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Home arrow newsitems arrow New CoE SG Jagland to EuroFora on Sarkozy-Merkel idea: EU-Russia-Turkey+ Economy-Human Rights Area

New CoE SG Jagland to EuroFora on Sarkozy-Merkel idea: EU-Russia-Turkey+ Economy-Human Rights Area

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Replying to "EuroFora"s questions and later in an exclusive interview, new CoE's Secretary General, Thorbjorn Jagland, welcomed and associated himself with the idea, recently launched by French President Sarkozy with German Chancellor Merkel and the support of Russian Prime Minister Putin, to create a Common Space for Economy, Politics, Human Rights and Democracy standards, between EU and Russia, Turkey and other countries.

Speaking before a landmark debate on the "Future" of Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Jagland, a former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Norway, currently President of Parliament and of the Nobel "Peace" Prize Committee, agreed with "EuroFora", concerning CoE's competences, that "Human Rights and Democracy are also Peace-building".

Even if they don't yet give "Hotlines at the Media", nevertheless, Human Rights are "very important in People's Minds !", he agreed, expressing his readiness to "consider" any "new project" that "EuroFora" might eventually present in order to "unite all efforts" to boost CoE's "visibility".


 - "Norway, your country, as well as Switzerland, which will chair soon CoE's Ministers, are among European countries which aren't yet EU Members, but part of an "European Economic Space", and have a Special Status. Now that CoE debates on its"Future", what's your opinion about a parallel vision, recently by French President Sarkozy in agreement with German Chancellor Merkel, supported also by Russian Prime Minister Putin and others", already presented by Sarkozy to new USA President Obama, "to create a kind of "Common Space" in Europe, where Russia, but also Turkey and other countries, independently of the EU (Enlargment) questions, might share not only Economic, but also Legal and (Human Rights) Values' and standards ?", "EuroFora" asked Jagland.

- "I very much associate myself with the ideal to have a Common Space for Economy and Politics and everything (you said) on the entire continent", Jagland replied to "EuroFora"'s question, (but without explicitly saying if he included, or not, also Turkey), at his 1st Press Conference after his election as new CoE's SG for the 2009-2014 five years period.

- "You referred to the EEA agreements that we have between Norway and other EFTA countries with the EU, which is a real (common) Economic space, because we have the same Rules and Laws also for Economy", he observed. 

- "If there is an idea to expand it to other parts of Europe, I would welcome it very much", CoE's new SG stressed.

- "Although I think that it's quite a big challenge to do it !", he carefully warned smiling..  

- "Because, as you know", "when it comes to Economy, it's not the same", as in CoE's competences which notoriously focus on Human Rights, Democracy and Law, particularly since the decisions taken by the 2005 Warsaw Summit of the PanEuropean organization's Heads of State and Government.

But, replying also to another "EuroFora" question on "core Human Rights issues", in this regard, Jagland appeared more upbeat :


- "Yesterday" (at the eve of SG's election), "I gave you a photograph with a Painting by a Norwegian who was at a Concentration Camp in the Past, at Struthof, close to Strasbourg, where, notoriously, "MISSING" People from all over Europe were held" until the 2nd WW. "By a coincidence, these same days there was an important ECHR judgement on "MISSING" peuple here : the "Varnavas" case", on 9 Cyprus' Missing persons and Turkey. On such "core Human Rights issues, do you think that you might contribute, ..so that the values and judgements of the European Court of Human Rights ..might be better respected in the Future, in a way which also helps Reconciliation, by giving People a Guarantee that, when they are reUnited together, these kind of things will never happen again ?", "EuroFora" asked Jagland.  

-  "Absolutely !", the new CoE's SG agreed strongly.

- "That is why we have the CoE !", his new chief stressed, showing that he considered that as an existential issue for Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organization.

- I.e. "in order to enhance Human Rights, spreading Democracy to the entire Continent". And this is something "which is (also) Peace-building, indeed", Jagland agreed.In this regard, he pointed at 2 things :   

- "We (CoE) do have : (1) these Common Standards and (Human Rights) Values under the Conventions which we have at the CoE ;  and (2) the Court, which is an instrument to implement them", he concluded, putting an accent on ECHR judgements' implementation.


- "But it doesn't always create the Headlines in the Media", Jagland regretted, rightfully critical. 

- "Because CoE is working with issues which are not giving immediate "Hotlines" in the Media", he observed later, in an exclusive interview with "EuroFora".

- However, Human Rights and Democracy, are an important, relevant issue, (at least) sometimes. Aren't they ?", "EuroFora" wondered.

- "It should be", CoE's new SG carefully replied. Nevertheless, "when it comes to being visible, it's not that easy".

 - "But it is very, very important in People's Minds", Jagland stressed.

(Photo of Painting by Norwegian deportee Rudolf Naess, of the Nazi Concentration Camp "Struthof" close to Strasbourg, where Historians found that "Missing" persons from all over Europe were gathered and submitted to atrocious "Tests" : Document of the "European Center of Resistants and deportees" given to "EuroFora" on the 20.09.2009 European Heritage Days)

- So, "I think that it's possible to make it (CoE) more visible".  "But it depends, very much, on how relevant we are : If we are relevant, if we can contribute to something, then, I think that it's possible to be "visible", Jagland agreed. - Even if "there has been recently an amelioration", recently, "about CoE's visibility, ... "several People hope on you to do something ", observed "EuroFora".

- "I don't know, I don't have any particular idea now", Jagland replied, while recognizing the importance oif the issue. And, when "EuroFora" asked him if, " in order to be succesful, and unite all efforts", he " would be ready to consider also New Projects, based on experience of more than 15 years, if they are proposed ?", CoE's new SG replied positively ; - "Well, yes, if they are", he accepted.


(Jagland explaining later his views to the French Press, after his reply to "EuroFora" question on the Sarkozy-Merkel-Putin idea, under the careful and beautiful ear of CoE's Director of Communications, Seda Pumpyanskaya from Russia). 


("EuroFora", in addition to other relevant news -some already send earlier to donors/subscribers- is due to publish on the new CoE's SG soon a more comprehensive approach, including an Exclusive Interview).




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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  

    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".

- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...

    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.


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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