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Home arrow newsitems arrow EU Debate on Ukraine Aid: Need for impartial Judges against Corruption hampers Economy's potential

EU Debate on Ukraine Aid: Need for impartial Judges against Corruption hampers Economy's potential

Parašė ACM
Monday, February 13, 2017
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- An exceptional and Topical MEPs' Debate in EU Parliament Today pointed mainly at Judges' integrity, away from Political influences, and Committed to the Rule of Law, as a much Needed Institutional Tool also for the eradication of still endemic Corruption in Ukraine, for which EU has earmarked a lot of Grants and favorable Loans (See Infra), but without yet obtaining the desirable results, as representatives of 3 EU Institutions agreed after examining independently the developments of the relevant situation on the spot recently.


Significantly, they spoke Near the Headquarters of the PanEuropean Organisation for the Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy : the CoE, in Strasbourg, whose own Parliamentary Assembly (composed by MPs send from the National Parliaments of 47 CoE Member States, including Ukraine) is still in the process of "Monitoring" Kiev Authorities' relevant commitments, especialy on Legal Principles.

 
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- "Judicial Review is a Key" Issue, particularly for the Fight against "Corruption", stressed EU Commission's representative Herr Wagner, speaking at an Exceptional Meeting of the competent EU Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control (COCOBU), in Strasbourg this Evening.


+ In fact, EU "Money is Available", he optimisticaly observed, but it's "Not yet Explicitly" made conditional to effective implementation of authorized EU Programs, (See also Infra), he regretted, while also Pointing at the Need for "Public Administration Reforms" and a better role for "Civil Society", etc., as relevant Factors and PreConditions for a Healthy Economic Development.


- From the Other Side, even if a recent decision to bring Gas closer to real Market Prices has brought a Burden to the Population, nevertheless, it has also managed to absorb a quasi-chronic Debt of Ukranian Gas Company in the Past, which has now become "slightly Profitable", Wagner observed.


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But EU Court of Auditors' member, Scabolcs Fazakas, from Hungary, who led the collective Audit on Ukraine, acknowledged the Fact that "Corruption is Very Real" Today, with the main Problem being "Political Influence".


Relevant "Reforms are Not Implemented", while "a Lot of Bodies were set up, But, Unfortunately, we (EU) are Still Waiting for the Outcome" of their activities, he criticized.
He pointed at an almost 100 Pages-Long Official Report established by the ECA, focusing now on the 2007-2015 Period, but also in View of the 2014-2020 "EU Response" due to Total a "Package of 11,2 Billions € in the foreseable Future.


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 - Indeed, "Results ....remain to be seen" concerning the "Fight against Corruption", says EU Parliament's Draft Report on EU Assistance to Ukraine, drafted by German MEP Joachim Zeller, from the Governing, ChristianDemocrat/EPP Party, who expressed "Regrets that Old Structures, ... Reluctant to Reforms, Modernisation and Democratisation prersist, while Forces Willing to Reform face Severe Difficulties".


=> In Consequence, EU must "Strengthen Monitoring" of the way that its Financial "Assistance is Implemented", he urges, including "by Suspending Payments", "where duly Justified by Lack of Satisfactory Progress in Reforms", and "make Further EU Assistance Conditional on effective Implementation of key ... Reforms", while "DisBursement conditions should be Strictly Assessed", according to his Report.

>>> In particular, a Draft Resolution "calls for a ReConstruction of the Judiciary power in the country, towards an Independent instrument Committed to the Rule of Law", mainly as part of a much Needed "Efficient Fight against the Still Widespread Corruption".


+ In Addition, "EU Assistance to Ukraine .. should be Tied with tagible efforts of the Ukranian Government ... namely top Improve the Own Resources ... through a ... Tax Scheme which does Not Only account for the Income of the Citizens, but Also the Assets of the Oligarchs".


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The latest "Fact Finding Mission" which visited Ukraine on 2016, presented a Report Drafted by the President of EU Parliament's Budget Control Committtee, another German MEP of the Governing ChristianDemocrat Party, Mrs Ingebopre Graessle, from Nearby Baden-Wurtemberg, to which refered several Speakers during Today's Debate :


The "very Substantial Financial Assistance" of almost 5 Billions € earmarked by the EU for Ukraine since the 2014 Events, (composed by 3.400 Millions for MacroFinancial Assistance, 1.400 Millions € for Development and Regions, as well as 110 Millions € for Peace and Humanitarian actions), "is Not Evaluated systematically", observes Grassle, "agreeing" on this point with EU's Court of Auditors' criticism.

 

 

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Particularly, on "Corruption", despite some "significant Steps", nevertheless,  "Tangibe Results" are still "Needed", she underlined.


F.ex., "2 Years After the Creation" of "3 Bodies aimed at Combating Corruption", some of them "are Still More Occupied with Staffing and Office Equipment, than ... with Fulfilling their .. Duties", COCOBU President Graessle found on the spot.


"Independence and Integrity of specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office" "Need further Improvement", while "the Ukranian Authorities have Not yet produced a Convincing Track Record of Investigations and Sanctions for High-Level Corruption Cases", her Report's main Conclusions denounce.

 

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
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    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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