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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE: OSCE Chair, German MFA Steinmeier on Minsk Peace process for Ukraine eve of EU Summit on Russia

CoE: OSCE Chair, German MFA Steinmeier on Minsk Peace process for Ukraine eve of EU Summit on Russia

Written by ACM
Thursday, 13 October 2016
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/-  CoE has an Important Role to play, particularly on East-West Dialogue","including Parliamentarian", stressed on  occasion of Russia, German Foreign Minister, Günter SteinMeier, speaking in the Exceptional Absence of any Russian MEP, since Mosciw was incited to Leave CoE's PanEuropean Assembly, by a controversial Minority's manoeuvers, which exploited the Pretext of the notoriously Provoked Tragic Division of Ukranian People, back on 2014, (See :...).


However, he Dismissed Both the Views of those who Find that Europe is Dangerously Leaning Back to a Cold War Era of the Past, and of those, who, on the Contrary, might be Nostalgic of a Dissuasion-based Stability that partly existed when the whole World was Shared Between 2 SuperPowers, at Washington or Moscow.


Today's real Situation is Not the Same, he Warned, evoking, inter alia, some "Emerging" New Factors, (without Clarifying Explicitly if he meant, f.ex. China, perhaps Iran, or even the Differend, Atypical Risks of ISIS' spreading Islamic Terrorism, etc), and, therefore, he Urged to Keep "Chanels of Dialogue" with Russia always Open, Waiting also for the moment when the "Conditions for the Return" of Russian MEPs in the PACE would be met, as he said.


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+Speaking in his Double Identity, at the same time as OSCE Chairman in office for 2016,  Steinmeier, went concrete, Today, on the state of play for Minsk Agreement Implementation efforts.


He arrived shortly after French President Hollande's official visit, earlier this week in Strasbourg, during PanEuropean, 47 Member Countries strong, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly's plenary Autumn 2016 Session (10-14 October 2016), and just Before a possible, forthcoming, Trilateral or Quadrilateral, "Normandy 4" format (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine) Summit in Berlin, eventualy for Thursday Next Week, (on 19/10/2016). I.e. Eve of a forthcoming EU Summit in Brussels, due to examine also relations with Russia, (20+21/10/2016).


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In fact, currently, -"We (Germany+ OSCE's rotating 2016 Chairmanship) are doing all we can to Ensure that the Vonflict in Eastern Ukraine does Not Escalate. We are doing all we can with a view to Finding Solutions, and I hope we will be supported in that", Steinmeier advanced, in one among a Series of Replies to various relevant Questions by MEPs.


- "There is No Alternative" to "the Minsk Agreement" (brokered by a Quadrilateral Summit in Bielorussia, on February 2015, which had dressed a Series of Concrete Targets, a RoadMap towards Peace, and even an Initial TimeLine in order to achieve them, up to a Comprehensive Settlement of the Ukranian crisis), he Repeatedly stressed.


In this regard, the German Government, stands as also several "Other Countries in Europe", which have, already, "roundly Condemned the Annexation of Crimea, and Russian Involvement in Eastern Ukraine", (as he desrcribed what Russia and others call, on the Contrary, as an overseas Teleguided "Coup" at Kiev, which Violently Reversed an Elected Government, slamed a Peace Deal which had just been Signed with the Opposition, in the presence also of 3 EU Foreign Ministers from Germany, France and Poland, launching afterwards Deadly and Destructive Military Attacks against the Population of Pro-Autonomy, Russian-Ethnic Regions of Donetsk/Luhansk, so that Crimeas People, who both Historicaly and Ethnicaly were almost always Russian, urged, with a Popular Referendum, their ReUification, Back to Russia, mutatis-mutandis almost as the former Eastern Germany had done with the Fall of Berlin Wall, back after 1989, by ReUniting Together with the former Western Germany, as Moscow Top Officials have repeatedly Claimed, even here at the CoE in Strasbourg).


-"But ...Politics is Not just about Statements – you have to Act", and, then, "it is Better and more Responsible to attempt to Appease the situation of Conflict in Eastern Ukraine, and attempt to find a Solution",  "and that is what we are doing", he explained.


- In fact, "We Need to ensure that All the Parties involved are brought around the Table" of Negotiations for Peace, the German Minister stressed, in this regard. Even "in our (Germany's 2016) Chairmanship of the OSCE (the most Engaged in Peace-Keeping efforts at Ukraine, nowadays), and ..(even)...when .... dialogue has been broken off, we have always striven to Ensure that Dialogue is maintained, in spite of the difficulties".


"In the context of our efforts to secure a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian conflict, I hope that we will be able to create ....the conditions for the Russian delegation to Return and take part in the meetings and work of (CoE's) Parliamentary Assembly", even if it might be done only "in the medium term", he estimated.


Because, concerning  "the conflict in Ukraine, ...Russia has a major contribution to make, not only to pacify the situation, but in the medium term to ensure a solution to the conflict".

In particular, "we are working through the Normandy format with France, Russia and Ukraine with a view to finding a Political Solution for East Ukraine, as laid down in the Minsk Agreements", Steinmeier pointed out.


At least, "I am doing my utmost to ensure that, despite the difficulties, we continue to try to ensure that the Individual Components of the Minsk agreement can be delivered".
In this regard :


- "a negotiated Cease-fire, ...has been Violated frequently, so we have to Stabilise it", the German MFA observed.


F.ex., "a couple of weeks ago, we managed to conclude a Disengagement agreement, initially in three Areas along the border. If that is fully implemented, we hope that it will take us a Step closer to a full cease-fire'.


- "Work on the Political strand of the agreement is more Difficult. It involves 3 different proposals for Legislation: the Amnesty law, the local Elections law, and the state of Emergency law".


"We are doing our utmost to bring together the different positions, although, so far, we have Not succeeded. We have to Continue working on this",


But, we "have already spent a great deal of time and effort on it", and, therefore, "I hope that we are Now in a position to do the Groundwork, which will enable us to move towards Agreement on legislation", he Optimisticaly estimated.


- "Once the legislation is agreed, we must then ensure the necessary Security conditions to allow Elections to proceed", Steinmeier added.


. "Again, that will require a great deal of work to convince the different parties to support it. For the time being", conditions are not in place, so we have to ensure that they are in the Finustre", he concluded.


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


Burt, Meanwhile, it's a "Fact that the Divide between the East and the West, in the case of Russia, has grown", Steinmeier acknowledeged.


- "Many people say that we are reverting to a Cold War, or that things are reminiscent of the Cold War period".


+ And, it might be true, that "Division of the World into 2 parts, with 2 capitals Dominating world events, can help to Pacify conflict".


- "But I do not think that that is correct" Nowadays, Steinmeier criticaly pointed out.
>>> - Because, "the World of Today is Not the Same as the world of the ’60s and ’70s", he stressed.


 - In fact, "the World has Changed" : - "We No longer live in a world in which countries are orientated in the direction of Either Moscow, or Washington".


>>> - "Instead, the Modern World has seen a number of Protagonists Emerging, which renders the situation far more Complex". And this goes, "certainly when we think of Syria", Steinmeier observed, probably referring to ISIS' Islamc Terrorism Dangerous Spread, from the Middle East to Africa, and around Europe, as well as, even overseas, recently in the US itself, etc.


----------


 - Therefore, "Against (such) a backdrop of Growing Tensions, the role of the (Strasbourg HeadQuartered) Council of Europe is more important than ever", he stressed, Pointing particularly at its potential "as a Long Standing Partner in Dialogue, between East and West".


- "I am profoundly convinced that, in Difficult Times, we should Not Cut off the channels of Communication. It is important that we keep all these channels Open, including Parliamentary", the German Foreign Minister underlined, but withOut revealing How this should be done, as things stand since 2014.


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


However, Steinmeier, (who is in his 2nd Coalition Government in Berlin with ChristianDemocrat/EPP German Chancellor Angie Merkel, openly Agreed with French President Hollande's acceptance of a 4rth PanEuropean Summit of CoE's 47 Heads of State/Government in the forseable Future, (notoriously expected to turn around a concept of "Democratic Security" now, and which will be the First to come Since the 2005 landmark Summit in Warsaw, Poland, which had Focused on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, endorsing the ReUnification of Europe then: Comp. "Eurofora" co-Founder's NewsReports from Warsaw, then, ublished at "TCWeekly"+).


But, interestingly, he Advanced his proposed Date, from that "2019" Year (of French CoE rotating Chairmanship), to which had, surprisingly pointed Hollande, much more Near Today: on "2017", as Steinmeier said, apparently prefering a much more Imminent Move.

 

(../..)


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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.

    ***

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