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Home arrow newsitems arrow New CoE Chairman Kasulides (11/2016-5/2017) to Eurofora: RDV Spring 2017 for EU-CoE Cooperation+

New CoE Chairman Kasulides (11/2016-5/2017) to Eurofora: RDV Spring 2017 for EU-CoE Cooperation+

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 22 November 2016

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- Luxembourg, from one side, Cyprus from another : Will those often interlinked, Small but Strategic European Countries, currently holding the Presidency of EU and CoE, respectively, succeed to Boost a much Needed, closer Cooperation between the 28 EU Member States and PanEuropean CoE's 47 Member States (including Russia, etc) ?


At any case, the New President of the CoE, Experienced Long-Time Foreign Minister of Cyprus and former Top MEP (in charge of Foreign Policy at EU Parliament's biggest Group : that of
ChristianDemocrats/EPP) Ioanis Kasulides, Replying to "Eurofora"s relevant Questions, cleary revealed the Importance that the Incoming Chairmanship of CoE's Committee of Ministers for the Period of November 2016 - May 2017 gives to the Enhancement of EU-CoE Cooperation, at a Crucial Moment for All Europe, while EU Commission's vice-President for the Digital Market, Andres Ansip, gave us, Later Today, a Concrete Example, (See : ...).
 - Replying to a relevant "Eurofora"s Question, (which reminded, inter alia, also the Fact that EU Commission's President, former Long-Time Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, had been entrusted by CoE's Heads of State/Govenment, from the PanEuropean CoE's Summit at Varsaw, Poland, back on 2005, with the Task to Draft a landmark Report on EU - CoE Cooperation in the New Architecture of a ReUnified Europe, (Comp. "Eurofora" co-Founder's NewsReports from Both Events, in Warsaw + Strasbourg, at : ...+...), the incoming CoE's President gave Rendez-vous for Spring 2017 :

 - "On May 2017, (i.e. at the Next, Plenary CoE's 47-Countries strong, Committee of Ministers Summit, scheduled in Nicosia, Cyprus), one of our Priorities is, precisely, the EU - CoE Cooperation", he clearly stressed, regarding our above-mentioned Question.

+ Moreover, on this occasion, "we (CoE's 11/2016-5/2017 Presidency) are going to Celebrate the completion of a Decade since the Signature of EU - CoE's Memorandum of Understanding", Chairman Kasulides clearly anounced.

Meanwhile, CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, who Welcomed Earlier Today Chairman Kasulides in Strasbourg's Meeting of the PanEuropean Organization's Committee of Ministers, together with EU's High Representative for External Action, Federica Mogherini, are due to Launch, later-on, at EU Parliament, a Series of Initiatives, precisely for the Commemoration of that EU/CoE's M.O.U."


--------------------------------


+ Among various other Issues included in the November 2016 - May 2017 Program of the incoming CoE's Presidency by Cyprus, the New COE's President also told "Eurofora", that "Digital Technologies", and particularly the Web, could be tackled, mainly, "in relation with Freedom of Expression", in Addition to the Protection and Promotion of "Cultural Heritage", which appeared, Today, to be one among the Most Popular Issues in the Agenda of the Incoming Cypriot CoE Presidency, as several other Participants told us, (See Infra).

++ Moreover, in an Adjacent Field, there is also, currently, a Political Will to Develop "Citizens' Participation" to Public Decisions-Making, particularly "through Young People'"s involvement, he Added, Evoking a Topical COE matter, which was also Highlighted by COE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, Earlier Today, during his Official Speech at the Opening of a landmark Exhibition organized by Cyprus' chairmanship, at CoE's and ECHR's Headquarters, with Original Paintiings, (some Inspired by Neo-Classic Top Artists/Writers, such as Picasso, Garcia Marquez, etc.: See relevant Newsreport)


+++ But, the New CoE's President-in-office, also Agreed with "Eurofora", that EU/CoE Cooperation, f.ex. on Digital Technologies, could be usefuly addressed, as far as as is concerned one of the Most Popular Priorities of Cyprus' chairmanship, among the 47 COE Committee of Ministers' members, i.e. Cultural Heritage :


- Even if, "First of all, we (CoE) have to Work in order to "Create adequate (PanEuropean/International) Legal Norms which will make Life more Difficult for those (Smugglers) who (illegaly) Buy and Sell stolen Cultural Heritage, So, "we (CoE) have, at First, to Agree on the (exact) Content of a (New) Treaty", he stressed.


+ But, indeed, Cultural Heritage "Digitalisation matters (can) come in the Aftermath of that", Ioanis Kasulides acknowledged, in Reply to the above mentioned "Eurofora"s Question.


++ This Perspective was also Backed by the out-going CoE Chair-in-office, Estonian Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the PanEuropean Organisation, Mrs Wiki, who Remains at the Bureau of CoE's Committee of Ministers, as vice-President, and, speaking later-on to "Eurofora", reminded that the Estonian Presidency had already Launched a Project for "Digitalisation" of Culture (including on Heritage), and offered to Support Further Developments by the Incoming Cyprus' EU Presidency towards Cultural Heritage's Digitalisation.


+++ Speaking earlier to Journalists in Strasbourg, including "Eurofora", the New CoE's Committee of Ministers' Chairman in office, stressed the Fact that COE is currently in a period of Big Challenges: First of all, Migration, Terrorism, Intolerance, etc., together with the Problem of Turkey, the existing Differences on Ukraine, Georgia, etc.


In this regard, Cyprus intends to Work with Objectivity and Professionalism, but also Efficiently, in order to prove that even a Small CoE Member Country can usefuly Contribute to Face collectively also some Big PanEUropean Challenges", he concluded.



(../..)

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    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
----------------------------------
    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
-------------
The precise Text :
-----------------
    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

----------------------------------

Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

      ***     
 
     (Draft due to be updated).
 
***

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