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Home arrow newsitems arrow PACE shoots itself on the foot:2 Months more Russia Sanctions=1 year CoE replaced by OSCE on Ukraine

PACE shoots itself on the foot:2 Months more Russia Sanctions=1 year CoE replaced by OSCE on Ukraine

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- A Divided PanEuropean CoE Assembly seems to have shot itself on the foot, by provoking, practically, its prolonged Exclusion from forthcoming efforts to find a Political Solution to the crucial Ukranian conflict, to the profit of the Trans-Atlantic OSCE, which had already started to seriously profit from COE's practical absence on Ukraine, since last Year, (2014 : See Infra).


Droping, at the last minute, an initially agreed Compromise to restore Russian Delegation's credentials at COE's Assembly and give it Time until June 2015 in order to advance towards a Settlement of the Ukranian conflict, a controversial move inside the PanEuropean Parliamentary body of Strasbourg pushed to prolonge further, on the contrary, serious Sanctions which already deprived Russian MEPs from their Rights to Vote and participate in PACE's leading organs, at least until April 2014, asking Moscow to make a long series of serious Concessions before restoring its full Rights here.


This immediately Triggered, as the Leadership of the Russian Delegation had already Warned clearly since last week, (Comp., f.ex. : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/dumasnaryskinandpacesbrasseurdiscussukraine.html), a Sharp Reaction from the Russian MEPs, (exceptionaly Headed by Duma's President, Naryshkin, himself : Comp. Supra : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/dumapresidentforcoeunityagainstislamistterrorism.html ), who anounced officialy their Decision to Suspend any Participation to the PACE for one more Year, and, instead, focus, during all 2015, to the OSCE Organisation, headquartered at Vienna, which has already started to play a role of Growing Importance on efforts to settle the Ukranian issue, since last year, when it was chaired by Switzerland's President and Foreign Minister Burkhalter, (Comp. "EuroFora"s NewsReports from the latest Annual OSCE Summit, December 2014, at nearby Basel : f.ex. http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/oscechairburkhalteronukraineandsecuritysystem.html + http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/oscesgzannieronshanghaiorganisation.html ).

 It seems that the assurances and formal declarations, by most, if not all, CoE Assembly's Political Leaders, these Days in Strasbourg, that they stand for inclusive Dialogue on Ukraine towards Peace, might have been pushed aside, in real practice, by a Group of MEPs eventually following other orientations and/or from elsewhere...

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


Already, since a 1st round of controversial PACE Sanctions against Russian MEPs, which provoked their departure from the Beginning of April 2014, notoriously started a real Civil War inside Ukraine's Eastern area, with many  Military Attacks using Heavy Weapons against the Autonomist Regions of Lugansk/Luhansk, which has Killed more than 5.400 People and Wounded more than 10.500, according to UNO's  official estimates, including many Civilians, particularly amon the Lugansk/Luhansk population.


However, the specific Added Value of the CoE was recently demonstrated, when, after a 1st succesful Counter-Offensive from the Autonomists of Lugansk/Luhansk regions, from August 24, PACE President Anne Brasseur invited Russian Duma's President Naryshkin, for the First Time, in Paris for Top Talks with the Chairs of all the Political Groups of MEPs, on the 1st and 2nd September 2014, and invited him to a High-Level Conference of all CoE Member States' House Speakers in Norway, later this Month, inditrectly but surely facilitating the September 5 Agreements among  protagonists of the Ukranian conflict at Minsk, (Belarusia), which opened, also, for the 1st time, a Hope for a sustainable Cease-Fire and a series of reciprocal Steps towards Peace.


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


The Opposition inside PACE, from various MEPs who Disagree with Sanctions versus Russia, is unquestionably Strong, as Tonight's data reveal :


CoE's competent Rapporteur himself, Shenach from Austria, (who also Chairs PACE's Monitoring Committee),  voted against what he denounced as "Destroying a Compromise", contrary to what had been initially agreed at the level of the competent Committee, (where the last-minute move for prolonging Sanctions reportedly passed with "only 1 vote" difference)...


Most MEPs from Serbia, (which Chairs, throughout all the Year of 2015 the OSCE, fully engaged in the Ukraine issue), also voted against. As did also their collegues from Armenia and Azerbaidjan, etc.


They were joined by Cyprus' MEPs, who voted against, while all Greece's MEPs were notoriously obliged to be Absent, because of last Sunday's crucial National Elections, (even if the New Majority leader, Alexis Tsipras, already gave a clear indication by denouncing in public the fact that an EU Council's very critical anouncement versus Russia, published in the name of all EU Heads of State/Government, reportedly hadn't taken into account the Greek Goverment's critical remarks.


By irony of the sort, most Greek MEPs appeared, exceptionaly, in agreement, at least on this point, with most (even if not all) Turkish MEPs, who voted against Sanctions, (apparently fearing that their turn might come shortly afterwards)...


In addition, most Italian MEPs, and particularly All those coming from the 1st Party of the Country, that of the "5 Stars Movement" of Bepe Grillo, notoriously against Sanctions to Russia, were alo obliged to be Absent, because of an imminent Election of the Country's new President.


Those exceptionaly obliged to be Absent, Greek and Italian MEPs, could have added more than 20 Votes against Sanctions, which would have grown Higher than 80+ Votes all together, just by that. Added also to the 18 Russian MEPs, who were exceptionaly Hindered to Vote in this case, the overall Opposition to Today's controversial PACE move to prolonge Sanctions, might have normaly reached around 100 MEPs, together with 6 Abstentions, revealing a sharply Divided PACE.


Significantly, mainstream Center-Right MEPs from France's main Opposition Party, UMP, headed by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, (member of the ChristianDemocratic/EPP Group),  as f.ex. Mariani and Ponzo di Borgo (new President of PACE's Committee on the Fight against Terrorism, topically important in front also of the recent Massacre of French Journalists and other Civilians by Extremist Islamist Terrorists), faithful to a Gaullist spirit of "Great Europe", voted against.

The former President of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group, Italian MEP Volonte, appeared also favorable to a more balanced and fair treatment of the Russian Delegation to the PACE, (judging from what he said yesterday at a Meeting with Duma's President Naryshkin).


Paradoxically, they were joined by several German MEPs, mainly of the SPD, as well as by the President of PACE's Socialist Group, experienced mainstream MEP Andreas Gross, followed by a number of Socialist MEPs from various other Countries (except French SP), and even by almost All MEPs of the "EuroLeft" Group, from many Countries.


In addition to the Presidents of the Socialist and EuroLeft Groups, Gross and Cox, it's also a 3rd President of a Political Group of MEPs : Jordi Xucla from Spain, chairman of Liberals, who did Not Vote for Sanctions, but prefered to abstain, followed by 3 other Liberal MEPs, while a 4rth one, Destexhe from Belgium (the current CoE's rotating Chair) voted Against.


This didn't hinder several Rightist MEPs, (particularly from Austria, but also Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, etc) to vote also against, (and this would have certainly augmented a lot the "No" Votes, if France's Biggest Party at the latest Elections (those or May 2014 for EU Parliament), i.e. the "National Front"'s rightists, had started to have a normal representation at the National French Parliament, (which appoints its representatives to the PACE).


Etc.+...
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=> Therefore  -and given the Importance for all Europe, of what is at Stake around the Tragic and Dangerous Ukranian issue- nobody can exclude, a priori, possible Changes in CoE Assembly's stance, towards a more consequent, balanced, fair and efficient modus-vivendi and modus-operanti.


Otherwise, out-going US President Barack Obama's reported pressure these days to ... "Isolate diplomatically Russia" (sic !), might have managed to manipulate too easily the PanEuropean CoE, in order to Cut it Off from crucial Political Developments on Ukraine, to the benefit of the Trans-Atlantic OSCE, with a much Wider participation of Member Countries, including USA, so that Strasbourg's Organization and PanEuropean Unity may pay a too High Price for what could finaly look as a useless provocation or even a serious Blunder, as the precedent of 2014 already showed, (Comp. Supra).


Unless OSCE's 2015 Presidency by Russia-Friendly Serbia, (followed from 2016 by heavy-weight Germany and afterwards Austria, preceded by an active Switzerland), finaly proves that Moscow might find in Vienna also some interesting perspectives for it, after all...  


Will some PACE's members regret and rectify their Hasty move Soon enough, in order to allow the unique PanEuropean Institution, that of Strasbourg's CoE, to catch-up, before it becomes too late ?

(../..)

***

("DraftNews", as already send to "EuroFora" Subscribers/Donors, earlier. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap).

***

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Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, speaking  to "EuroFora", denied rumors on Turkey's attempts to avoid an EU check of its obligations on Cyprus on December 2009 by blackmailing Nicosia to either accept any deal with intransigeant Turkish claims contrary to EU values on the island's political issue, or face threats against the territorial integriy of the EU island, semi-occupied by Ankara's army.

On the contrary, the incoming EU President-in-office, speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", promissed that he will act for EU Council's decisions on December 2009 assessment of Turkey's commitments on Cyprus to be kept.


    Bildt was asked to react to Cyprus' President Christofias' denunciation, earlier this week, that some want to exert "pressure" on Cyprus in order for Turkey to escape from its obligations.

    Avoiding to mention any precise Deadline, Bildt, however, warned about "Consequences" in case of "failure" to reunite Cyprus, but without saying whose responsibility an eventual deadlock might be.  

 Asked by "EuroFora" if there is a risk for "Turkey's commitments to "be forgotten or downgraded", "despite crystal-clear EU Council decisions and EU Parliament's latest Resolution on the assessment to make at the end of this year on Turkey's obligations", according to rumours that, instead of pressing Turkey, on the contrary, there might be "pressure on Cyprus", even "blackmail", as Media reported and President Christofias denounced this week, Bildt denied :

- "No ! ", he clearly replied.


- On the contrary, invited by "EuroFora", to "reassure that the Swedish EU Presidency (7-12/2009) will keep a fair stance, based on principles",  Bildt promised that "we (Swedish EU Presidency) will be very clear on all of the decisions taken by the (EU) Council".

He added, however, that "we have very numerous decisions that have been taken" by EU Council, as if he warned, also, on something else.

- "'I am not aware of any sort of statements coming out today''", Bildt started to say, on our reference to Cyprus' President Christofias" denunciation of Turkish lobby's manoeuvers this week, replying earlier to 'another"EuroFora"'s question during a Press Conference at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


 - '"I know the issues that you' are concerned with'", he added, remembering  the statements he gave us when Sweden was chairing the PanEuropean CoE on 2008.

- "But, obviously, .. I think that Cyprus' Peace negotiations are extremenly important".

- And "'I think that we are at a unique moment in History, in the sens that both (Cyprus') President Christofias and Mr. Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader), are personally convinced of the need to overcome the division".

 - "It's 20 Years since the fall of Berlin Wal, but we still have a Capital in Europe (Nicosia) that's divided". ,

- 'I don't that we should loose any time in overcoming that"..

 - ''We should be aware of the fact that success will bring great benefits, but failure, will also have major consequences. There will not be Status Quo' " It's a question of seeking a solution, or entering another situation, which is somewhat difficult to see exactly how that could evolve", he warned.

- "That being said, this is a negotiation for Cyprus itself", Bildt admitted.

 - ''We (EU) can support, the (EU) Commission primarily, be technically helpful, and then, of course, there is a specific role for the UN, when it comes to the Cyprus' situation".  

- "At least so far. It might not be for ever'. Certainly not for ever, but for this period of time", Bildt added, skiping now any reference to concrete threats on UNO's Peace keeping force in face of more than 40.000 Ankara's soldiers, contrary to some Press claims, (See previous NewsReports).


     Replying to another "EuroFora"'s Question,  if anyone might attempt to "impose a Deadline for the conclusion" of Cyprus' Talks on December 2009, Bildt avoided to speak of any precise Time-frame, and indirectly evoked the fact that  35 Years of Turkish Invasion/Occupation obviously durated too long :

'- "If I was from Cyprus, I would say that the Deadline was Yesterday ! '",
Bildt concluded.

Cyprus' Government Spokesman, Stephanou, reportedly pointed out that "a settlement is possible on December if Turkey changes its stance", accepting a solution for the reunification of the island based on UNO resolutiona and EU principles.

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Earlier, EU Chair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, highlighted an "historic opportunity" to "re-Unite" Cyprus according to EU's "basic Values"' (i.e. Human Rights) and 'Rules'", in a last-minute change of his draft speech to EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The initial Draft spoke only about "healing" the island.

    Significantly, Reinfeldt linked Cyprus' reunification with Turkey's obligations to respect EU's "Values" and "follow" EU's "common Rules" :

    - What is "called Membership Negotiations" should lead, "at- the end of the day", into "sharing a set of common Basic Values (i.e. Human Rights, Democracy, etc), and following common Rules", stressed Reinfeld from the outset.
    
    - "This is something that those on the Outside (of the EU), are now  contemplating", up "to Ankara", for "a solution" on "Cyprus", observed the EU Chairman, immediately afterwards..  

    - "Both sides of Cyprus have been granted a historic opportunity to together reach an agreement on a solution to re-Unite the island, that has been divided for far too long", said Reinfeldt, modifying his draft text.


-  "The Swedish Presidency will act ...in accordance with Commitments EU has made, on the basis of Criteria that apply", "as a Honest Broker", he promised.    

- "To those on the inside (of the EU), allowing the membership process to become an opportunity to solve protracted disputes, can be tempting", he added.


    "In such cases, we must find solutions that can benefit both sides, and open up a way forward. Otherwise, it would jeopardize the progress we have made towards EU integration", Reinfeldt said.

***

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