HomeDOCUMENTSCommittee Meeting Summaries200326 May 2003 MINUTES of the meeting of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, Municipal House, Prague, Czech Republic
26 May 2003 MINUTES of the meeting of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, Municipal House, Prague, Czech Republic
Alice Mahon (UK) chaired the session, which focused on the Special Report by Lubov Sliska, Head of the State Duma Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, as well as on three draft Reports (General, Sub-Committee and Special Reports). The members also heard three presentations, respectively on Chechnya (Anna Politkovskaļa, Novaļa Gazeta, Russian Federation), on Islamic Radicalism (Olivier Roy, Research Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research) and on the Czech Media (Jiri Pehe, Director, New York University in Prague and former Adviser to President Vaclav Havel).
I. RUSSIAN MINORITIES IN THE BALTIC STATES
a) Adoption of the draft Agenda [77 CC 03 E rev. 1]
Aleksandrs Kirsteins (LV) pointed to three reasons why Mrs Sliska's Special Report ought not to appear on the Draft Agenda, before indicating that Mrs Sliska's Special Report was outdated and contained distorted information. Mr Kirsteins proposed that the Committee agree to Mrs Sliska becoming a Special Rapporteur "only if she would prepare a Special Report on Finnish Minorities in Carelia or on the situation of Jewish and Ukrainian schools in Moscow".
Michael Clapham (UK) was of the opinion that Mrs Sliska's Special Report ought to be considered, a stance that was supported by Chairperson Alice Mahon.
The draft Agenda was moved forward and adopted as initially presented to the members.
b) Consideration of the Special Report The Situation of Russian minorities in the Baltic States presented by Lubov Sliska (Russian Federation), Head of the Duma Delegation to the NATO PA
Presenting her Special Report, Lubov Sliska (RUS) declared that the problem of stateless citizens in Latvia created a "deficit of democracy" that had been pointed to by the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during Latvia's parliamentary elections of October 2002. "Democracy resides in the possibility for [foreigners, irrespective of their origins] to get actively involved in state affairs (...) [and] to get elected" at local level, Mrs Sliska said, before stressing that of all the countries invited to join NATO Latvia was the only one that had failed to ratify the 1995 Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. She indicated that despite recommendations by international organisations, the situation of Russian minorities in Latvia and Estonia had not improved and was rather perceived by Latvian and Estonian political circles as a carte blanche to tighten their minority policies, a "situation [that] cannot but cause alarm in Russia". Mrs Sliska concluded by calling for NATO Member States to press Latvia and Estonia into bringing their legislations in line with European standards, as "it is high time that these countries [...] resolve the issue".
Gediminas Kirkilas (LT) stated that, from his point of view, the situation was "very clear and simple: Latvian Russians have to learn the state language and take Latvian citizenship according to Latvian legislation. Then, they can be part of Latvian political (...) life." Mr Kirkilas went on to indicate that the Russian language could be used "everywhere", that confrontation was not helping Russian minorities, and that "democratic solutions" ought to be found altogether for Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and Russians.
Guntis Berzins (LT) said that Mrs Sliska's Special Report ought to be placed into context, the Baltic States having been subject to "most brutal" Soviet occupation until 1991. Since then, Latvia has tried to move forward "step by step" and "very good progress" has been attested to by international organisations (PACE, OSCE, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the EU). Stressing that Mrs Sliska's Report should be recognised "for what it is" - i.e. for a "biased and misleading" paper whose aim is to "somehow delay the process of our countries (...) joining NATO or accessing the EU", to "sow dissent and dissatisfaction [among] Russian minorit[ies in order to] lessen[...] stability in our countries", and to "exert pressure" on the Baltic States. Mr Berzins concluded by inviting the Russian Federation to adopt a "conciliatory and co-operative" attitude towards Latvia, to sign a border treaty and to develop "healthy and co-operative economic relations" with Riga.
Sven Mikser (EST) declared for his part that Mrs Sliska's Special Report was "full of untruths and half-truths" and that the Baltic States had been submitted to stringent international monitoring, to which Latvia and Estonia had successfully stood. Mr Mikser indicated by way of conclusion that four countries had already ratified Estonia's entry into NATO, and that he believed "they ha[d] done so in full knowledge of how [Estonia is] able to observe human and minority rights".
Recalling that Mrs Sliska's Special Report had been prepared "outside the normal procedures of the Assembly", Nick Lampson (USA) proposed that the Committee should take note of the Report as well as of the response provided by the Latvian Delegation, and that "no further action be taken at the Annual Session at Orlando" in November 2003. Mr Lampson's proposal was taken up by Lord Jopling (UK), Jon Lilletun (N), John Shimkus (USA), Giorgi Baramidze (GE), Petre Roman (RO) and, to a different extent, by Winfried Nachtwei (D).
Lord Jopling went on to suggest an inquiry with visits to Latvia and Estonia, "possibly with the production of a draft text at Orlando which then might be agreed at a later stage". Mr Lilletun, who was "impressed" with the progress achieved by the Baltic States over the past twelve years including their efforts to normalise relations with Russia, proposed that a speaker come and settle the issue. While Mr Shimkus referred to "a very politicised report [and] a very politicised response" which "is not in keeping with the values" of the NATO PA, Mr Baramidze said that "the real purpose of this kind of report (...) [was] to exert additional pressure on the smaller countries". Mr Roman found Mrs Sliska's Report "largely excessive and unacceptable", albeit recognising that the Russians "ha[d] the right to be citizens [of] the country they have lived in for many years". As to Mr Nachtwei, he stated that the OSCE and Council of Europe assessments were "very clear indeed" and that Mrs Sliska's Report was "not suited to be taken notice of officially by this Committee".
Gerrit Johan van Oven (NL), for his part, appealed to the Committee to discuss the issue further, the "existence of the report presented by Mrs Sliska prov[ing] that at least there is a concern within [Russia as regards (...)] minorities" in the Baltic States.
As for Erwin Marschewski (D), he stated that the problem required political and legal assessments: "what are the conditions to naturalisation" in Latvia and Estonia, he asked; "are there exceptions?"; and "why so many non-citizens in Latvia?".
In her response, Mrs Sliska referred to the OSCE and PACE parliamentary election assessments of October 2002. She pointed in particular to Latvia's slow naturalisation rate, high number of non-citizens being deprived of local electoral rights, and Law on Education. Russia is calling for a change in attitude, she declared in substance before adding that "the Parliament [State Duma], the President and all civic organisations [would] deal with th[e] subject until it is resolved".
In agreement with Mr Lampson, Chairperson Alice Mahon deferred the decision on Mrs Sliska's Special Report to Item 12, Miscellaneaous, of the Agenda.
c) Under item 12, Miscellaneaous: resumption of the discussion on Lubov Sliska's (Russian Federation) Special Report The Situation of Russian minorities in the Baltic States
After comments by Messrs. Shimkus and Marschewski and upon proposal by Mr Lampson and Chairperson Mahon, the Committee decided to take note of Mrs Sliska's Special Report. The Committee further decided that it would visit Latvia and Estonia; that a trip report would be prepared by the International Secretariat, which would not be discussed at the Annual Session in Orlando in November 2003; and that a speaker from the Council of Europe or the OSCE would address the Committee in the Autumn.
II. CIVIL PROTECTION
a) Consideration of the draft General Report Civil Protection, a General Overview by Verena Wohlleben (Germany), General Rapporteur, presented by Alice Mahon (United Kingdom) [48 CC 03 E]
Chairperson Alice Mahon presented the draft General Report Civil Protection, a General Overview on behalf of General Rapporteur Wohlleben. After indicating that 11 September 2001 had demonstrated the reality and scale of menaces now facing the world, Chairperson Mahon made an assessment of the main policy approaches to radiological, chemical and biological terrorist threats. She called for better prevention through improved information gathering and analysis, adequate training and enhanced involvement of the private sector. She also stressed the need for improved emergency response and explored preferable policy options in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. In conclusion, Chairperson Mahon gave a brief overview of EU and NATO civil protection initiatives, before calling for closer co-operation between the two institutions.
Looking back over the "devastating outbreak" of foot-and-mouth disease among cattle in the UK, Lord Jopling declared that his country had been "woefully unprepared" to deal with that crisis. He insisted that states should enhance their civil protection mechanisms to meet a wide range of biological and other threats, for example, through improved vaccination of children. Lucio Malan (I) observed that bioterrorist attacks and SARS, which represented "a good topic to study", could be dealt with the same tools. Joćo Rebelo (P) commented on the increased role of Portuguese armed forces in civil protection, while Erwin Marschewski indicated that Germany was considering making use of the Bundeswehr "as a supporting action for police work" in civil protection situations.
b) Consideration of the draft Special Report Protecting Civilians against Terrorism within the New NATO Military Concept for Defence presented by Petre Roman (Romania), Special Associate Rapporteur [50 CC 03 E]
Presenting his draft Special Report, Petre Roman referred to NATO's anti-terrorism measures adopted in Prague. He put emphasis on intelligence sharing (conducted through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Co-ordination Centre) and the use of "identification, planning, control and communication strategies" to better protect civilians. Governments should not only shift from emergency response to crisis prevention, but should also devise proper allocation of resources and co-ordinate their actions to "target a common objective". By way of conclusion, Mr Roman found that "[i]t would be most (...) useful if all means of information could be the same throughout (...) Europe and based on common NATO-EU[-]UN strategies".
Georgii Manchulenko (UA) regretted that Ukraine was not mentioned in the report, a remark that was taken up by Mr Roman. Mr Van Oven referred to paras. 40 and 51 and asked whether there was a mechanism within NATO to allocate support capabilities and which organisation could serve as a co-ordination body. Mr Roman replied that "co-operation seem[ed] to be the only efficient tool today, with the (...) EU". To Nelly Maes (European Parliament), he said that civil protection meant "first and foremost" trying to prevent terrorist attacks through adequate information sharing and threat assessment.
III. ORGANISED CRIME
Consideration of the draft Report of the Sub-Committee on Democratic Governance Organised Crime - Drug and Human Traffickings in Europe presented by Christine Boutin (France), Rapporteur [49 CCDG 03 E]
Presenting her draft report, Christine Boutin (F) declared that organised crime (OC) represented a great threat in today's globalised world. After outlining the main explaining factors of organised crime worldwide (political and economic factors, law enforcement, technological developments and OC's inner workings), as well as its principal targets (drug trafficking, arms smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, usurping of intellectual property, and money laundering), Mrs Boutin made an account of drug and human traffickings in Europe. She indicated, inter alia, that the Schengen space had become the most important market for drugs in the world and that the smuggling and trafficking of human beings towards Europe had developed considerably over the past ten years. By way of conclusion, she said that the causes of drug consumption and human smuggling and trafficking ought to be "rooted out" and that governments ought to devote more means and resources to the fight against this scourge.
Esad Rahic (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)(, Petra Masacova (SK), Michael Clapham, Chetin Kazak (BG), Pierre Claude Nolin (CDN), Joćo Rebelo, Sabit Brokaj (AL), Erol Aslan Cebeci (TR) and Petre Roman congratulated Mrs Boutin for "a well-balanced and informed report" that "is important to the work of the Committee".
Mr Rahic appealed to Europe for technical and financial assistance to combat and resolve state corruption, weapons smuggling and Balkan "border problems". Mrs Masacova referred to the Slovak anti-OC legislation. Mr Kazak declared that international co-operation had to be improved, while Mr Rebelo pointed to the Ukrainian community that has moved "legally and illegally" to Portugal. As to Mr Brokaj, he commented that Albania "[was] not a problem for the trafficking of human beings" and that "[criminal] gangs no longer exist[ed] in Vlora".
More specifically, Mr Nolin pointed to paras. 12, 20 and 24, before asking whether "we should [not] attempt to determine the consequences for democratic governments of money laundering in each NATO member country". Mr Cebeci referred for his part to para. 44 and asked that it be deleted, a remark that was accepted by Mrs Boutin; responding to his wish to see stronger references in the report to the link between organised crime and terrorism, Mrs Boutin was of the opinion that another rapporteur be appointed to deal with that very topic. As to Mr Clapham, after asking that a figure be checked in para. 20 he said that synthetic drugs (including the production of synthetic heroin and cocaine) ought to appear in the report. This comment was taken up by Messrs. Roman and Ilias Papailias (GR) and was agreed to by Mrs Boutin, who indicated in the last instance that child pornography could be tackled "by somebody else".
a) Presentation The War in Chechnya - Why Don't We Stop It? by Anna Politkovskaļa, journalist from Novaļa Gazeta, 2000 "Golden Nib of Russia", 2002 laureate of Andrey Sakharov Award and laureate of OSCE Prize for Journalism and Democracy 2003
Anna Politkovskaļa commented that "the second war in Chechnya [was] formally referred to as an anti-terrorist operation", which, to her, "carrie[d] all marks of a punitive operation (...) in complete violation of all international conventions and norms". For the journalist from Novaļa Gazeta, the October 2002 Dubrovka hostage taking in Moscow and the December 2002 and May 2003 terrorist suicide bombings in Chechnya have testified to an "evident palestinisation" of the conflict, due in part to Russian military arbitrariness. As acknowledged by the Prosecutor's Office whose activities are nevertheless "often fictitious", "the military can do whatever they like" (looting, raping, summary executions, trading in corpses and slaves); civilians are not protected and the number of people kidnapped in Chechnya has broken records in 2003. Thus, in Mrs Politkovskaļa's eyes, "the recent terrorist acts (...) could not have failed to materialise", with "the first very serious alarm signal c[oming] from Dubrovka hostage taking".
The 23 March 2003 referendum "only made the posture of Federal troops look as if they were getting smaller in numbers". Since then, life in Chechnya has become "much more complicated", "people hav[ing] been given too many promises". Chechnya's new Constitution has boosted terrorists' "heroisation" and a new wave of violence, while al-Qaeda is made responsible for the failure of the anti-terrorist operation in the territory. To Mrs Politkovskaļa, President Putin has failed to achieve the main objective of the presidency - bringing peace to the people.
Referring to the Council of Europe (CoE) and the OSCE, which "has revoked its mission in Chechnya at a time when it should have been consolidated", Mrs Politkovskaļa stated that they were "advocates of bloodshed in Chechnya". Instead of pushing for negotiations and demilitarisation of the area, "[a]fter 11 September Europe stopped being interested in the mass murder of the Chechen population", thereby demonstrating "cynical attraction to double standards" as regards human rights. To Mrs Politkovskaļa, Europe "issued a sentence to the people in Chechnya, meaning (...) they should do it by themselves". "Strategically, the Europeans will be getting a second Palestine", she concluded.
Nelly Maes observed that Europe had no common policy on Chechnya and that it should be for the United Nations to work out a solution in the territory. Answering Markus Meckel (D), Mrs Politkovskaļa said that most of the Russians were tired of the war and more concerned with their daily struggle for survival. She indicated that among terrorists there were criminals, freedom fighters and those seeking revenge, and that she had "never seen an international terrorist in Chechnya". She further suggested that Russia "should be interested in preserving Maskhadov and Zakaev as real partners for negotiations, so that [it] should not be facing Bassaev later". Stressing that the situation was "very complicated" as there were dozens of commanders in the field, Mrs Politkovskaļa appealed for a "hero politician" that would "get rid of his political correctness" and engage in negotiations to end the war. Concerning the role of the military and Kadhyrov's groups, she declared that there were "all sorts of death squads", that the military in high positions who understood the pitfalls were "a minority", and that the head of Kadhyrov's very well trained security unit (OMON) had been appointed with the Kremlin's blessing. As to refugees in Ingushetia, "[t]hey want safe stay there".
Wondering why the conflict had emerged and whether international terrorism wasn't still affecting the situation in Chechnya, Valery Manilov (RUS) commented that the war was "a multi-sided problem". He indicated that Maskhadov and Bassaev were "completely in the hands of international terrorism emissaries", an internal problem that should be "collectively resolve[d]". Stressing that political problems could not be eliminated in Chechnya unless socio-economic problems are solved and jobs created, he said that confidence in the Chechen authorities had been "eliminated" and that the 23 March referendum was "but an element" in reconstructing the system.
Mrs Politkovskaļa told Jon Lilletun, that the referendum had created two Constitutions and two governments. She indicated that instead of such a referendum, Chechens should be able to elect their president. Referendums can only be made possible after demilitarisation, she further argued; while "it is clear that the military cannot just leave, the President (...) should dictate civilised (...) behaviour" to the military. Answering Lucio Malan, Mrs Politkovskaļa said that political dialogue should be allowed to develop, and that "[e]ven if Maskhadov has been embraced by international terrorism, we should take him" as "there is not one figure that could replace [him]". Giorgi Baramidze declared that Georgia was terrorised by the Kremlin for being the only country that attempted to save lives of Chechen refugees. Calling for Russia to let the Chechens have their own government, he stated that "[g]enuine democracy [would] be developing in Russia when the Chechen war [would] be resolved and when Russia would stop instigating aggressive separatism". Taking up this remark, Stepan Khmara (UA) said that Chechens were not yet, but could "find themselves embraced by international terrorism" if Europe continued to accept "the official version suggested by the Russian authorities".
To Jane Cordy's (CDN) questions on how to make the new Constitution work and how to fulfil the promises made to people in Chechnya (reconstruction, compensation), Mrs Politkovskaļa replied that both Russian and Chechen authorities should decide which Constitution to use. The promises that have been made to the nation are nothing more than propaganda "to trap [people] into coming to vote"; "[t]he propagators of th[e] new Constitution have promised (...) territorial redistribution of Ingushetia, which bears large deposits of oil, so that Chechnya can get new land". Such promises "can lead to a new conflict" and are unlikely to be fulfilled in the near future, Mrs Politkovskaļa argued. She further stated that the only way to improved living conditions in Chechnya was through demilitarisation of the area, under pressure from Europe and European organisations.
In response to Petre Roman's question on whether Russia could switch from military to political action in Chechnya, Mrs Politkovskaļa insisted that a political solution was only possible with international intermediaries. "Who can these intermediaries be? There is ample choice; all we need is political will", she said. She then shared her ideas with Niki Bettendorf (L) on her recent article Hostage taking in Moscow: revelations of a double agent, but indicated that her investigation was at too early a stage to provide details. To Christine Boutin, who asked about the OSCE and the Council of Europe violating their mandates in Chechnya, Mrs Politkovskaļa replied that these organisations "[had] never been very active" there and that Europe and America should pressure President Putin towards a solution.
b) Presentation Islamic Radicalism: Consequence of Conflicts in the Middle East or of Islam Globalisation? by Olivier Roy, Research Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research
Olivier Roy started by indicating that the major Islamic movements of the 1970s and 1980s aimed to create Muslim States in given countries (e.g. Islamic Revolution in Iran). For about ten years, we have been witnessing a nationalisation of the major Islamic movements", which have all become more moderate (e.g. AK - Justice and Development - Party in Turkey, "which today is the Muslim equivalent of the Christian Democratic Party, in Northern Europe at least") or which have placed their struggle more in a national context (see the Islamic Palestinian movements or the Chechen movement). To Mr Roy, radical Islamic movements today "are not linked to States (...), do not have a national programme (...)[,] are completely internationalist", and carry on a struggle against the West and more particularly the United States. As such, Islamic radicals "do not have much to do with what is going on in the Middle East" and are all on its periphery (New York, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Indonesia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen).
For Mr Roy, the new generation of radical militants is much more cosmopolitan and often very westernised. With the exception of the Saudis and the Yemenis, most of the Bin Laden militants went through a secular westernised school system, have a transnational experience and were all radicalised outside their country of origin. None of them represents a religious tradition; all of them are born-again Muslims (i.e. made a break with their family) and became politically radicalised just after their return to Islam. "They are involved in a process of reconstruction of a religious identity following their westernisation." Underlining the role of converts in such radical networks, Mr Roy explained that Islamic militants today were taking up again the same objectives as the extreme left thirty years ago (Wall Street, the Pentagon).
He concluded that while these movements do not have a specific territory and do not depend on any given State, they succeed in making "a very interesting linkage between what is global and what is local". At the same time, they do not let themselves be exploited by states. Thus, "[t]heir logic is much more police-like than war-like in nature".
In response to Joćo Rebelo's question on funding and the role of Saudi charities, Mr Roy observed that radical networks did not need much money and that Saudi money indeed circulated very easily. However, to Mr Roy, the major problem is not money but the Wahhabite model of Islam, Salafism, which Saudi Arabia is spreading. "Salafism is not the expression of a Muslim tradition; (...) it is a type of fundamentalism that refuses the very concept of culture. [In that sense, it] provides young people who do not have a culture with (...) an excuse for their lack of culture." Thus, "Saudi Arabia is a cultural and ideological problem, more than a financial problem". On the question of training bases, Mr Roy said that Islamic radical groups now settled in large cities (Karachi, Casablanca, London) instead of remote locations. As to whether the killing of Muslims (see the recent attack in Morocco) was to be analysed as a mistake or as a deliberate decision, Mr Roy declared that Islamic radicals did not hesitate to kill other Muslims as they saw them as traitors. He said in substance that these groups were more and more isolated from Muslim populations, not only because they kill civilians but also because they do not have any political prospects to offer. "If al-Qaeda gives up terrorism, it ceases to exist."
To Petre Roman, Mr Roy explained that Islam as it stands is not a problem. "The problem of radicalism of a religious kind is never God; it is man (...) what matters is not what is in the Koran, but what the Muslims say that the Koran contains." On modernisation in Arab countries, he observed that while in the West modernisation was due to the link between secularisation and democracy, in the Middle East the issue of secularisation was related to authoritarian regimes: "every time the West has had to choose between a democratic solution that could have put Islamists in power and an authoritarian regime, [it] has always chosen the authoritarian regime". Mr Roy further indicated that what was happening in Iraq today was "very interesting, as the Americans have very clearly committed to allowing democracy to emerge (...) under Western control". As to what mobilises young people, it is "a mixture of being uprooted, of frustrations as well as of fascination for revolution (...)[, those] young people (...) [being] obsessed with having a role to play in history."
To Lucio Malan's question about the possibility of an agreement between the government and Islamic associations, Mr Roy replied that by definition such associations represented militant people. He indicated that, spontaneously, the majority of Muslims do not organise themselves as they have their own way of separating their private religion from public space. "There is space to negotiate, but you have to negotiate carefully." In response to Joseph Day's (CDN) question on the role of Internet for the new Islam, Mr Roy observed that it was "a virtual way of creating an ideal [Muslim] community", isolated from the rest of the world. Islamic sites are usually created by Muslim students reading science in English-speaking countries, and recommended books mostly written by Saudi Wahhabi researchers. Mr Roy agreed with Christine Boutin that radical groups like al-Qaeda were more revolutionary than Muslim. "Mr Bin Laden's speeches are political; [they are not] sermons." He shared Chetin Kazak's belief that the roots of Islamic radicalism in the West lied in frustration and isolation of young Muslims. Among those, "you will find (...) the leaders who want social promotion, [who] have studied but find themselves blocked in their social promotion. [You will also find] excluded [young people], who have left school and have a criminal past. (...) There is an alliance (...) between revolutionary intellectuals and young delinquents."
Regretting that the name of the AK Party appeared in Mr Roy's presentation, Erol Aslan Cebeci stated that the AK Party had nothing to do with any Islamic movement. Mr Roy repeated that, for him, the AK Party was the Muslim equivalent of the Christian Democratic Party in Europe, and insisted on the importance of differentiating Islamic political parties from Islamic radical revolutionaries. In reply to Nelly Maes' question on the origins of terrorism in Western societies, Mr Roy indicated that there was no "mechanical" link between social problems and political radicalisation, neither was there any direct automatic link between the Middle East conflict and youth radicalisation. He agreed with Michael Clapham that one should not exclude that al-Qaeda might make an alliance with extreme leftist movements in the future. "There are certain extreme leftist movements having survived the 1980s which would be much more ready to ally with al-Qaeda than al-Qaeda with them." Finally, Valery Manilov commented that although there was not direct link between terrorism and religion, there was a developed system of funding and spreading of terrorist ideology through the Internet and mosques. In conclusion, he pointed to the need for adequate terminology on Islamic terrorist threats and for transnational legislation to counter them.
c) Presentation What the Czech Media Report on NATO, the EU and the Iraq Crisis by Jiri Pehe, Director, New York University in Prague, and former Adviser to President Vaclav Havel
Jiri Pehe started by indicating that the Czech media were among the freest in the world, especially the privatised print media. Focusing on the general lack of knowledge, within the Czech Republic, about the EU and on the ideological approach of Czech political culture, Mr Pehe outlined the openly pro-EU and pro-NATO stand of most Czech newspapers, whose quality suffers from political affiliations and biased approach. Debates that do not really mirror the prevailing political discourse in Europe are quite prominent in the Czech print media, with most political statements on EU membership focusing either on the technical side of the enlargement processes or on ideological proclamations that many people consider as propaganda. To Mr Pehe, the centrist newspaper Hospodarske noviny provides the most balanced view of NATO, the EU and the war in Iraq, but it suffers from limited readership (Czech political and economic elite). Pointing out that there has been intense media discussion on the war against terrorism, but very poor discussion on the EU's enlargement per se, Mr Pehe concluded by that the civil society was weak, the approach of the political elite ideological and the level of professionalism among journalists very low.
Mr Pehe told Christine Boutin that NATO had helped the Czech Republic modernise its army and communication channels, as well as its institutions and public discourse. To Michael Clapham's question on the lack of experience among Czech journalists, he replied that the Czech Republic was "a young democracy". An entire generation of journalists lack experience to cover complex issues, he said in substance, before adding that "much of what we see in the Czech media has been caused also by the political elite, politicians ( ) not offer[ing] independent views but party propaganda". Thus, the Czech Republic may have to wait one more generation before getting high quality public discourse. Answering Alice Mahon, Mr Pehe thought that the coverage of the war in Iraq by Al-Jazeera had been a good alternative source of opinion, although much of the reporting had not been seen in the Czech Republic. Finally, to Jane Cordy's questions on media ownership and young journalists, he indicated that the Czech media market was very small, that most of the print media were owned by German companies (thus offering the same views), and that political parties were very eager to gain influence in these outlets. As to young journalists, "a lot of them have gone into politics, [with] journalism serv[ing] as breeding ground for politicians and various high level civil servants. There is brain drain and [this is] a problem", he concluded.
V. CONSIDERATION OF THE COMMENTS OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO ON THE POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ADOPTED IN 2002 BY THE NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY [79 SESP 03 E]
There were no comments on The Comments of the Secretary General of NATO on the Policy Recommendations adopted in 2002 by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
( Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.