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Home arrow newsitems arrow CLRAE President Knape to EF on CoE Future: Russia, GGovern., Populism, Rural area, Web+Health Access

CLRAE President Knape to EF on CoE Future: Russia, GGovern., Populism, Rural area, Web+Health Access

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 03 April 2019
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*Strasbourg/CoE+City Hall/Angelo Marcopolo/- PanEuropean CoE's President for Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE), Experienced ChristianDemocrat/EPP Swedish Delegate, Anders Knape, in a brief but Topical and Multifacet Interview to "Eurofora", Highlighted several Issues related to the current top level Reflexion on "CoE's Future", "70 Years after" it was created (1949 - 2019), due to be on Focus at the Forthcoming 47 Member States' Summit at Helsinki, on May 2019, at the conclusion of Finland's rotating Presidency, when it will be succeeded by France.

Knape was speaking shortly after a Public Debate by his CLRAE (Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe), during its Plenary Session of Spring 2019 in Strasbourg (2-4 March 2019), specially dedicated to that "Helsinki Process" on CoE's Future, and CLRAE's contribution.

On that occasion, inter alia, Russia's Representatives had expressed their Gratefulness to the CLRAE's co-Rapporteurs : Xavier Cadoret and Gunn-Marit Helgessen, Presidents of the Chambers for Cities or Regions, respectively, because they accepted to take into account, and integrate inside the overall CLRAE's relevant Recommendation, also the suggestions that Russian Delegates had proposed recently.

In addition, President Knape had just chaired a special Ceremony in the CoE for the Award of CLRAE's "Medal of Honorary Member" to the well known, Long-Time former Head of the Russian Delegation and vice-President of the CLRAE, Miss Svetlana Orlova, (Comp. various Orlova's Replies to "Eurofora"'s Questions, f.ex., among others, also at : ..., etc).

This Contrasted with the notoriously Problematic and Harmful Division inside CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), where a Part of MEPs has managed to practicaly Exclude the Russian Delegation of MEPs from all PACE's activities, (by Depriving them from their Vote, Participatop, a.o. Rights, and Refusing to Guarantee them at least for the Future), already Since the 2014 Conflict provoked in Ukraine also by some Non-Elucidated yet factors, (See, f.ex., : ...,  ..., etc), as "Eurofora" reminded.

An Issue which has Recently pushed Russia to Suspend its Financial Contribution due to CoE's Budget by all its Member States, with Hard Economic Consequences on the PanEuropean Organisation's functionning, and a subsequent Risk for some to ask to Suspend Russia's CoE Membership, throwing Europe Back towards its "Cold War" Past, with UnKnown repercussions, particuarly Against Peace. Meanwhile, such a prolonged and wider series of various unprecedened "Sanctions", by EU and/or CoE, USA, etc, against Russia, on that same pretext, impacts Negatively Europe's Economic Growth, as the Experienced OCDE's CEO, Angel Guria, had already Warned in Statements to "Eurofora", earlier in Srasbourg, (See : ..., etc).

=> Some Consequences of such Hardships were also reflected Nowadays also in a Debate about Budget and Ressources of the CLRAE during the Next Biennium (2020-2021), where currently persisting Financial UnCertainties incited even the Experienced Head of France's Delegation, ChristianDemocrat/EPP Delegate Jean-Luis Testud, (former President of CLRAE's Committee on Governance), to launch a Call to Warn all CoE's Member States' Governments that CLRAE Delegates, recently facing more and more Pressing Demands to Limit even more their expenses, risk to be Obliged to Stop their Activities for Local and Regional Democracy, if they don't have, no more, the Necessary Funds enabling them to continue working properly...

- On this regard, "Eurofora" asked CLRAE's President Knape how he has succeeded to keep Relations with elected Russian delegates in Good terms vis a vis the CLRAE, despite the problems that the Ukranian issue has provoked inside PACE , (Comp. Supra).

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- As far as the Ukranian Issue is concerned, we (CLRAE) have already made clear our position, with a special Statement, reminded Knape from the beginning of his Reply to our above-mentioned Question.

- Moreover, certain Committees' Meetings initially scheduled also in Russia, have been, in consequence, cancelled, he added.

- But, at the Same Time, we (CLRAE) do Not have so Heavy Sanctions as the PACE (Comp. Supra), President Knape observed.

- Thus, we can keep going Dialogue with, and Participation of Elected Representatives, as well as to Organise several other Committees' Meetings even in Russia, which allow us (CLRAE) also to Raise Questions, in addition, on what is going on inside that (CoE's Member) Country, (f.ex. on Local/Regional Democracy, etc), he observed.  

(He didn't yet go as far as to point to the fact that CLRAE might, eventually, play a Key Role for Peace in Ukraine, according to the Minsk Agreement, by helping to design a Compromise on the Future Status of pro-Autonomy Regions of Donetsk/Luhansk, as one of his predecessors, former President Jean-Claude Frecon, had agreed with "Eurofora": See, f.ex., http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/clraepresidentonukraine.html, etc).

 

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+ This naturally becomes even more Important in Nowadays' Wider Socio-Political Context, where the notorious Recent "DisTrust" of a Growing number of Citizens vis a vis all Public Authorities in general (i.e. National States included), trends to give to Local and/or Regional Authorities (as Closer to Citizens) a Bigger than before Responsibility and Role in order to Develop "Greater Dialogue and Involvement" (Participation) "of Citizens" in Public Decision/Policy Making procedures, as part of an "Open Government", (against also "Corruption", etc), or "Good Governance", (in a way which, at least Partly, matches "Eurofora" co-Founder's own 1997-2019 Project) :

- Since the Beginning of his CLRAE Presidency, from October 2018, (Comp., among others, also, f.ex. : ..., etc), Knape has, indeed, organised Debates and Votes on the Main "Principles" of "Good Governance" by such an "Open Government", through "Transparency", "Participation", and "Accountability" in "Public Action", resulting in the Official Adoption of a relevant CLRAE Resolution (435/2018) and Recommendation (424/2018).

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=>  So that, Starting from this Spring 2019 CLRAE Plenary Session, CoE's services have begun to Publish and Widely Distribute from Strasbourg a relevant handy Booklet on "Public Ethics", concerning particularly "Transparency and Open Government" according to its Headlines, which contains in full the above-mentioned Officialy Adopted Texts, as well as a comprehensive Explanatory Report, (See Photo+).  

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+ This touches upon anOther Key Issue for CoE's Role in the Current Situation and the foreseable Future, which is the Struggle against the Causes of "Populism" so-called Phenomena, which often provoque relevant "Problems" particularly in "Rural" Areas, as President Knape told further "Eurofora" :

 - Indeed, Questioned by "Eurofora" on the Main Reasons for which CLRAE has chosen, for its Spring 2019 Session, this April in Strasbourg, to add in its Agenda also the organisation of 2 Debates on "Rural" policy, (one in Plenary's Start, about "Mayors safeguarding Democray", with the paticipation also of Vanic Berberian, President of the Association of "Rural Mayors of France", and anOther on "Addressing the Urban/Rural Divide : Solutions for territrial renewal", with 3 specialists of Rural Areas), Knape gave a straightforward Reply :

- It's mainly because we have also a "Problem" with the Causes which provoque Growing phenomena of "Populism" particularly "in Rural areas" : After the problems earlier faced in Urban spaces, at present we have to address also the causes of such Populisms spreading in Rural space CLRAE's President told us.

+ And this is "Not at all" an eventual Reaction Only to the notorious Recent series of unusual social Events in France about the so-called "Yellow Vests" ("Gilets Jaunes"), Knape insisted, simply Because Similar Problems, mutatis-mutandis, are Currently Spreading not only in France, but Also, almost Everywhere in Many Other Countries in Europe, f.ex. in Germany with the "AfD", in Sweden with the "SD", in Austria with the "FPO", at the Netherlands, etc, and even in the USA (with the Famous "HeartLands" allegedly Dominated mainly by various Hard-Core "Conservative" Populations), etc., as he observed.

=> So, inter alia, we should Help those People to be able to "Live and Work in Rural Areas", f.ex., also by Extending there too those Modern Internet Networks which will allow them to do so, CLRAE's President stressed, in Reply to another relevant Question by "Eurofora" :

- Indeed, "Expand G4 and/or G5 Digital Networks throughout all such Rural Areas is now a Must !", Knape strongly underlined, in this regard.

- Already, f.ex., "in Sweden, the (National) Government is very Heavily Investing" in such Digital Networks' extension to Rural Territories, as he pointed out.

+ However, he Acknowledged also the Fact that, anOther practical Problem Often Denounced by many People Living (or who would Like to live) in Rural Areas, is that several among them are felt to be, more or less, a kind of "Medical Deserts", i.e. Under-Equiped in Medical Doctors and/or Infrastructure, at least in their close Neighborhood, as "Eurofora" reminded.

- Indeed, there is often also a Problem of "Access to Health" there, President Knape observed. But this is Not always Specific to the Rural Areas, because, in Fact, some Similar Problems of current Lack of "Sufficient Doctors" are, Today, found "also inside certain Urban Areas, sometimes even in Big Cities", he denounced, (apparently pointing at an even more Fundamental Issue of nowadays Societies).

- At any case, if such, and some other (f.ex. Public Transports in certain Rural spots), current practical problems are Solved, then, as various Examples in Europe, USA and elsewhere, recently show, at least the "Quality of Life" at a Natural Countryside, etc, to which Many People are Attached, may really Find Practical Ways for a Territorial "ReVival" in Rural areas, Anders Knape agreed in fine.

 

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    Scientific innovation joined to Faith for Human Rights, Eastern Partnership and fight against the Crisis, but above all, the need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" from EU Citizens, are the main priorities for new EU Parliament's President, Polish Jerzy Buzek, that a 555-votes-strong majority of MEPs on July 14,  Strasbourg made a living symbol of the fact that, 20 years after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989 - 2009) there is no more an Eastern or Western Europe, but only one Europe, as the head of the largest group of MEPs, ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Joseph Daul, stressed after the event.

    Speaking later to a group of Strasbourg's Journalists, including "EuroFora", the new EU Parliament's President clarified his stance on concrete topical issues, as f.ex. that of Turkey's controversial EU bid, which was one of the main issues of the June 2009 Electoral campain, clearly won by his party of ChristianDemocrats/EPP :  - "At present, Turkey does not fullfil none of EU conditions", he stressed, (See infra).

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    Buzek is well known in Strasbourg and to "EuroFora" as EU Rapporteur for the Framework Program of Scientific Research and Development of Technologies. A Natural Science Professor from the Historic and Religious landmark Polish City of Częstochowa, active in the famous Solidarnosk grass-roots social movement, he served 4 years as Prime Minister (1997-2001), before being elected as MEP in 2004 and 2009, after he brillantly won the latest EU Election at the head of his party (EPP) almost doubling the number of its MEPs from 15 to 28 !

    - "Innovation" and "Energy safety", as well as fight against the "Cimat change", but also "Eastern Partnership", the "Mediterranean", "Strategic partnerships" with Russia, the USA, etc, and the search for "solutions to the Economic Crisis" that EU Citizens "expect" from us, will be his "priorities", announced from the outset the new EU Parliament's President, reminding also that the quest for "Human and Civic Rights" played an important role in his experience with the Solidarnosc grass-roots social movement in Poland's History

    But, the most important of all, is the urgent need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" between EU Institutions and the People he stressed : - EU "Citizens often don't understand us", denounced Buzek, launcing a call to "do anything for EU Citizens to understand our work" in EU Parliament : "We (MEPs) need to make EU Citizens involved" in "what we are doing every week, in Strasbourg and Brussels", he proposed. Pointing f.ex. to the hot "Debates" with "strong arguments" exchanged between MEPs during the preparation of their Legislative Decisions, in Committees, delivering often hard struggles between initially opposed points of view, long before forging a majority at the final vote, sometimes more than a year..

    Therefore, EU Parliament will be "open to your criticism, for discussion and exchange of views", he promissed to Journalists in Strasbourg.

    In this way, Buzek, in fact, highlighted "EuroFora"s main idea, that we strongly advocate since 1997-2007, to systematicaly and actively involve EU Citizens in public debates during the decision-making process of important EU measures, which affect their lives and the society in which they live, (and not only just a few weeks each 4 or 5 Years at the eve of EU Elections)...
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    This is related also to the symbolic gift that Buzek chose to give to the out-going former EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, (2007-2009), his collegue in the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, who brillantly won 2009 EU Elections in Germany : A genuine statute of sainte Barbara crafted in Silesia's black Coal by Polish Miners : Those simple but strong people who fought for social change against some technocrats and bureaucrats disguissed into so-called "real-socialists" of old times. (PHOTO).

    It's enough to have seen a popular open air mass, at Warsaw's center, with many thousands of people, old and young, simple workers and intellectuals mixed together, with references to Poland's history and struggles for survival and liberty, through various ages, (as fex. that organized at the eve of CoE's 2005 panEuropean Heads of State and Government for the beatification of late Pope John-Paul II), in order to understand what such symbols mean..

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    But, overcoming the "Crisis of Trust" with EU Citizens obviously implies also to rectify any errors done in the past, fex. on Turkey's controversial EU bid, with controversial decisions taken in 1999 and 2004 to give a "candidate" status and to start EU negotiations, provoking an unprecedented series of 3 "No" to EuroReferenda and 3 Majoriy Abstentions in EU Parliament Elections : 1999, 2005 and 2009, (even if the latest one succeeded to decelerate and almost stop the drop of participation rates, opening hopes for vote's revival after an electoral campaign clearly critical to Turkey's claims in several mainstream EU countries)
    
    Therefore, Buzek was faced with manifold critical Questions on EU Enlargement, most of them citting concrete examples of certain political problems  :  But his replies were almost always given as a matter of general principle :

    F.ex. Questioned on the suspension of EU - Croatia talks because of a Border conflict with EU Member Slovenia, Buzek prefered to speak about principles :

- "We know that during Enlargement, the process can be blocked by failure to resolve this kind of issues",  This concerns also other enlargments' cases", and "these rules are always in force" he warned.


But Buzek avoided to directly reply to a queston on "French and German EPP' calls to define the Borders of Europe", as a German journalist asked him by making a reference to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel's, critical statements on Turkey at the June 2009 Electoral campain.    

- "Concerning Enlargement, there's always the same rules : There have to be Criteria, which have to be respected if a Country wants to join the EU", he started to simply reply.

- "For my country (Poland) it took us 15 Years to fullfil these Criteria", Buzek reminded, indicating, if proportions are kept, that Turkey, fex. would have to spend some 25 years before eventually joining the EU..

- "Countries wishing to join the EU need to Change their Systems", as we (Poland and other former Eastern European Countries) did, he stressed.

- "'For me, meeting the condition of Human Rights is one of the Key conditions for membership in the EU", preferring again to speak from the point of view of General Principles, on the occasion of an untimely question on Serbia (which is not even a candidate yet)...

- "Turkey" has, "first of all", to fullfil (EU) Copenhagen criteria". Bevause, currently, none of them is fullfiled by Turkey", New EU Parliament's President, denounced, speaking later to a group of Journalists, including "EuroFora".

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In particular, on Human Rights :  - "We (EU) can never forget Human Rights", because "this is at the very Foundations of the EU", Buzek added.

On the contrary, when he referred to EU Enlargment for the  "Western Balkans Countries ", Buzek appeared upbeat, finding "promising situations", despite "difficulties" in the Past, since "Countries are queuing to become EU members", and this "generated changes", as he said.

As for Russia, Buzek observed that it was a "very important" country, located "in the same Continent", Europe,  "close to our borders", and "we need eachother". "But Russia' has 'differend poblems : "They claim that their system is Democratic, but rules are differend", and we must be "aware of such differencies", fex. "on Human Rights", that we can't ignore, as he said;

Concerning China, where a journalist observed that the recipient of EU Parliament's latest "Sakharov prize" for freedom of thought is "still in prison", Buzek found that since the 1999 events in Tien Amin square, "we see differencies on Human Rights still today", and expressed his "support" for those who try to ameliorate the situation.

On the contrary, speaking recently to "EuroFora" he strongly supported the idea for an EU - Ukraine cooperation, fex. between Airbus and Antonov, in order to build a  less costly but more performant than the old and problematic A400M, new Military Transport Airplane : - "They (Ukranian Antonov Company) can certainly do it. I'm sure they can. It's a good Idea, and I'd be glad if it was done", he told us. (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/airbusantonov.html )


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