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Home arrow newsitems arrow ECHR President to EU Parliament: 1st Historic Step on interpretating CoE BioEthics Treaty on 2020

ECHR President to EU Parliament: 1st Historic Step on interpretating CoE BioEthics Treaty on 2020

Written by ACM
Monday, 10 February 2020

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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- Replying to Questions raised at an EU Parliament's Human Rights Committee's Exceptional Hearing, this Evening in Strasbourg, ECHR's President, Professor Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, from Greece, (Comp. President Sicilianos' statements to "Eurofora", f.ex. on the PanEuropean ReUnification's repercussions on Human Rights, at : ..., etc), Announced that, "for the 1st Time", Euro-Judges are due to Interpret and/or Follow up also CoE's landmark Convention on "Bio-Ethics" (1998), known as "Oviedo" Convention, somewhere in 2020, and Not Only its general Human Rights' Convention, to which it used to be limited until now, calling that Extension "a 1st Historic Step !"

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Significantly, after a Brief Overview of ECHR's main "Successes and Challenges" Nowadays, where he had Already mentioned "BioEthics", but withOut developing, President Sicilianos chose, among a Long Series of various Topical Questions raised by MEPs, to "Start by the Beginning", as he stressed, Picking, at First, the observation, made by Luxembourg's MEP Isabel Wiseler-Lima, (who spoke on behalf of the Greatest Political Group, that of Christiandemocats/EPP), that, paradoxically, he had taken the initiative to initialy evoke "BioEthics", but withOut specifying yet, and invited him to Clarify what exactly he meant.

 

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- "Issues about BioEthics" already raised at the ECHR, "are, indeed, Numerous", observed from the outset Alexander Sicilianos.

- F.ex., "we had Cases about the End of Life", "particularly in France, with the (Famous) Lambert affair" ; "we also had cases concerning Bio-Medicine" ; "as well as Medical Experiments" (Tests) ; "Consent to Medical Operations" ; "We also have Questions concerning <<Surrogate Mothers>>", f.ex., "Recently we gave a Consultative Opinion, on a Demand by the French Final Court of Appeals, which followed it compeletely, as an example of that "Dialogue" Mechanism (of Protocol 16th) allowing to the National Supreme Courts to Ask for ECHR's Views ; etc...

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+ Moreover, "very Recently, we had a Demand from CoE's Committee on BioEthics" (an important InterGovernemental Experts' Body for PanEuropean Standards-setting), concerning the Interpretation of Article 7 of CoE's Convention on BioEthics, (known as "Oviedo" Treaty), "which raises very Delicate Issues", (about Protection of Persons suffering from Mental Disorders : something notoriously often abused by Oppressive Regimes and/or Corrupted Networks, in order to Muzzle Socio-Political Dissidents, Competitors, etc. A Sharp Contradiction exists Nowadays, Inside CoE and vis a vis many UNO ONG Actors, among those who Justify the use of Violence and/or Coertion against such Patients, under certain Conditons, and those who Exclude it, as a matter of Principle). The "Oviedo" Convention (1998) on Human Rights and Dignity of the Human being vis a vis Medicine and Biology, is an entirely Different Treaty from CoE's Convention for Human Rights, (that ECHR's Judges are due to Apply), even if, at least in Some Points, those 2 Different and Indepenent Texts, inevitably use partly Similar Approaches, in one way or another. ECHR had Never Before been pushed to Interpret Oviedo Treaty's BioEthical Law, (despite its Article 29, which allows to any Member State and/or to CoE's Committee on BioEthics to Ask for ECHR's Consultative Opinion, but had Not been used until Now).

=> So, "this will be a Great <<Première>> (a "Great First Night"), and "an Historic 1st Step !", ECHR's President appreciated, because of the UnPrecedented character of that New exercise.

- "Already Today ECHR's Committee of Rules met, precisely in order to Adopt New Rules for those New Activities, which would allow us, I Hope, during this Year (2020) to Adopt a <<Constructive>> Opinion on such Oviedo Convention's BioEthics Key-Points, "for the 1st Time", he eagerly announced.

 

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However, naturally, the above-mentioned New Activity on "Interpretation" of Oviedo's BioEthical Treaty's Rules, should pay attention not to Change the ECHR's Method of "Live", UpDating Translation, (Comp. Supra), into a kind of indirect "Reform" of the 1998 Text, which might Risk to Weaken People's Protection, at one or another pretext, (considering also the Fact that the "Oviedo" Text had been Criticized, then, particularly by Germany and Cyprus, as having been adopted "Ad Minima")...

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+ "But, BioEthics are a "Rich" Area, which naturally touches also on our European Convention on Human Rights, particularly its Article 8 on Private/Family Life, and Also its Article 2, on Human Life : End or Beginning of Life" (i.e. Human Embryo), etc., Sicilianos reminded, in parallel, as far as the Full ECHR's Competence is concerned, (Comp. Supra).


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("Draft-Text")

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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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