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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE-UNESCO-ICC Officials to EF: Cultural Heritage Property new Treaty to Fil Gap + Fight ISIL Terror

CoE-UNESCO-ICC Officials to EF: Cultural Heritage Property new Treaty to Fil Gap + Fight ISIL Terror

Автор ACM
Friday, 13 January 2017

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- A New PanEuropean/International Legal Tool for the Protection of Cultural Heritage is due to Fill serious Gaps on Safeguarding People's Historic Identity and World's Treasures, but also to Help Fight against ISIS a.o. Terrorists, stressed several Top CoE, UNESCO, ICC and other Top Officials, speaking to "Eurofora", on the occasion of an International Conference organized in Strasbourg by Cyprus' Presidency of the CoE, in one of its most Popular Priorities among the Diplomatic Community, where Concrete Moves are Expected before it concludes at the End of May 2017.


- A main Gap, until Today, is that the re-Sellers and/or Final Buyers of a Stolen Good currently often Escape from any Criminal Responsibility, even if Public Authorities Find Proof of an illegal Traffick Network usurpating and selling valuable Cultural Heritage Objects, by merely Claiming that they Ignored that Fact.

 

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- But the New CoE's Convention intends to Criminalize also the Behavior of any re-Seller or Final Buyer (particularly Professional)who does Not show, at least, a "Due Diligence" in Examining the situation, (but behaves at least with "Gross Negligence"), before Accepting to Buy a Cultural Heritage Good which Might have been Stolen and/or Usurpated, pointed out, in substance,  the President-in-office of CoE's Committee of Ministers, Experienced Long-Time Foreign Minister of Cyprus, and former Top MEP in charge of Foreign Policy and Human Rights' matters in rthe Biggest EU Parliament's Group, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Ioanis Kasulides, speaking to "Eurofora". Kasulides has already Discussed the Need of a Better Protection of Cultural Property, recently in New York and elsewhere, also inside the UNO.


+ What is really at Stake is even More Important, Today, because Recent Developments have revealed that Islamist Terrorist Organizations, such as ISIL's atrocious BeHeaders even of Innocent Civilian People, etc., are Often Gaining a lot of Money by Large-scale Desecration, Destruction and Looting of World Heritage and other Valuable Cultural Monuments, Sites and Objects, located in the Territories that they Invade and Occupy or Attack, as Minister Kasulides earlier observed, resulting in a New Kind of "Blood Money", as CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, an Experienced former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Norway, denounced Today, right from the Beginning of this PanEuropean Conference (i.e. Russia a.o. included), Open to the Participation also of any other Global Partner or Country in the World.

 

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F.ex., not only in Iraq's Mesopotamian area, (a notorious No 1 Pre-Historic Hotspot, among the Oldest in the World, to which succeeded some Grand Civilisations from Ancient Times), but also in Syria, etc., in Addition to the World Famous, UNESCO-Award, "Palmyra" Ancient City, Attacked Twice by ISIL's Destructive and Deadly Terrorists, it's also Many Thousands of various Other, Precious Cultural Heritage Goods, which were Looted and Sold, through Criminal Traffic Networks, by such Barbaric Islamist Terrorists, including a lot of those initialy located near the Northern Borders of Syria towards the Sourth of Turkey, from where they Transited before being able to Reach customers in Europe, Japan and/or the USA, etc., Strongly Denounced the embattled Director-General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria, Professor Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim.

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 Trying to Limit such Brutal Destructions and Looting, the competent Syrian Authorities have often Collected and Transported Many valuable Historic Goods back to Damas, Dr. Abdulkarim said, but this is obviously Not Enough at all in order to Protect all the Historic Treasures existing in a Country which was a Crossroads of Phoenician, Persian, Greek, Roman, Buyzantine, and other various Civilisations, in an area where Both PolyTheistic and MonoTheistic Religions, such as Judaism, Christianism and Islam, etc, criss-crossed eachother, belonging to the History of Mankind. Moreover, the Refusal of several Foreign States to allow a Direct Cooperation between all competent and interested Actors with the current Syrian Government, has Complicated thinks, so that Most of those who can't do otherwise, at least for the Time being, are Often using to Help mainly by the Intermediary of UNESCO, (including not only Other State, and various Public or Private Actors, but even EU Commission itself, when it Funds some relevant Projects indirectly, as an EU Official observed, etc).   

  syrian_historic_artefacts_threatened_coe_eurofora_400   syrian_artefacts_400


But this obviously is Not Enough in order to seriously Protect the Most Valuable Cultural Heritage Sites, Monuments, Artifacts, Paintings, various Objects and other Goods, there and elsewhere in the World, from Looting, Abandoning, Damaging, Disfiguring, partialy or Totaly Destroying, by Criminal Thugs, Political Hostility, Cultural Genocide policies, and/or Extremist Islamist Terrorism, etc., as have shown also the Notorious Recent Examples of the Demolition of Giant "Budha" Statutes by Talibans in Afghanistan, the various Destructions imposed at Palmyra by ISIL's Terrorists, the quasi-Systematic Looting, Desecration, and/or Destruction of Ancient Greek/Byzantine and Particularly Christian Churches, Monuments and Religious Objects in the Occupied Territories of Cyprus controlled by  Ankara's Foreign Invasion and Occupation Army, including even the Incredible Incident of Many Precious Historic, mainly Byzantine Artifacts brutaly Thrown Down, Lost or Looted, and/or Broken by Armed islamist Terrorist Gangs in Northern Syria, near Turkey's Borders, reportedly, even when they Wanted to ...Steal the big Boxes in which they had been classified, as Dr. Abdulkarim Denounced.

 

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That's why CoE's New Convention aims to provide Efficient and Sufficient Legal Tools in order to Help Face all such "Threats to Cultural Property", including, mainly, the currently Growing Need to "Fight illicit Destruction, Excavation and Trafficking", as Official Documents note. "Offences ... are Growing" recently against "Cultural Property Belonging to Peoples", which "Constitutes a unique and important Testimony of the(ir) Culture and Identity", often "leading to the Destruction of the World's Cultural Heritage", and "involving" also "Organised Criminal Groups", even "Terrorist Organisations", in "Deliberate Destruction", "Trafficking" and "illicit Trade", the Draft Conention's Preambule notes.

 

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Significantly, UNESCO's Director-General, Irina Bokova, confirmed to "Eurofora" that she founds "very Important Today" the Issues at stake, just after Strongly Denouncing the Fact that the "War Crime" of "Destruction of Heritage", has Now "Become a Tactic of War and Propaganda, to Weaken Resolve, to Incite Hatred and Revenge", while also "Exploited to Finance Illicit Activities, through "Looting and Trafficking", which "is Criminal Offense".

 

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Among various such Examples, UNESCO has pointed also at that of Nimrud Archeological Site, in Iraq's Nineveh valley, which faced "Deliberate Destructin by ISIL"s Terrorists. Therefore, particularly nowadays, - "The Fight against Impunity is clearly one of the Issues that we Must Address", but "where our Legal Arsenal is the Weakest", until now, Bokova pointed out in her Keynote speech at CoE's Conference in Strasbourg this Morning.

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  But the competent, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, a former Minister of Justice from Gambia and UN Expert on International Law, Replying to an "Eurofora" Question, which Reminded also the Timely Call launched recently in Strasbourg, Both at the CoE and in EU Parliament, by the 2 Yazidi Girls, Kidnapped, EnSlaved, Raped and Abused by ISIL's Islamist Terrorists, to, at last, "End the ImPunity" of such AbHorrent Criminals, (a Call that even UNO's former Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has Strongly Supported at a landmark Speech in EU Parliament in Brussels : See, f.ex. : ...), Regretted the Fact that ICC has Not yet a Direct Legal Competence on the Territories of Syria and Iraq, as long as these Countries are Not yet Court's Members. On the Contrary, at least in one area in Africa, we have already one Example of a former Gang Leader who was Arrested, Judged and Condemned for Destruction of Cultural Heritage, she observed earlier.  

 

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- However, We (ICC) can Intervene when "Foreign Fighters" f.ex. from European and/or Other Countries which have Signed and Ratifies the International Criminal Court's statute, are Crossing over here, after having actively Participated in ISIL's and/or Other Armed Gangs' Terrorist Crimes, she observed. In Addition, ICC might Also Take Action against Destruction and Looting of Cultural Heritage, when the Culprits are part of Trans-National Networks, f.ex. of Smugglers, which Extend also into Member Countries, she added. As far as Time-Limits are concerned, for the ICC to be Legaly Competent, the inscriminated Acts must have taken place After 2002, Bensouda reminded, But agreed with "Eurofora" that in Cases where, Even if the Initial, Main Crime might have Started in a more remote Past, neverheless, ICC could  be legaly seized when f.ex. there is a kind of "Continuing" Violations still taking place more Recently, perhaps even Nowadays and/or in the Future, by various Subsequent Acts which Exploit, Perpetuate, Extend, and/or Aggravate Further Nowadays a Crime of Destruction of Cultural Heritage, which has Started earlier.

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- CoE's Director-General on Legal affairs and Human Rights, Patrick Boillat, speaking to "Eurofora", pointed out that, while the New CoE's Convention is due to have an International Dimension by being Open also for Accession by All Countries in the World, even Out of Europe, i.e. located in any other Continent on Earth, nevertheless, an eventual Problem, at least for the Time being, for certain Countries as Syria, might be the Fact that, (as also for Many Other Conventions), CoE's Committee of Ministers must always Decide Unanimously to Accept to Invite a precise Country to become a New Treaty Member, or not, (so that even 1 CoE Member State's eventual Refusal risks to Block that possibility in a certain case).

However, generaly speaking, this New Draft Convention on "Offences relating to Cultrural Property", responds to Real Needs, particularly Today, of the PanEuropean and International Community, in order to "Complete" some pre-existing UNESCO and UNIDROIT Texts in certain Key Areas which still remain Unsettled, and should be Finalized, Adopted, and Start to be Implemented the Soonest possible, CoE's Legal/HR Director Boillat concluded, in his statements to "Eurofora".

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As for the Chairman of CoE's Committee which currently Drafts that New Convention, Hans-Holger Herrnfeld from Germany, speaking in fine to "Eurofora", he confirmed that, after This Week's Meeting of 9-12 January 2017, the Committee's Next Meeting "on February" is expected to make a serious Advance towards Protecting Cultural Property in a way which may also Help Curb some Criminal and/or Terrorist Networks, so that we could all Hope for the entire Legal Text to be Ready for a possible Opening to the Signature and Ratification by CoE's 47 Member Countries, as well as, eventually, Other, Third Countries from Other Continents in the World, at the forthcoming Plenary Session of the PanEuropean Organisation's Committee of Ministers, of End of May 2017, at Nicosia, Cyprus.

 

(../..)

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(NDLR : DraftNews, as already send to "Eurofora"s Donors and Subscribers, earlier. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap).

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    The incoming Swedish EU Presidency (July-December 2009) may still remain in favour of Turkey's controversial EU bid, despite June 2009 EU Elections' results, but it has "very strong demands on Turkey"'s obligation to respect EU Rules, said the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, to "EuroFora", reacting to critical Press reports.

    - "I know (that) the link is often made also to Sweden's position on Turkey"'s controversial EU bid. Indeed, "we (Swedish EU Presidency) are very much engaged in the future membership of Turkey, but not without fullfiling all the Criteria".

    - "It's very clear that we (Swedish EU Presidecny) have very Strong Demands on Turkey, in a sort of concept for Future membership of the Union, ...which will be a Long Process...", she stressed.

    This means, in particular, "the Copenhagen Criteria (on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law), and also the adaptation to the Acquis of the European Union".

     - "If you listen to what Mr. Bildt (the Swedish Foreign Minister) says on Turkey at different occasions, it's very clear : We want Turkey to become part of the Union, in the Future. But we want it to fullfil all the Criteria : The Acquis of the European Union. That's very clear", she concluded.

    The Senior Official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry was reacting to critical Press Reports, from Brussels' Journalists invited by EU Commission's secretariat to Stockholm, who claimed that Bildt was abusing of a ..."Whip" (sic !) against Cyprus, by "threatening" the presence of UNO's Peace-keeping force at the "Green line" which separates the island's Government-controlled areas from the territories occupied by Ankara's army, if Nicosia didn't accept any political solution, regardless of Turkey's demands, before the end of 2009.

        Governing AKEL Party's new Secretary General, Andros Kyprianou, reacted by declaring that no-one can threat the People of Cyprus : -"We shall decide for our Future, and nobody else",  he reportedly said, asking to "keep calm". "In order to find a Solution soon, certain basic Principles must be respected", he stressed, calling those who feel an urgency to use their influence on Turkey. Other Political Parties were more critical.

    This was a reference to recently reported statements by Turkish Minister Bagis, Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan and Turkey's National Security Council (a Military-Political body), accused to push towards a partitionist "2 States" solution, contrary to UNO SC Resolutions for Cyprus' reunification.

    December 2009 is a crucial moment for EU's appraisal of Turkey's controversial EU bid, because EU Council has decided to review then Ankara's compliance with the European position on the recognition of Cyprus' Government, which was clearly set out by an EU reply of 21 September 2005 to Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan's claims, refusing to recognize even the existence of EU Member Cyprus, in controversial statements he made to London (former EU chair) on July 29, 2005.

    EU Parliament's latest Resolution on Turkey, adopted on March 2009 in Strasbourg, warned Ankara that "the non-fulfillment of Turkey's commitments... by December 2009, may further seriously affect the process of Negotiations" with the EU.

    In practice, the issue boils down to Ankara's "embargo" against Ships and Airplanes using Cyprus' seaports or airports at the strategic EU island, which traditionaly hosts one of the World's biggest Shipping flags. EU has already "freezed" 6 relevant Chapters in EU - Turkey Negotiations since December 2006, after Ankara refused to fullfil a commitment it had undertaken when EU had decided to open controversial "accession" negotiations with Turkey, back on December 2005.

    - "As far as EU - Turkey relations are concerned, it's clear that Turkey needs to fullfil its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional Protocol (to "EC-Turkey Association Agreement"),  This is an important issue....and should be addresseed as soon as possible as it clearly affects the pace of the accession negotiations.Issues covered by the Declaration of September 2005 will continue to be followed up, and progress is urgently awaited", warned earlier in Strasbourg the out-going Czech EU Presidency (former vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra).

    But the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, dismissed "interpretations" by "some" that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was reportedly "threatening" Cyprus with consequences on the UNFICYP, if it doesn't accept any solution until December 2009, while Turkey is reportedly delaying in an attempt to impose a partitionist "2 States" solution.

    On the contrary, Julin, stressed that "Sweden has strong demands on Turkey'"s respect of "Copenhagen Criteria and EU Acquis".

    Meanwhile, Sweden  is "concerned" about the risk of "Stalemate" in Cyprus' Talks, but is well aware that "the main responsibilities lie with the two leaders and the UNO", Europe playing only a role of "facilitator".

    After carefully verifying, the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, stressed to "EuroFora" that Bildt's reference to UNFICYP "was not linked to a Threat", and dismissed those who "interpreted" it so.

    On the contrary, the Swedish EU Presidency acknowledged the fact that Peace Talks are mainly for the UN and the leaders of the Cypriot communities, EU's role being limited into that of a "facilitator".

    As for Turkey's reported attempts to impose a "2 States' solution", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service sharply replied by stressing that Turkey must respect the "EU Acquis" rules.

    In particular :

    - "Basically he (Bildt) underlined that it's the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the UN that have the main responsibilities for solving the problem", started to say the Swedish Senior Official to "EuroFora", referring to the above-mentioned "briefing".

    - "But the EU had a role in sort of pointing out the benefits and facilitating a little bit the outcome for the settlement of the whole Cyprus' issue", she added.

    - "And he did state the Fact, that the rest of the World (i.e. USA, etc) will, of course, look at the differend issues which are at the table, and the future of the UN Peace keeping force is part of what is at the table", she admitted.

    - "I understand that some have interpreted that as a Threat, by the Swedish Minister" "But", in reality, "it's a statement of a Fact, that, when we'll look at the differend issues, one of the issues on which we shall have to take a stand on, is the future of the UN Peace keeping force in Cyprus".

    Indeed, one of the questions usually raised for a Solution of Cyprus' issue is what International and/or European or other Guarantees, by a Peace-keeping force, might be needed afterwards, eventually for a transitory period.

    Questioned anew by "EuroFora" whether (according to critical Press Reports) this could be taken as a veiled warning that, if Cyprus didn't accept any Turkish demand for any solution whatever, it might be left alone to face Ankara's Military Invasion/Occupation, she denied :

    - "He (Bildt) didn't say it in that way"... "It was not linked to a threat, or anything like that", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service stressed.

    On the contrary, "he (Bildt) underlined that the main responsibility lies with the parties concerned on the island". "The EU can try to facilitate and show the benefits of reaching a settlement. But also, when the EU and the rest of the World (i.e. USA) will have to look at it, they will look at all the Facts on the table, and the presence of the UN Peace-keeping force is one".

    And "he (Bildt) didn't speak about that at all", she replied to "EuroFora" question on Turkey's reported attemps to impose, in one way of another, a partitionist "2 States solution".

    Asked whether Bildt's aim was to incite both parties to move forward efficiently, she agreed :

    - In fact, "the EU is really very concerned with the Stalemate in the situation. Yes !", the Head of Sweden's Foreign Ministry's Press Service anounced. That's why Bildt "was hoping for the two parties (i.e. for Turkey's also) to engage and break, a little-bit, the present stalemate, come to a solution of the issue" of Cyprus.

    But, replying  to a "EuroFora"s question on the risk, denounced by several politicians in case of strict Time Deadlines, for Turkey to provoke a stalemate and wait for the time to come to impose a partitionist "2 States' solution", she reacted by pointing at Turkey's obligation to respect "EU Acquis" :

    - "Turkey must fullfil the EU Acquis : That's clear !", the Swedish Senior Official stressed.

    More details are expected when Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt will debate his Programme with new MEPs at EU Parliament's plenary mid-July in Strasbourg, that he has visited already in 2008.

    Foreign Minister Carl Bildt became familiar with Strasbourg's CoE last year, when Sweden chaired the PanEuropean organization of Human Rights. As EU chairman-in-office, he will also chair the 27-member States strong EU Group inside the 47-member States strong CoE.

    Minister for EU affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom is well known at EU Parliament, where she has been an active MEP of the Liberal Group for many years, following also Press Freedom issues.

    Both have already made various statements at "EuroFora", on differend topical matters.

    ***

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