader context of forced returns from western Europe. It is a sensible question that we will raise to see how it could be solved. It is not our purpose merely to be critical.

I shall be listening carefully to the discussion, which I hope will be interesting and useful for us all.

Het hele debat kunt u hier lezen.

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