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C 196/30 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 22. 6.

98

aid programme was unlawful. Both the Netherlands state and Koninklijke Ahold N.V. refuse to settle the
damages in a correct manner and are forcing the Russian partner into a costly, unnecessary and lengthy
procedure. Is the Council aware that the case, which is expected to last several years − whether or not there is a
positive or negative result for the plaintiffs, − will have an adverse effect on future aid programmes and the
mutual trust and stability in relations with Eastern Europe. Does the Council not consider that there is gross
negligence on the part of Koninklijke Ahold N.V., when, despite the clear indication by the Amsterdam court that
Koninklijke Ahold N.V. is liable for damages, that company and the Netherlands state refuse to hold any proper
discussions with the injured party, in this case the Russian partner Tonar?

2. The study commissioned by the EU and carried out by Koninklijke Ahold N.V., shows that the
establishment of a food wholesaler business, in this case a distribution centre, is the key priority. Koninklijke
Ahold made this conclusion a priority in its August 1992 report. Does the Council not find it strange that the
country providing assistance. In the framework of the TACIS aid programme, in this case the Netherlands,
refuses to meet the key wishes of the country receiving assistance, in this case Russia, and also that the
agreements made between the Netherlands and Russia have consistently not been fulfilled, even after it was
shown that the Russians had fully satisfied all conditions set by the European Union and the Netherlands
Ministry for Economic Affairs?

(98/C 196/43) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0298/98


by Leonie van Bladel (UPE) to the Council
(17 February 1998)

Subject: Obstinate attitude of a Netherlands Junior Minister with regard to the solution to a conflict with Russian
partners

1. Is the Council aware that a summons has been taken out by the Russian Tonar Corporation, a semi-public
enterprise, before The Hague Crown Court against the State of the Netherlands and the Dutch multinational,
Koninklijke Ahold NV?

2. Does not the Council feel that the totally unsuccessful TACIS project, undertaken by the Ministry for
Economic Affairs and Koninklijke Ahold NV and subsidized by EU funds, should have been solved in a manner
more elegant than one involving the courts, as the Netherlands Junior Minister for Economic Affairs is
proposing?

3. Can the Council accept the notion that Russian confidence in the operation of the free market and,
indirectly, the security and stability which Europe is endeavouring to secure, are being undermined in particular
by the obstinate manner in which the Netherlands Junior Minister for Economic Affairs is refusing to bring the
parties together round a table, as proposed by the Dutch MPs Van Walsem, Leers and De Koning, in order to seek
a solution, all the more so since Ahold’s conduct, like the conduct of the Netherlands Ministry for Economic
Affairs, is destroying the average Russian’s confidence in initiatives from Western Europe, also in the light of the
previous ruling of the Amsterdam Court which, in an earlier judgment, ruled Koninklijke Ahold NV’s conduct
unlawful?

4. On the basis of the foregoing, is the Council prepared to support the proposal that talks between the parties
be organized with a view to restoring the average Russian’s confidence in initiatives from Western Europe by
making an urgent appeal to the Netherlands Junior Minister for Economic Affairs to abandon her obstinate
attitude?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-3886/97, E-4158/97 and E-0298/98
(7 April 1998)

The TACIS programme provides technical assistance for economic reforms in Russia and, through the transfer of
‘know-how’, measures which will, inter alia, ensure the transition to a market economy.

With the collapse of the USSR, the provision of food supplies to Russia’s cities posed major problems,
warranting a large-scale Community food aid operation. Structural requirements linked to transition to a market
economy in this area led the Community to make the production, processing and distribution of foodstuffs one of
the priorities for TACIS Programme intervention.