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Home arrow newsitems arrow EU Ombudsman O'Reilly on EF project (Citizens - EU Decision-Makers Debates Before Acts): BIG ISSUE !

EU Ombudsman O'Reilly on EF project (Citizens - EU Decision-Makers Debates Before Acts): BIG ISSUE !

Автор ACM
Пятница, 01 Июнь 2018
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*Strasbourg/EU-Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- A Key EU Personality : the EU Ombudswoman (alias : EU Defensor of Citizens' Rights), Emily O'Reilly, from Ireland, Replying to an "Eurofora" Question about Our Project for mainly Web-Based EU Citizens' Public Debates with EU Decision-Makers (as, f.ex. MEPs, etc) Before Taking Measures which Affect their Lives and/or Society at large, observed that it's, indeed, "a Huge Issue", but also "a Matter of Political Will", for which, Nowadays, the Doors "May be Open !", (See Infra).

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big_queu_waiting_to_enter_in_eu_parliament_on_2018_eye_eurofora_400

(Exceptionaly Long Queu waiting to Enter EU Parliament's Building in Strasbourg for 2018 EYE Event, after a RainStorm Hindered to use an initially prepared Campus)

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    O'Reilly was speaking in Strasbourg, between the conclusion of EU Parliament's May Plenary Session and the Beginning of "EYE" Annual Event, with the participation of Thousands of Young People from all over Europe, President Tajani and other MEPs, EU Experts, etc., in EU Parliament's Building here for 2 Days, Friday and Saturday, 1+2 June 2018, which is the last Big Event before the Electoral Campaign for the forthcoming May 2019 European Elections : I.e. amidst such an ambiant noise (given the Popular Success of this Event, as a relevant Photo clearly shows, that she had to Carefully concentrate her Attention in order to clearly hear what "Eurofora" had to say)...


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  - In "Eurofora"s Question to EU Ombudswoman, we observed that O'Reilly has "Recently spoken very much about the Transparency of the (EU) Decision-Making process, and, also, about the Participation of Citizens and Civil Society", (already since Early February 2018: See "Eurofora"s NewsReport at ...). But, as you know, onOther Aspect of Lisbon Treaty's Article 11, speaks about a Possibility for "Regular Dialogue", as well as about the "Expression" of EU Citizens' Views, and "Exchanges" on the "Acts" of the EU Authorities, including, f.ex., EU Parliament, and others.


=> - "Do you think that it would be Good, on this (Legal) Basisn to Initiate, (in the "Softest" and Easier posssible way for all), Public Debates between EU Citizens, Civil Society, etc., and, f.ex., EU Parliament's key MEPs, Before Decisions are taken, which may Affect their Lives, and/or All the Society ?", we queried.


 "In this way, f.ex. EU Parliament could have a View of EU Citizens' opinions on the Issues on which it might Debate and/or Vote. It could also give an Opportunity to EU Decision-Makers to Explain the Reasons for which they might take one or another Decision", "Eurofora" observed.


 - "F.ex., a Week Before the Plenary, EU Citizens might have a Chance, thanks also to Digital Technologies, to Express their Views and hold a Debate, eventually we practicaly observed.


- New French President Emanuel Macron has just Told Us that he would be in Favour of such a Development, extending even After the forthcoming EU Parliament's Elections of May 2019, as well as some Others. But You (as EU's Ombudswoman/Defensor of EU Citizens) are at a Key EU Position for that.


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- "Yeah", O'Reilly spontaneously reacted, particularly on the "Regular Dialogue" point of the above mentioned Lisbon Treaty's Article 11...


 - "I take the Overall Point, about People to be Able to Engage (in Dialogue with EU Decision-Makers), Before Decisions are made", the EU Ombudswoman told "Eurofora" at the Beginning of her Reply.


 - "That's a Huge Issue !", Emily O'Reilly observed from the outset, with a Serious look.


- "Obviously, there are All Sorts of Ways in which this could be Attempted to be done, f.ex., via Public Debates, Consultations, etc., she pointed out.


- Recently, "what I've been Trying to do is to make EU Council more accountable for Transparency, because People doN't yet known what Positions the EU Member States are Taking", she reminded, (Comp. : ..., etc).


 - On what you ("Eurofora") said, "sometimes, the Responsibility is, of course, also on Brussels (i.e., f.ex., EU Commission, etc) to Engage" (in Dialogue with EU Citizens on forthcoming Decisions), she Acknowledged.


-  "But it's also on (EU) Member States (i.e. EU Council, etc), as well, in relation to Their Citizens, their Parliaments, etc", she observed, in Reply to "Eurofora"s Question, i.e Interestingly pointing at a Wider Dimension of this matter, including also the National Public Administrations' relations with Citizens, (a Topical aspect on which "Eurofora"' co-Founder has been notoriously working in the framework of an original Legal Research at a "Doctorat d'Etat" level in the French University, since a Long Time ago, but also Nowadays).


 - "They (People) very Often Don't even Know what really Europe has done, (by Radio, TV, Newspapers, etc), while they know about EveryDay Life Politics", and so on, she observed, (also as a former Experienced, Long-Time Journalist).


 - Usually, "It Seems that it's Very Hard" for EU News to reach out to the People. "But, actually, one of the Good points about it, (i.e. Dialogue between EU Authorities and Citizens : Comp. Supra), is that", even without being "Dramatic", "I think that (EU) "Citizens are going to Consider this, (i.e.) to Learn something (in Reply) from the Politicians who are Making important (EU) Decisions here", O'Reilly observed Positively. speaking about EU Parliament's Building.


- Otherwise, in the Past, Statistics indicate that, in some Countries, only a Small Percentage of Young People Voted in EU Elections. And, in general, Often these People "do Not Relaize the Power that EU Organisations have got in recent years, Not even the Power that they have themselves, as Voters, to collectively choose this or that Political Majority, of the Right, the Left, or Center, etc, by Voting in EU Elections.


Obviously, as a matter of normal Democratic way of functioning, EU Citizens' Votes could, afterwards, logically Reward or Sanction, this or that Political Group, according to the Outcome of a previous Dialogue with them on EU Decisions affecting their Life and/or Society at large, as "Eurofora" suggested (Comp. Supra).


- But, the concrete Developpement, or not, of such Exchanges between EU Decision-Makers and EU Citizens, according also to Liisbon Treaty's Article 11, as "Eurofora" had hinted (Comp. Supra), in fact, it's a Matter of Political Will !", O'Reilly stressed in Reply.


+ However, Questioned, subsequently, by "Eurofora", if she Felt that, "Nowadays, the Door is Open, or Closed", in this regard, the EU Ombudswoman, after a Thoughtful moment, chose to Enigmatically, but quite Optimistically, Reply, with a Smile : - "I think that it May be Open !"...



(../..)



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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already send, Earlier, to "Eurofora" Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap)

 

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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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