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Home arrow newsitems arrow A Paradox: China push for European Integration, if EU delays (+Transport/Trade/Decision-Making) ?

A Paradox: China push for European Integration, if EU delays (+Transport/Trade/Decision-Making) ?

Pisac ACM
07. 07. 2018.
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- A Big but Timely Paradox emerges from an EU Court of Auditors' Report, recently published at nearby Luxembourg, compared to an almost Synchronous, Exceptional Summit between 16+ Central-Eastern European Countries and China, in Sofia, at the Conclusion of Bulgaria's rotating EU Presidency (1-6/2018), and shortly Before Neighbouring Romania takes over the EU Council's chairmanship from January 2019 (1-6/2019) :


Will China's Real GeoPolitical Interests really Contribute to Boost European Integration, at least in certain Key Areas, Faster and Better than EU itself tried alone to do recently ?


With Spectacular Facts as, f.ex., that of the Famous, EU-supported "Magistrale" High Speed Train link, planned between Paris and Budapest, through Strasbourg and Stuttgart, at Europe's Heartland, having been so much Delayed,


while, Today, China reportedly Ambitions to launch an ...Athens - Budapest High Speed Train link, between the Aegean Sea and "Mittel-Europa" area, (See Infra), inevitably, some Legitimate Questions are raised...


- ECA's Latest 2018 Report notoriously Denounced that, in fact, the "European High Speed Rail Network" plan, was, still Today,  "Not a Reality, but an Ineffective Patchwork".

eu_court_of_auditors_2018_report_criticizing_insufficiency_of_high_speed_train_network_eurofora_screenshot_400


- In fact, what "has been Constructed", until now, is "an ineffective patchwork of Poorly connected National Lines", criticized ECA's Rapporteur Oskar Herics, according to an official press release.


- Simply Because "High-speed lines Crossing national Borders do Not rank among National Priorities", and the EU "Commission has No Power to Enforce them", he explained.     

 

eufunded_high_speed_train_links_audited_by_the_eca_2018_eurofora_screenshot_400


ECA's Report also shows Big Differencies on EU Funds :  F.ex. with various Costs per Minute of Time Won in each case, being very UnEqual among Projects. And/or some land-locked EU Member Countries receiving Much More EU Funds than the Others, (f.ex. Spain : more than 45% of the Total EU Funds !), etc.


However, the Worst seems to be the Fact that although the length of National high-speed rail networks is Growing", nevertheless, in Total, the EU Target of tripling the Length of high-speed rail lines (to 30,000 km) by 2030 will Not be reached, according to ECA. Indeed, the Time lapsed between the Moment such a Project is Planned, and the Date from which it will Start to be Used Effectively, is, in average, Too Long. One of the Longest, until now, being, f.ex., that of Munich - Padova High Speed Train link, reportedly Planned already since 1986, but Expected to be Used only after 2040 !...


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In such a Context, the Nowdays' "16+1" Summit of CEECs and China, (this time attended also by Greece and EU Commission as "Observers"), co-Chaired by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at Sofia, gives a Strikingly Different View, with a lot of Fast-Track Projects reportedly discussed, including the above-mentioned Athens - Budapest High Speed Train link...

+ But also, reportedly : Car Highways, SeaPorts, Industrial Parcs, Fiber Optic Cable Networks, Electricity producing Power Plants, (etc), and/or even Oil/Gas Pipelines, (as, f.ex., between Greece - Bulgaria - Romania, in order to be Linked to a Bigger, Black Sea - Romania - Hungary - Austria strategic Gas Pipeline project leading Directly towards EU's Industrial Core : Comp. ..., etc).

 

Timely, China's Move in Sofia (Bulgaria) comes as EU itself nowadays strives to Boost Western Balkans' European Integration, at the forefront of both the Austrian EU Presidency (7-12/2018) and the Croatian CoE Presidency (5-11/2018), just after a notorious EU Commission's Strategic Decision taken recently in Strasbourg..


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+ However, it's Not Only in various Transports Links that China's "Push" towards a stronger EU Integration is felt Nowadays but Also in Other Ways :


- Inter alia, f.ex., Recently, the Experienced President of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Party, former Long-Time Chairman of EU Parliament's EPP Group and Strasbourg's MEP, Joseph Daul, (also former Head of Agricultural Trade Unions, Europe-wide), speaking at a Political Meeting in Strasbourg, where "Eurofora" was Invited, (Comp., f.ex. : ..., etc), described a Surprizing exchange with the Chinese Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the EU, during which he Asked him to Help broker a Big Deal between the EU and China on Buying many Hundrents of Thousands of Tonnes of Beef Meat, in order to Feed a Network of American MacDonald Fast-Food Restaurants, due to be established throughout all the 1,3 Billions Population strong Country, in the forseeable Future...


Because, on the Contrary, if he was obliged to Negotiate with one by one among the 28 EU Member Countries, then, he would have, obviously, lost a Lot of Time and Energy...


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Pure Real-GeoPolitics, adequately practiced, may, sometimes, have even a Better outcome than Clumsy or Hypocritical "Good Wishers"' vows, remaining withOut effect, or even with adverse effects...


- Indeed, Beijing's obvious immediate Interest to facilitate Trade-routes between Europe and China, indirectly but surely, may also Help EU's further Integration, as well as its Steadfast Geo-Political Views in favour of a "Multi-Polar World", (a De Gaulle/Chirac+ Favorite), almost as a properly ...Robert Schuman's method goes from Economy to Politics :


- "China supports the European Integration, and the Unity of the EU, which is an Important Power for Global Prosperity and Peace", as well as "it Supports also a Multi-Polar World", Prime Minister Li reportedly Stressed Yesterday (Friday) in Sofia.


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++ Last, but not least, "Eurofora" will never forget a meeting, in EU Parliament in Strasbourg, with a Team of Young Chinese University Students, Government Experts, etc. who had been Systematically Visiting EU Council's, Commission's and Parliament's Headquarters in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, (in Addition to Paris, Berlin, London, Rome, etc) :


- Their main, Number 1 spontanous Question to "Eurofora", at the Conclusion of their European Working Visit, was just One :


>>> - "Where is Europe ? (i.e., its main Policy Decision-Making body) ?", they naively, but critically Wondered...


-------------------------------------


Already, the Quest for a Reply to this Key Question, in real Practice, was, indirectly but clearly, at the Substance of the 1st Official Visit to the EU by Chinese President Xi Jiping, as early as since 2014 :


- Indeed, the New (then) China's Leader surprized by his Choice to Visit Paris, Berlin and Brussels, (just after an Initial Trip to Moscow, shortly before that), extended to an adjacent meeting at Nearby Netherlands, (including for the Inauguration of a Trans-Continental Railroad link, etc), in order to meet mainly with the Franco-German Leaders and EU Top Officials, before Concluding by presenting his View on Europe, as it was then, in a landmark Speech at Bruges' College.


>>> In Fact, Xi's Quest for Europe's Political Decision-Making Core, was Obvious, while Flying in almost a perfect Circle Around ... Strasbourg, (as even the semi-Official Chinese Medias pictured : See relevant "Eurofora"'s NewsReport, then, f.ex., inter alia, also at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/chinagreecelinktoeuworld.html, etc), but without landing yet here...


=> The Wish expressed, then, by "Eurofora", naturally was that, in his Next Trip to Europe, EU+ Integration would have Advanced sufficiently enough, in order to Justify his eventual Landing also at the natural Center of that Circle, i.e., Here...


But, for that purpose, History-on-the-making obviously Needs much More genuine, "Real Europeans", and Not Only too many "EurINO"s, (i.e. "Europeans-In-Name-Only")...

 

So that, if some, inside EU Institutions, might, eventually, anew "Dream" of a European High Speed Train Network (Comp. Supra), then, they'd Better start, at least, Dreaming ...Really Big ! (Comp.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/g20andglobalrailnetwork.html)  


Something that the Forthcoming, May 2019 new EU Elections might, eventually, Help to Settle, at least partially, in one way or another.

 

 

(../..)


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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
-------------------------
    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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