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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Assembly decides Debate + Vote on Aleppo at its November Session in Cyprus

CoE Assembly decides Debate + Vote on Aleppo at its November Session in Cyprus

Written by ACM
Friday, 14 October 2016
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- The PanEuropean, 47-Member Countries strong CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has just Decided, this Friday Morning/Noon in Strasbourg, to Hold a Topical public Debate on the currently very "Hot" issueof the "the situation in Aleppo" (Syria),  (nowadays discussed at UNO's HQ in New York, and between Paris - Moscow - Berlin, etc, as well as Tomorrow, Saturday, at nearby Lausanne, in Switzerland, etc),at its immediately forthcoming Session, on November 25, exceptionaly hosted in Cyprus, i.e. Near Syria's SeaCoasts.


EU and CoE Member Cyprus is the Incoming New President in office of the CoE's Highest Political body, that of its Committee of Ministers, for the period of November 2016 - May 2017. (The previous rotating CoE Chairmanship by Cyprus had taken place a long time ago, between 1994 and 1995, (Comp. relevant "Eurofora" co-Founders' NewsReports etc., already from the preparation of that event, published then at PIO, CNA, etc).


According to well informed Sources from the incoming Cyprus' CoE Presidency, at least the Initial Intention for that November 2O16 PACE event, was to Focus, in general, on "International Law and Human Rights".


Given that the Next full Plenary Session of the PACE concenes No Earlier than on January 2017 in Strasbourg, it will be its "Standing Committee" which is due to hold that public Debate and Vote on Aleppo at its much Earlier Meeting on November 2016 in Cyprus.


PACE's Standing Committee has, in Legal terms, Similar Powers as also PACE's full Plenary Sessions, and all its Leadership takes part, in principle, (even if the Number of participating simple MEPs is not necessarily the same).


But its Political Importance, in real Practice, can get a more or less Big Potential, according to the overall Context and relevant Developments, as well as Last Minute Decisions :


- F.ex., already, Back on 1999, Strasbourg's Journalists regularly covering the CoE (including "Eurofora"s co-Founder) had been Invited to a landmark PACE Standing Committee Session in Rome (Italy), initialy for a main Issue officialy pointing, then, at Ocalan's controversial kidnaping at Nairobi, in Africa, by a Turkish commando, and subsequent Detention Conditions at Imranli, in Turkey. But, just After arriving in Rome, suddenly, a radical Change appeared on PACE Standing Committee's Main Issue, which Now Focused, on the Contrary, to nearby Ex-Yugoslavia and the Kosovo crisis, resulting in an Exceptionaly "Hot" Debate and a very Disputed Vote of a Resolution which became, (after that matter had been practicaly Droped or comparatively Downplayed, earlier, both at the UNO and at EU Parliament, etc), the Only Official Document on which some Claimed to have Found some kind of (even if indirect)Legitimacy in order to Start Launching one of the Waves of Military Strikes in what became known as 1 among the 2 successive Ex-Yugoslavia Wars, (Comp. relevant "Eurofora" co-Founder's NewsReport from that Historic, even if Controversial, Event, Published then at MPA Press Agency, etc).


Today's Decision on Aleppo (Syria) was Exceptionaly taken "by the Bureau" of PACE, i.e. its Highest Political Body after the Plenary itself, (whose Meetings are held "In Camera" and, in principle, Confidential), and Not on the Public Initiative of a Group of MEPs presenting a Draft Motion for Resolution, (i.e. Contrary to the Usual Procedure, which is used much More Often, for Most of Other Issues, including Many other "Hot" and Urgent matters).


It was officialy  Refered to PACE's Political affairs Committee "for Report", and this, practicaly, means that, normaly, a Written Text (such as a Resolution/Recommendation, etc) is due to officialy Emerge on that Issue at the CoE, sooner or later, for Final public Debate and Vote at that November 2016 PACE Standing Committee's meeting on November 25 - 26 in Cyprus, (Comp. Supra), and Not Only a mere "Urgent" Oral Debate, Contrary, f.ex., to what has just occured, this week in Strasbourg, where PACE's full Plenary Session didn't Discuss the notorious Mass Waves of Oppression against Tens of Thousands of various Dissident People, on pretext of a Strange, 6 Hours-long, "Coup" Attempt last July 2016, (See, f.ex. : ...), but Only Oraly, withOut any Written Text (f.ex. Draft Resolution, etc) to Vote.


The Next Meeting of PACE's Political affairs Committee has been Scheduled for Monday, November 7, in Paris, France, (as it happens quite often, but not necessarily always).


Its current President is Danish Socialist MEP Mogens Jensen, from the original "Christiansborg" Quarter of Copenhagen. But the Rapporteur had Not yet been officialy chosen.


Recently, after the BreakDown of an initial Americano-Russian Deal for a General Cease-Fire in Syria, the Out-going US President Barack Hussein Obama (Socialist/Liberal) notoriously Accused Moscow for Helping the Syrian Government to recuperate that BeSieged Part of Aleppo City which still remains Controlled by Armed Rebel Groups, and mainly Al-Nusra (an Al-Quaida offspring, classified as "Terrorist", ISIL, FSA, etc), and exchanged "Hot" Claims about alleged Blunders, reportedly with "Humanitarian" a.o. undue Casualties, in some Obscure and Controversial Circumstances, both there and elsewhere in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly Replied by Denouncing an alleged Attempt by some of those who are accused to Secretly Arm and/or Fund various Terrorist Gangs in Syria to Hinder a Liberation of Alepo from "Al- Nusra" and other (often also Foreign) Terrorists, by the Government of the Country, under Fallacious Pretexts, letting "Al-Quaida" affiliates to abuse of Civilian People as "Hostages" serving as a "Human Shield".

 

 

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Out-going French President Hollande (Socialist), was suddenly pushed to take a Similar position to that of Obama, tabling an Alternative Motion for Resolution on Aleppo by UNO's Security Council, and Accusing for alleged "War Crimes" Russia, which had already presented a Different Motion for Resolution at the UNSC on a Wider CeaseFire in Syria. This resulted, inter alia, also to an exceptional Postponement of a Visit in Paris that Russian President Putin had initialy planned and agreed for Next Week, on Octobe 19, (See, f.ex.: ...)


But in subsequent Tripartite Encounter by Phone between Hollande, Putin and German Chancelor Angie Merkel, (who Might, eventualy, Host in Berlin a Top Diner, in "Normandy 4" format, together with Hollande, Putin and Poroshenko on the still Pending issue of Ukraine, for the Implementation of the "Minsk"Agreements' Peace process, perhaps, also on October 19, according to some sources), an official Press Communique issued by the German Government in Berlin, (and made immediatly Accessible to registered Journalists, including "Eurofora"), significantly Focuses on ensuring a CeaseFire asap at the Syrian conflict in general.


Concerning particularly Aleppo, Russia said that it Backs a UN Envoy offer for "Al Nusra" a.o. Islamic Armed Gangs (Comp. Supra),  to Leave out of the City, in a special Evacuation operation, placed under a guaranteed CeaseFire for that purpose.

 

But the Obvious Question raised, in relation with Today's PACE Bureau Decision, (Comp. Supra), is whether, and in what measue, the PanEuropean Organisation's Assembly could, or not, Legitimately Debate and Vote on such a "Hot" Topical issue as Aleppo, etc., Despite the Exceptional current Absence of All Russian MEPs, (See,f.ex.:...): A Fact which has already had, in practice, indirectly but naturaly, Dissuaded the CoE to Debate several other  "Hot" Issues on the Dramatic on-going Developments in Syria, a Neighbouring to Europe and strategicaly located Country, until now.

 

OSCE rotating Chairman in office for 2016, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, had just stressed, Yesterday at the CoE in Strasbourg, that "Channels of Dialogue with Russia" should be maintained, despite Difficulties,in order to search much needed Compromises and/or Solutions for Peace, f.ex. in Ukraine and/or Syria, etc., "including (at a) Parliamentary" level, as he had Topicaly added, (See, f.ex.: ....).

 => Is there any, eventualy "Special Formula" to Find for that Important forthcoming PACE Gathering in Cyprus, on November 2016, (particularly following also a Recent Summit of CoE Member States' National Parliament Speakers, held last September in Strasbourg, with the Participation also of the Russian Senate's Experienced President Valentina Matvienko - a close ally to President Putin :Comp. f;ex. her previous Statements to "Eurofora" at :...), or something else which might, perhaps, serve, in one way or another, the cause of Peace and Human Rights ? 

 

(../..)

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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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