REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
“THE DEVELOPMENTS TAKING PLACE IN THE WORLD, ESPECIALLY IN EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE AND OTHER REGIONS AND THEIR IMPACT ON THE ISLAMIC WORLD”
TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
OUAGADOUGOU – BURKINA FASO, 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1999
This item was inscribed on the agenda of the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers which adopted Resolution No.36/19-P, by which it inter alia noted that these developments had led to the strengthening of economic relations and interdependence between East and West, and the flow of financial resources to East European countries. It also expressed the wish that efforts be made to promote ties of friendship and cooperation between the Islamic World and East European countries, based on the principle of common interests. It requested the Secretary General to prepare a detailed study which would include an analysis of the current situation and also assess the effect of such developments on the Islamic Ummah to enable the drawing up of an effective Islamic strategy for dealing with such changes.
2. The Islamic Conferences expressed the wish to maintain and promote ties of friendship and cooperation between the Islamic World and the countries of Eastern and Central Europe based on the principle of mutual interests and the hope that strengthening economic relations between Eastern and Western Europe would not affect the order of priorities in respect of economic cooperation and trade exchanges between those countries and Islamic countries, nor have a negative impact on the flow of financial resources extended by the advanced countries, whether Eastern or Western, for financing development efforts in Muslim and Third World countries. The Resolutions also expressed the hope that the states of Eastern and Western Europe and other states respect and promote the Islamic identity of Muslim communities and/or minorities living in their countries and their right to practice freely their language and religion. The Twenty-Third ICFM requested that IDB in association with international/regional financial institutions, draw up a study of the economic circumstances of the region, western concerns and interests, and their implications for the Muslim countries.
3. The winds of freedom which swept Eastern and Central Europe in early 1990’s have also led to the unraveling of the Soviet Union and the emergence of its former republics as independent states. While in itself these developments were great strides towards pluralism, democracy and market oriented economy, they also inflamed the deep seated nationalistic impulses, which are progressively being vented in various parts of the Europe and Asia causing strife and conflict of inter- ethnic nature as well as highlighted the issue of minorities and borders drawn after the Second World War.
4. The economic and social costs of transition from centrally controlled market economy has compounded the problems of political reforms, causing chaos in some cases and tremendous hardships for the peoples concerned.
5. In the Balkan’s Serbia has unleashed a genocidal warfare against the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina in its nefarious attempts to acquire territory to establish “Greater Serbia”. The enormity of the crimes being committed against the Muslims by the Serbs surpass some of the vilest examples of inhumanity in contemporary history. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina have all faced Serbian aggression during the past three years. The Muslims in the Sanjak and Kosovo as well as ethnic Albanians in Macedonia are also faced with grave threats from the Serbs aimed at their very survival.
6. The problems of ethnic and religious minorities in Eastern and Central Europe have also been accentuated. Czechoslovakia has followed a peaceful course to self dissolution into respective Czech and Slovak Republics. Germany is grappling with the tremendous economic costs of its unification. Romania faces the problems of some 2 million ethnic Hungarians with long-standing antagonisms. Moldavia with its 60% ethnic Romanians is also approaching a flashpoint. There has been relatively some improvement only in the situation of Muslims of Turkish origin in Bulgaria.
7. Conflicts in the region of former Soviet Union have continued between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Karabakh issue; Georgia and Abkhazia over regional autonomy; North and South Ossetia over demographic demarcations. Tensions also exist between Ukraine and Russia and in the Baltic region. Rapid developments have also taken place in Tajikistan.
8. Unfortunately, the European regional organizations have not yet succeeded in dealing, effectively and justly, with the problems of the region of former Yugoslavia, thus undermining seriously the ideals and values, which the civilized nations and peoples had always espoused and should have been the basis for erecting durable structures for peace and harmony after the collapse of the Communist regimes.
9. On the whole the governments of Eastern and Central European states are trying to consolidate economic and political reforms, forge closer economic and commercial links with Western Europe and are anxious to integrate themselves in West-European political and security arrangements. Most of these countries are heavily dependent on economic assistance from the West.
10. The Secretary General is carefully monitoring the changing situation in these areas, and taking note of the emerging configurations so that the OIC can play an increasingly more important and effective role in conflict prevention and resolution as well as for the maintenance of peace. In this context the Secretary General despatched his representative who attended a Meeting of Experts on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures held in Almata, Kazakhstan from 30 August – 1 September, 1993 and subsequently also attended a meeting of the German Helsinki Committee in Bonn, Germany on 23 November, 1993 where he addressed the Committee on the possibility of building bridges and fostering cooperation between the CSCE Process and the OIC.
11. The Sixth Islamic Summit Conference held in Dakar, Republic of Senegal in December 1991 recognized the importance of the current process of fundamental transformation in the system of international relations and affirmed in the Dakar Declaration its determination to contribute actively together with the international community towards the establishment of a New International Order based on peace and progress and respect for international legality and capable of guaranteeing justice and equity for all. The Summit also emphasized the importance of seeking solution to global issues through dialogue and cooperation among all nations of the world and adherence to the principles of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations.
12. In his address to the Reflection Committee which met in Jeddah in February 1994 in implementation of operative paragraph No.5 of Resolution No. 16/21-P, the Secretary General provided a comprehensive analytical expose of the current developments at the international and regional levels with particular emphasis on the trends emerging in Central and Eastern Europe. He also emphasized the need for strengthening and revitalizing the role of the OIC to enable it to adequately respond to the evolving international scenario and protect and promote the interests of the Islamic World.
13. The Secretary General believes that the principles and objectives set forth by the Dakar Declaration must remain the basis for continued and intensive efforts by OIC Member States at all levels to seek the fulfillment of the aspirations of the Islamic Ummah and to make their indelible contribution to the creation of a better world.
14. The Committee considered some of the Views expressed that the international situation remains fluid and the emerging trends require careful monitoring. It was also reiterated that it was necessary to institute confidence and security building measures, wherever appropriate, to further strengthen Islamic solidarity.
15. The Reflection Committee held several meetings in Jeddah in September 1995, September 1996 and September 1997 in implementation of Resolution No. 16/23-P adopted by the Twenty-third Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers and. Resolution No. 19/24-P adopted by the Twenty-fourth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers In these meetings, the Committee reaffirmed that the General Secretariat should continue to monitor closely the evolving scenario in the Balkans and other parts in Central Europe and also persist in its efforts towards such measures that would bolster confidence and help build security for the countries of that reason. It was also re-emphasized that Member States should use their potential for concerted action, both at the intra-Islamic and at the global level as provided by the OIC.
16. In its Resolution No. 19/8-P (IS), the Eighth Islamic Summit Conference and Resolution No. 20/25-P, Twenty-fifth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers it called upon Member States to cooperate and contribute to the implementations of these proposals and recommendations. The Conference also expressed the hope that the States of Eastern and Western Europe and other States respect and protect the Islamic identity of the Muslim communities and Muslim minorities living in their countries and their right to practice freely their language, religion and culture.
17. The Secretary General submits this Report to the Twenty-sixth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers for its consideration and appropriate decision.