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Home arrow newsitems arrow Forthcoming CoE President, Greek Minister Varvitsiotis to EF: After Hardships, Strengthen CoE Voice

Forthcoming CoE President, Greek Minister Varvitsiotis to EF: After Hardships, Strengthen CoE Voice

Written by ACM
Thursday, 12 December 2019



*Brussels/EU Summit/Angelo Marcopolo/- During a Press Briefing on the Sidelines of EU's Heads of State/Government's Summit this December 2019 in Brussels, "Eurofora" asked the Competent Greek Minister, Miltiades Varvitsiotis, in charge of European Affairs, about his Plans for the CoE, the 47 Member States-strong PanEuropean Organisation (including Russia, etc) for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, that Greece will Chair Next Year.

The Young but Experienced Minister reacted mainly by expressing the wish to Help Strengthen CoE's Voice Now, after several Difficult Years, as he said, (probably meaning the UnPrecedented Division of the PanEuropean Organisation of Strasbourg, since the Ukranian Crisis, as far as Russia etc. is concerned, to which were added even more, growing Problems with Turkey recently).  


 - "Eurofora" pointed at the Forthcoming Greek Presidency of the CoE, during 2020, and Asked Varvitsiotes, in Substance, how he evaluated the Potential Importance of CoE's main Competences for Key Topical Issues Nowadays.


 - "We (Greece) take over on May" 2020, Replied, at first, with precision in a "matter of Fact" attitude, Miltiades Varvitsiotes, referring to the Rotating Chairmanship of CoE's Highest Political body, that of its Committee of Ministers, from May to November 2020, mostly included.

- "We know the Issues", and "have a good Experience in CoE's Parliamentary Assembly", pointed out Varvitsiotes, who had been Recently Elected, by CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, as a New vice-President of the Biggest Political Group of MEPs : that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, (Comp., f.ex., his Statements to "Eurofora" then, at: ..., etc) : I.e., by a Timely Coincidence, the Same as that of CoE's New Secetary General, Marija Pejčinović-Burić, former vice-Prime Minister of Croatia, in charge of Foreign and European policy, who has just Started her 2019-2024 Mandate last October 2019, (See, f.ex., her Reply to an "Eurofora" Quesstion when she was Brillantly Elected on June, at : ..., etc).

The currently New Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of European Issues, was, indeed, previously in charge of Migration and Refugee policy at the Main Opposition Party in Greece, "New Democracy", (currently in the Government), and entrusted with the duty to Prepare the 1st National Congress of "New Democracy" Party, which was organized by its new President, Kyriakos Mitsotakes, the New Prime Minister of Greece, (with the Moto : "Oxygen", for Freedom of Ideas, Democracy, Productivity, Creativity, etc), after having Served, earlier, also as former Minister of Maritime Transports (where, traditionaly, Greece holds a notoriously Key Role at a Global Level) and of Aegean Sea, as well as F. President of the Greek Parliament's Foreign Policy Committee. He has Studied Law in Greece (Athens University), Political Science and International Relations at Harvard University (Boston, USA), before being Elected Many Times in a Row as MP, from 2004 up to Nowadays, Regularly Accredited to - and Attending - CoE's Assembly in Strasbourg.

+ Moreover, "I Like, and Respect the Institution" of the CoE, added the Young, mainstream Politician, who is Son of former Long-Time vice-President of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Party in Europe, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Justice, Education and Trade, as well as, more Recently, Top MEP in EU Parliament, Dr. John Varvitsiotes, (that "Eurofora" had the Chance to contact several times in Strasbourg), a close ally of Historic Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, exiled in Paris during the Colonels' regime (1967-1974), in a Family of mainstream Politicians who used to serve the modern Greek State since its creation almost from the Beginning of the 19th Century.

=> - So that "We (Greece) Aim at a (2020) Presidency that will Help Strengthen the Voice of the CoE !", Clearly Stressed Miltiades Varvitsiotes in the Main Core of his Reply to the above-mentioned "Eurofora"s Question, (Comp. Supra). His Official Duties as Minister, Nowadays, concern EU Affairs (including EU Parliament), the PanEuropean CoE, relevant issues of Migration and Refugees, etc, where he represents Greece, whenever necessary together with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, (a former JHA, Defense, and Development Minister, F. Collegue at CoE's Assembly in Strasbourg, where he was appointed several times as Rapporteur, Elected President of Migration and Refugees' Committee, etc).

- Considering, particularly, that it (the CoE) "has Suffered a lot during the Latest Years", regretted Varvitsiotis, probably speaking of the 2014-2019+ Division of the PanEuropean Space of the 47 Member States-Wide CoE, After the Ukranian Issue was Provoked, Affecting mainly Relations to Russia, but Also interrelated Financial, GeoPolitical, and Other Problems, Added to Turkey-related Developments,  - f.ex. on clashes in Kurdish Villages since 2015, around the alleged Army "Coup" of 2016, Followed by many Tens of Thousands of Dismissed and/or Persecuted Journalists, Civil Servants, as Teachers a.o., even Judges, Policemen, Army Staff, etc, as well as the Military Invasions/Occupations of Syrian Kurdish Afrin (2018) and North-Eastern Regions (2019), along the Turkish Borders, etc.

Last, but not least, "Eurofora" was Positively Surprized, Previously in Strasbourg, when we Witnessed the UnExpected Fact that even a Young Politician from the Establishment, as Miltiades, could be Original, Aware, and Conscious enough in order to Judge, f.ex., that, during a CoE Assembly's Plenary Session with Dozens of Matters for Debate and/or Vote, those which concern Crucial "Bio-Ethical" Issues, would be "the Most Important', and should be given a Priority... A very Useful Stance, Nowadays, when the PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, i.e. the CoE, would have, inter alia, f.ex., also to Deal with Heritable Genetic Manipulations, Affecting even Future Generations, which may Challenge the Future of Humanity, (See, f.ex., : ... + ..., etc).






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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.



2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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