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Home arrow newsitems arrow EUROCORPS+ISAF Chief of Staff General Bavinchove to EuroFora:Afghanistan test boosts dual capacities

EUROCORPS+ISAF Chief of Staff General Bavinchove to EuroFora:Afghanistan test boosts dual capacities

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
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*Strasbourg/Press Club/Angelo Marcopolo/- Speaking via a Tele-Conference from Kabul to Strasbourg, EUROCORPS' Commander, who serves now also as Chief of Staff at the International Force for Afghanistan (ISAF), General Olivier de Bavinchove (France), replied to "EuroFora"s Questions on that unique Multi-National force's potential role in forthcoming developments of EU's Security and Defence policy, while praising also its "Dual", or "Civilian-Military" capacities, (composed by German, French, Spanish, Belgian and Luxembourg full Members, to which was recently added also Poland, as well as several other EU Countries' "Liaison Officers", and able to Mobitor Pluri-modal, Air-Land-Sea, Military, Peace-keeping or Humanitarian operations), at the eve of a January 2013 exceptional European event, currently prepared at its Headquarters in Strasbourg, to celebrate the completion of its Return from a succesful but challenging Top Mission in Central Asia, as well as the 20th and 50th Anniversaries since the creation of such a tool, and since the Franco-German Treaty "of Elysée" which made it possible, respectively (See Infra).
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 - "EuroFora" observed that ,"Recently, in (the latest EU Summit) in Brussels, interesting developments on EU Security and Defence policy re-started, and you (EUROCORPS and ISAF's Chief of Joint Staff) are at the Heart of all this : EUROCORPS was already twice in Afghanistan, and your (current) Mission is the most important, as more strategic, concluding and high-ranked".


=> Thus, - "Do you sincerely feel that your Experience, both personal and of all (EUROCORPS) officers working together, would usefully serve in the Futiure, also in various other, differend Missions, that you might have at EU's Neighbourhood or elsewhere in the World ?", "EuroFora" asked General de Bavinchove.


- "Because there is recently much talk about such possible developments, precisely from next year : 2013, as if some might be timely waiting for your return" back to Europe, we explained.
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+  "We'll celebrate EUROCORPS' 20th Anniversary, soon in Strasbourg, on the 31st of January 2013), together with the Mayor (Senator Ries) and the Defence Ministers of all EUROCORPS' Countries, who will come there, etc, anounced from the outset, in reply to "EuroFora"s question, its experienced Commander, and currently also ISAF's Chief of Staff.


 - When "(French) President Mitterand and (German) Chancellor Kohl hade decided to create EUROCORPS, 20 years ago, this was part of a Vision for Europe as a (World) power, able to defend itself", reminded, in this regard, General de Bavinchove,


 - "And, I think that this Tool, EUROCORPS, after 20 Years of Experience, even in Afghanistan and various other areas in the World, demonstrates that the idea which was behind its creation, was well-founded", he stressed.


- "The Principles set up since EUROCORPS' creation, Inter-Allies' principles, were very fast joined also by Spain, by Belgium and Luxembourg, etc., and now also by Poland", (in addition to "Liaison Officers" sent to Strasbourg's EUROCORPS Headquarters also by various other countries).


- What our action here (in Afghanistan) also shows is that, with EUROCORPS we already have an immediately Operational (effective) Tool, while we also proved that we can master NATO's procedures, .. i.e. a Commanding Unit able to be projected iat a specified area, in the framework of a Coalition, and to use All the means and processes used by NATO in order to act. It's also for the European Union, a tool which has equivalent capabilities", he added.


- "But, above all, there are 2 Essential elements, which constitute EUROCORPS' main Force, and which cannot be found in any other European Military grouping Today, neither in 2012 nor in 2013" :

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- "It's a Multi-Nationality" dimension, "both in terms of Proportion, f.ex. between French, German, Spanish, Polish, Belgian, etc., who Work Together  every day, Fight together everyday, Planify together everyday, Speak to eachother every day, and thus demonstrate, everyday, that they speak the same Language, share the same Values, dispose the same Capabilities, and that they are Motivated by one and same, common Ideal".


- "And this, even in Long-term Operational plans, here (i.e. also in Afghanistan), inside a Coalition which is mainly directed by our American Friends and Allies, cannot pass without being noticed", particularly when we've "seen that Power of Building this Tool, that represents EUROCORPS, in terms of Mastering Capabilities, and of working (also) inside NATO, in terms of capacity to work together, among Officers from many differend (EU) Countries, and by mastering a certain number of Values, which are extremely Important, particularly when it comes about working for the benefit of a Third Country, as it's the case in Afghanistan".


=> So, "I think that, in the forthcoming 20 Years, there is no room for anything else than EUROCORPS, and this wil be soon explained and demonstrated also at a Political level", the experienced Top General pleaded.


- "Also because, during a period in which we face Financial and Economic difficulties, everybody can see that this Tool (EUROCORPS) proved to be a well-founded, Good Idea ,  now established and also put in practice. And realize that, when it comes to consider the Next 20 Years, and what actions should be undertaken, in order to make it even more Performant and even more Able to fullfil the Political Missions to which we (EUROCORPS) are committed".


- "That''s which made the greatest impression to me, during this EUROCORPS' deployment (in Afghanistan), which I followed since it arrived here, last January (2012), i.e. 2 Months after my own arrival earlier, it was set up, undertook Responsibilities, and fullfiled them, doing its job remarkably well".


- So that, today, it's difficult for me to tell if I'm speaking to a French or to a German or to a Spanish Officer, etc., since, what counts in reality is that I'm adressing myself to an (EUROCORPS') Officer who knows how to do his job, and does it well, according to the directives that he's been given, his national origins having passed, somehow, to the background, and it's his Competence, his Ability to work together, in a Multi-National context, which makes the difference", General de Bavinchov concluded on this point.


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+ - At some brief introductory remarks, "You have already evoked, my General, in addition to the purely Military aspects (of EUROCORPS' Tasks), also Intelligence, Logistics, a part of Rule of Law including Law Enforcement, Education, (Economic and Communication) Infrastructures, etc", "EuroFora" went on to observe also.  


-"There is much talk, Today, of what is called the "Dual" aspect of Defence", (i.e. both Military and Civic, etc). "Do you think that, your Experience, in this domain too, which seems of particular importance at this moment, could develop further this Dual, Civilian-Military aspects at the same moment, as integral parts of an efficient, overall Security and Defence Policy ?", we asked ISAF's Chief of Joint Staff.
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- "It's absolutely Essential, what you call as "Dual" aspects, alias known also as "Inter-Agency". -"It's of Vital Importance !", EUROCORPS' Head stressed from the outset in reply to "EuroFora's" 2nd Question.


 - "Soldiers were very much requested, during these Decades, in all Countries : American, Brittish, French, German, etc., to act in various domains in which they weren't often prepared to act,


+ "But we have, in all European Countries, such capacities, such competences and initiatives. There is very much talk about what is called a "Comprehensive Approach", that is to say the Integration in the Qualifications of these components, which are more Civilian-Military than Militaro-Civilian, and I'm a strong Supporter of that", as he pointed out.


+ In this regard, "EUROCORPS has a unique Chance to be (Headquartered) in Strasbourg, because it's in a big European Capital" city, "where are also located several Great Academic Institutions, f.ex. a School of Political Sciences, the ENA (prestigious French University for the Highest level of Public Administrations, progressively opening also towards Franco-German, panEuropean and even International Education and Training on Governance), but also an important Political presence f.ex. through EU Parliament, the CoE, many Permanent Representations, Consulates, etc. of various European and other Countries, and, being inside such a great City, we (EUROCORPS) have already started to develop relations, already since my predecessor, with all these big Institutions, and we shall continue to do so,


    - Simply "because the Operations of Tomorrow, at whatever Area and Moment we might intervene, are operations placed under the Aims of "Security, Governance, and Development, in the framework of which are absolutely required also several very Specific Know-how (expertise), at various degrees, right from the start :


    - "That's of Fundamental Importance, and has already started to be organized, f.ex. inside the U.S. Army that I can see here, i.e. this kind of Civilian-Military Integration, via one of their own Administrative Processes, with a System of contracts, etc..


    - "At any case, EUROCORPS must be, from this point of view, not only a Laboratory, but also a Tool which will allow to Develop this Integration, and this insertion of Competences and Experiences inside it, in order to be able, in Future Deployments, in Various other Areas, where we shall have to face Differend Challenges than those existing at Afhanistan, to have a better Preparation to Act, right from the Start, and to Judge better the adequate Priorities needed for obtaining the desired Results", he pointed out.


    As I'm a strong Supporter of that, we (EUROCORPS) must, more and more, Integrate those Competences and Capabilities, (also) with the development of Commandment structures integrating these Competences and Know-How, so that this will allow us to be extremely Efficient, in Time Deadlines always measured, which will be assigned to us", concluded General de Bavinchov in reply to "EuroFora"s 2nd Question (See supra).


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+ EUROCORPS' Chief of Staff, General Buchsenschmidt to "EuroFora" on the 3 Symbols of the forthcoming, January 31, 2013 European event in Strasbourg's Headquarters :
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=> - "On the 31st of January, 2013, we (EUROCORPS) shall celebrate in Strasbourg no less than Three (3) exceptional Events : - (A) EUROCORPS' return from ISAF's Headquarters at Kaboul (Afghanistan), where General de Bavinchov served as Chief of the International Force's joint Staff", but also the Double Anniversaries of (B) 20 Years since the creation of EUROCORPS (1993), which became possible thanks to the "Elysée Treaty" (C) agreed by Adenauer and De Gaulle 50 Years earlier, on 1963, explained, later-on, speaking to "EuroFora",  the Multi-National force's Chief of Staff, Belgian General Guy Buchsenschmidt.


 - "Elysée Treaty, agreed by Adenauer and De Gaulle, established the Foundations of what could  become, later on, a European Defence Policy, thanks to an Historic move which allowed, for the 1st time, to Germans and French to sit together around a Table and jointly take Decisions mutually agreed, which culminated, later-on, in the creation of EUROCORPS, from 1993", General Buschsenschmidt reminded us.

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(+ Fast Translation from the Original in French)

(../..)

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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already sent earlier to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version may 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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