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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+

Автор ACM
Пятница, 19 Январь 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).

 

coe_flags_eurofora_400

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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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ECHR's President to "EuroFora" on Journalists Gongadze and Adali murders : Principles must apply to all States, without discrimination.


+ ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression (See below).


 European Court of Human Rights' President, Jean-Paul Costa, questioned by "EuroFora" on Journalists' murders, as in Gongadze and Adali's cases etc., strongly stressed all CoE Member States' obligation to make efficient Investigations to find and punish those responsible, and underlined that ECHR's case-law's principles must apply to all without any discrimination.

His call was clearly supported by various Top MEPs who denounced a risk of "Double Standards" if some Journalists' murders are investigated, while others don't.

To avoid such risks, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly adopted a Resolution, on the occasion of Ukranian Journalist Gongadze's murder, "stressing", as a matter of general Principle, "the importance it attaches to the safety of Journalists and political activists, especially those linked to opposition groups, in ALL member states of the CoE". All "crimes against journalists and political activists must be investigated ... as a matter of priority, without political interference".

Costa was replying to "EuroFora"s question on the fact that, after CoE's Committee of Ministers, also CoE's Assembly had just adopted a Resolution on Gongadze murder case, based on an ECHR's judgement of 2005, asking a full Investigation from Ukraine, who has found and condemned  in 10 years of jail 2 executants, but not yet the instigators.

While nothing similar was yet done for dissident Turkish Cypriot Kutlu Adali's murder, with 5 bullets shot at his head out of his Family's home in the territories of Cyprus occupied by Ankara's army, despite another ECHR's judgement of the same year 2005, and despite Turkey's claim that nobody was found among those responsible for the murder, and that there was nothing more to do..

In order to be credible and efficient, CoE's mechanisms shouldn't find a way to at least ask for full investigations of all Journalists' murders anywhere they might be committed, without exceptions ?

adali_gongadze


- "On the larger question that you raised, I'd like to say, since we are in a period of stock-taking on ECHR's 50 Years, that the Court's case-law developed certain concepts ....such as the Positive obligations of States, part of which are also the procedural obligations", started to reply ECHR's President.

 - "Whenever Journalists, Lawyers, Defenders of Human Rights, or even simple Citizens are murdered, the States are held responsible, not only if its their own security forces' agents who committed these murders, but also if they didn't make sufficiently substantial and efficient Investigations", he stressed.

- "I want to strongly underline that we (ECHR) have found in many cases numerous violations of Articles 2 and 3 against States, ....(about) murders or torture, ...because they didn't make enough Investigations in order to try to find and punish those responsible".

- "We (ECHR) do that vis-a-vis all 47 (CoE) Member States, without any discrimination".

"Naturally, the circumstances in each particular case may be differend, and we can't ommit to apply the rules of proof, or the rules of criminal procedure".

"But we try, by all means, to apply these principles of our case-law, to all States", he concluded.

imag0335_400


      Costa's call was strongly supported by several Top CoE MEPs, from various Political areas


- "To investigate the murder of one Journalist, and not of another, looks like Double Standards", denounced the President of EuroLeft Group in CoE's Assembly, Dutch MEP Tiny Cox.  

- "What is the reason ? Politics or specificity of a case ? Of course, if Cyprus and Turkey are involved, it's always a Political case"..

- "Murders of Journalists should always be fully investigated, because killing Journalists is not only killing persons, but also killing Free Press".  "We (CoE's Assembly) should do our outmost to help People who are working on Free Press and they are under threat or murdered".

Because for Free Politics, Free Press is a pre-requisitive : Parliamentarians  cannot  function without a Free Press. Not investigating, is not protecting ourselves".

So we should investigate all Journalists' murders : We are talking about Gongadze, about the Cypriot man (Adali), about the Journalist murdered in Moscow one week ago, etc", Cox concluded

- "CoE can' look at these cases differently. CoE can't wear Blinckers  !".
- "If the one is investigated, so has to be also the other. Why there wasn't full investigation ? Why's that ?", wondered British  Socialist MEP, Alan Meale.

- "A good idea" would be to "make a Motion for Resolution", and "join all Journalists' murders. Adali and Gongadze etc", said to "EuroFora" EU Parliament Political affairs Committee's President, Goran Lindbland, ChristianDemocrat MEP from Sweden.


(See also earlier News at "EuroFora" on similar issues).
-------------------------------

ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression :


    Almost Half of condemnations by ECHR for violations of Freedom of Expression in 2008, concern Turkey : 20 out of a total of 48 for all CoE's Member States.

    Russia, Poland, France and Moldova were condemned only 3 times. Romania, Greece, Portugal, 2 times, and the other CoE Member States only 1 time, or none.
--------------------
    During the last Decade : 1998 - 2008, Turkey was condemned for violating Freedom of Expression in ..169 cases, while Austria only in 24.

    France and Moldova in 14 and 13, respectively, closely followed by Russia and Poland with 11 and 10, respectively. The rest of CoE Member States had less than ten condemnations.    
    

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