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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Top Spokesman Holtgen to Eurofora on Russia issue Solution effort: Don't lose Hope for June 2019

CoE Top Spokesman Holtgen to Eurofora on Russia issue Solution effort: Don't lose Hope for June 2019

Written by ACM
Monday, 29 April 2019

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*Strasbourg/Press Club/Angelo Marcopolo/- Questioned by "Eurofora" whether he Believed that a much needed Solution might be Found by the CoE, before an Important Time Deadline of June 2019 (See Infra), on the crucial Russia issue, (which notoriously risks to Divide Europe since the 2014 Ukranian Controversy, after CoE's Parliamentary Assembly [PACE] striped Russian MEPs of their Rights, followed by Moscow's Suspension of its Financial Contribution to the CoE), the PanEuropean Organisation's experienced Chief Spokesman, and Press/Communication Director, Daniel Holtgen, a Geo-Economics PhD holder from Cambridge, of German-British origin, after reflecting, Replied with a Crystal-clear : - "I don't want to lose Hope !"

He was speaking after a Lecture on main current European Issues, given at Strasbourg's "Press Club", earlier Today, following which, he also Replied to other relevant Questions by "Reuters", "Eurofora", German Web-Medias, and other participants.

The Point about the June 2019 Rendez-vous, is that a Timely Settlement would allow to the New CoE's Secretary General for the period of 2019-2024 to be Elected also with the Votes of Russian MEPs, as normally required, while also Moscow could Settle its Financial Obligations before eventual threats of Sanctions by CoE's Ministers (See Infra). And all this Could be realized during the forthcoming French Presidency of the CoE (May - November 2019), which is followed by the Rotating Chairmanship of Georgia (11/2019 - 5/2020) and Greece (5 - 11/2020), etc.

- Currently, "Finland's Presidency tries to Find a Consensus on a Draft Decision by CoE's Committee of Ministers, which would be Based on a (recent) PACE's Resolution, while adding also their contribution", at the forthcoming CoE Foreign Ministers' Summit at Helsinki, on May, Holtgen advanced.

He was referring to the Resolution on Challenges for PACE's Role and Mission, drafted by Experienced Dutch MEP Tiny Cox, President of the Euro-Left Group, which was Debated and Adopted Earlier this Month (on April 10), through an "Urgent" procedure, calling, inter alia, also to "Avoid creating new Dividing lines" among CoE's 47 Member States, but, on the Contrary, "Preserve the Pan-European mission of the CoE". While criticizing what it calls "illegal Annexation of Crimea" by Russia, (that Moscow views as a Popular Referendum for ReUnification, following an illegal violent "Putch" at Kiev), nevertheless, "asks to Avoid a situation in which the Biggest member State would be asked to, or chooses to, Leave the Organisation", provoking negative "Geopolitical implications" and "Consequences for Russian Citizens". Thus, the Resolution "calls" on Russia "to appoint a Delegation" to the PACE, "and to Resume" its Contribution to COE's Budget, in order to prevent an eventual demand by its Ministerial Committee to "Suspend" Moscow's overall participation, and "Welcomes the efforts made by the Finnish Presidency" to saveguard the "PanEuropean" role of the CoE (Comp. Supra).

- "The Big Question is whether that will be enough, also for the Russians : I think, Yes", he estimated. (In this regard, 2 or 3 recent Public Statements by Senior Russian Officials, also indicated that, contrary to the Past, Nowadays, a rather Positive and promissing process might have really Started, inside the CoE, added to the latest Political Developments in Ukraine too).

- But, "in which Time Deadline ?", Holtgen wondered.  

- Many point at "January 2020", he reminded.

- However, in that case, "Won't they be able to participate in the Election of CoE's New Secretary General (on June 2019) ?"

 - "This could be rather a Symbolic Question, since Both 2 finalist Candidates, are not particularly opposed to Russia, so that with, or without Russian MEPs, this wouldn't be a big Difference", while it's also "50% of EuroJudges who have been Elected withOut the Russians", since 2014, "the New CoE's Commmissioner for Human Rights, etc. So that, perhaps, it's not so much a Substantial Question".  

 - "But, it's necessary for their Financial Contribution to become anew possible, (normally also from June 2019).

 - At least, "they (Russian MEPs) should come back on January (2020). That should be Possible", he concluded.

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- At this pont, in a Question raised by "Eurofora", we observed that, according to Senior CoE Officials' analysis, including prominent PACE Top Officers (as, f.ex., the exerienced PACE Secretary General, Wojciech Sawicki's relevant Replies to "Eurofora"s earlier Questions : See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeandrussiain2019.html, etc),

it would be Technically and Legally Possible, to act even Earlier, (almost at any moment of the Year), if there is enough Political Will in the Committee of Ministers, and a Majority in PACE.

 

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- Indeed, "in order to accredit National Delegations (of MEPs) DURING the Year (and not only on January, i.e. at the Beginning), a Change of Rules is Necessary, and, for this Change (to be done smoothly) a 2/3 Majority must exist in the Committee of Ministers, as well as a Positive Decision of the PACE too", Holtgen agreed in reply.  

+ "This practically means an Additional (PACE) Meeting, between May 17 (Ministerial Summit in Finland : Comp. Supra), and June 24" (i.e. PACE's Plenary Session for the Summer 2019, due to Elect also CoE's New Secretary General, etc), he pointed out, with accurate precision.

 

By the way, PACE's powerful "Standing Committee" (almost equivalent to a Plenary session) and other Important CoE's Meetings, are currently Scheduled for the End of May/Beginning of June, in Paris.

 

- It would be "Good also from the point of view of Financial Regularity", (i.e. the settlement of Russia's Annual Financial Contribution to the CoE : Otherwise, CoE's Ministers might Suspend all Russia's participation, after June 2019, until Payement : Comp. Supra).

-  "But it's not obvious whether all involved might be ready to move fast enough", he added as a Cautious reserve.                                                                                       

On the Contrary, Holtgen did not find absolutely necessary, at this juncture, that PACE also Changes its Rules of Procedure, as far as some Controversial "Sanctions" are concerned, (including, f.ex., MEPs' Right to Vote, Participation, etc), as a Collegue Journalist suggested at this point  :

- "I don't think that there might be a problem there for now,  since PACE has Recently Adopted the above mentioned, relevant New Resolution (Comp. Supra), CoE's Spokesman reminded, and, moreover, the Russian MEPs would rather prefer to Debate and Vote that (subsequent) Change of PACE's Rules just after they would have already returned inside the Assembly, in order to avoid, f.ex., that what they call as "Russophobe forces", might, eventually, hijack this move, he guessed.

+ Nevertheless, independently of that, there is also the fact that any CoE's Member States should, in principle, be Careful about issues concerning their Annual Financial Contribution, since, among others, f.ex., at least in certain CoE's Partial Agreements, as that of "GRECO" (against Corruption), there are some Rules which imply that if a Member does Not Pay its Contribution, then, it's quasi-automatically Out, he Warned, (given, in addition, that June is, normally, a Crucial Time Deadline for Regular Financial Settlements inside the CoE).

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Almost at the same time, However, CoE's chief Spokesman, observed, in his speech, that while Russia has been considerably Changed by several CoE's Activities for Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy, on the Contrary, developments in Turkey have Deceived me, criticized the experienced Top Officer, who has worked also Together with the former EU Commission's vice-President, Gunter Verheugen, initially in charge of EU Enlargement, when he too used to support Turkey's controversial and unopular EU bid in the Past. (I.e. Before even the former EU Parliament's President and German Socialist Party's Candidate for Chancellor, Martin Schultz, more recently, notoriously Changed his stance on 2017, declaring his Opposition to Turkey's EU entry claims).


But, at another topical point, Holtgen (who spoke Both of CoE and the EU) regretted also those Eras of the Past, during which European Debates used to Focus on Big "Projects", such as the creation of the Common Market, Shengen area, Trans-Border High-Speed Train Networks, etc.

Something similar still lacks Today, at least for the moment, he rightfully criticized, shortly after showing Recent Polls where all European People's number 1 Concern currently is Security and Terrorism, followed by Natural Environment and Climate for South-Western Countries, or Mass Irregular Migration, for former Central-Eastern Countries, as Number 2 Concerns Nowadays...

 

 

(../..)

 

 

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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already send to "Eurofora"s Donors/Subscribers, earlier. +Fast Translation from the Original in French. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap)

 

 

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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
---------------------
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
---------------------------------------

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
-----------------------
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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