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Home arrow newsitems arrow Duma International Committee Chair Slutsky to EF on Russia-CoE Assembly row: A Chance for Deal ?

Duma International Committee Chair Slutsky to EF on Russia-CoE Assembly row: A Chance for Deal ?

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/-
"Alea Jacta Est", and Time for Decisions has come, in the 4 Years-Long Russia - CoE Assembly Row, which has left the PanEuropean Organisation wihOut any Russian MEP, and now even Threatens its Budget, since Moscow has notoriously Suspended its Annual Financial Contributions to Strasbourg, (while a traditional Deadline looms for that Payment already on June 30) :

 

In a Brief but Topical, Substantial and Exclusive Interview given to "Eurofora" by the Experienced President of Russian Duma's International relations Committee, Leonid Slutsky, (who, together with his Collegue of the Federal Council/Senate, Konstantin Kosachev, himself President of Foreign Affairs Committee there, have an Extensive Knowledge of CoE's Assembly), he appears rather Optimist on the Decision taken Today, as an important Step in a longer and complex process, but also Realist enough about the Big Challenges still remaining to face, ahead, while also strongly Focusing on the Number 1 Priority for the Russian MEPs, (even if he seems also Ready to Consider, at least, a priori, an eventual Compromise suggested by "Eurofora" : See Infra).

 

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A Crucial Report was Adopted, this Evening in Strasbourg, by an Exceptional, High-Level "Ad Hoc" Committee, with the Participation of Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee President Leonid Slutsky, who Replied  to "Eurofora"s Questions, (after a Press-point for Russian-speaking Journalists), just before rushing for an Airplane to Moscow.

 

duma_fac_president_slutsky_press_point_eurofora_400 


- Meanwhile, a French and a Dutch MEPs had told "Eurofora" that this Report, (in fact a Series of Proposals, with Various Alternatives, that its Authors reportedly Tried to Narrow down in order to Focus, as much as possible, to a Handfull of Main Trends), was due to be Transmitted to CoE Assembly's "Bureau", for Decision expected on Friday Morning.


An Earlier Version, which included also a Previous Transmission and Debate between MEPs and CoE Member States' Governments' Representatives (mainly Ambassadors) at a "Mixte" Comittee, due to Coordinate Parliamentarian (where Russia was Pushed to leave, with all its MEPs Out, since 2014), and InterGovernemental Activities of the CoE, (where Russia remains present), Scheduled for Wednesday early Afternoon, suddenly appeared, however, UnCertain, as even a mainstream French MEP told "Eurofora" that he wasN't Aware of such a move :


In fact, the Inter-Governemental part of the overall Process is as much Necessary, as the Reform of COE's Rules might be more Ambitious, in order to Ensure Russian and Other MEPs that they would Not Risk again to be Striped from their Voting and Participation Rights, (as Moscow and others notoriously ask). But this might, eventualy, be achieved even Simply with a Transmission of COE Assembly Bureau's subsequent Decision (on Friday Morning) to the COE's Committee of Ministers, immediately afterwards.


Meanwhile, the "Report" debated and just Adopted by the "Ad Hoc", High Level Committee, as expected, reportedly keeps an equivalent Structure to that of an earlier "Memorandum", (several Times Re-Drafted), which Simply Noted a Series of concrete Possibilities, proposed by various Sides, but Leaving the Choices to be made, Later-on, "by the Bureau" of CoE's Asssembly, (i.e. on Friday morning).


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According to other, Well Informed Sources, it is Expected that CoE Assembly's Bureau would confirm a demand for 2 Reports to be prepared asap : One, from the body's Political affairs Committee, around COE's main Role, Mission, Identity or Physionomy, due to be Drafted by Experienced, Dutch Senator Tiny Cox, Long-Time President of the Group of MEPs of the Left, and anOther, focusing on the desirable, relevant Reforms, by the Committee on Rules.


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duma_international_committee_president_slutskky__agg_eurofora_400 


 - "The Main point, for me, is that this Special "Ad Hoc" Committee, set up by COE Assembly's Bureau, from its Previous President Michele Nicolletti from Italy, (currently Vice-President), did a very Good Job !", Optimistically estimated the Experienced President of Russian Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, speaking to "Eurofora", shortly after the Conclusion of that important meeting.


 - "I Think that we may Plan, for the Conclusions, Recommendations and Analysis made by that "Ad Hoc" Committee, to be used as the Basis for the (2) Next Reports of PACE's Committees on Political Affairs and on the Rules" (Comp. Supra), he speculated.


  + "And I Hope that we can Continue our Work", in this regard, in one way or another, Slutsky added.


 >>> "But, we (Russian MEPs) can Return Back to the (CoE's) Assembly, Only After the Adoption of Regulatory Changes which Can Ensure that Nobody among the National Delegations (of MEPs) would ever be Striped of its Rights, which are "Sacred", and canNot be Altered or Sanctioned here, inside the Assembly", the President of Duma's Political Affairs Committee told us.


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    At this point, "Eurofora" reminded to Slutsky our earlier Finding, that, in Fact, it was Not a Majority of MEPs, but Only a Minority (of Registered MEPs), who had provoked that Controversial Row, Back on 2014, by Voting More and Harsher Sanctions than a Compromise Previously Agreed among the Presidents of PACE's Political + Monitoring Committees and the Russian MEPs, pushing them to Quit the Assembly, (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminorityamendmentpushesrussianmepsout.html).


    So that, the current proposals, made by Many inside this "Ad Hoc" Committee in CoE's Assembly, to Ask for More Strict Conditions to eventual Sanctions against MEPs, (f.ex., in Quorum, Quaified -even 2/3- Majority, etc), should Normally be Enough in order to Safeguard Russian MEPs' Rights, in practice, (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/russiaandpacecrisismayberesolved.html ).


    => And asked him if he thinks that these Facts could Facilitate an Agreement Today, (i.e. even if Sanctions remained theoreticaly possible, but Only on Conditions normally Impossible or, at least, extremely improbable for anyone to meet nowadays in the case of Russian MEPs).


    - "We shall See that", President Slutsky replied to the above-mentioned "Eurofora"s suggestion, i.e., a priori, Not Excluding such moves for a workable Compromise, as those that "Eurofora" Highlighted.


     - However, at any case, at least as things stand, "For the Moment, We have a Majority in the Joint Committee, But that's Not yet in the Bureau, or in the Plenary. So that we shall Examine the Situation", he added Carefully.


    - "Personally, I Think that there are Good Chances (for Russian MEPs) to Return" in CoE's Assembly, Slutsky, indeed, found.


    - "But, this could only be done After the Adoption of Amendments to the Regulations, which would be Able to Stop, even Theoretical Possibilities, to impose Sanctions or Cut the Rights of National Delegations, be it Russian, or of Other Countries", he stressed.


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    + "Moreover, all those Articifial "Red Lines", that some abuse inside the CoE, which do Not Mind about the Countries, but, rather, to Divide and Separate the Countries among them, are realy very Negative factors, against the Future of the CoE and its Parliamentary Assembly, Hindering the further Development of European Structures", he Denounced, in conclusion


    - Indeed, "Both for Big and Small Countries, it should Not be possible to Cut and Stop their Rights. If a Country's National Parliament has send a Delegation (of Democratically Elected MEPs) to Strasbourg, then, this is Sacred !  Nobody can Stop, Alter or Sanction these Rights", which "must be Respected".  The Contrary, would be "a very Negative factor against CoE's Future", he Warned.


    - "Nevertheless, we (Russia and the CoE) can Debate, and hold even very Hard Discussions, on certain Problems, f.ex. Institutional, and/or the Ukranian Issue, etc.", the Top Russian MEP Accepted.


     >>>"But with the Delegation" of Russian MEPs "in Strasbourg : Not only the Discussion in Strasbourg, while the MEPs' are obliged to stay in Moscow !", President Slutsky concluded ad absurdum...

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

 

+ Meanwhile, in Addition to those, inside the CoE, who have recently expressed their support to its role as a PanEuropean Forum for Dialogue, (Comp., f.ex. : ..., etc),

the Experienced, twice CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, clearly reiterated his Vision for Strasbourg's Organisation of Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, to serve also as "a PanEuropean Legal Space, from Lisbon to Vladivostoc",

as he stressed Both at a Press-point together with CoE's President, Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic (Comp. his Reply to an "Eurofora"'s Question at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/primeministerplenkoviconeucoecoop.html, etc), and in CoE Assembly's Plenary. 

 

(../..)

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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".
----------------------------

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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