A meeting of the Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, was held in Warsaw on 17-18 September where representatives of parties from the region and beyond gathered to discuss the perspectives for peace and stability in South Eastern Europe, to assess the situation in Russia and to review the national situations of countries in Central and Eastern Europe. (Full list of participants)
A minute's silence was held in memory of Yannos Kranidiotis, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, who tragically died days before. The Committee paid tribute to his tireless work for Greece, the countries in Central and Eastern Europe and within the International.
Hosted by the Democratic Left Alliance, SLD, and the Union of Labour, UP, the meeting was opened by the Secretary General Luis Ayala who remembered the long history of relations with Poland and the International's member parties there through a period of rapidly changing events. The gathering afforded the opportunity, he said, to consider not only the immediate concerns in the region but also "to charter the course" for what social democracy could do in the times ahead, particularly in that part of the world.
Introducing the debate on the situation in the Balkans after events in Kosovo, Co-Chair of the Committee, Piero Fassino, Minister of Foreign Trade, Democrats of the Left, DS, Italy, emphasised that the meeting formed part of the ongoing discussions of the Committee to arrive at a "stable, effective and lasting solution", and he referred to previous SICEE meetings held in Budapest, Prague, Moscow, Bratislava, Sarajevo, Geneva, Bucharest and Rome. The political stabilisation of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was now the key responsibility for the international community, he noted.
SICEE Co-Chair, László Kovács, leader of the Hungarian Socialist Party, MSzP, emphasised the urgency of the continuing humanitarian catastrophe. In the long-term, he argued, while parties in government could certainly contribute to the first stages of the Stability Pact aimed at strengthening security in the region, social democratic parties in opposition should also take their share of responsibility with bilateral initiatives inside the region: "The International has to help democratic parties with our own experiences of peaceful transition", he declared.
Contributions on the aftermath of the Kosovo crisis, were heard from the countries directly affected and the neighbouring countries with concrete experience of the crisis and its after effects, including Albania, FRY Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.
The exchanges of the Committee resulted in the 'Warsaw Declaration' which underlined the extraordinary importance of the fall of the Berlin Wall, 'when the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe freed themselves from the oppressive Communist regimes' and reaffirmed 'the commitment of the Socialist International and its parties to support in each country of the region the realisation of democratic politics, of the social market economy and of human rights for all individuals, communities and peoples'.
Turning to relations between the European Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries, SICEE highlighted the progress made in these countries and reaffirmed its belief that the enlargement of the European Union had a strategic role in ensuring the security, stability and prosperity of the whole of Europe, signalling its satisfaction at the progress of the EU's current enlargement negotiations and making clear its hope for a strengthening of the relations between the EU and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe which had expressed their will to join the EU.
With regard to the events in Russia, following reports from guests from the country, the Declaration expressed concern at the political instability, institutional uncertainty and corruption there and the Committee reaffirmed its belief that securing truly democratic institutions in Russia today, in part through the EU Action Plan, remained an essential priority.
The Declaration addressed the situation in the Balkans in the aftermath of the Kosovo crisis and reaffirmed the belief that stability and security were only possible there if all ethnic and religious groups were respected. In order to ensure stability in the region the Committee took note of the role of the United Nations, OSCE and KFOR and restated its belief that the integration of the Balkans into the European Union was essential. The Declaration emphasised the urgent need to bring about a real democracy in Serbia, by supporting the democratic forces of the political and civil opposition and assisting them in overcoming their divisions. Consequently SI member parties were called on 'to provide practical political assistance to all democratic forces, to organise economic and political links between local communities and to assist in the construction of an effective civil society and of a free media able to contribute to the building of a true democracy'. Proposals were made to send a fact-finding mission to FRY and to sponsor training courses for young politicians.
The Committee then received reports on national situations. Mirjana Feric-Vac, Social Democratic Party, SDP, Croatia, described the situation in the run up to elections there and the prospects for social democrats to make advances, having already gained significant regional government experience.
Nano Ruzin, Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, SDUM, informed the Committee on the situation in his country with presidential elections due at the end of October.
Leszek Miller reported on the establishment of the Democratic Left Alliance, which the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland, SdRP, had played an active part in developing, and which will hold its first Congress in December. Marek Pol, Union of Labour, UP, reiterated the clear alternatives and options presented by the opposition parties currently in Poland.
László Kovács reported on the concentration of power and the curtailment of the role of parliament since the rightwing parties won elections in 1998 in Hungary. The X Anniversary Congress in October of his party would be, he asserted, an opportunity to consider their role in the transition of their country, but also the chance to elaborate a new constitution for a modern European party.
Representatives of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, BSDP, and of the European Left reported on the situation in Bulgaria before the local elections due in mid-October and on the cooperation agreement signed by social democratic forces there.
Valiantisin Askirka, Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada), BSDP, gave a detailed account of events in Belarus and called for international solidarity.
Participants representing the Socialist Party of Albania, PSA, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP, reviewed the many advances that the social democratic coalition government had made in Albania.
Mario Nalpatian, ARF Armenian Socialist Party, spoke of the recent elections in his country and of the developments and work ahead for the government.
The Committee also adopted a resolution on the Caucasus which recognised the positive changes towards the consolidation of democracy in the South Caucasian republics but also outlined proposals, to be presented to the XXI Congress, for furthering democracy and resolving ethnic conflicts in the region.
The Socialist International Committee on Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, meeting in Warsaw on 17-18 September 1999,
1. Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall,
Underlines the extraordinary importance of that historic moment when the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe freed themselves from the oppressive Communist regimes;
Reaffirms that in the minds of these peoples, the advance to freedom and democracy is now irreversible;
Notes that, while one cannot ignore the social costs of the transition, remarkable progress has been made in the economic field;
Reaffirms the commitment of the Socialist International and its parties to support in each country of the region the realisation of democratic politics, of the social market economy and of human rights for all individuals, communities and peoples.
2. As regards the relations between the European Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries,
Underlines the progress made in these countries in building solid democratic institutions, a modern market economy and developed societies;
Reaffirms its belief that the enlargement of the European Union has a strategic role in ensuring the security, stability and prosperity of the whole of Europe;
Expresses its satisfaction at the progress of the EU's negotiations with Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Cyprus, and hopes that the Helsinki European Council will decide to open negotiations also with Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia;
Expresses its hope for a strengthening of the relations between the EU and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe which have expressed their will to join the EU.
3. With regard to events in Russia,
Notes that the process of political and economic transition is still hampered by serious difficulties;
Expresses its concern at the political instability, institutional uncertainty and widespread corruption which threaten to exacerbate the economic crisis and weaken its citizens' consensus for democracy;
Condemns all terrorist actions and affirms its solidarity with the Russian people and the democratic institutions;
Reaffirms its belief that securing truly democratic institutions in Russia is today an essential priority and hopes that the forthcoming elections will be the occasion for the strengthening of real democratic political forces;
Therefore, calls on the EU to implement its Action Plan to ensure that in Russia, the legislative, the judiciary, the public administration and the relations between the citizens and the State reach standards currently in force in democratic countries.
4. In the aftermath of the Kosovo crisis, vis-à-vis the situation in the Balkans,
Notes with concern that for nine years the Balkans have been marked by bloody conflicts and crises that have imposed terrible sufferings on entire peoples;
Reaffirms its belief that stability and security are possible only if every man and woman, every ethnic and religious community and every people are recognised as having the same rights, acknowledging the importance of multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural societies;
Reaffirms its belief that the prospect of the integration of the Balkans into the European Union is essential in ensuring the stability of the region and the future of its peoples and hopes that the EU will implement structured relationships with the Balkan countries;
Emphasises the urgency of continuing the struggle against every kind of violence, intolerance, oppression and nationalism and supports in this respect the work of the The Hague Tribunal to ensure the trial of war criminals;
Underlines that the implementation of the Dayton Accords on Bosnia constitutes an important contribution to stability in the region;
Expresses its appreciation and support to the NGOs, to other organisations and to leading figures committed to providing humanitarian assistance and underlines the importance of encouraging the return of all refugees and displaced persons and the provision of the necessary humanitarian assistance;
Demands that the accords be respected in their entirety, and more particularly that the Kosovo Albanian leadership abide by its undertakings to disarm the KLA and to guarantee the rights of the Serbs and of the Romany population and other peoples who live in Kosovo;
Takes note of the stabilising role played by the presence of the United Nations, the OSCE and the KFOR for the safety of all communities living in Kosovo;
Expresses its support for the Stability Pact, and asks the international community to offer its concrete support for actions aimed at achieving political stability including the establishment of an effective civil administration - and economic reconstruction in Kosovo and for the Balkan stability plan;
Considers ensuring the implementation of all institutional, political and security measures necessary in order to enable the organisation of free, fair and democratic elections in Kosovo;
Considers that the isolation of the Milosevic regime should not prevent the provision to the FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) of the assistance necessary for the daily life of its citizens;
Underlines the great need to find means to open the Danube waterways and river traffic as soon as possible;
Emphasises the urgent need to bring about a real democracy in Serbia, by supporting the democratic forces of the political and civic opposition and assisting them in overcoming their divisions and creating political and economic links with local communities;
Underlines the need to create a block of parties which would, while working with other democratic forces on democratisation in Serbia, promote social democratic, non-nationalistic values and would become a partner of the Socialist International in the future;
Emphasises the need to support the development of a free and independent media, trade unions, NGOs, and other institutions, as well as educational programmes necessary to strengthen civil society in all parts of FRY and in particular in Serbia;
Calls on member parties to provide practical political assistance to all democratic forces, in both Kosovo and FRY, to organise economic and political links between local communities and to assist in the construction of an effective civil society and of a free media able to contribute to the building of a true democracy;
Considers that sending a fact-finding mission of SICEE to FRY, sponsoring a working meeting with political leaders of democratic parties of FRY, as well as organising training courses for young politicians would help to strengthen relations with social democratic and other democratic forces in FRY and would promote their struggle for democracy.
5. The SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE,
Notes with satisfaction that over these 10 years political parties of socialist and social-democratic orientation have developed in the majority of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, many of which have taken on the responsibilities of government;
Underlines the importance of the economic, political, social and individual rights of women in the countries concerned and attaches special importance to the problems of the right of women to education as a necessary condition for the strengthening of democracy in the region;
Reaffirms its commitment to the principles and values of social democracy, and to encouraging everywhere the growth of parties that share in them, especially where as in Russia they are needed to strengthen democracy, freedom and justice.
The Socialist International Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, meeting in Warsaw on 17-18 September 1999,
Considering that positive changes towards the consolidation of democracy have taken place in the South Caucasian republics despite the fact that political and economic reforms have not yet been implemented;
Recognising that the Caucasus is a region which requires our constant attention;
Noting that there are still unresolved ethnic conflicts which continue to be cause for concern,
Proposes to the XXI Congress of the Socialist International,
1. To call on the authorities of all countries in the region to fully implement the democratic rules and standards recognised by the international community.
2. To elaborate and execute a working agenda for the further improvement of democracy and the economic development of the region.
3. To urge all governments in the region to set aside the conflicts of recent years on the basis of negotiations and the principles set out by international law and the OSCE.
4. To support the Minsk Group of the OSCE in its efforts to find mutually acceptable solutions for a durable resolution of the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, through direct negotiations between all the conflicting parties.
Co-Chair of the Committee
Co-Chair of the Committee
Secretary General of the Socialist International
Social Democratic Party, SDP
ARF Armenian Socialist Party
Social Democratic Party of Austria, SPÖ
Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, BSDP
Socialist Party, PS
Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD
The Labour Party
Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK
Hungarian Socialist Party, MSzP
Israel Labour Party
Democrats of the Left, DS
Latvia Social Democratic Workers' Party, LSDSP
Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, LSDP
Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, SDUM
Mongolian Social Democratic Party, MSDP
Labour Party, PvdA
Norwegian Labour Party, DNA
Democratic Left Alliance
Union of Labour, UP
Democratic Party, PD
Romanian Social Democratic Party, PSDR
Ioan Sorin Marinescu
Party of the Democratic Left, SDL
United List, ZL
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE
Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP
Office of SI President
Socialist International Women, SIW
Parliamentary Group of the PES
Rob van der Water
Party of European Socialists, PES
Socialist Party of Albania
Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada), BSDP
Euro Left Party
Social Democratic Party, SDP
Russian Social Democratic Union, RSDU
Socialist Party of Russia, SPR
Social Democratic Union of Serbia
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