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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 recent paradox of freezing EU Talks with front-runner Croatia, while continuing controversial EU - Turkey talks, despite Zagreb's acceptance of Refugees' Human Rights to return, that Ankara refuses fex. in Cyprus, while both have "Good Neighborhood" problems vis a vis Slovenia, or Greece, Cyprus and Armenia respectively, can it be justified by the non-fullfilment of EU criteria, as Slovenia says, or, is it "Double Standards" ?    

The question became unavoidable after statements by Presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, Tuerk and Mesic, respectively, to "EuroFora", exclusively or among Strasbourg's journalists this week at the CoE, on the sidelines of its 2009 Summer University for Political Schools, which topically brought them together as successive key-note speakers.

    Comming only a few Months before EU checks Turkey's compliance to its commitments on Cyprus, etc., scheduled for December 2009, this obviously has a special importance for the coherence of EU Enlargement's principles.

     Suspension of EU Negotiations is a normal consequence in case of a Candidate Country's failure to fullfil EU Conditions, such as "Good Neighborhood relations", stressed at first Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk, current CoE's chair.

    But, regarding EU's Criteria,  there shouldn't be any "Double Standards",  reacted Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, commenting the fact that Turkey's controversial EU negotiations continue, while they were recently "freezed" in the case of Croatia, an "unquestionably European Country", which oficially accepts to respect Refugees Human Rights, contrary to Ankara's notorious refusals or reluctance.                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           - "EU itself has set as a Criterium (for EU Enlargement) the "Good Neighborhood relations",  and their absence justifies the "Suspension" EU Negotiations, (f.ex. with Croatia), because of a Border dispute affecting the territorial integrity of an EU Member Country, stressed Slovenian President, Danilo Tuerk, CoE's Chairman in office (May - November 2009), speaking to Journalists in Strasbourg including "EuroFora".    

Questioned earlier what "consequences on EU's Enlargement policy" can have the "Ban on EU Membership Negotiations", imposed to Croatia, Tuerk replied that "this question comes down to the fulfillement of (EU) Criteria for membership. One has to look at each Candidate Country ., from the point of view whether it fullfils the Criteria that EU has set. One of them are Good Neighborhood Relations, I'd like to remind. And also, there are other factors, such as Justice, Home affairs, Rule of Law, and others".

    - "Now, ..Candidate Countries are at Different Levels of fulfillement of Criteria", he observed.

    - " Croatia is obviously the closest to that. I'm rather optimistic : I think that in the coming Months we'll have an opportunity to look at all these issues constructively and hopefully we'll be able to make progress". "My main concern, at this point, is the situation in Bosnia : We haven't seen enough progres domesticaly. We haven't seen enough during ..political parties within their country.We need a New Energy, a new energetic move towards the Candidature for EU membership. "Other (Western Balkan) Countries (Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, Albania) have been making soaring Progress, and I think that they should be ready, in a few Years, for the Candidate status".

    - "As far as the Western Balkans are concerned, .. nobody should be left outside" the EU, Slovenian's President concluded, ommitting to mention Turkey's controversial EU bid.

    - "This process may be seen as Slow, but..  Slovenia has also has also been exposed to various "Booms of Slowness" in our accession period. But now we can say that the process was relatively quick, because changes which occur after becoming EU member, are quite large, and they require proper Preparations before the (EU) membership becomes a new factor, an impacting line for a new (EU) member country".

EU "Solidarity" ?

Slovenian statements made some participants from certain 3rd Countries as FYROM, etc. claim that "the Principle of EU Solidarity" would "produce a.. rising European Union Nationalism (sic !), against Non-EU Countries", as they said, asking unhappy foreign countries to form a "bloc" to exert pressure on the EU...    

But Croatian President Stjepan Mesic dismissed that, supporting "EU Integration", "after the Economy also in Political" issues, as "the achievement" of our times. In EU there is "diversity, but it's United", he stressed, "EU has to be United so that it can become a central factor of Peace" also at the surrounding areas, he replied.


Speaking later exclusively to "EuroFora", the experienced twice President of Croatia, former President of the International "Non-Aligned" movement, denounced "Double Standards" in the way EU treats recently Croatia compared to Turkey :   

 - "I think that there shouldn't be Double Standards", stressed the Croatian President, in reply to a Question comparing the freeze of EU - Croatia talks, with the continuation of EU - Turkey talks, despite the fact that Croatia is an "unquestionably European country", while Turkey's EU bid is notoriously controversial.

    Mesic was reacting to the observation that, even if he confirmed his "respect of Refugees' Human Rights to return, etc. (See infra), nevertheless, EU talks are suspended with Croatia.. While for oher, controversial candidates, who refuse to respect Refugees' Rights to return, etc., as fex. Turkey does in occupied Cyprus and elsewhere, EU negotiations continue".

    - "I believe that Croatia's accession will confirm that all European Countries who fulfill all of the Conditions and achieve European Standards, have to join the EU. There shouldn't be any Double Standards", went on to add in reply President Mesic.

    In this relation, Croatia's President found "of paramount importance", CoE's "mechanisms enforcing ECHR's judgements"
    - "On Refugees and Displaced persons, the process will be completed only after the last person demanding to return will be allowed to do so !", President Mesic Croatia stressed earlier, setting a general standard of obvious importance also for otherr candidates, as f.ex. Turkey, often accused to exclude or heavily restrict Greek Cypriot Displaced persons' return to their Family Homes and ancestral land, provoke difficulties to Turkish-Kurd IDPs return to their home regions at the South-East, etc.

    Some "2.000 People are still reported Missing" in former Yugoslavia, for some Years, (as in Cyprus, modern Europe's oldest case, for 3 Decades. Nagorno-Karabach, Tcecnya in Russia, etc, more recently), and Investigations "will only be completed after establishing the fate of the last one of them", he added.
    Speaking earlier on "War Crimes", President Mesic stressed that "Leaders are responsible for (the) Wars (of the Past), not the People", and called against Impunity :  "Individuals have to be held Responsible for Crimes. International Penal Tribunals have to persecute those individuals", perpetrators of War Crimes, he underlined.

    Such statements naturally made Mesic rather popular at ECHR, whose President, French EuroJudge, Professor Jean-Paul Costa, looked particularly smiling when he welcomed him later on Wednesday afternoon, after Slovenian President Daniko Tuerk earlier this week.



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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