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Csce Summit

Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the forthcoming CSCE summit in Paris.

My right hon. Friend will attend the CSCE summit in Paris. We envisage that a conventional forces in Europe agreement will be signed. The conference should consolidate the recent progress in Europe by strengthening democratic and economic reforms. We believe that the rights won in the reforms should be enshrined in a magna carta for Europe.

Given that all but three of the European CSCE participating states now send parliamentary delegations to the Council of Europe and that the remaining three—Romania, Bulgaria and Albania—expect to do so shortly, does my right hon. Friend agree that next month's summit need look no further for its proposed assembly of Europe, as suggested by the NATO summit in July, than to the existing Council of Europe? Will he ensure that the Government put that proposal forward at next month's summit?

The problem is that the United Stales and Canada are participants. I go this far with my hon. Friend—the infrastructure of the Council of Europe may well provide the basis on which a new assembly could meet, but we must pay attention to the importance of maintaining American participation in these meetings.

Is it not the proposal of the chairman of CSCE that the European assembly from the Atlantic to the Urals should be a completely separate assembly? What efforts will the Government make at the next summit to ensure that there is a coming together, which I believe that the people of this country and of Europe will see as a positive step towards the unification of Europe in ways other than the old-fashioned ideas of the EEC?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is right that we should not proliferate entirely new assemblies, and if we can build on what already exists in a way that is acceptable to the north Atlantic partners, that is very sensible.