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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE French Chair's top Diplomat Mattei to EF on Russia: 6/2019 Timing OK, but Change needs Move

CoE French Chair's top Diplomat Mattei to EF on Russia: 6/2019 Timing OK, but Change needs Move

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 15 May 2019

*Strasbourg/European area/Angelo Marcopolo/- Experienced French Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the CoE, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, replying to "Eurofora"s Questions on the issue of Russia, at the Eve of a Crucial CoE's Foreign Ministers' Summit in Finland, just before France takes over the Presidency of the 47 Member Countries-strong Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organisation of Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, for the Period of May - November 2019, confirmed that June was a Good Timing for a Solution, but also added that it's not yet clear if Ukraine's current political changes might bring, or not, a new stance on that point, and suggested that Moscow could facilitate things by one or another positive gesture.

Meanwhile, after French President Emmanuel Macron, at a recent meeting with CoE's Secretary General Thornbjorn Jagland, spoke in favour of CoE's PanEuropean Dimension, i.e. including key Non-EU Countries, (mainly Russia, but also Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaidjan, Armenia, etc), as well as for Moscow's Membership, with due Respect to CoE's Principles, Mattei announced that Solving the Russian Issue would be the "First Priority" of the incoming French Presidency.

Not only Because of the 33 Millions € of Russia's Annual Financial Contribution to CoE's 430 Millions-strong Budget, ("Freezed" by Moscow since 2017, in Reaction to Sanctions imposed to Russian MEPs by a Controversial Vote in CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, including even DePrivation of the Right to Vote, Speak and/or Participate in leading organs, etc, on the Pretext of Crimea's "Annexion", that "many States consider illegal", as he recalled for what Moscow considers as a Peaceful Popular Referendum for Crimea's ReUnification with Russia, where it belonged for Centuries, after a Violent illegal "Putch" at Kiev topped a Democraticaly Elected Government and slamed an EU-Sponsored Peace Agreement just concluded between All Ukranian factions, including for Amnesty, National Unity Government and New Elections, etc). That could be Faced by several CoE's Economies, followed, in case of prolonged No-Solution, also by a Plan including to Reduce Staff, etc.

But much More Because of the crucial Importance that has CoE's main "Specific" Character, with a Wide, "Pan-European" Dimension (Comp. Supra), and, particularly, the Need to Protect some 140 Millions of People's Human Rights by the ECHR and other CoE's key Monitoring bodies, whose Case-Law is mostly Applied by Moscow, as also Warned several Critical NGOs, who Risk to Lose Access to EuroJudges, if Russia might be pushed to Leave the CoE, Mattei reminded.



- In Addition, the Top French Diplomat Agreed with "Eurofora" that "there is also a Problem of Timing", since a Solution on June 2019 would be the Best, so that Russian MEPs might Participate, then, in the forthcoming Election of CoE's Secretary General by the Parliamentary Assembly : Otherwise, Russia might find a Pretext, Afterwards, by Claiming that it was Hindered even to participate in the Election of CoE's future Head, for the Period of 2019-2024,  as Ambassador Mattei warned. (+A supplementary Point being, also, the Fact that, in case of Non-Solution extended even AFTER June 2019, a ProLonged Blockade of the above-mentioned Financial "Freeze", might provoke Serious Problems even for Russia's Membership in the CoE : Comp. Supra).

- But, Nowadays, "it's Too Early to say" yet what exactly would be the Stance of the New President of Ukraine, Zelensky, recently Elected : He hasn't yet appointed a Government, not even named a Foreign Minister, etc., so that it's Hard to Tell now what will be his main Intentions on that Issue tomorrow. So, at least for the Time being, I guess that a "Continuity" of Ukraine's current Policy might be the most probable, Mattei estimated.

- While Zelensky's official mandate Starts from June 3, the CoE's French Presidency's Top Diplomat agrees with "Eurofora", that, in case of No Solution for June 2019, the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine, until now Scheduled for October 2019, could still influence the political game, particularly towards a "Continuity" too.

- But he does Not Exclude explicitly an "Eurofora"'s hypothesis that, After those Elections, just Before the CoE's French Presidency concludes on November 2019, (f.ex. on October, when French President Macron is expected to return to Strasbourg, during the CoE Assembly's, autumn Plenary Session, when the Organisation's 70th Anniversary will be celebrated), a decisive move might be really made :



- Significantly, Mattei even speculates about a possible "Anticipated" Election for Ukraine's Parliament, Earlier then initially scheduled, (which, obviously, might facilitate such an alternative scenario)... This is also considered possible by "Wikipedia", which warns that " it may be held Earlier, if a Snap election is called".



- However, he also believes that, in order to have real Chances to succeed, Russia should better make some kind of "Positive Gesture" vis a vis the CoE, beforehand, as Mattei suggested, in conclusion of his Reply to "Eurofora"s relevant Question, (Comp. Supra).

- It could be something about implementing the "Minsk Agreements" (on Ukraine), or Prisoners, "Missing" Persons, (in Donbas), perhaps on Human Rights inside Russia, on the occasion of CoE Commissioner's forthcoming Visit to Moscow, etc., he guessed, inter alia, replying also to a subsequent question.

- Indeed, the Latest move by Vladimir Putin, to Ease issuing Russian Passports for Russian Speaking People in Eastern Ukraine's pro-Autonomy Regions of Donetsk-Luhansk, didn't really help to bring a better mood between Moscow and Kiev, Mattei critically pointed out, speaking of a controversial measure, recently denounced also by CoE Assembly's President.

It was justified mainly on "Humanitarian" Grounds, Moscow replied, meanwhile. Particularly as that measure followed an even More Controversial Decision by Kiev's out-going Poroshenko Government, to Oblige all Minorities, traditionaly Speaking Russian, Polish, Hungarian, German, Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek, etc. throughout various Regional/Local areas of Ukraine since Historical Times, to suddenly switch over to the Ukranian Language only, in all deals with Public Authorities in everyday life, as never before in that country...

That last-minute Poroshenko's move was strongly Criticized, inter alia, also by MEPs from various Countries and/or Political Groups, at a special "Side-Event" Meeting organized in Strasbourg during CoE Assembly's plenary session of Spring 2019, last April, including also Austrian MEPs who Reminded the Fact that in the period of Multi-Ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Wien's Assembly more than 11 working Languages were used, (as also in Multi-Ethnic former USSR, etc).

But an immediat Surprizing Reaction by the Recently Elected new Ukranian President Zelensky, officialized in a "Press Release", went Further  :

- "The Russian Passport gives the right to be Arrested for Peaceful Demonstration, ..to Never have Free Elections, to Forget Human Rights...", he denounced. On the Contrary, "We (Kiev) will give Ukranian Citizenship to ... Victims of Authoritarian and Corrupted Regimes, in any Countries, and particularly to Russians who suffer the most", he claimed. Because "Ukranian Citizenship is Liberty... We will serve as an Exemplary Democracy", he vowed.

- "Fine. Let's just Do it !", might spontaneously react many naive readers, enthousiastic.

But, there is a Problem : Astonishingly, by an incredible Coincidence, such an officially "Pro-Freedom" message, was, in Fact, send from ...Turkey !  Notoriously the Worst Nightmare in persisting Massive Violations of Human Rights, going from Torture and Inhuman/Degrading Treatments, up to Deprivations of Freedom of Speech, Persecutions of Jounalists, Dismissal of Judges, UnFair Trials, Abusive ImPrisonments, unpunished Killings, (etc) : Indeed, Zelensky was, curiously, eating "Kebab" at Turkey's "Bodrum", where some had pushed him to spend "Holidays", during a (Tragi-?) "Comic" Festival that Week-End, as "Paris-Match" newspaper reveals... Obviously Bad for Credibility, particularly on Human Rights' issues...


However, it seems also true that Zelensky's succesful Election was mainly due to the fact that his Promisses Focused particularly on Fighting against Corruption, and for Peace at the Donbas' Eastern Regions,. (I.e. there where Poroshenko had notoriously Failed, and even become dangerously counterproductive, deceiving many from his former allies).

+ In Addition, the Experienced and Famous former Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko, (who had also Suffered in the Prisons of Janukovich), had been Spectacularly Surfing at the Top of all Polls, during Years, as the Most Popular Political Leader of Ukraine, until Recently, with a Program (and Posters) Highlighting the Key-Word: -"Peace" !

++ The First Polls, published After the Presidential Elections, clearly show a Big Boost for the New President's Party, and an even Bigger Growth for the "Opposition Platform - For Life", who Both claim to Focus on Peace too.

+++ Meanwhile, Between the 1st and the 2nd Round of the Presidential Election, and After a Press Campaign of several Months by "Eurofora", (including neglected key Facts on Important Issues, Questions/Replies with ECHR President and CoE's Human Rights Director, etc), the former MEP and National Hero of Ukraine, later fallen in disgrace and imPrisoned also to Kiev's Jails, after those of Moscow, when she started to speak louder about the Need for Dialogue with the pro-Autonomist Regions of Donetsk/Luhansk in order to make Peace, and suddenly Accused to plot ...brutal Mass Killings and a violent Putch, when she Denounced an Ukranian Establishment's Politician for having launched those Mysterious Deadly "Snipers" who notoriously Killed Both Demonstrators and Policemen, provoking Violent Clashes at Kiev back on February 2014, which topped the Elected Government and Cancelled an EU-sponsored Peace Agreement signed by All Sides, (See : ... + ..., etc), i.e. Nadeza Savchenko, was Liberated, on April 15.

Even if Poroshenko's Jails scandalously Hindered her to Participate in the Political Debates of the Presidential Election, (for which Savchenko had even made Hunger Strikes in Prison), nevertheless, she should, now, at least, participate into the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections, hopefully Adding also another Voice for Peace.


In such a Context, obviously, the alleged Threats that Out-Going Poroshenko's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkine has reportedly launched recently, for Ukraine to Drop the Minsk Agreements if Russia is fully re-integrated into the CoE, as a collegue asked Yesterday in Paris the French Foreign Ministry's Spokesman during the Daily Press Point, were soberly Dismissed by the incoming CoE's Presidency's diplomacy :

- "The Commitments undertaken by the Parties for the Implementation of Minsk's Agreements, Must be Respected", as such, reads the Official Reply.

- Inter alia, also because "they should Not be linked to the (current and future) Situation inside the CoE", the French Foreign Ministry replied, clearly dismissing a useless and tricky, last-minute provocation.

+ It simply reminded French President Macron's recent Statement that "it's Important to Find a Solution allowing for Russia to stay inside the CoE, with all the Rights and Obligations attached to that", and, therefore, France calls all CoE's Members to support the current efforts made in this regard by the (outgoing) Presidency of Finland", (on 15-17 May 2019, at the Helsinki CoE's Summit, with the participation of New French State Secretary for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin.

I.e. just before Paris takes over the PanEuropean Organisation's rotating Presidency, 22 Years after the Historic CoE's 1997 Summit of Heads of State/Government in Strasbourg, which had been Marked also by the Creation of "Trilateral" semestrial Summits between France, Germany and Russia : then = Chirac, Kohl and Yeltsin, of obvious Gaullist inspiration concerning a "Great Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals", (Comp. "Eurofora" co-Founder's relevant Publications from the spot, then, to "TCWeekly"),which remained United, until the Deadly, Damaging and Dangerous Division of Europe, provoked by the Ukranian Conflict on 2014.


=> Time for Change ? 







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Facing a 70% Abstention threat in 2009 Election, EU endorses EuroFora's idea for Citizens' debates on crucial EU decisions !

- Different views on "Europe's Future", should be debated among Citizens at June 2009 EU Elections, thanks to political Parties' "Manifestos", says EU Parliament's Report

A main idea, initiated and promoted by EuroFora's founders since 1997: the vital need to develop European Citizens' democratic right to actively participate in multilingual debates on EU decisions, is formally endorsed by the EU from 2009 !

The move is a key attempt to overcome "catastrophic" Polls which warn that only ...30% of Citizens are ready to vote in the forthcoming June 2009 EU Election !  This was revealed by EU Commission's vice-president, in charge of Communication policy, Margot Wallstrom, during a "hot" meeting of EU Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education, during the December 2008 Strasbourg session.

Wallstrom faced criticism, but also suggestions from various MEPs, naturally worried by Abstention threats which herself found even "worse" than in 1999 or 2004...

A Report on "Active Dialogue with Citizens",examined at the same time, presented some useful practical tips, on "facilitating Interviews"; etc., but also a  potentialy important call to "incorporate the conclusions of ...debates...into (EU) policies, and take into consideration the expectations that Citizens have of the EU when deciding". An amendment even implies that Citizens' participation in debates on EU decisions is a democratic "Right".

More importantly, it finds that  a Debate "on the Future of Europe", (as French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked since 2007), would be a good idea " for the 2009 European parliamentary Elections", because "clarifying the political differences between the EU political parties would help citizens to identify themselves with, and choose between various concepts", for which "all parties (should) present their Manifesto".

A "Joint political declaration on Communicating Europe in Partnership", co-signed by "the European Parliament, Council and ... Commission", confirms that they "attach the utmost importance to improving communication on EU issues", by "enabling European citizens to exercise their right to participate in the democratic life of the Union, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizens, observing the principles of pluralism, participation, openness and transparency".

This should "enable Citizens to exercise their right to express their views and to participate actively in the public Debate on European Union issues", while also "promoting the respect of multilingualism". In this regard, EU confirms its "wish to develop synergies with national, regional and local authorities as well as with representatives of Civil Society".

    It's since 1997 that a group of EuroFora's founders have officially presented a pioneer Project (then called "EIW", for "Europe in the World"), which aimed to develop Strasbourg's "Polyphonic music", by providing "Interactive information", on "main issues ... during the Decision-making process of European Organizations which engage in Transparent and Public Democratic Debates"

    This should be done, inter alia, by "exploring the potential of New Communication Tools (mainly Internet)", as well as classic-form debates, the 1997 EIW pioneer project's anounced in its "Synopsis". It was formally "accepted for evaluation" by EU Commission in Brussels in order to be examined for a grant in the framework of the "Research/Technology/Development (RTD) Programme in the field of Information Technologies", then called "ESPRIT", as a "Best Practice Pilot Project".


        But the vital, urgent Political need for EU to search new, efficient ways to reach the People and interact with European Citizens, was really felt in Brussels and elsewhere only after the unprecedented in History 1999 and 2004 Majority Abstention in EU Elections, followed by 3 "NO" in Referenda in France, the Netherlands and Ireland, on 2005 and 2008...
    In this New Political Landscape, we prepared a new, actualised and more developed version of our initial idea, in a simplified and more efficient form, thanks also to a large Experience accumulated during many years of EU/CoE/UNO Press work and Multi-lingual debates, with the New project "EuroFora" :

    On 2006 we presented in Public its main lines during Questions/Replies that we raised at two Press Conferences by EU Commission President, Jose Baroso, and mainly EU Commission's vice-President, in charge of Communication policy, Margot Wallstrom, together with EU Parliament's vice-president, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, in Strasbourg, (Videos available), and we reminded it at various brief contacts with Commissioner Wallstrom in 2007 and 2008.

    Meanwhile, a new Text was also presented for "EuroFora" Project mainly to certain Political and other personalities, at European, National or Regional/Local level, mainly in 2007, but also in 2008..

    Now, after the unexpected 2008 Irish "NO", and before the 2009 EU Elections, which are due to be of exceptionally crucial importance for Europe's Future, the moment has obviously come to launch that project, progressively, but in real practice.

    Whoever really cares for Europe and its Citizens is welcome to join, in one way or another. Only anti-European, anti-democratic, obscure or ignorant groups might oppose or attempt to "steal" and deviate the main idea.

    But European Citizens, incited by enlightened political leaders, are those who will finally write the real History.


2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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