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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 ?

Автор 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.

 

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- 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.


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

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...

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+ 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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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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