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Home arrow newsitems arrow Tunis'+Egypt's NGO Activists to EuroFora: Mediteranean Democracy Movement's fate needs right support

Tunis'+Egypt's NGO Activists to EuroFora: Mediteranean Democracy Movement's fate needs right support

Written by ACM
Thursday, 26 May 2011

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*Deauville/G8 Summit/Angelo Marcopolo/- NGO Activists from avant-guarde nations Tunisia and Egypt, speaking to "EuroFora" just before EU-Tunisia and EU-Egypt bilateral summits with EU Council/Commission Presidents Van Rompoy/Barroso and Heads of Egyptian/Tunisian Delegations, tonight and tomorrow morning, followed by G8 Heads of State/Governments' relevant debates and decisions,  stressed the need for further action and help in order to give a succesful and positive final Shape to a "Revolutionary" process for elementary but real Democratic and Social Changes, spearheaded among 3rd Mediterranean Countries by Tunisia and Egypt, followed by Libya, Syria, etc.


Tarek Benhiba and Ragia Omran, ONG members from Tunisia and Egypt, a Financial Administration Officer and a Lawyer and Human Rights activist, respectively, spoke with "EuroFora" at the 2011 G8 Summit, thanks to a "NGO Saloon", located close to the International Press Center. Surprisingly, they didn't know eachother, but "met here for the 1st time", together with various other NGO's, at the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Deauville, where, as President Sarkozy anounced today,  the issue of "Success" in the Tunisian and Egyptian changes is probably one of "the most important". (See infra, and another "EuroFora"s NewsReport, herewith),
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The issue of the Right Timing in the Political Elections needed for elementary but real Democratic and Human Rights, together with some Socio-Economic Changes, to be established, currently occupies both these 2 avant-garde 3rd Mediterranean Countries' Civil Society activists :


- "There are some Political Parties which want Elections asap, because Polls gave them good percentages, as, f.ex. for the Islamists, the Democratic Progressist party, etc", Benhiba observed for Tunisia.


- But there is "a Debate" going on about whether Elections should be postponed, in order to give enough Time to all involved to prepare themselves, and how long", he admitted, personally believing that it might be better to give some Time more, but not too much.
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- However, "the most difficult question is to prepare a New Constitution", he stressed. - "We are going to have a Constituent Assembly", in order to make a Constitution. That's the 1st thing to do, he underlined.


- "I'm participating in the drafting High-level Committee", he told "EuroFora", (adding that, in his everyday civilian life, his role was that of a "Tax inspector", and "I'm rather Strict on that", as he added smiling)...

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On the Economic field, "We are often hearing about some Big Numbers allegedly concerning Billions €, but I've never seen them in real practice... I hope now things will go better.. ", he added carefully about possible G8 promisses, while admitting that the issue of International "Aid" corresponds to "real needs".


- At any case,  what started in Tunisia, "was a real Revolution, you know", he stressed, looking right at "EuroFora"s eyes, apparently believing what he said.


Benhiba also revealed that the Rebels didn't really need U.S. website "Facebook", (whose controversial Proprietor, Zuckerberg, is currently engaged in various Lawsuits, accused of stealing the Idea or 50% of Property of others, and attacking anyone who uses a Word similar to "Book", etc),  but just "a way to publish in the Internet Photos and Videos proving an Event, as well as Texts with their Public Calls, analysis, etc".  Questioned by "EuroFora" why didn't they simply use a "Classical", much more widely spread allover the World (i.e. not only in the USA, but also in Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia, etc) "Forum" Website, even one that they could have made themselves, free of any cost, "and which could combine both Short and as Long as they liked Texts", he looked surprised : - "I'm not specialist in Internet technology, and I don't know what kind of equivalent possibilities might exist", he honestly replied, revealing that the "choice" for USA's "Facebook" was made either by chance, or for unknown reasons, if it wasn't indirectly imposed, (f.ex. by Massive Publicity)..


- Meanwhile, at any case, right Now, "there are People tortured in Syria in order to give the Passwords and IDs of their interlocutors in the Web", he observed to "EuroFora".


- What counts more is the Fact that, at the beginning of the Tunisian a.o. events, "the person who immolated himself, had studied as an Engineer, even if not at a Higher level, but was obliged to try to make a living only out of ...selling vegetables to the popular market ! So, when Policemen from the Ben Ali regime came to break his table and hinder him even from doing that job, (reportedly because he didn't have yet a bureaucratic licence, or something like that), he set fire to his own body and committed suicide in public", setting in motion many Young People's revolt, he reminded.


- "This is something which apparently might "speak" even to many Young People in Europe and elsewhere, f.ex. right now in Spain", he also observed, concerning the on-going demonstrations and sit-ins in Catalonia, Madrid, etc by Youngsters notoriously affected, during the last Decade, by a particularly High Level of Unemployment, etc., while a series of "Socialist" Governments is generally expected to close soon by forthcoming political changes.
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- "They (Tunisians) are better than us (Egyptians)". Because "we have worse problems" in Egypt, Ragia Omran denounced to "EuroFora" from the outset.. There are still "protests" and people have been "arrested" even recently in Egypt, she observed.


- Therefore, "I think that we need right now is Presidential Elections, immediately", because we have to "get rid of the Military Council", and have "a new Constitution, a Committee elected, etc"


- On the contrary, "Parliamentary Elections" could, indeed, take place "later". We "don't care" about that now, she added, distinguishing between those 2 differend stages.


- "We have to hold "at first Presidential Elections" in order to "get rid of the Military council", as 1st Priority Change needed asap.  A key point o n which she reportedly focused also later on, practically saying to other Media that if that Money serves just for the Army and the old regime's establishement, then "better keep it"...

- "We have to get rid of the Army" in Egypte's political life, the Human Rights Activist stressed in conclusion to "EuroFora".

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As recently in Turkey, also now in Egypt and other 3rd Mediterranean Countries, CoE,  the Strasbourg-based PanEuropean Human Rights and Democracy Organization has, indeed, always called for the Military to stay out of Politics. , as a matter of general principle for basic Democratic rules.  


- Describing herself as "a Lawyer and Human Rights Activist", Omran said that, naturally, "We are in touch with them", i.e. the CoE. F.ex. "They have a Mission in Egypt which supports very much" Democracy and Human Rights movements, she added for the CoE, which has recently decided to open New Perspectives for 3rd Mediterranean Countries by offering them a "Partnership for Democracy" Status.


3 More CoE Assembly's (PACE's) Reports on Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, etc., as well as Europe's Neighborhood, are due to be debated and probably adopted by its Political affairs Committee in Paris next Monday, (before final Adoption with Public Debate by PACE's Plenary later on in Strasbourg).
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- "The issue of Succes for the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions is absolutely Central", 2011 G8/G20 Chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stressed earlier in his 1st Press Conference at Deauville (See other "EuroFora"s NewsReport today, herewith).  

- That's why, "it's probably one of the most Important issues of this G8 ;" How to get an Aid moving on", he added. G8 Summit's discussions on that point will go on both Tonight (Thursday) and Tomorrow (Friday) Morning".

- In fact, this is related with "an absolutely Huge Issue", on which "France's .. Policy has been Strongly Reviewed" :

=> - "From now on, France would Stand by all People who want to free themselves from their chains !", Sarkozy clearly confirmed.

- But, "Nothing is possible if People don't start moving", he warned.

He said that on the occasion of the recent and ongoing "Relations that we'll have with Arab (and) African Countries". But, at the same time, Sarkozy stressed, in this regard, that he was against "Double Standards", speaking in general, (and naturally including all EU's Neighborhood).
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 - "We (EU) want strong and concrete Support to the Democratic Transitions in the Middle East and Northern Africa", because "we must stand with those that seek Freedom and Democracy", also stressed from the outset EU Commission's President José Barroso, in his statements at a Deauville Press Conference, raising the issue as the No 1 EU's Priority during the 2011 G8 Heads of State/Government's Summit.


Reminding the "Hope" and "tears in (their) eyes" that he saw in Tunisia, as EU's High Representative for External Action Cathy Ashton in Libya, (and earlier EU Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek in Egypt, etc), when local People "saw the EU Flag alongside with" their National Flag, Barroso observed that EU recently offered them "a New Partnership for Democracy and shared Prosperity", underpinned with 7 Billions € in Grants (not loans) up to 2013" . "To this, we should add the 6 Billion € of Loans by the European Investment Bank. This is a down-payment for the Future of the (Mediterranean) Region, but also the Future of Europe. We (EU) are putting the lagest amount of Money on the table", EU Commission's President stressed at the beginning of the G8 Summit.


- "Several times we hear speaking about Millions and Billions €, here or there, but I've never seen something really substantial moving until today. Will it really be differend now ?", wondered the experienced Tunisian Benhiba, careful....


It's true that Barroso also added that, from these amounts cited above, "1,2 Billion € of this is Fresh New Money", as he pointed out. I.e. the EU Funds added now, after the recent extraordinary Events for Democratic and Social Changes in several 3d Mediterranean Countries, practically tantamount at just a little bit over of what is given by the EU to the controversial and unpopular Turkey's EU bid alone : i.e. much more than 800.000 € each year !...


Obviously, a just and fair re-balancing between Turkey and all other 3rd Mediterranean Countries has to be urgently done by the EU in the forthcoming period, if Europe really wants to be credible and efficient throughout all its Neighborhood...
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+  "But, it is not only about support in Economic terms, (i.e. the famous : "Money, Markets and Mobility", as he said earlier). What we (EU) are seeking is a true Engagement with Societies", Barroso went on to add. We want to "combine our efforts", together "with other G8 Parters" (USA, Russia, Japan, etc), in order "to assist those who are working for Change in the Region", Barroso concluded, naturally pointing also at NGOs, Human Rights Activists, and engaged Citizens, etc.

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    Before the end of 2009, France and Germany will take strong initiatives to open "new Horizons" needed by Europe and the World, going well beyond the current Crisis' management, anounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel, reassuring that both a judgement on Lisbon Treaty by nearby Karlsruhe German Federal Court, and the forthcoming National Elections in Germany would confirm their capacity to act.    

They were replying to Press questions in Berlin, after key-regional elections on Sunday, where Merkel's ChristianDemocratic party kept everywhere a strong 1st and won the possibility to forge a New Majority with Liberals at the largest of 3 Landers : Saxony (4 millions inhabitants), while its main competitor, the Socialdemocrat party fell to unprecedented lows : Tackled by the small "Linke" (left) party in Saarland (1 million inhabitants), it became even smaller than it in Saxony and Thuringen (3 million inhabitants), where SPD arrived only third. While its usual partners, the "Greens" also fell down, contrary to CDU's new partners, the FDP Liberals, who go up.

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    - "At any case, at the end of the year (2009), if things go as scheduled, we shall take strong initiatives, showing that Europe needs a Franco-German axis, as well as the World, even if it never excludes other" countries to join, replied Sarkozy to a question if France and Germany will revive the "European dream", by "relauncing the EU motor" for the Future, with actions going further than the mere management of the global crisis, (as it was done fex. in the Past with the creation of the "Euro" Monetary zone, etc).

    - "I am convinced that the Franco-German friendship must be constantly nourished by New Projects", he added."There are many areas of cooperation where we intend to take, very soon, some Franco-German initiatives, which will allow to open more Horizons" to the EU, Sarkozy stressed.

    But if "we don't speak about that now, it's only in order to avoid interfering in important elections coming in Germany", he observed. However, "we have already started to consider the Future with the (German) Chancellor, and what we can do in order to honour our predecessors". "We are already speaking about that, and we are preparing things". "I am working very well together with Mrs Merkel, and I wish that it goes on", Sarkozy concluded.

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    - "It's important for EU's credibility that France and Germany advance forward together", stressed Merkel from the outset. "Don't worry about Germany's capacity to undertake initiatives" with France, she added. "France and Germany will be perfectly able to make proposals" for the EU.

    -  "After-crisis" plans must be prepared, meanwhile, with measures "advancing progressively", Merkel anounced. And, for the short term, we must deal also with EU Citizens' dismay since they feel that it's a Scandal for some in the Financial Markets to be paid with excessive "Bonuses", etc, she agreed with Sarkozy.

    - "Abuses in financial markets must stop", stressed also Sarkozy. Backing Merkel's announcement that France and Germany call for an EU meeting to forge "a crystal-clear European position" in view of the G-14 Summit at Pittsburg, he warned that "everyone will have to undertake his responsibilities, in front of World's Public Opinion. particularly those who don't want to make the same effort of regulation as France and Germany".

    Moreover, "Global Trade cannot be correctly dealt, without taking into account also Environmental and Social rules", Sarkozy added, referring to recently expressed positions against Unfair Competition via Environmental and/or Social Dumping, (See earlier "EuroFora"'s publications).

    Such moves are obviously linked to the need to ensure at least an elementary respect for Human Rights by Third Countries, (f.ex. exploitation of Children's work, etc) in order to avoid, precisely, any such Social Dumping.

    - "EU has Values, protecting Human Rights and Human Dignity", and "it cannot close its eyes" in front of grave violations, particularly "Torture and/or killings", added, indeed, Sarkozy.

    Thus, "the time comes, where decisions must be taken". But, in case of "Sanctions", "all International opinion should be convinced of the need to take action", he observed.

    Expressed on the occasion of recent developments in Iran, the same principles should logically apply also to other similar cases, including fex. that of Hundreds of ECHR judgements' condemning f;ex. Turkey for grave crimes, (as Torture, brutal Killings, Enforced "Disappearances", Destruction of Family Homes, harassments and oppressive violations of Freedom of Speech, etc).

    Meanwhile, questioned on (EU Commission's chair)  Barroso's bid to succeed himself for a second mandate, they both expressed a "wish" or a "feeling" that "EU Parliament"'s various political Groups might fix a date for decisions "during September". However, is he is endorsed before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, it will be legally necessary to re-vote anew for a full term of office afterwards, according to EU Legal Experts, revealed recently in Strasbourg the experienced former President of EU Parliament's Constitutional Committee, German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen. And Germany will not vote for Lisbon Treaty's ratification but only "on September 8 and 18", revealed Merkel, ( i.e. after EU Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg).

    - Therefore, "for EU Commissioners' appointment, it's too early yet, because we must wait for the ratification of Lisbon Treaty" by all 27 EU Member countries, including naturally Ireland's Referendum on early October, said to "EuroFora" the influential President of EU Parliament's largest group of MEPs, Joseph Daul, expressing, however, the hope that a controversial deal with the head of the Socialist Group of MEPs, Martin Schultz of Germany, might hold for Barroso alone, at a forthcoming vote due to fix the Strasbourg plenary's Agenda.

    But MEPs reportedly just "postponed" for 1 week all their previously scheduled group meetings (See : http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/barroso-unveil-summer-homework-week/article-184825 );

    However, while the choice of a new EU Commission's President by EU Parliament is supposed, according to many MEPs' wish, take place according to EU policy issues, paradoxically, this would mean that Barroso's bid would pass before even the anouncement of France and Germany's "initiatives" for EU's "new Horizons"...

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