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Accueil 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

Ecrit par 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).

clrae_president_knape__agg_eurofora_400 

- 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).

clrae_booklet_on_good_governance_eurofora_400 

=>  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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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
---------------------
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
---------------------------------------

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
-----------------------
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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