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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Assembly Secretary General Sawicki to EF: Rules UpDate may Facilitate Decisions on Russian MEPs+

CoE Assembly Secretary General Sawicki to EF: Rules UpDate may Facilitate Decisions on Russian MEPs+

Parašė ACM
Friday, January 19, 2018
pace_sg_sawicki_reply_to_agg_question_on_decisionmaking_process_change_eurofora_400

*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- Even a simple Change (or, rather, UpDate) of CoE's purely Procedural Rules may Facilitate a much-needed Agreement for a Compromise on Russian MEPs' participation to the PanEuropean Organisation's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), as it results from the Reply given to an "Eurofora" Question by the Experienced PACE's Secretary General, Wojciech Sawicki.


Since the 2014 Ukraine Conflict, which risked to Divide Europe, a Controversial Vote in PACE, Rejecting a Compromise, striped Russian MEPs from so Many Rights, that they were pushed to Quit CoE's Assembly, until the Participation Rights of All PACE's MEPs might be equally Safeguarded in Future, (i.e. for 3 Years now: See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminorityamendmentpushesrussianmepsout.html+http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/pacerussiasanctionscutcoeoffukrainepeaceprocess.html
), after what, Russia Recently Suspended its Annual Financial Contribution to the CoE, (while Turkey also Reduced its own, shortly afterwards), resulting in an UnPrecedented Crisis, that CoE's Governments, together with PACE's Majority, would like to Solve asap, and, at any case, Before a forthcoming New Summit of CoE's 47 Heads of State/Government, expected on 2019, (Comp., f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newpacepresidentandrussiadebates.html).


Significantly, Today's move was made during the Press Briefing of  European Correspondents on a Crucial forthcoming PACE Plenary Session for the "Winter 2018", Next Week in Strasbourg, which is due, not only to Elect the body's New President, (normally for the next 2 Years : 2018-2019, during which a New CoE Summit is due), as well as CoE's New PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights for the Next 5 Years (4/2018 - 2023), but also to Host, for the 1st Time, a brand new body, including Both Governments' and Parliamentarians' Top representatives from COE's Ministerial Committee and its Parliamentary Assembly, Together with Russia's Duma and Federal Council's representatives, (according to a Deal brokered on Top Political Level last December 2017).


In Parallel, Heads of State from Countries which Traditionally play a particular Role also on EU - Russia relations, such as Austria and Armenia, as well as Denmark (including its Prime Minister), that is currentlly Chairing the CoE (for the period of 11/2017-5/2018 : See, f.ex. ...), will all Address this same PACE's Plenary.


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


 - In "Eurofora"s Question to PACE's SG Sawicki, we Observed the Fact that CoE's Assembly, as things stand until now, is, curiously, Deprived of the Possibility to Decide on the Credentials of National Delegations send by CoE's Member States to Strasbourg, during any of its 4 Plenary Sessions traditionaly organized each Year, (on Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn) : On the Contrary PACE is Hindered to take such a Decision at any Other Moment, except from Only Once per Year : Solely on January, (i.e. at the Beginning of its Winter Session), with Consequences durating for ...12 Months-Long, withOut Any Possibility to Decide Otherwise, f.ex., at its Spring, Summer or Autumn Sessions, Neither Between them. So that CoE's Leadership is, in fact, Deprived of a Necessary Freedom to Move Fast and whenever there is a Political Will, being Obliged, by too Old Rules of Procedure, to Limit its own Decision-making in Only 1 Occasion during a Whole Year : I.e., an obviously Too Long period of Time...


=> Therefore, "Eurofora" Asked Sawicki whether he found Better and Possible to Ensure, for CoE's Leadership, a Freedom to Decide, on PACE MEPs' National Delegations' Credentials, if necessary, during Each of its 4 Sessions of the Year, (WInter, Spring, Summer or Autumn), and/or at any Other Time, between them, (f.ex., perhaps during an "Exceptional Session", and/or a "Standing Committee", etc), if and when the PanEuropean Organisation's Leaders might feel a serious need to do so, for CoE's General Interest. I.e., in Practice, CoE could, thus, have, at least, 4 Chances per Year to Seek and Find a Solution on Problems as that of the Russian Delegation to the PACE, instead of Only 1... Wouldn't that be much More Efficient, from all points of view, for any such serious Political and Diplomatic Negotiations, (including, if necessary, reciprocal Pressure at/from all sides, but also Meaningful Dialogue, for Adequate Compromises), and Timely Action ?


+ Meanwhile, "Eurofora" had already Spoken, about such an Idea, with Various Other experienced Top CoE's Officials, who had mostly said that they Found that Interesting, and had Encouraged us to Raise that Topical now Question to the Right Person : i.e. to PACE's Secretary General.


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

 - Sawicki, in his Reply to the above-mentioned "Eurofora"s Question, started by basically Agreeing on the Fact that, indeed, the Current System, of Only 1 Decision possible for the PACE on such Key Issues, during all the 12 Months of each Year, was "Too Long" and "Not Flexible" enough.

 - However, the Experienced PACE's Secretary General, went on to clearly add that, "If there is a Political Will", a Solution to that Problem was "Possible" !

=> For that purpose, "it's enough to make a Change (or, rather, UpDate : See Infra) inside iCoE's Statute", he told us, pointing at an Old, (and obviously Out-Dated), Article No 32, which still Says that CoE's Parliamentary "Assembly shall Meet in Ordinary Session Once a Year" only !


The Problem is that this is Combined with Article 25, alinea (b), which says that "The term of office of Representatives ... will Date from the opening of the Ordinary Session following their appointment", until that of "the Next ...or ... a Later Ordinary Session", (i.e., practically, until ... Next Year, the soonest)...


- Sawicki explained, in this rrgard, that the 4 Current PACE's Sessions (of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn), are considered, for such Technical Reasons, to be "Part-Sessions".


- Therefore, as long as COE's Statute remains unchanged, it's Only in case of New Elections, Death or Resignation, that MEPs' Credentials could be presented Also at  Any among those 4 "Part-Sessions" during the Year. On the Contrary, National Delegations' credentials, should, as he stressed, be presented Only at the Beginning of an "Ordinary Session", (i.e. Only on January, each Year : Comp. Supra).


- Nevertheless, even if somewhat "Not Easy", it is certainly "Possible" to Change that, by Modifying adequately those CoE Statute's Articles, mentioned above, (so that CoE would have 4 Occasions per Year to Decide on such matters, Instead of Only 1), PACE's Secretary General underlined in Conclusion.


>>> And, in Fact, such a Move could be quite "Simple", since, "if CoE's Committee of Ministers and its Parliamentary Assembly Agree, then, for this kind of Issues, there is No Need for (National) Ratifications !", Sawicki observed Positively, while Concluding his Reply to "Eurofora"s Question.


Already, CoE's Statute, which had been Initially adopted as Early as since 1949 (!), i.e. a very Long Time Ago, has been Amended (on specific points) Many Times, until Recently :


=> -, Indeed, at Least ... Thirty Three (33) Amendments have been already made to CoE's Statute, Between 1951 - 2015, as "Eurofora" found at the Official CoE's Texts !


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


+ Meanwhile, Between October and December 2017, (under PACE's interim President Stella Kyriakides from Cyprus, a Center-Right EPP MEP. Comp. various Kyriakides' statements to "Eurofora", as f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newpacepresidentkyriakidestoeurofora.html, etc), CoE's Committee of Ministers and its Parliamentary Assembly's Leaders have Already Started to Work Together, in even Closer Cooperation than before, precisely about Issues as that of Russian MEPs' participation and Vote Rights, as well as the Subsequent Financial Problems later provoked by that (Comp. Supra).


>>> An Important and Topical point, in this regard, is a main Conclusion of the Recent Report drafted by Italian MEP Michele Nicoletti (Chairman of the Socialist Group, and probable New PACE President for the 2 Next Years 2018-2019 : Comp. f.ex., some of Nicoletti's Statements to "Eurofora", at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/pacepresidentrow.html , etc) and adopted by PACE on October 2017, about a New CoE's Heads of State/Governments Summit, for the Unity of Europe and its Democratic Security (probably on 2019), which Calls for a Coordinated Approach between Governments and MEPs, particularly on delicate Issues which Affect the "Unity" of the PanEuropean Organisation, as also that of the Fate of Russian MEPs.


So that an Eventual Change (or UpDate) of the above-mentioned Points in CoE's Statute (Comp. Supra) with a possible Agreement between CoE's Committee of Ministers and PACE's MEPs, i.e. withOut Need for National Ratifications, could, normally, be Feasible and rather Simple, (particularly, given the Urgency of the matter, in practical terms, considering f.ex., its Budget, the preparation of the Summit, the quality of its PanEuropean Debates on "Hot" Political Issues concerning all its 47 Member States, etc).

 

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+ On the Substance of the Issue, it's well known that Russia has clearly Asked for All PACE's MEPs' Rights, as Parlementarians, to be Safeguarded, in the Future, in unequivocal terms, which would Not allow any Other eventual Repetition of So Harsh Sanctions, Depriving them for Too Many Rights of Participation/Vote, as in that Exceptional, Controversial Case which Provoked the Departure of Russian MEPs (Comp. Supra). 


Therefore, Moscow, notoriously finds Necessary also a Reform of PACE's "Rules of Procedure", in order for All MEPs' elementary Rights to be clearly Safeguarded in the Future. As long as this is not done, the Russian Delegation of MEPs does Not Accept to Return Back inside the PACE, in a Precarious Condition, and, after Years of provoked Absence, it has decided to Suspend all its Annual Financial Contribution to the COE, (effective from February 2018, i.e. in 2 Months Time, as another Experienced CoE's Official told us).


>>> In order to Facilitate the obviously Necessary "Dialogue" between Russia and PACE for a Solution on this thorny Issue, but also in the Wider, Topical Context of the Preparation of CoE's Summit, all being linked with a Debate on COE's Future Role at the PanEuropean area, (Comp. Supra), PACE's President Stella Kyriakides proposed, and PACE's Bureau Collectively Accepted, on December 2017, after a 1st Meeting with 5 Russian Parliamentary Leaders, (including Mrs Matvienko and Mr. Borodin, Presidents of the Federal Council and of Duma, respectively), to set up a New, "Ad Hoc" Committee, Strongly Built, with the Participation of All Heads of National Delegations, the Presidents of Political Groups, and the Chairs of PACE's Committees, as well as its Rapporteurs on PACE's Role and Procedures, explicitly charged to Focus on CoE Assembly's "Mission".


=> This, important New PACE's High-level "Ad Hoc" Committee on COE' Assembly's "Role and Mission", was Officially convoked by President Kyriakides (whose Mandate concludes on the 21st of January 2018) and the Bureau, to Meet in Strasbourg, on Next Tuesday, with the Participation of at least 2 Russian Top MEPs, (Konstantin Kosachev, Long-Time President of Senate's Foreign affairs Committee, and Pyotr Tolstoy, Duma's vice-President), as Sawicki confirmed.


 - "This is a Creaton of PACE's Bureau, and, therefore, If and when it might, eventually, Propose any Amendments to PACE's Rules of Procedure, then, normally, this should be Debated and Voted by the competent PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure, before a Final and Decisive, Public Debate and Vote at a Plenary Session, Sawicki concluded on this point.


I.e, something which, theoretically, could be done during a Week, i.e. in one Plenary Session, But, in Fact, might require a, more or less, Longer Time, ...thereby showing, in fact, again the Practical Interest for "Eurofora"s above-mentioned Suggestion to Simplify and Accelerate PACE's work, on this and other such cases, that its Secretary General appeared to find Practically Useful and Feasible, (Comp. concrete Detals Supra)...

 

(../..)

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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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