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Home arrow newsitems arrow New EU Head, Austrian Chancellor Kurz: build Bridges in Challenging Times before 2019 EU Elections

New EU Head, Austrian Chancellor Kurz: build Bridges in Challenging Times before 2019 EU Elections

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 03 July 2018
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- EU Parliament's MEPs debated for almost 2,5 Hours New EU Chairman-in-office, the Young Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's vow to strive to "Build Bridges" among Europeans over the Troubled Waters of these "Challenging Times", just "Before the 2019 EU Elections", as he stressed here in Strasbourg, face to face with EU Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker, but in the Middle of a Torrid Summer Heatwave flowing Northwards, just After kicking off Symbolically the Beginning of the Austrian EU Presidency for the period of July - December 2018, already since last Week-End, in the Fresh Oxygen up to the Top of Alpes Mountains, Together with EU Council's President Donald Tusk, out-going Bulgarian former EU Chair, Boyko Borisov, and a lot of simple People, carried there Free of Charge, in Reply to Earlier Public Appeals on the Web.

 

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- As a matter of General Principle,  "We (EU) Respect People's Votes verdict", and hold "Solid Relations" with Elected Leaders : That's the Duty of any EU Official, Sebastian Kurz significantly Replied, Later-on, to a Press Question on ...the New, notoriously Atypical "Italian Government", Smiling brightly...

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- "I Know that Kurz is Moved by European Spirit", stressed from the outset in EU Parliament's Plenary the Experienced EU Commission's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, who also Dismissed a curiously provocative and oppressive Question by a "Socialist" Radio Correspondent from Portugal about why there were no current attempts to Isolate (sic !) the New, 2018 EU Austrian Presidency, Contrary to what some had already attempted, in the Past, towards 2000, during the era of controversial but popular Rightist former Political Leader Georg Haider, who faced Later an ill-elucidated Violent Death in a strange Car Incident at his Carinthian Region, (where he held a Coalition with ... "Socialists"!).

 

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- "The Difference is that this (2018) new Austrian Government has a Program which is Clearly Pro-European !", sharply Replied, at a short but dense Press Conference, Juncker. (For recent Kurz's statements to "Eurofora", during the March 2018 EU Summit in Brussels, See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/austrianchancellornexteuchairkurzonturkey.html, etc.). 

 

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+ Moreover, Kurz has just come back from the Latest EU Summit in Brussels, where he met also the Popular ...Norwegian Prime Minister Ema Solberg, as he had already told "Eurofora" as early as since 2017 (See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/austriankurzmetalsowithnorwaypm.html), and showed Now, on 2018, in a Frontline Picture published by the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Party there : Solberg is among the First to conclude a "Unity of the Right" Governemental Coalition, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel has notoriously revealed, at the Eve of the latest German Elections of 2017,  that she considers the Norwegian Top Politician as "the Best Prime Minister" in the World !

 

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- Inter Alia, "We (EU) must Create the Conditions for the Development of a High-Tech. Europe" also at the Internet, etc. Because, Otherwise, Nowadays, "Most of the Web Giants are in USA or China", warned Sebastien Kurz at his speech in EU Parliament's plenary, Earlier Today. This a Key-part of the in-coming Austrian EU Presidency, whose Program aims to "Protect" also the European Citizens' "Welfare", mainly by realistically Safeguarding and Developping further its "Competitivity" vis a vis the rest of the World, particularly in the Nowaday's Strategic Areas of "Automatisation and Digitalisation".


For those who have Forgotten the Fact that, f.ex., the 1st Mobile Phone (and later-on SmartPhone) was a European Invention, Industrial Fabrication and Commercialisation, as well as the Electronic "Chip", etc., respectively in Finland and in France, it's, therefore, Time to Note also that even the President of the Biggest Political Party in Europe, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP : former Strasbourg's MEP and Chairman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group of MEPs in EU Parliament, Joseph Daul, had already warned that he Intended to Speak to the main EU Countries' Leaders from 2017-2018 about the Need to Create and Develop European Products particularly on Telecoms, including SmartPhones, etc., as "Eurofora" has heard him saying.


- But, meanwhile, notoriously, the Number 1 Need, recently badly Felt among a large Majority of EU Citizens, certainly is for Europe to "Protect" them from Insecurity (including, naturally, from Deadly Islamist Terrorism, as that of ISIL's Coward Killings Targetting innocent Civilians), and from Manifold Negative aspects of the recent Mass Asylum Seekers/Irregular Migrants' Giant "Tsunami", which suddenly intruded in Europe since 2015/2016 from Turkey, without any sign that they might Return Back Home, at least until now, provoking, in the meantime, a lot of various Incidents, including Brutal Mob Attacks, Bullying, etc, but also Altering Europe's Cultural landscape, particularly with a much More Abrupt massive and systematic "Islamization", even at the Public Sphere, etc., to the point that it became a "Political Issue", as various Recent Elections, in several Countries, have notoriously shown. To the point that the Popular, 4 Times re-Elected, Prime Minister of Hungary, Victor Orban, has just reportedly stressed, during the latest EU Summit in Brussels, that "the People Request 2 things : ... No More Migrants coming in... (and) that those (Mass Irregular Migrants) who are in (Europe), Should Go Back".


=> That's why Kurz, even More than Other EU Politicians nowadays, gives a Key Importance to a "Decent" "Protection of EU's External Borders", also as a Guarantee for a Satisfactory Free Movement inside the EU, without undue obstacles accross National Borders, that he vowed to struggle to fully realize at least "in the middle/long term".


Considering the Latest EU Summit in Brussels' results, at the End of June 2018, as "a 1st Step in the Right Direction", revealing "a New Trend", (f.ex. with its Decisions for "Desembarcation Platforms" at the Outer, and "Controlled Centers" at the inner Suroundings of Europe), Kurz has also explored the idea even for EU - Protected, Safe Areas for Asylum Seekers in Neighbouring Countries, including by a European Force.


Since the progressive Integration of the Western Balkans inside the EU, "Will Complete the European Dream", as the Austrian Chancellor said,
a Parallel Quest for "Stability at the Neighbourhood" of the EU nowadays, takes a Special Character as far as it concerns "Cooperation with 3rd Countries", i.e. mainly vis a vis Africa, Turkey, and Other, such Neighbours that EU should Fund also in order to keep External Asylum Demands' processing areas, whose Safety might be protected even with the Help of EU's Military, as he has reportedly just pointed out in recent Press statements.


In this Direction, both EU Parliament's President, Antonio Tajani, and EU Commission's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, pointed at the Need to Advance well Beyond the Recent Addition of +400 Millions € in EU Funds for Africa, while a 2nd package of 3 Billions € in full Grants was, in parallel, Decided for Turkey.

Juncker vowed to "Speed up" an "EU External Borders Force", able to Add + "10.000 Agents by 2020", to Help the 100.000 National Forces in those areas, and claimed that the 400.000 Millions € added by the Latest EU Summit for Africa would bring the Total EU - African Fund up to 4,1 Billion €, which would be able to Raise about 44 Billions €, (and eventualy Double its overall Financial Impact even to more than 88 Billions €, if EU Member States added their own Contributions, as he speculated. Without, however, clarifying if this would consist just in Loans, or in full Grants, as Turkey has notoriously obtained from the EU by Blackmailing when Ankara send more than 1,5 Million of Irregular Migrants/Mass Asylum Seekers suddenly flow inside the EU via Smugglers, since Back on 2015-2016+s).

 

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- Meanwhile, Sebastian Kurz, speaking After a Long and "Lively Debate" with various MEPs, noted that there are "Differences of Views", and expressed his support for "Discussions", on the condition of mutual "Respect", but stressed his Belief, that, in fact, "much More Binds us Together, than Separates us", as he concluded.


  - "It's not necessary to agree on everything. We can have Different Views. But we Must Focus on what Unites us, and need to Build Bridges, in order to Move the EU Forward !", Kurz urged MEPs.


  - Particularly Nowadays, when "we can't take the EU for Granted, but have to Work Hard in order to Preserve it, and Make it Better", the Young Austrian Chancellor Warned.


  - Indeed, in addition f.ex. to the imminent BREXIT's outcome, and to the need to Decide soon on EU's Multi-Annual Financial Perspectives", where "Negotiations are Tough", as he observed,

 

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    - Nowadays, we are living in the Context of  "an Age of Upheavals", where even "International Order is Changing", while "Tensions are Rising". "Before, Countries were Quewing in order to Enter in the EU", while, "Now the UK goes Out", with "BREXIT", and even "Rule of Law, Democracy and Human Rights, canNot be Taken for Granted", he warned.


    - Expressing his "Hope to Build Bridges in Difficult Areas", the incoming, Austrian EU President in office, stressed in Conclusion that, In fact, still, "We are Fortunate to be Europeans !"

 

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(../..)


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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)..
-------------------------
    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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