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Inicio 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

Escrito por ACM
03.04.19
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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).

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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    The recent paradox of freezing EU Talks with front-runner Croatia, while continuing controversial EU - Turkey talks, despite Zagreb's acceptance of Refugees' Human Rights to return, that Ankara refuses fex. in Cyprus, while both have "Good Neighborhood" problems vis a vis Slovenia, or Greece, Cyprus and Armenia respectively, can it be justified by the non-fullfilment of EU criteria, as Slovenia says, or, is it "Double Standards" ?    

The question became unavoidable after statements by Presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, Tuerk and Mesic, respectively, to "EuroFora", exclusively or among Strasbourg's journalists this week at the CoE, on the sidelines of its 2009 Summer University for Political Schools, which topically brought them together as successive key-note speakers.


    Comming only a few Months before EU checks Turkey's compliance to its commitments on Cyprus, etc., scheduled for December 2009, this obviously has a special importance for the coherence of EU Enlargement's principles.

     Suspension of EU Negotiations is a normal consequence in case of a Candidate Country's failure to fullfil EU Conditions, such as "Good Neighborhood relations", stressed at first Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk, current CoE's chair.

    But, regarding EU's Criteria,  there shouldn't be any "Double Standards",  reacted Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, commenting the fact that Turkey's controversial EU negotiations continue, while they were recently "freezed" in the case of Croatia, an "unquestionably European Country", which oficially accepts to respect Refugees Human Rights, contrary to Ankara's notorious refusals or reluctance.                                       

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           - "EU itself has set as a Criterium (for EU Enlargement) the "Good Neighborhood relations",  and their absence justifies the "Suspension" EU Negotiations, (f.ex. with Croatia), because of a Border dispute affecting the territorial integrity of an EU Member Country, stressed Slovenian President, Danilo Tuerk, CoE's Chairman in office (May - November 2009), speaking to Journalists in Strasbourg including "EuroFora".    

Questioned earlier what "consequences on EU's Enlargement policy" can have the "Ban on EU Membership Negotiations", imposed to Croatia, Tuerk replied that "this question comes down to the fulfillement of (EU) Criteria for membership. One has to look at each Candidate Country ., from the point of view whether it fullfils the Criteria that EU has set. One of them are Good Neighborhood Relations, I'd like to remind. And also, there are other factors, such as Justice, Home affairs, Rule of Law, and others".


    - "Now, ..Candidate Countries are at Different Levels of fulfillement of Criteria", he observed.

    - " Croatia is obviously the closest to that. I'm rather optimistic : I think that in the coming Months we'll have an opportunity to look at all these issues constructively and hopefully we'll be able to make progress". "My main concern, at this point, is the situation in Bosnia : We haven't seen enough progres domesticaly. We haven't seen enough during ..political parties within their country.We need a New Energy, a new energetic move towards the Candidature for EU membership. "Other (Western Balkan) Countries (Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, Albania) have been making soaring Progress, and I think that they should be ready, in a few Years, for the Candidate status".

    - "As far as the Western Balkans are concerned, .. nobody should be left outside" the EU, Slovenian's President concluded, ommitting to mention Turkey's controversial EU bid.

    - "This process may be seen as Slow, but..  Slovenia has also has also been exposed to various "Booms of Slowness" in our accession period. But now we can say that the process was relatively quick, because changes which occur after becoming EU member, are quite large, and they require proper Preparations before the (EU) membership becomes a new factor, an impacting line for a new (EU) member country".
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EU "Solidarity" ?
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Slovenian statements made some participants from certain 3rd Countries as FYROM, etc. claim that "the Principle of EU Solidarity" would "produce a.. rising European Union Nationalism (sic !), against Non-EU Countries", as they said, asking unhappy foreign countries to form a "bloc" to exert pressure on the EU...    

But Croatian President Stjepan Mesic dismissed that, supporting "EU Integration", "after the Economy also in Political" issues, as "the achievement" of our times. In EU there is "diversity, but it's United", he stressed, "EU has to be United so that it can become a central factor of Peace" also at the surrounding areas, he replied.

croatian_president_mesic_ 

Speaking later exclusively to "EuroFora", the experienced twice President of Croatia, former President of the International "Non-Aligned" movement, denounced "Double Standards" in the way EU treats recently Croatia compared to Turkey :   

 - "I think that there shouldn't be Double Standards", stressed the Croatian President, in reply to a Question comparing the freeze of EU - Croatia talks, with the continuation of EU - Turkey talks, despite the fact that Croatia is an "unquestionably European country", while Turkey's EU bid is notoriously controversial.


    Mesic was reacting to the observation that, even if he confirmed his "respect of Refugees' Human Rights to return, etc. (See infra), nevertheless, EU talks are suspended with Croatia.. While for oher, controversial candidates, who refuse to respect Refugees' Rights to return, etc., as fex. Turkey does in occupied Cyprus and elsewhere, EU negotiations continue".

    - "I believe that Croatia's accession will confirm that all European Countries who fulfill all of the Conditions and achieve European Standards, have to join the EU. There shouldn't be any Double Standards", went on to add in reply President Mesic.

    In this relation, Croatia's President found "of paramount importance", CoE's "mechanisms enforcing ECHR's judgements"
    
    - "On Refugees and Displaced persons, the process will be completed only after the last person demanding to return will be allowed to do so !", President Mesic Croatia stressed earlier, setting a general standard of obvious importance also for otherr candidates, as f.ex. Turkey, often accused to exclude or heavily restrict Greek Cypriot Displaced persons' return to their Family Homes and ancestral land, provoke difficulties to Turkish-Kurd IDPs return to their home regions at the South-East, etc.

    Some "2.000 People are still reported Missing" in former Yugoslavia, for some Years, (as in Cyprus, modern Europe's oldest case, for 3 Decades. Nagorno-Karabach, Tcecnya in Russia, etc, more recently), and Investigations "will only be completed after establishing the fate of the last one of them", he added.
    
    Speaking earlier on "War Crimes", President Mesic stressed that "Leaders are responsible for (the) Wars (of the Past), not the People", and called against Impunity :  "Individuals have to be held Responsible for Crimes. International Penal Tribunals have to persecute those individuals", perpetrators of War Crimes, he underlined.

    Such statements naturally made Mesic rather popular at ECHR, whose President, French EuroJudge, Professor Jean-Paul Costa, looked particularly smiling when he welcomed him later on Wednesday afternoon, after Slovenian President Daniko Tuerk earlier this week.
           

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