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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE SG Free Speech Envoy to Turkey, Stoudman, to EuroFora: All issues in 2 Visits 1 Report (Web incl

CoE SG Free Speech Envoy to Turkey, Stoudman, to EuroFora: All issues in 2 Visits 1 Report (Web incl

Written by ACM
Friday, 17 June 2011

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All issues related to Free Speech in Turkey are due to be checked  by the CoE at the Top, in 2 Visits and 1 Report, starting from the next few days, said CoE Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland's envoy on Freedom of Expression in Turkey, Gerard Stoudmann, speaking to "EuroFora" at the eve of his 1st Visit to Ankara, immediately after OSCE and CoE Assembly's delegations denounced "Worrying developments, especially regarding Freedom of Expression, including Media Freedom", just after observing the latest Turkish Elections, snatched for a 3rd time in a row by Tayip Erdogan, the leader of pro-Islamist Party AKP, reportedly even with More Votes than in the Past, despite a sharp 2009 Economic Drop, rising Unemployment, Inflation and public accounts' Deficit, at the same time with a notorious Deadlock in the controversial and unpopular EU - Turkey negociations.


Stoudman revealed to "EuroFora" that he's due to start visiting Turkey, for the 1st time, in the next few days, but without being able to anounce yet any particular date.
He intends to add, later on, also another, Second viisit to Ankara, eventually from September.


The aim of his mission is to gather enough first hand, original material for a Report due to be published by CoE's Secretary General, Jagland himself, "on Autumn", Stoudman told "EuroFora".


This probably means before a New Annual 2011 EU Report on Turkey's efforts to meet European Standards, including on Human Rights, is adopted, as usual, on October or November, by EU Commission, which was notoriously Critical on Freedom of Expression problems in Turkey last time (2010).

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The idea to send a Personal Envoy to check what is really going on now about Freedom of Expression, Media and Journalists in Turkey, was anounced by Jagland just after meeting with Erdogan, last April 2011 in Strasbourg, to CoE's Journalists including "EuroFora", when Turkey was close to end its CoE's rotating chair period (11/2010-5/2011).


+ CoE's Head is a well known supporter of Turkey's controversial and unpopular EU bid, and had pointed at his relations with Turkish Prime Ministe Erdogan before his 2009 Election. But, immediately after he took over the Responsibiliy to head the Strasbourg-based PanEuropean Organization for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law,  he has also repeatedly declared his support to French, German and Russian Leaders, Presidents Sarkozy and Medvedev, as well as Chancellor Merkel's GeoPolitically Stategic Vision for a "Great Area" linking the EU with Countries such as Russia, Turkey, EFTA Group (Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein), etc., independently of any eventual EU aspirations, (See Jagland's replies to "EuroFora"s Questions on 2009, 2010, etc).

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Stoudman has just given a 1st important proof of both his close and trustful personal links to CoE's Head Jagland, as well as of having acquired a unique overall view of CoE's activities related to the Warsaw 2005 Summit strategy focusing on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, by concluding a delicate initial Mission in the ..."hottest" issue inside Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organization, as Jagland's Representative for an ambitious internal "Restructuring" of its more than 60 Years aged Secretariat, which has recently started to overcome the manifold consequences of a Past Division of Europe during the former "Cold War", due to serve now almost 1 Billion People and their relations with Neighbouring Countries (from 3rd Mediterranean up to Asian States) and the rest of the World, in the New GeoPolitical a.o. realities of 21st Century.
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     - "When you'll go to Turkey, please visit also our f. Collegue", (an Elected representative from the Kurdish areas of Turkey, member of CLRAE)" who is still in Prison" (since 2009), Stoudman was asked by Jean-Claude Frecon, experienced vice-President of CoE's PanEuropean watchdog on Local and Regional Democracy (CLRAE), and Chairman of its Chamber of Local Authorities, a Socialist French Senator.

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    CLRAE's latest Session in Strasbourg, debated and adopted a Resolution on Turkey during March 2011, which pactically denounces the "Destruction of Democracy" in Local/Regional level, by the "Disproportionate" decision, taken by the Turkish Authorities shorty after the 2009 Local/Regional Elections (largely won by pro-Kurdish Candidates, massively Elected in Turkey's mainly Kurdish areas at the South-East, to systematically prosecute, arrest and throw to Prison some 2 or 3 Thousand People just for statements that they allegedly made, (See relevant "EuroFora"s previous NewsReport).
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    + Meanwhile, "EuroFora" asked Stoudman if, in addition to classic "hard" problems on Press Freedom notoriously existing since long in Turkey, he intended, or not, to include in his New Mission also some controversial Draft Laws, recently denounced by various Popular Demonstrations, to reportedly submit Citizens' Access to Internet to preliminary checks of their Personal Data, (f.ex.. requiring an ID and a Password just to connect to the Web, etc.), that the Turkish AKP Government had reportedly prepared to start imposing from August or later-on.

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    Such new issues have recently become of growing importance, particularly after the still on-going Popular Uprisings, with large aspirations for Democracy and  Social Development, in all other 3rd Mediterranean Countries, from Morocco up to Syria, with various repercussions, from Government-agreed deep Reforms up to Revolts, etc, where the World Wide Web is notoriously used by most Actors among Citizens' various movements, as well as even in the recent, 2011 "G-8" Heads of State/Government Summit, chaired by French President Sarkozy, last May at Deauville, (See related "EuroFora"s NewsReports from Paris and Deauville).


    - "All issues related to the Freedom of Expression", (protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights), are normally included in my Mission, replied Stoudman to "EuroFora"s question in a crystal-clear positive way, obviously confirming the inclusion also of Internet-related Article 10 Press/Speech Freedom cases.

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On the contrary, "EuroFora" didn't raise now with Stoudman the issue of Adali's Murder case, the dissident Turkish Cypriot Journalist who was killed with 5 Bullets at his Head out of his Family Home in the Territories of Cyprus Occupied by Ankara's Military, resulting in a 2005 Condemnation by ECHR of Turkey's failure to make any efficient Investigation to find and punish those Responsible, which was astonishingly "closed" on June 2010 inside CoE's Committee of Ministers immediately after the Turkish Government assumed the Responsibility of the Rotating Chair of its Secretariat, despite the fact that Turkey hadn't made any progress at all in that enquiry, contrary to its obligaion to implement ECHR's judgement. (See earlier "EuroFora"s NewsReports on Adali's case, compared with that of Gongadze, where, on the contrary, Ukranian Authorities show a will to accomplish their duty).

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     But CoE Head's envoy should certainly have the means to be easily informed of Relevant Press Articles on important issues concerning his new area of responsibilities, particularly when they are written in English and published among the few long-time EU/CoE Press Correspondents based in Strasbourg as "EuroFora"'s co-founder, (+ 17 Years : +9/1993-2011).
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    In fact, CoE's Head, Jagland's move on Freedom of Expression in Turkey can be based not only on the above mentioned agreement with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, after so many serious Concerns expressed on the matter by the EU, CoE, OSCE and other European, PanEuropean or International Organizations, but also, eventually, on the Powers that gives to CoE's Secretary General the Article No 52 of CoE's Statute, according to which, the S.G. of the PanEuropean Organization may ask any Member State (or States) to reply in questions concerning the way it intends to fulfill its obligations and commitments undertaken vis a vis CoE's principles. (An important institutional Power, which has already been used, in recent years, f.ex. for enquiries in all CoE's Member States, about rumours of CIA "Secret Flights", "redditions", "secret Prisons", etc., unofficially covered under "anti-terrorism" alleged suspicions, etc).


    But, as even USA Media critically denounced this week, obviously, a CoE move on Freedom of Expression particularly in Turkey seems more and more necessary today, because various actors "raise alarms, complaining of Mr. Erdogan’s abrasive, confrontational style, Islamist roots and thin-skinned authoritarianism", while even "the OSCE says Turkey has the Highest Number of Imprisoned Journalists (57) in the World — more than Russia, China or Iran !"...  

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    Indeed, according to OSCE/PACE's official Conclusions, concerning "the 12 June 2011 Elections to the Turkish Grand National Assembly...  there were some Worrying developments, especially regarding Freedom of Expression, including Media freedom", (See earlier "EuroFora"s NewsReport).

- “To fully live up to its Democratic Commitments, Turkey must do More", pointed out the Head of OSCE's Delegation and OSCE Assembly's vice-President, Pia Christmas-Moeller (Denmark). -“Free expression and a Media Environment in which Reporters are Free from political Pressure and Intimidation, are Critical for Turkey", the Top MEP warned.

- In particular, "some elements of the Legal framework continue to Constrain activities of the Media and political Parties, by Limiting Freedom of Speech".

+ In addition, "the 10 percent threshold for political party representation in Parliament – the Highest in the OSCE region – remains one of the central issues that Limit the Representative nature of the legis-lature. "


- Moreover, Turkish "Government Control over influential Media groups allegedly resulted in Biased reporting and self-Censorship".

- The latter is an understandable consequence of the Fact that "Observers noted the Detention and ongoing Investigations of more than 50 Journalists in Turkey", OSCE and CoE criticized.


"Limiting freedom of the media is a violation of the 1990 Copenhagen Document and a host Council of Europe documents", they warned Turkish pro-Government MEPs.
    

CoE's Assembly has recently adopted texts making National Delegations of MEPs Responsible for their Government's failure to implement ECHR's Judgements, and this is due to be further discussed and voted also next week in Strasbourg at a Report drafted by the President of PACE's Legal/Human Rights Committee, Christos Purgurides from Cyprus (ChristianDemocrats/EPP) on Thursday.


"Putting journalists under the permanent Threat of Criminal lawsuits", resulted, according to "many observers, including the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media", by a "ruling" of "2 May 2011", by which, "the Turkish Constitutional Court amended the Press Law to extend .... filing Criminal cases against Journalists from 2 Months to 8 Years".


Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan astonished many CoE observers, last April in Strasbourg, when he replied to critical questions on Press Freedom Violations in Turkey, by merely boasting that he had been, himself, persecuted in Courts and Jailed (for 2 Months), but afterwards created a new Political Party, won elections, and got the top political job.. I.e. practically challenging Dissidents, many of whom are systematically submited to Harassing Attacks, Censorship, Criminal Prosecution, many Years of Imprisonment, and/or killed, without the instigators of their Murderers ever found until recently ! (Comp. f. ex. Turkey's condemnation by ECHR even in the famous Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink's cold-blood 2007 Murder, in a Judgement taking into account all developments in the investigation until it was published in Strasbourg at the Autumn of 2010, revealing several astonishing Facts on the behavior of Turkish Authorities vis a vis Murderers of Critical Journalists, obviously able to provoke a Chilling effect, Intimidation and/or Self-Censorship during the crucial following Months at the eve of June 2011 Election...


ECHR's Revelations on a scandalous treatment of the Hrant Dink Murder case by Turkish Authorities came shortly after Turkey managed to "close" CoE Committee of Ministers' examination of Ankara's duty to implement ECHR's Judgement which had condemned her for totaly failing to make any efficient Investigation on the cold blood Murder of Dissident Turkish Cypriot Journalist Kutlu Adali, shot with 5 Bullets at his Head in front of his Family Home in the Territories of Cyprus Occupied by Ankara's Army. (See earlier "EuroFora"s Publications on that case).
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 - "On 2 May 2011 the Turkish Constitutional Court amended the Press Law to extend the statute of limitations for filing criminal cases against journalists from two months to eight years. This ruling has been cited by many observers, including the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, as put-ting journalists under the permanent threat of criminal lawsuits.


+ In addition, "Many stakeholders raised Questions about re-markable Changes in the Number of registered Voters in recent years, and the printing of a Dispro-portionally high number of Excess ballot Papers", OSCE/PACE critically observe, (obviously because all this might have been abused for any kind of Mass Fraud), apparently without getting any convincing Answer.. .


- "There was Heavy police presence and Tensions in parts of the South East, as well as isolated reports of physical Attacks".



+ Moreover, "there were initial Problems with the Registration of some Independent Candidates", merely notes the OSCE/PACE delegation's rapporteur, apparently ignoring the Fact that even a Child (Orenc) was reportedly killed by Bullets during an attack by Turkish State Agents against Demonstrators protesting for the Exclusion of 12 Independent Candidates in the Kurdish areas.



A Swedish and a Danish MEP from CoE and OSCE's Assemblies, Kerstin Lundgren and Pia Christmas-Moeller, headed the joint Delegations.


***

(NDLR : DraftNews, as already send earlier to "EuroFora"'s Subscribers/Donors. A complete and more accurate Final Public Version is due asap).

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    EU Rapporteur on Enlargment Strategy, maistream German MEP Elmar Brok, speaking to "EuroFora", welcomed the proposal made earlier this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the EU to"start Now Talks with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", instead of full Accession, at a period when Ankara looks more and more unfit and/or unwilling to respect EU conditions.

    - "For Europe to have strong Political will, it must stop dilutiing itself in an endless Enlargement. It must have borders...Diversities enrich, on the condition that they don't undermine European Cohesion, and don't weaken EU Unity", Sarkozy stressed.
    
    - "Countries like Turkey share a part of common destiny with Europe, with which they have a vocation to build a Privileged Relation, to be closely associated, but not to become Member of the EU"  : "Noone respects his friends by telling them lies. Noone respects his friends by making them promises that will be never kept", he added.

    That's why "we'd better start, from now, negotiating with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", Sarkozy proposed.

Significantly, the French President was repeatedly and largely applauded by EU citizens, 3 times, when he made the Turkey point, (strategically placed between Europe's "Political Will" and its cultural heritage, historically open to mutually enriching dialogue with all the World, but never diluted).

    - "We could propose such a great ambition also to Russia, which must not be percieved as an Adversary of Europe, but as a Partner. Thus, we'd create a wide area, of more than 800 Million inhabitants, sharing the same Security, the same Prosperity", he concluded.

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    Sarkozy's move was anounced at the eve of a Franco-German Top meeting with Chancellor Angie Merkel in Berlin on Sunday, to jointly launch the EU Elections campain, after an EU Summit at nearby Prague, to launch a new kind of relations, called "Eastern Partnership", with neighboring countries such as Urkaine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, etc, (to which Russia, reportedly, is not - and does not want to be - included).

    As for Ukraine, which has already expressed her wish to join the EU in future, "Kiev will have a special place, and a very important role to play", replied earlier this week in Strasbourg, to an "EuroFora" question EU Chairman in office , Czech vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra.

    - "This direction is more Realistic for Turkey than Accession negotiations", reacted immediately EU Parliament's Rapporteur for Enlargment Strategy, mainstream German MEP Elmar Brok, commenting Sarkozy's idea for "EuroFora"

     Particularly "as far as it concerns the respect of EU Rules by both sides", he added, hinting at Turkey's now obvious inability and/or unwillingness to abide with EU Acquis, EU Commitments (fex. on Cyprus, etc), and European Democracy/Human Rights rules. (Comp. infra).

    Brok added that, in his view, a similar proposal might be made also to Ukraine and other neighbouring Countries, regardless if they have, or not, a "European vocation". This would not necessarily mean that there couldn't be any accession prospects at all." for all the countries that might be included in this area, according to Brok.  But it's preferable, particularly for Turkey, "because it's a more Realistic approach than full Membership".

    On this point, Sarkozy's proposal, (which he'll share with German Chancellor Merkel), seems more crystal-clear.

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    - "Turkey does not fullfil EU Criteria, and will never fullfil EU Criteria" on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. "Some have been lying to Ankara, but we must tell the Truth, and have honest and close relations with her", said meanwhile to "EuroFora" on the same issue also the President of EU Parliament's largest Group of MEPs (ChristianDemocrats/EPP), Joseph Daul.
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"Hot" Debate at EU Parliament reveals CHANGE of mood towards "Suspension" of EU - Tukey talks.
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    Earlier this week, many MEPs, and even some of those who were previously in favor of Turkey's controversial EU bid, strongly criticized the persistance and even aggravation of serious Human Rights violations in the country, that ECHR continues to "unanimously" condemn ":

      - "After winning a big victory in the latest Local Elections, the pro-Kurdish party DTP almost doubled its Elected Mayors from 52 to 98", but afterwards "more than 400 politicians were thrown to Prison and prosecuted" by the Turkish Authorities, denounced on behalf of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group, Belgian MEP Frieda Brepoels.

     At the same time, "more than 1.500 Children are closed in Turkish Prisons", she added. "What will the EU Commission do" against these facts ?

- "Turkey appears to be at greater Distance away from Copenhagen Criteria after 4 Years of accession Negotiations, than when they started !", denounced on behalf of the Liberal Group, German MEP Alexander Lambsdorf.    

"On the central issue of Press Freedom, Critical Journalists face obstacles for their accreditation, others are prosecuted, condemned, fined and/or jailed, Media blocked or closed", he denounced.   

 - "EU Made 2 grave Mistakes with Turkey : To start accession negotiations, and to continue them", despite everything, criticized Dutch MEP Bastian Belder, on behalf of the Ind/Dem group.

(../..)

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