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Home arrow newsitems arrow All CoE Leaders' 1st Debate on Human Rights in Pandemic, eyes Values, Fragile People, Digital+Future

All CoE Leaders' 1st Debate on Human Rights in Pandemic, eyes Values, Fragile People, Digital+Future

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 03 June 2020
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/-
The 1st Ever Conference of All CoE Bodies' Heads, (representing Key Actors, such as Ministers, Parliamentarians, EudoJudges, Local/Regional Authorities and NGOs, as well as Norms on Human Rights, Constitutional Democracy, Children Protection, Anti-Torture, Anti-Discrimination, Social, etc), Organized on the Virus' Crisis and Human Rights/Democracy, by the 2020 Greek Presidency of the 47 Member-States' PanEuropean Instituton (May-November 2020), represented by Alt. Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvisiotis, and Opened Together with COE' new Secretary General Marija Buric, (all via Video Web Links),

pointed Both on Stressing and Clarifying Basic Principles, Warning of the Need to Protect particularly DisAdvantaged/Fragile People, And, Also, on relevant Innovations, extended to a forthcoming Recovery period, and Future Pandemics.

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- Indeed, Varvitsiotis, (who represented CoE Member States' Governments through its Committee of Ministers, as its President-in-Office, but also an Experienced former LongTime MEP at COE's Assembly, recently elected vice-President of its Biggest Political Group, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP - See various Varvitsiotis' Statements at "Eurofora", f.ex., at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/greekcoepresidency2020.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newgreekagendaforcoechair2020.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/ministeroncoepresidencyandturkey.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/futurecoechairgreekministervarvitsiotisstrengthenvoice.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/austrianeupresidencyonfrontexinaegean.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/irish/euidentity.html, etc), Stressed from the Outset that "Human Life is Above Everything", and observed that the "Extension of Life", Achieved in Modern Societies, "is Exactly what is mainly Threatened by the COVID-19" Virus, nowadays.

- But, at the same time, it would be "UnAcceptable", if some, "Driven by Fear", might, eventually, push to sacrifice "Human Rights and Democracy'"s principles, he Denounced, Warning, f.ex., that this would "Not Justify", particularly, to Curb "Free Expression !". While some Children can't even Access the Internet yet", he criticized.

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- Speaking near Acropolis' Cliff, he reminded that, 2,5 Thousands of Years Before, Athens had Lost about 1/3 of its Population by an Epidemic, but even this did not manage to destroy Democracy and Civilisation. And, after Pointing at "a Spring's Storm", as he said, at the Forest of that Historic Cliff, Varvitsiotis observed, Later-on, that "the Sun came back" at the Landscape, inciting several spontaneous Smiles, (starting by that of COE's SG)...  

- However, this Deadly Virus "has Not yet gone Away", he noted Soberly, as Europe still has the Biggest Total Number of Deaths in the World, (while, notoriously, Bill Gates and several Key Bio-Tech Scientists Claim that even More and Worse Virus' Pandemics might be Comming, somewhere in the Future). That's why Today's Discussion practicaly Opens the Preparations, inside COE, for a Comprehensive, Draft Official Declaration of its Committee of Ministers on Human Rights in periods of Pandemics, scheduled for the forthcoming Summit, foreseen on November 4, in Athens, if the Virus' situation would allow it, he observed.

- At any case, if Greece succeeded, until now, to have a Fairly Low, Comparatively, Number of Infections and Deaths by the Virus, its Not Only Because it Always hears what Scientists have to say, but Also, particulaly, Because the Public Authorities have managed to "Build the Trust of the People" on that issue, which "Helped Flatten (the Virus') Curve", Varvitsiotis anew stressed, (See also Infra).

    Indeed, according to the Latest Polls, if the current "New Democracy" (ChristianDemocrat/E¨PP) Government reportedly has about 42,5% of Positive opinions among Citizens, Compared to 23% for the Opposition of "Syriza", and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attracts 50% of Citizens, compared to 24% by Opposition's Leader Alexis Tsipras, Followed by 54% of Positive Views for its Economic Policy, against Only 37%, Nevertheless, it's with a ... Spectacular 75%, (Versus Only 19% Unsatisfied), that Citizens Approve, until Now, its Measures Against the Virus, (while the relevant Scientific Committee's work, Presented by popular Professor Tsiodras Sky-Rockets with 79% against 16% ! -See "Eurofora"s Report on his Speech in a COE's New Series of Video-Conferences, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coedebatebackshcqversusvirus.html, etc).

Considering that, on the Contrary, in Most Other Countries in Europe and the World, People reportedly are rather Critical vis a vis various Governments' Policies on the Virus, Often Controversial, Obviously, those Facts in Greece would be Usefully Examined by the CoE, (on the occasion, f.ex., of the "Innovations" Caregorie : See Infra).

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    The Issue of Pandemics and Human Rights/Democracy, is of Crucial Importance Nowadays, since, Obviously, if anyone might seek to slyly Impose a quasi-Dictatorial Regime for a period, he would Easily search a Pretext in the Scare provoked by a Deadly Virus and/or Other Life-Threatening Crisis, eventually even provoked and/or exagerated. But, at the same time, Whoever might seek to Delay, Disrupt, Deviate or Block Urgently Needed, Drastic Measures, Able to Rapidy and Efficiency Save Many Peuple's Lives in front of a Massively Life-Threatening Risk, then, it's also Obvious that he might find a way to Undermine that by Multiplying Fake and/or Exagerated Claims of so-called "Rights' Violations", Fakely alleged Rule of Law disruptions, etc., in order to provoke a awfull lot of precious Time and Energy consuming Diversions. So that, Naturally, a Well Balanced, Fearless and Intelligent, Delicate Approach is Needed here, in order to make sure to Find the Right Solutions.

_____________________

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    * CoE's new Secretary General, Marija Buric, former vice-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Croatia, (See various Buric Statements to "Eurofora", f.ex., at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coesgburiconechrbioethicsinterpretation.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newcoesgonbioethics.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newcoechiefburicondialoguestatescitizens.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminoritiesprotection20yearsafter.html, etc), Focused, at First, mainly on the Legality of the Measues taken by the National Governments in the Fight against the Virus, (reminding, in this regard, also a set of "Guidelines" that she Published Earlier).

    - The Main point is, for those Measures, to Strike a Fair Balance, between the Legal Aim pursued, and any Restrictions of Human Rights/Democracy, she underlined. They should also "Respond to an Urgency", instead of legiferating for the long term. Moreover, each Measure should be "Proportionate" to its Legal Aim, she reminded.

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    => This leaves a Large Space for Manouver, Buric observed.

    - Among the various "Areas" of interest to the COE are, also : Health, Social Policy, Freedom of Expression, Data Protection, Disciminations, Children, Minority Languages, (etc), she Highlighted.

    >>> But, particularly "Under Stress", are Vulnerable Persons, who may Face InEqualities in Access to Health Care, such as the "Elderly People", "those who Fight for Liberty", (including Migrants), etc, CoE's Secretary General underlined.

    - For all those reasons, attention must be also paid to "Not Weaken those Democratic outlets where Human Rights Rely", she advised.

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

    + And, at this juncture, From Now on, "Learn from Experiences, (obtained until Now, during this Virus' Crisis) should Guide our Next Steps", urged CoE's Secretary General.

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    * In Fighting this Virus' Crisis, but Also to Build the "After-Crisis" era, Europe must Better be guided by "Multi-Lateralism", Instead of letting "Each Country act Alone", stressed from the outset the New President of CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Rik Daems, Liberal MEP from Belgium.

    - And, there, "Parliaments are Needed, Both in order to Strengthen the Trust of Citizens, and for better Relations with the Executive", he pointed out.

    - Meanwhile, at least ..."5 (Specialized) Committees" of PACE are eager to Debate, prepare Reports and Vote Resolutions, in the run up to November's CoE Summit in Athens (Comp. Supra), on the Various aspects of this MultiFacet Crisis, i.e. its Political, Legal/Human Rights, Health and Social Affairs, Economy and Environment, as well as its "Standing" Committee, (of Equivalent Status to its Plenary), as he Announced.

    + Daems also launched a Call to Associate even "National Parliaments" in Topical "Debates" about this Virus' Crisis, throughout all CoE's PanEuropean space.

    ++ Last, but not leas, PACE's President also Welcomed the recent Agreement of 3 Successive CoE's Chairmanships (by Georgia, Greece and Germany) to support the Creation of a Human Right "to a Decent, Healthy Environment", (as he said, according to the Joint Communiqué, published on May 15, i.e, at the Beginning of the Current, Greek CoE's Presidency, and Extending up to 2021's End, i.e., Even After the Conclusion of the forthcoming, German Presidency of November 2020 - May 2021, (Comp., already : ..., + ..., and ..., etc). Something which, obviously, has to Start being Prepared from Nowadays.

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    * For the New ECHR President, Robert Spano, the present Crisis is a so "Great Challenge", Both for "Now and the Years to Come", that we had not seen "Never Before".

    => PanEuropean CoE's 47 Member Countries must act with "Unity" and in a "Collective" way, he urged. Our "Common Ground" around basic Values must "Galvanise" and "Create Trust" to the People. The current "UnPrecedented Threat" must  "Not serve as Pretexte to Abuse", he Warned.

    >>> For that purpose, the Key Word is "Balance", and, in this regard, there are "4 Principles" to respect, the New and Young ECHR's President stressed, (Flanked by his Predecessor, EuroJudge Linos Sicilianos, and the Experienced ECHR's Registrar, Rodderick Liddel, as he observed from the start).


 -(1)- The "Public Interest is Not an Absolute Trump Card !".

- Therefore, there must be a "Proportionality" with Human Rights/Democracy.


- (2)- "Legality", (i.e. "Rule of Law").

=> Measures must be, ultimately, "Based" on a Law, and, thus, be, more or less, "Foreseable".


- (3)- Measures must "Match Rules". I.e. be "withOut Excessive Discretion" to the Executive Power.


- (4)- Last, but not least, Measures must be "Adapted to the Duration", and "Tailored to meet the Gravity" of the situation.

=> In other words, such Exceptional Measures "Must Not Become a New Normality !", ECHR's President concluded.

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* The experienced PanEuropean Commissioner for Human Rights, (former OSCE Representative for Free Speech), Dunja Mijatovic, found that this Pandemic Virus' Crisis "is like 9/11" !...

- Indeed, already, it "takes a  Huge Toll on Human Rights", and it creates "New Constraints" also "for the Future", she Warned.

=> Ultimately, it all depends on "What Kind of Society we Want to live in", Mijatovic stressed.

>>> In fact, we should Develop the "Participation" of Citizens in Public Decision-Making, and "EmPower the People" : "Otherwise, we risk to have No Democracy !", she Urged, (Surprizingly moving along "Eurofora" Project's lines)...

She made 3 Particular Recommendations :


-(1)- First, "we Need more Equality !"

Because, Otherwise, the Situation of "Disadvantaged People" (including "the Elderly", etc), becomes "even Worse", she Denounced.


-(2)- We must also "Strengthen the place of Human Rights in Society", (including, f.ex., "in HealthCare", etc), she went on to urge.

For that purpose, we could "use CoE's political Strategy", in order "to Move Forward" and create "Hope", she advised.        


-(3)- Last, but not least, "Lessons" learnt by this Crisis (of the Virus) "should be Multi-Lateral", (and "Not" depend to any Country  Alone" - Comp. Also Supra).


=>  In Conclusion, we must "Not Betray the Expectations" of those who made "CoE emerge from the Ashes of the 2nd World War", But, on the Contrary, "Give New Impetus" to his main Missions, the PanEuropean Organisation's Human Rights Commissioner, Ambitiously called in fine.

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    *A Grass-Roots' approach by Experienced, Long-Tim CLRAE President Anders Knape, a ChristianDemocrat from Sweden, Focused, initially, on the Fact that, "whenever it's about Health Care, Schools, Public Transports, even Enterprises/Non-Profit Sector, etc.", as well as "about Elderly People or Children, etc", even "National Authorities almost Always seek to get in touch with Local and Regional Authorities", including in his own Country, (since they have a lot of Competences in such issues)...  

    - Knape, meanwhile, Denounced 2 ..."Colateral Victims" of this Virus' Crisis, consisting in "Hot" Cases of Violations of Human Rights and Democratic Principles elsewhere, that the CLRAE had a Duty to Check and Urgently Rectify, or, Otherwise, Punish with Sanctions, But was Hindered to do so, Because of the "Confinement" Measures, which Excluded Collective Meetings, Travels for on the Spot Investigations, etc.:

    The 1st concerned the abusive Dismissal of many Elected Mayors and/or Heads of Regions in Turkey, (while others had been even Jailed), and their Replacement by Ankara Government-apointed Cronies, which obviously Smashed, there, any notion of Local/Regional Democracy... And the 2nd, was about a Controversial Draft Reform in Latvia, which, according to CLRAE's Experts, should be Urgently "Suspended", and Rectified. Meanwhile, in some Other Countries, Local/Regional Elections had been Postponed. But CLRAE had (Because of the Virus) been Obliged to Suspend its own Activities, including a whole Plenary Session, Initialy Scheduled for this Spring, which they "Hoped", Now, to become able to hold, at least, as Late as on... October (sic !), having Even "Postponed" some of its own, internal Elections, until then !

    Significantly, the Experienced CLRAE's Chief Denounced that Today while being Exceptionaly Filmed right in Front of a Surprizing, huge Image of an ...OSTRICH (sic ! - See relevant PHOTO), as if he wanted to, indirectly but clearly,  Remind and Criticize the Notorious Tactics of some inside the CoE in the Past, who had prefered even to Risk to Damage the Reputation and the Credibility of the PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights and Democracy, Instead of letting it simply do its Duty, to clearly Condemn and Sanction various Grave Violations of Human Rights and/or Democratic Principles by Turkey, that they had Notoriously Avoided, at Any Pretext, already Several Times, in Previous Years, Long Before that...

 
-------------------------

    + Meanwhile, Both During and "After" the current Virus' Crisis, CLRAE would have to Deal with a Nowadays Growing Problem of "People (left) withOut the necessary Means" for their Livelihood, (a Task that even French President Macron had, initialy, entrusted to ...Local Authorities and Humanitarian NGOs, Before starting to add, Later-on, also some first, but rather Incomplete yet, State Measures), as well as with Reaching substantial Conclusions on the "Lessons Learned" by that Crisis, (particularly about "Saveguarding Local/Regional Self-Government even in periods of Exceptional Crisis"), as he Stressed in fine, (Comp. Also Supra).

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* International NGOs' President, Professor Anna Rurka, from Poland, Focused mainly on "DisAdvantaged People" but also "Participation" in Public "Decision-Making" process, including "Digital" tools, etc., (in the Latter Moving, approximatively, Between CoE's Human Rights Commissioner's and "Eurofora" Project's lines : Comp Supra) :

=> -"What Changes to our Societies", related to the Present Crisis ?, she Wondered, from the outset.

- "The (Pandemic) Crisis Amplified the Situation of DisAdvantaged People, which Became even Worse" Nowadays, Rurka Denounced.

- This Concerns, in particular, f.ex.: "the Elderly, People with DisAbilities, Minorities, Refugees, and even Human Rights Defenders" (etc), she added, (withOut Excluding that Many among those Characteristics might, in some Exceptional times, be found United at 1 Person, all Together)...

+ But, almost in Parallel, "New Dynamics" are emerging "in Representative and Participatory Democracy", she found.

- Inter alia, in particular, "Evidence-proving (Public) Decision-Making, and Tranparency, are Crucial" Nowadays, INGO's President stressed.

- However, "the Lock-Down Restricted the Public", which "Rarely Participated" during this Exceptional Period, Rurka Criticized.

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

=> Nevertheless, "Some Good Practices" emerged in "Participatory Decision-Making", she observed :

- F.ex., NGOS and Citizens "Quickly started to be Using the Digital Space, for Monitoring and Action".

+ And there is, currently, a perceived "Need to Create (Web) Platforms for 2 Ways' Communication, between Individuals (Citizens) and Governments", she proposed, (Staying just 1 Step Before "Eurofora"'s "Digital Dialogue")...

>>> And, in order to "EmPower the People" in such a Direction, (Comp. Expression Today used Also by CoE's Human Rights' Commissioner : Supra), moreover, "ACCESS TO THE INTERNET should be Declared, by All (CoE's 47 Member) States, as a Fundamental Human Right !", Rurka concluded.

I.e., a Trend which has Already Started, f.ex. in Italy (particularly Rome City, as "Eurofora" witnessed during the "G7" Summit of 2017) and some Other Countries, while Also Supported by Various Political Movements Recently accross Europe, But Even Originaly Highlighted, for the 1st Time, at an Official CoE's Ministerial Summit in ...Greece (Thessaloniki), as Early as Since 1998, (i.e. during its Previous Presidency of the CoE, and almost at the Begining of the Web !), in a Landmark Resolution of the PanEuropean Organisation on Modern Tele-Communication Technologies, Drafted in Strasbourg under the supervision of CoE's Top Officer, Philippe Poirel, from France, currently Director for Human Rights, (See his INTW to "Eurofora"'s Co-Founder, Published, then, at "MPAgency"), and Nowadays Managed by CoE's Director of Standards in Democracy/Human Rights, including Internet, the Experienced Jans Kleisjen from Austria, (Comp. Many Kleisjen's Statements that we Published, initially,mainly at "TCWeekly" + MPAgency, and Afterwards in "Eurofora").

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

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* The very Experienced Gianni Buquicchio, from Italy, President of the prestigious PanEuropean Commission for Democracy through (Constitutional) Law, 62-Member Countries-Strong, alias "Venice Committee", (and Former Long-Time Director of its Secretariat in Strasbourg : See Many Buquicchio Statements to "Eurofora"s Co-Founder, already Published at "TCWeekly", "MPAgency", and Later "Eurofora"), observed that, even if "Pandemics Always Existed", at Rare Moments in History, nevertheless, this "COVID-19" Virus' Crisis "is Specific, and Not as Before".

- However, CoE's Assembly had already drafted a Report on State of Urgency, at 1995, he reminded.

- At any case, "the Measures" taken by a State have to be "Proportional to their Legal Aim", and "Temporary", i.e. taken "Only as Long as it still goes on,  Buquicchio reminded, as a matter of Principle.

- On the Contrary, such "Measures" should "Never Become the Norm", i.e. Never "Permanent", at all. Otherwise, the Parliament might Control them "a posteriori", i.e. "retrospectively".

- Moreover, this concerns "Only those Measures which are Strictly Necessary" for the above-mentioned Aim, (i.e. in order to Face a concrete Urgency), he stressed.

=> In Consequence, "any Other Measures are Excluded", particularly if they are Not even related with that State of Urgency/Emergency, President Buquicchio made it clear.

In other words, f.ex., to take a concrete Topical Issue, Contrary to some Lobbies' Claims, the French Government, normaly, could Not Exploit the Current State of Emergency due to the Virus, in order to, Eventually, take some Measures Affecting the Society and even Humanity at large, as to Authorize, for the 1st Time in History, Controversial Artificial Births of Children Ordered by Lesbians, (in Fact Pushed by some Technocrats Eager to Seize Control over Massive IVFs, giving them uncontrolled Access to Thousands of possible Genetic Manipulations on Human Embryos, which can be Obviously Dangerous, not only to Health, but Even to the Future of Humankind)... So that the Notorious Pressure Exerted by some Parts of LGBTI Lobbies, pushed by some Shady Technocrats (Comp. Supra), normally, should NOT make the Government of France Yield at all to any such eventual Socio-Political Blackmails Nowadays...

    + Last, but not least, Even if Most of such Anti-Virus' Crisis Measures might be mainly Motivated by Public "Health" reasons, Nevertheless, in Fact, many Include Also Various Socio-Economic and/or Other "Multilateral" Considerations, so that they are, in Consequence, real "Political Decisions", which Can and Must be subjected to "Control for Human Rights and Democracy" Issues, "Venice" Commission's President clearly Stressed, in Conclusion.  

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* Professor Giuseppe Palmisano, Social Rights' PanEuropean Committee's President, (Comp. various Palmisano's Statements to "Eurofora" f.ex. at : ... + ... + ..., etc), made a Short, but Interesting Intervention, that he had Structured accross "3 (main) Points" :

- (1)- First of all, this Virus' Pandemic Affects Most, or even almost "All" Social Rights enshrined at CoE's "Social Charter", as he pointed out, from the outset :

- I.e., f.ex., "Universal Health Care", "Safety at Work", "Elder People", Children's Education, "Housing rights", (etc), he reminded.

+ Virus also Affects "All Persons to its (Social Charter's) Jurisdiction", Palmisano added.


-(2)-  In order to Strengthen CoE's protection of Basic Social Rights Nowadays, it's "All" its 47 Member States which should "Sign" its Latest, UpDated and "Fully Fledged" Version, i.e. the so-called "Revised Charter", as well as "Accept the Collective Procedures" against eventual Violations, he went on to stress.


-(3)- Perhaps the Most Important, Nowadays : Professor Palmisano seized the Opportunity of this Exceptional Video-Conference, with the Participation of almost All CoE's Leadership, in order to Make an Interesting, Original, and Timely "Suggestion" :

- This Deadly Virus' Crisis has a Big "Impact on many People", who are "Suffering Loss", have serious "Griefs", and "Need to Come to Terms", particularly "if Damages Persist" even Further, he observed.

=> Therefore, CoE could create an adequate "PLATFORM" for "a kind of SOCIAL DIALOGUE", "and ReConciliation", around November 2020, Palmisano concretely suggested. (Something that CoE's Chairman-in-office, Greek Minister Varvitsiotis, apparently Noted wth Interest).

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* Anti-Torture CoE's Watchdog, CPT's President, Mykola Gnatofskyy from Ukraine, appeared Focused mainly on "Alternatives to Deprivation of Liberty", in order to Reduce Detentions and Prisons' "OverCrowding", Ameliorate Health-Care.  (../..)

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* Anti-Racism and Intolerance PanEuropean Commission (ECRI) Chair, Maria Daniella Marouda, from Greece, eyeing CoE's "Cooperation" with Both the OSCE and the EU, Focused mainly on Calling, Nowadays, for "an Inclusive Recovery", as she stressed, taking into account the full "COVID-19 Pandemy's Impact".

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lanzarote_nicolaidis__400 

* Children Protection, against Sexual Abuse and/or Exploitation, Committee's (known as "Lanzarote Convention") Chairman, George Nicolaidis, also from Greece, Warned against Topical Risks by the "Lock-Down" during the Virus' Crisis, such as "Domestic Abuse", and/or to be "Sexualy Exploited" while "Relying on the Web", f.ex. even "for (On-Line) Education", etc. Provide adequate "Information", and/or "Help", including for/from "the Elderly", "Filter", etc., are some among the Practical Means to Prevent or Face such Risks.

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 exechr_sicilianos_400_01

* Former ECHR President Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, who has Just Left his post the Day that the Incoming CoE's 2020 Greek Chairmanship started (15/5/2020), as Minister Varvitsiotis reminded, Urged, in particular, to Fight Against "InEqualities", which are "Augmenting" during this Virus' Crisis, and Affect "the Most Vulnerables", such as "Disabled People, UnEmployed, etc", (a Concern Largely Shared by several Participants Today : Comp. Supra).

+ At the Same Time, in Parallel, ECHR should Help at the "Modernisation of the system of Justice", mainly via "Digital" Technologies, (an Issue on which a Specific Video-Conference is prepared for this Month at the CoE), as well as Develop adequate "Synergies" with Top National Courts, (f.ex. "Constitutional Council" in France, "State Council" in Greece, "Federal Constitutional Court" in Germany, etc), but Also "the UNO", he added.

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

coe_dora_bakoyani_400 

* Experienced Top MEP Dora Bakoyanis, Head of the Greek Delegation to CoE's Assembly (PACE), and former President of its Political Committee, as well as f. Foreign Minister and Athens' Mayor, closed this Round of High-Level PanEuropean  Interventions, mainly by Inviting the CoE to Also "Seize the Opportunities" Currently Emerging amidst the Crisis :

- This Pandemic Crisis presents "Challenges", but Also "Opportunities", she stressed from the outset.

- F.ex., we "Change Ways to Communicate, interact", etc.: Among Others, Nowadays,"Video-Conferences go Non-Stop !", Bakoyanis observed, adding also "Tele-Work", etc.

=> -"This is an UnKnown (yet) Territory, to Discover !", she Characteristicaly Urged.

- Indeed, "the World is Changing", at the same time that "it's Defying us"...

>>> Let's "Use this Opportunity", "Today !", she Called.

- F.ex. by "Building a <<Tool-Box>>, both for Now, and "for the Years to Comme !", Dora Bakoyanis suggested, inter alia.

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

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+ Meanwhile, CoE's new Chairman-in-office, Varvitsiotis, Announced a Follow-up Video-Conference, Later this Month, with Specialized CoE's Top Officers, as well as a relevant PanEuropean "Scientific Forum" for September, (as CoE's new Secretary General, Marija Buric was spontaneously Applauding the Conclusion of this 1st Ever Conference with All the Main Leaders of Strasbourg's Organisation)...

 

 

(../..)

 

("Draft-News")

 

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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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