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Home arrow Front-end arrow CoE : Bildt "against Volcanoes" !

CoE : Bildt "against Volcanoes" !

Written by ACM
Saturday, 10 May 2008



CoE Ministers' Swedish Chairmanship starts dealing with "delicate" PanEuropean issues : From Abkhazia, to ECHR judgements' implementation (and Turkey), up to Genetic Testing : - To "handle with care !"...


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Council of Europe's New Chairman, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, was better inspired than he thought, when he stressed with emphasis in Strasbourg that "we (CoE) are against Volcanoes !"

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Bildt was refering to a reply given by CoE's Secretary General, Terry Davis, to a topical question on the row between Georgia and Russia on how to deal with the Abkhazian region :

- "We (CoE) used to call such kind of conflicts : "Frozen Conflicts". But, sometimes, a better description could be : .."Sleeping Volcanoes !" , Davis warned.

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He was speaking the same week that the whole World was astonished by the unprecedented spectacle of a Chilean Volcano, which had been quietly "sleeping" for Thousands Years, but suddenly started to erupt, with Dangerous Giant Ash Clouds triggering a series of damages and threats...

Before Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, Vladimir Putin, former President and new Prime Minister of Russia, had warned that hasty moves might trigger a series of various other territorial issues concerning many differend ethnic conflicts in Europe's surroundings :

- "I wouldn't be surprised if now he said : - "I warned you !", a Slovenian diplomat told us.

In these conditions, naturally, Bildt's declared intent to prevent any "Volcanoes" from erupting in CoE's 47 Member Countries, as a matter of Pinciple, starting from the urgency of Abkhazia in Georgia, could only be welcomed...

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But this week's news proved that the most dangerous "sleeping volcanoes" might emerge by surprise, at unexpected areas, even there where no eruption ever took place for thousands of years...

And facts indicate, that other kinds of "sleeping volcanoes", might not be located so far away as .. Chile's Patagonia or Georgia's Abhhazia, but might emerge even at Europe's core, threatening to affect all its area, if nobody cares to take adequate measures on time :


Is it merely another "coincidence", that Bildt's declaration "against volcanoes" came just before he was questioned on another issue, less "spectacular", but bigger ?

- "EuroCourt's President, Jean-Paul Costa, warned this year that the problem of overload in pending cases is no more limited to the Court, (which notoriously faces for years a rising number of applications), but started to affect also CoE's Ministers, because many judgements are not implemented", EuroFora's question to Bildt began.

That's why, CoE's 2008 Ministerial Summit "stressed .. the need to actively .. enhance the effectiveness of the (European) Convention (on Human Rights)' control system". It found "important.. to ensure that the Convention is effectively implemented", "thereby contributing to a reduction in the workload of the European Court". CoE's No 1 priority for 2009 is "action to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of the ECHR at National and European levels", with "measures to enhance implementation", a communique said.

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- But, "recent Statistics reveal that 1.400 condemnations by ECHR at the last Decade (1998-2007), mostly for Grave Human Rights Violations, concern one State : Turkey. And that's also a New Problem, because even at the end of 2007, more than 23% of non-executed ECHR's judgements concern also the same State. Is there any hope to use EU - Turkey Negotiations, or any other idea, in order to convince it to respect ECHR's judgements ?", Bildt was asked.

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- "There is only one possible answer : Yes. Of course, we (CoE) are hoping that", started CoE's new Chairman, Swedish Foreign Minister's answer. Thus, "EU - Turkey accession negotiation" "will take its Time" and "there will be Challenges, that we are all aware of", Bildt warned Ankara in reply.

He went on to stress the "great importance" that has also the "resolution of Cyprus' issue" with a "reunification of the island" able to "ensure respect for Human Rights and Democracy in all parts of Cyprus", welcoming the "hopes" recently created by a "New Phase" in preparatory talks.

Bildt wasn't wrong when he decided to include Cyprus in his reply : ECHR has notoriously condemned Turkey for massive and "continuing" human rights' violations against Displaced persons' homes and properties, "Missing" People and their Families, etc.

But, Cyprus' related ECHR judgements, despite their importance, are only a ..tiny proportion out of nearly two Thousand condamnations of Turkey for human rights' violations, which concern also other issues (Torture, Arbitrary deprivation of Liberty, Unfair Trials, Enforced "Disappearances", oppression of Freedom of Speech, Kurds, impunity of abuses committed by Turkish security forces, etc).

Real stakes are huge : If some don't want for CoE to name the "Smoking Gun", responsible for a deadly threat against Europe's Human Rights protection system, then, it might end up as a ... "Smoking Volcano", threatening to cover with its dangerous ashes all CoE and its 800 Million Citizens !..

Some already started to speculate that EU might take over CoE's Ministerial Committee's task to "supervise execution" of ECHR judgements (according to CoE's Statute), provoking a gradual withering-away of the CoE, if it fails in its duties, an experienced CoE Expert told us..

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ECHR's President Jean-Paul Costa, and Head Register Erik Fribergh, with CoE's Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, at CoE's 2008 Ministerial Summit : plotting a new way to implement ECHR's judgements ?

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He obviously warned because he sincerely wished for his beloved organisation : the CoE, to wake-up on time, before it becomes too late in order to save its "life" from the dangers of such a huge "Sleeping Volcano" as the growing number of ECHR's non-executed judgements on grave human rights' violations...

A bad example, particularly for "new" CoE member-States, like Poland, Ukraine or Russia...

A new Report, currently prepared by CoE's Assembly, on implementation of ECHR's judgements, due to be debated in public and voted during 2008, may observe such risks.

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EU Chairman, Slovenian Foreign Minister dr. Dimitri Rupel, at CoE's piano : ready to help CoE play the Human Rights music ?

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But this might not be the end of CoE's "Sleeping Volcanoes" :

You'll never find it in any fancy Radio-TV or sensational, mass-circulation Newspaper, but this doesn't mean that there is nothing inside CoE to inspire famous Cinema director, Steven Spielberg :

Nobody noticed, at the edge of an endless Catalogue of numerous Decisions taken by CoE's 2008 Ministerial Summit, (not immediately given to the Press), a bureaucratic reference to the "adoption of the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Human Rights and BioMedicine concerning Genetic Testing for health purposes".

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What's that ?

Simply something which might soon become much more important than the Georgia - Russia row over Abkhazia, the solution of Cyprus' issue, or even the execution of ECHR's judgements :

- The legalisation of "'Tests" on Human persons, at the age of Genetics, a Decade after deciphering all Human Genome, almost a Century after Aldus Huxley's world-famous "Brave New World" warning !

Naturally, CoE, which is alone in Europe and the whole World to forge Legally-binding Rules on Bio-Medicine and Human Rights, had to try to accomplish its duty to set Legal Standards able to facilitate the development of efficient and promising New Technologies, while also ensuring the respect of Human Persons' fundamental Rights, Freedom and Dignity.

But the right balance to find between these two important factors is notoriously a very delicate exercice.. And the eventual Dangers, in case of errors of loopholes, are obviously huge for all Humankind.

Did CoE's Experts succeed to overcome any serious risk, and strike the right balance ?

Are there some "gaps" to fil, (as it was also the case with CoE's basic International Convention on "Bio-Medicine and Human Rights", opened to signature at 1998 Oviedo Conference) ? Is it urgent to rectify or complete something ? How, and when might this be done ?

All these (and many other) Questions have to start being examined in enlightened Public Debate and full Transparency, now that CoE adopted the Protocol on "Genetic Testing".

Careful, Sweden's predominantly Christian-Democrat Government, even if the country has a "liberal" reputation on Genetics, didn't seem too eager to hastily hurry-up developments on this issue, perhaps in order to avoid an eventual World-wide "sleeping volcano"...

Wisely, Sweden decided to keep this file "freezed" during all its 6 Months CoE Chairmanship (May to November 2008). It promised to let the following, Spanish Socialist Government's chairmanship of the CoE, open to signature the "Genetic Testing" Protocol only on November 2008, when Madrid will take over.

By another "coincidence", the chosen Date comes immediately after USA Presidential Election, scheduled for the beginning of November.

CoE's International Convention on "Bio-Medicine and Human Rights", for obvious reasons, was open from the start to participation from all Countries in the World, and USA's Experts contributed in its preparation. Everybody knows that Bio-Ethics (and mainly restrictions against Genetic Tests destroying Human Embryos) was an issue for USA' President George W. Bush's "Veto" to some controversial bills of the American Congres, as he had promised to his voters in 2000 and 2004.

But nobody knows yet which "'volcano" might wake up after November 2008 ..volcano_cloud_m_400 volcano_cloud_sea_400

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Meanwhile, EuroFora can't but wish "bon courage" to Carl Bildt's declared wish to act "against Volcanoes" during his 6 Months chairmanship of CoE's Ministerial committee.

All well-wishers are welcome to join, f.ex. by making good use of Carl Bildt's excellent Web-blog, where he astonishingly succeeds to note almost every move or project, at : http://carlbildt.wordpress.com

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Bildt speaking to Journalists, under the careful eye of Swedish Ambassador Per Sjorgen, and the careful ear of CoE's Communication's Director, Seda Pumpyanskaya. 

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Naturally, given all the delicate "hot" issues with which he has to deal, recently it become a ..Linguistic "Volcanoe" :

- Initially published in English (until 2007's end), recently, Bildt's interesting blog, wisely switched over to the ...Swedish language !

Got that handy Swedish dicco with you ?...

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    EU Rapporteur on Enlargment Strategy, maistream German MEP Elmar Brok, speaking to "EuroFora", welcomed the proposal made earlier this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the EU to"start Now Talks with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", instead of full Accession, at a period when Ankara looks more and more unfit and/or unwilling to respect EU conditions.

    - "For Europe to have strong Political will, it must stop dilutiing itself in an endless Enlargement. It must have borders...Diversities enrich, on the condition that they don't undermine European Cohesion, and don't weaken EU Unity", Sarkozy stressed.
    
    - "Countries like Turkey share a part of common destiny with Europe, with which they have a vocation to build a Privileged Relation, to be closely associated, but not to become Member of the EU"  : "Noone respects his friends by telling them lies. Noone respects his friends by making them promises that will be never kept", he added.

    That's why "we'd better start, from now, negotiating with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", Sarkozy proposed.

Significantly, the French President was repeatedly and largely applauded by EU citizens, 3 times, when he made the Turkey point, (strategically placed between Europe's "Political Will" and its cultural heritage, historically open to mutually enriching dialogue with all the World, but never diluted).

    - "We could propose such a great ambition also to Russia, which must not be percieved as an Adversary of Europe, but as a Partner. Thus, we'd create a wide area, of more than 800 Million inhabitants, sharing the same Security, the same Prosperity", he concluded.

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    Sarkozy's move was anounced at the eve of a Franco-German Top meeting with Chancellor Angie Merkel in Berlin on Sunday, to jointly launch the EU Elections campain, after an EU Summit at nearby Prague, to launch a new kind of relations, called "Eastern Partnership", with neighboring countries such as Urkaine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, etc, (to which Russia, reportedly, is not - and does not want to be - included).

    As for Ukraine, which has already expressed her wish to join the EU in future, "Kiev will have a special place, and a very important role to play", replied earlier this week in Strasbourg, to an "EuroFora" question EU Chairman in office , Czech vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra.

    - "This direction is more Realistic for Turkey than Accession negotiations", reacted immediately EU Parliament's Rapporteur for Enlargment Strategy, mainstream German MEP Elmar Brok, commenting Sarkozy's idea for "EuroFora"

     Particularly "as far as it concerns the respect of EU Rules by both sides", he added, hinting at Turkey's now obvious inability and/or unwillingness to abide with EU Acquis, EU Commitments (fex. on Cyprus, etc), and European Democracy/Human Rights rules. (Comp. infra).

    Brok added that, in his view, a similar proposal might be made also to Ukraine and other neighbouring Countries, regardless if they have, or not, a "European vocation". This would not necessarily mean that there couldn't be any accession prospects at all." for all the countries that might be included in this area, according to Brok.  But it's preferable, particularly for Turkey, "because it's a more Realistic approach than full Membership".

    On this point, Sarkozy's proposal, (which he'll share with German Chancellor Merkel), seems more crystal-clear.

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    - "Turkey does not fullfil EU Criteria, and will never fullfil EU Criteria" on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. "Some have been lying to Ankara, but we must tell the Truth, and have honest and close relations with her", said meanwhile to "EuroFora" on the same issue also the President of EU Parliament's largest Group of MEPs (ChristianDemocrats/EPP), Joseph Daul.
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"Hot" Debate at EU Parliament reveals CHANGE of mood towards "Suspension" of EU - Tukey talks.
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    Earlier this week, many MEPs, and even some of those who were previously in favor of Turkey's controversial EU bid, strongly criticized the persistance and even aggravation of serious Human Rights violations in the country, that ECHR continues to "unanimously" condemn ":

      - "After winning a big victory in the latest Local Elections, the pro-Kurdish party DTP almost doubled its Elected Mayors from 52 to 98", but afterwards "more than 400 politicians were thrown to Prison and prosecuted" by the Turkish Authorities, denounced on behalf of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group, Belgian MEP Frieda Brepoels.

     At the same time, "more than 1.500 Children are closed in Turkish Prisons", she added. "What will the EU Commission do" against these facts ?

- "Turkey appears to be at greater Distance away from Copenhagen Criteria after 4 Years of accession Negotiations, than when they started !", denounced on behalf of the Liberal Group, German MEP Alexander Lambsdorf.    

"On the central issue of Press Freedom, Critical Journalists face obstacles for their accreditation, others are prosecuted, condemned, fined and/or jailed, Media blocked or closed", he denounced.   

 - "EU Made 2 grave Mistakes with Turkey : To start accession negotiations, and to continue them", despite everything, criticized Dutch MEP Bastian Belder, on behalf of the Ind/Dem group.

(../..)

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