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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE: Raise Awareness at Top Political level for Need of a Solution to key Political Crisis on Russia

CoE: Raise Awareness at Top Political level for Need of a Solution to key Political Crisis on Russia

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 07 November 2018

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- PanEuropean, 47 Member Countries-strong, CoE's Highest Political body: its Committee of Ministers, replying, through its President-in-office, the Croatian vice-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Marija Pejcinovic-Buric, (comp. other Buric's + Croatian Prime Minister Ploenkovic's Statements to "Eurofora" f.ex. at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminoritiesprotection20yearsafter.html + http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/primeministerplenkoviconeucoecoop.html, etc), to Questions raised by 2 MEPs at CLRAE's Plenary Session (6-8 November 2018), earlier Today in Strasbourg, stressed that the current Problem concerning Russian Delegation's prolonged Absence from CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, following Sanctions it took (paradoxically with a Minority of MEPs !) after the controversial Ukranian Conflict of 2014, (See, among many others, also, f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminorityamendmentpushesrussianmepsout.html, etc), which resulted also in a recent Suspension of Moscow's annual Financial Contribution to the CoE, that might soon be exploited by those who seek to Push Russia Out of Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organisation, (Comp., among others, also : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeandrussiaukrainerow.html, etc),

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=> stressed that this is an "Important Political Crisis", which "requires for a Political Solution", and Urged to "Raise Awareness at the Highest Political Level", during the Short period of Time currently available, (particularly before a Key meeting of CoE Assembly's Committee on Rules, scheduled for December 10, 2018, due to Finalise a relevant Report),

as she said, practically at the Eve of an exceptional International Summit in Paris, with about +80 Heads of  State/Government, next Sunday, at the Initiative of President Emmanuel Macron of France, (which takes soon CoE's Preidency, from May 2019), on the occasion of the Centenary Anniversary of the 1st World War's Armistice (1918 - 2018), placed under the overall Aim to create (in the presence of UNO's Secretary General, Antonio Guterres),  a Paris' "Forum pour la Paix".

 
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- The vice-President of CLRAE's biggest Political Group : that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Alexander Drozdenko, from Russia, noted that "a Legal Opinion", recently prepared "at the Initiative of (CoE's) Secretary General (Thornbjorn Jagland, a former Prime Minister of Norway), and the  Chairmanship (of COE's Committee of Ministers by Croatia), found that the "the Deprivation of Powers" of any MEPs, including the Russians, (f.ex. to Vote, Speak, Participate, etc), "Contradict CoE's Statute", the European Convention for Human Rights, and International Law in general".

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- But, in the Meantime, an "Institutional Crisis is Mounting within the COE" in this regard, he reminded, Denouncing, inter alia, also the Fact that Other COE's Bodies (including, f.ex., also the CLRAE, etc), have practically become "Hostage" of this Problem, which "Affects their Budgetary, Program and Staffing issues", while they remain as "Unique and efficient Platforms for Cooperation ... from 47 Member States at the COE", (including Russia, but also Ukraine, Turkey, etc, while USA a.o. have a Special Oberver Status).


=> Therefore, in a Question Tabled to the CoE's Highest Political body : its Committee of Ministers, (which is always in the Agenda of CLRAE's Plenary Sessions), he Asked "What further Measures" is taking "the Croatian Chairmanship", "before the end of its term", (May-November 2018), "in order to Overcome the Crisis ?"

 

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


+ In Addition, Brittish MEP Andrew Boff, (vice-President of the Conservative Group in CLRAE), reminded that the Latest CoE's Parliamentary Assembly's Plenary, on October 2018, "did Not produce any Solutions", in that Crisis, and, pointing at what he called "Contradicting Statements of Leading Russian Politicians, concerning the Role of their Country in the CoE", Asked whether it has "any Signals ...about Whether Russia Wants to Stay in the Organisation, ...or ...Wants to Leave ?"

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- In the 1st Case, Boff urged Russia "to honour its Commitments, in Time, (including the Financial ones)", and invited the COE's Committee of Ministers to take "Measures" "in order to Find a Way Out of this Major Political and Institutional Crisis".


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- Before these Topical Questions, raised in Public Today Afternoon, Marija Pejcinovic-Buric had Simply mentioned, (by Reading the General, collective Report on behalf of CoE's Committee of Ministers), that among the various "Political Difficulties" that CoE currently Faces, are "also Russia"'s issues.


- "One of them is the decision by Russia to Suspend its Financial Contribution to the Budget" of the CoE, that we "Regret", But "Continue to Hope", particularly that Moscow "will Revise that Decision", finding a solution.


  - This is "Not Only in order to Safeguard all its (Russia's) Role inside the CoE, and for the Organisation to be able to function normaly". +"But also, and mainly, in order to enable Many Millions of (Russian a.o.) People to still be Protected", particularly by the ECHR (and other Rights provided by CoE's Legal Conventions : F.ex. against Torture, Corruption, Terrorism, and for Justice's Efficiency, Minorities' Protection, Cultural Heritage, etc).


 - "However, we (CoE), Must be Prepared for Any Eventual Outcome", she had Warned, then.


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+  Afterwards, Buric went Further Ahead, in her Replies to the above-mentioned MEPs' Questions, where the President in office of CoE's Committee of Ministers started by observing the Fact that "COE is very much Affected by that Political and Financial Crisis".


- But, even if it really has also "Important Financial implications", (since Russia was led to Suspend its Annual Financial Contribution to the CoE, after Years of Obstacles for its MEPs to participate in CoE's Parliamentary Assembly without too Hard Sanctions, (Comp. Supra), in fact, "it's First and foremost a Political problem, which Requires a Political Solution !", she stressed.


- However, despite several and various relevant Meetings, (with COE's Secretary General, its Parliamentary Assembly, its Committee of Ministers, etc), during which, the Croatian Presidency of he CoE, "Tried to Find a Way out of the current Impasse", and which had, Recently, created some positive "Expectations", as Buric reminded,
nevertheless, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, last Month (October 2018), "Send the (relevant) Report Back to Committee", declining to adopt it now, (See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeandrussiaukrainerow.html, etc). Therefore, "the Process is Still On-Going".


>>> So that "Now, we have to see What it will Lead to", (particularly at a Key Next Meeting of CoE Assembly's Committee on Rules, scheduled for December 10, 2018 : I.e. just Before the Next CoE Assembly's Plenary : on January 2019, which will be Decisive for the Annual Participation of Russian MEPs during 2019, under the current rules, almost Immediately Followed by possible Threats against Russia in general, as long as it's pushed to maintain its decision to Suspend its Annual Financial Contribution to the CoE : Comp., f.ex. : ..., etc).


=> In the Present context, "from a Political point of view, I believe that it's Important to have a Greater Awareness of the current Crisis, ... at the Highest Political Level, also in the Capitals !", urged Today in Conclusion CoE's President-in-office.


+ At any case, as far as Russia's own Wish is concerned, nonobstant some previous "Contradictory" claims by one or another Politician, (as Brittish MEP Boff had pointed out, Comp. Supra),


-  "I Recently saw a Report from a Telephone conversation between CoE's Secretary General (Thornbjorn Jagland, from Norway) and the Russian Foreign Minister" (Sergei Lavrov), vice-Prime Minister Marija Buric revealed Today, on behalf of the Croatian Presidency of the COE.


>>> There "he (Lavrov) is reported as telling Jagland that Russia Wants to Stay in the CoE !", she stressed. I.e. Supporting also a Similar Information, earlier cited by Alexander Drozdenko, in his Oral presentation of his above-mentioned Question, (Comp. Supra), that Lavrov would have clearly "Confirmed that Russia Wants to Stay in the CoE", (also in Statements made during a Visit to Spain, yesterday).

 

As if in order to Mark that even better, Russian Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the CoE, Ivan Soltanovsky, has just Signed CoE's reNovated Convention for the Protection of Personal Data, of big importance in Modern Digital Technologies, (see: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coenewdataprotectionhasglobalaim.html), and is due to sign also, this week, CoE's Convention for the protection of the European Cultural Heritage, (Partly UPDATED)...


+ Thus, Russia "would Only Leave (from the CoE) IF Other Countries make a Move to Expell it", Buric added.


=> In consequence, "so, the CoE is (currently) Looking for a Solution to the Crisis", she concluded, Underlying the Fact that, Now, this is done "at the Highest Political Level", (Comp. Supra).


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Indeed, in this regard, it's Interesting to note also the Fact that, already, at the Beginning of this Week, the Future CoE's President for May - November 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron, during his Recent Visit to Strasbourg, together with the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Last Sunday, 4 November 2018, (See f.ex., "Eurofora"s NewsReports from the spot, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/eupeacemoveatstakeinuselection.html + ..., etc), had an occasion to Meet and Exchange here also with COE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, (former Norway Prime Minister, and Top Member of Oslo Committee for NOBEL "Peace" Prize), as well as with the New President of CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, Mrs Liliane Maury-Pasquier, a mainstream Swiss MEP former Head of the Socialist Group, (Comp. Pasquier's Replies to various "Eurofora"'s Questions, f.ex., at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newpacepresidentpasquier.html + ..., etc), as well as Other CoE's Top Officials, including ECHR's President, Guido Raimondi, from Italy, particularly during an Evening Reception at Rohan's Castle.   


+ Moreover, before the End of this Week, next Saturday and Sunday around Paris (10 + 11 November 28), several Top Key Protagonists of this COE's Affair between Moscow and Strasbourg, are due to Meet during the forthcoming Summit for the 100th Anniversary since the End of the 1st World War and a New "Paris Forum for Peace", organized by French President Emmanuel Macron, including, f.ex. among others also the Russian President Vladimir Putin, USA's President Don Trump, German Chancellor Angie Merkel, Ukranian President Pedro Poroshenko, and much more, (f.ex. from EU's point of view). Will be added, at least Next Monday, November 12, also CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, invited to Speak also at an International Forum on the Web, (while the "Forum for Peace" would Continue, in parallel, during 2 more Days), etc.


So that, even if the Main USA - Russia Top Meeting, between Trump and Putin, may take place particularly, Later-on, during the forthcoming "G20" Summi in Argentina, on November 30 - December 1st, nevertheless, almost All the Other potentially influential Top Meetings around the CoE- Russia Issue, could, at least in Theory, start already Nowadays in Paris.


I.e. in Time for the Key CoE Assembly's (PACE) Rules Committee meeting of December 10, (due to Review a Crucial Report, affecting also Russian MEP's Future Participation), which is one of the Last collective relevant PanEuropean Gatherings (besides PACE's Standing Committee's meeting at Helsinki, on November 23, under Finland's rotating Chairmnship of the CoE, for 11/2018 - 5/2019), before a Decisive Yearly Rendez-vous at PACE's next Plenary in Strasbourg, on January 2019, (Comp.: ..., etc).


After that, in Fact, "Time becomes too Short", as various Experienced CoE's observers have recently noted, in this PanEuropean affair..., (Even if, "Nothing is Impossible", as some Others, mysteriously claimed, howeever always Adding a big "IF" !).


+ Meanwhile, it's also Imporant to note also the Fact that such Developments around Russia, Obviously of Crucial Importance for the Present and Future of CoE's "PanEuropean" GeoPolitical and Legal role, unfold almost at the Same Period that the Latest COE's Top Foreign Ministerial Summit, of last May 2018 in Denmark, decided to Launch a Series of Reforms, aiming also to reach a Joint Vision of CoE's Future, and Reflect on its main Mission and the "Essentials" of its "New Horizon", (concerning Policies, Governance, Relations to Other Intenational Organisations, f.ex. EU, etc), as Buric has just Highlighted in her Report to the CLRAE, (Comp. Supra)


So that it may not just be a simple "Coincidence", for the PanEuropean dimension of Strasbourg's Organisation, the fact that the above-mentioned, latest Annual CoE's Foreign Ministerial Summit, symbolically took place at the World Famous "Elsinor" Castle, where Shakespeare's Hamlet notoriously pronounced this Key Dillema : - "To be, or Not to be : That's the Question !"...

 

(../..)

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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)..
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    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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