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Home arrow In Brief arrow Strasbourg Region, Alsace, doesn't want to become ... "ALCA(PONE)" area !?

Strasbourg Region, Alsace, doesn't want to become ... "ALCA(PONE)" area !?

Written by ACM
Saturday, 11 October 2014

 

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*Strasbourg/Bordeaux squr./Angelo Marcopolo/- Most Strasbourg Region, Alsace's People don't seem to like at all for their Historic land, with its Symbolic and specific role for EU Integration through the Historic Franco-German Reconciliation, to be suddenly submerged inside a much larger but Artificial conglomerate, made by adding together 3 Different Regions, including Lorraine and even Champagne-Ardennes, which might, perhaps, have an interesting point into bringing together 4 Borders to other European Countries, (from Switzerland and Germany up to Luxembourg and Belgium, throughout France's North-Eastern frontiers), as the Socialist Chair of Strasbourg's Urban Community, Herrmann, recently argued at a meeting with the local Press Club, but, nevertheless, risks to look quite .. fishy with its Strange scheduled Name of ... "ALCA", which would inevitably remind Chicago border-city's World-famous Chief Gangster "ALCAPONE"...

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This became clear during a Popular Mass Demonstrations of critics, mainly from the Center and Right side of the Political Spectrum, which was added Today to another, previous Protest also from Rightists and/or Regionalists, representing all in all a large Majority in Alsace, considering also of the fact that even some Socialists, and particularly "Greens", are, them too, critical of the current Government's Draft Bill on ReGrouping France's Regions, that the Senate might oblige the National Assembly to soon review at a second, and crucial reading soon.

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- "PACA Region's Chairman Vauzelle, (from the Southern Marseilles area), used to tell me that Nobody  knows "PACA", while, on the contrary, Picardy, Ardeche and Cote d' Azur, are quite Well known", denounced from the outset Alsace Region's President, Philippe Richert, who has a unique Experience as also former President of Lower Rhine's Department and former Minister for all France's Territorial organisations.

 

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- Similarly, nobody would know what "ALCA" (the controversial planned "Alsace-Lorraine-Champagne/Ardennes" Super Region) might be, while our Region, Alsace, is already well known, both throughout Europe and Internationaly, he pointed out, calling rather to  "develop our own piece of France, and piece of Europe : Alsace", as he stressed, largely applauded by an enthousiastic Mass Demonstration of some Tens of Thousands of People gathered at Strasbourg's Bordeaux square, right in front of Regional TV's HQ "France 3 - Alsace", and close to the European quarter where CoE and ECHR, as well as EU Parliament's buildings are located.  But the desirable Administrative Simplifications and Economies could be better made otherwise : i.e. by merging together the 2 currently existing Departments of Lower and Superior Rhine, inside a revigorated Alsace Regional Council, Richert proposed instead, backed by an impressive gathering of Local and Regional elected politicians, from Mulhouse and Colmar up to Strasbourg itself and many Villages.

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Indeed, Alsace is one of the  few Regions to have had a special Pavillon of its own at the International area of Shanghai's 2010 World Expo, has the biggest ratio of Foreign Investments in France after Paris' Region, holds a notoriety as Host of the PanEuropean CoE, with its Court of Human Rights, EU Parliament's full Plenary Sessions and Ombudsperson, EUROCORPS' Army HQ, is at the forefront of the Franco-German Integration at the core of EU's €uroZone, including with the "OberRhein (Superior Rhine)" Tri-National project, together with Switzerland, has the only French University out of Paris which is rated among the 100 Best in the World by the Shanghai Academic Ranking of Universities, with 3 Nobel Prize winners active, exports its "Elsass" Café trademark by Henri even up to Moscow or Japan, etc.,, as well as its famous traditional White Alsacian Wines and Beer "Kronenbourg 1664" (recently bought by Danish Giant "Carlsberg"),  has recently got its own, private TV station : "Alsace-20", and is quite well known in Brussels and throughout the World as one of the most performant and pittoresque French Regions, neighbooring wonderful German "Black Forest" and Swiss Bale areas, etc., thanks also to an active "Alsace International" organisation.

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    - Idenity issues were highlighted even ...Musically by American Singer Liza Doby's "Who are we ?" latest Album. After softly promissing to "love, unconditionaly" her new homeland : Alsace region in North-Eastern France, Doby almost prayed for the region's future, with her "Sankt Amarin" song, before concluding, timely, with a critical "I don't need a Doctor" at all, with the satirical "Dr. FeelGood" song, obviously percieved now in Strasbourg as a denunciation of some "Dr. Frankestein juniors", too hastily rushing to excessively heavy operations over Regions' remake, dangerously cutting and/or grafting these or those Regions together, even without taking any necessary precaution beforehand...

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     - "In fact, Alsace might, perhaps, fit well with Lorraine's Moselle department, but not so much with its Meuse and/or Vosges parts, and certainly not with Champagne-Ardennes' region, as far as Historic and Cultural identities and particularities are concerned", told "EuroFora" Richert's Brother, Pierre, with an astonishing, almost identic twin-like resemblance to the President of Alsace Region, while proudly holding its traditional flag...

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    Indeed, specific realities as such of Franco-German BiLingualism inside Elementary Education, the "Concordate" which gives a special status to Historically recognized Religions (as Christian, etc), the so-called "Local Law", which has, in particular, a special regime for Social Security, for the creation of Associations, etc., together with Geography, crafted by the Natural landscape of Rhine valley, from its Swiss sources all way through the Mountains of "Vosges" and "Black Forest" in the French and German side of the River, respectively, as well as the Economy and the abundance of pittoresque small-medium Villages accross mainly Rural areas, (etc), form integral parts of Alsace Region's own characteristics.

 
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     + Even on a European level, "Alsace would better work on Franco-German relations, while Lorraine should focus on Luxembourg, Belgium and Sarre" (a semi-French speaking area at nearby Germany). "That's better both for France and Europe", advised wisely the experienced long-time former President of EU Parliament's biggest Group of MEPs, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, and currently New Head of the EPP Party, headquartered in Brussels, Joseph Daul, speaking to "EuroFora", while personaly participating (disguissed as a grassroots Farmer) in a very Popular free distribution of fresh, home-grown Agricultural products of the area, which made many People happy...

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    From Young representative, freshly elected Municipal and Regional politician Elsa Schalck, up to ... "Miss France 2012", superbe Red-haired Alsacian Delphine Wespeiser's Mother and Father, representing to Strasbourg's Demonstration their Daughter, obliged to travel to Shri Lanka, Canada, etc, who posed smiling proudly for an "EuroFora" Photo, the overall atmosphere of this exceptional Popular Gathering united both Aged and Young People, including several young couples with their Children, Citizens and Municipal, District and/or Regional elected representatives, Consular Chambers, etc., in a rare mix.

 

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    In conclusion, Alsace Region's President Philippe Richert, invited all participants to sing, all together, France's National hymne, known as "la Marseilleuse", which has notoriously been created historically in Strasbourg, inspired from the "Rhine army" saga in the Past, before it was brought, through the Rhone valley, until Marseilles city, from where it won its National prestige thanks to an important group of revolted People who succesfully fought their way up to Paris during the Historic 1789 National Revolution which established the nowadays Republic since then. Consistently, the Demonstration for Alsace region ended with a Flight of "Blue, White, Red" Baloons, French flag's colors... 

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(../..)

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    The incoming Swedish EU Presidency (July-December 2009) may still remain in favour of Turkey's controversial EU bid, despite June 2009 EU Elections' results, but it has "very strong demands on Turkey"'s obligation to respect EU Rules, said the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, to "EuroFora", reacting to critical Press reports.

    - "I know (that) the link is often made also to Sweden's position on Turkey"'s controversial EU bid. Indeed, "we (Swedish EU Presidency) are very much engaged in the future membership of Turkey, but not without fullfiling all the Criteria".

    - "It's very clear that we (Swedish EU Presidecny) have very Strong Demands on Turkey, in a sort of concept for Future membership of the Union, ...which will be a Long Process...", she stressed.

    This means, in particular, "the Copenhagen Criteria (on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law), and also the adaptation to the Acquis of the European Union".

     - "If you listen to what Mr. Bildt (the Swedish Foreign Minister) says on Turkey at different occasions, it's very clear : We want Turkey to become part of the Union, in the Future. But we want it to fullfil all the Criteria : The Acquis of the European Union. That's very clear", she concluded.

    The Senior Official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry was reacting to critical Press Reports, from Brussels' Journalists invited by EU Commission's secretariat to Stockholm, who claimed that Bildt was abusing of a ..."Whip" (sic !) against Cyprus, by "threatening" the presence of UNO's Peace-keeping force at the "Green line" which separates the island's Government-controlled areas from the territories occupied by Ankara's army, if Nicosia didn't accept any political solution, regardless of Turkey's demands, before the end of 2009.

        Governing AKEL Party's new Secretary General, Andros Kyprianou, reacted by declaring that no-one can threat the People of Cyprus : -"We shall decide for our Future, and nobody else",  he reportedly said, asking to "keep calm". "In order to find a Solution soon, certain basic Principles must be respected", he stressed, calling those who feel an urgency to use their influence on Turkey. Other Political Parties were more critical.

    This was a reference to recently reported statements by Turkish Minister Bagis, Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan and Turkey's National Security Council (a Military-Political body), accused to push towards a partitionist "2 States" solution, contrary to UNO SC Resolutions for Cyprus' reunification.

    December 2009 is a crucial moment for EU's appraisal of Turkey's controversial EU bid, because EU Council has decided to review then Ankara's compliance with the European position on the recognition of Cyprus' Government, which was clearly set out by an EU reply of 21 September 2005 to Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan's claims, refusing to recognize even the existence of EU Member Cyprus, in controversial statements he made to London (former EU chair) on July 29, 2005.

    EU Parliament's latest Resolution on Turkey, adopted on March 2009 in Strasbourg, warned Ankara that "the non-fulfillment of Turkey's commitments... by December 2009, may further seriously affect the process of Negotiations" with the EU.

    In practice, the issue boils down to Ankara's "embargo" against Ships and Airplanes using Cyprus' seaports or airports at the strategic EU island, which traditionaly hosts one of the World's biggest Shipping flags. EU has already "freezed" 6 relevant Chapters in EU - Turkey Negotiations since December 2006, after Ankara refused to fullfil a commitment it had undertaken when EU had decided to open controversial "accession" negotiations with Turkey, back on December 2005.

    - "As far as EU - Turkey relations are concerned, it's clear that Turkey needs to fullfil its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional Protocol (to "EC-Turkey Association Agreement"),  This is an important issue....and should be addresseed as soon as possible as it clearly affects the pace of the accession negotiations.Issues covered by the Declaration of September 2005 will continue to be followed up, and progress is urgently awaited", warned earlier in Strasbourg the out-going Czech EU Presidency (former vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra).

    But the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, dismissed "interpretations" by "some" that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was reportedly "threatening" Cyprus with consequences on the UNFICYP, if it doesn't accept any solution until December 2009, while Turkey is reportedly delaying in an attempt to impose a partitionist "2 States" solution.

    On the contrary, Julin, stressed that "Sweden has strong demands on Turkey'"s respect of "Copenhagen Criteria and EU Acquis".

    Meanwhile, Sweden  is "concerned" about the risk of "Stalemate" in Cyprus' Talks, but is well aware that "the main responsibilities lie with the two leaders and the UNO", Europe playing only a role of "facilitator".

    After carefully verifying, the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, stressed to "EuroFora" that Bildt's reference to UNFICYP "was not linked to a Threat", and dismissed those who "interpreted" it so.

    On the contrary, the Swedish EU Presidency acknowledged the fact that Peace Talks are mainly for the UN and the leaders of the Cypriot communities, EU's role being limited into that of a "facilitator".

    As for Turkey's reported attempts to impose a "2 States' solution", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service sharply replied by stressing that Turkey must respect the "EU Acquis" rules.

    In particular :

    - "Basically he (Bildt) underlined that it's the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the UN that have the main responsibilities for solving the problem", started to say the Swedish Senior Official to "EuroFora", referring to the above-mentioned "briefing".

    - "But the EU had a role in sort of pointing out the benefits and facilitating a little bit the outcome for the settlement of the whole Cyprus' issue", she added.

    - "And he did state the Fact, that the rest of the World (i.e. USA, etc) will, of course, look at the differend issues which are at the table, and the future of the UN Peace keeping force is part of what is at the table", she admitted.

    - "I understand that some have interpreted that as a Threat, by the Swedish Minister" "But", in reality, "it's a statement of a Fact, that, when we'll look at the differend issues, one of the issues on which we shall have to take a stand on, is the future of the UN Peace keeping force in Cyprus".

    Indeed, one of the questions usually raised for a Solution of Cyprus' issue is what International and/or European or other Guarantees, by a Peace-keeping force, might be needed afterwards, eventually for a transitory period.

    Questioned anew by "EuroFora" whether (according to critical Press Reports) this could be taken as a veiled warning that, if Cyprus didn't accept any Turkish demand for any solution whatever, it might be left alone to face Ankara's Military Invasion/Occupation, she denied :

    - "He (Bildt) didn't say it in that way"... "It was not linked to a threat, or anything like that", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service stressed.

    On the contrary, "he (Bildt) underlined that the main responsibility lies with the parties concerned on the island". "The EU can try to facilitate and show the benefits of reaching a settlement. But also, when the EU and the rest of the World (i.e. USA) will have to look at it, they will look at all the Facts on the table, and the presence of the UN Peace-keeping force is one".

    And "he (Bildt) didn't speak about that at all", she replied to "EuroFora" question on Turkey's reported attemps to impose, in one way of another, a partitionist "2 States solution".

    Asked whether Bildt's aim was to incite both parties to move forward efficiently, she agreed :

    - In fact, "the EU is really very concerned with the Stalemate in the situation. Yes !", the Head of Sweden's Foreign Ministry's Press Service anounced. That's why Bildt "was hoping for the two parties (i.e. for Turkey's also) to engage and break, a little-bit, the present stalemate, come to a solution of the issue" of Cyprus.

    But, replying  to a "EuroFora"s question on the risk, denounced by several politicians in case of strict Time Deadlines, for Turkey to provoke a stalemate and wait for the time to come to impose a partitionist "2 States' solution", she reacted by pointing at Turkey's obligation to respect "EU Acquis" :

    - "Turkey must fullfil the EU Acquis : That's clear !", the Swedish Senior Official stressed.

    More details are expected when Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt will debate his Programme with new MEPs at EU Parliament's plenary mid-July in Strasbourg, that he has visited already in 2008.

    Foreign Minister Carl Bildt became familiar with Strasbourg's CoE last year, when Sweden chaired the PanEuropean organization of Human Rights. As EU chairman-in-office, he will also chair the 27-member States strong EU Group inside the 47-member States strong CoE.

    Minister for EU affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom is well known at EU Parliament, where she has been an active MEP of the Liberal Group for many years, following also Press Freedom issues.

    Both have already made various statements at "EuroFora", on differend topical matters.

    ***

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