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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Democratic Participation Director Gruden +European Landscape CEO Pons to EF: Key area, But=More!

CoE Democratic Participation Director Gruden +European Landscape CEO Pons to EF: Key area, But=More!

Written by ACM
martes, 07 mayo 2019

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- As Switzerland prepares to host, on its exciting Mountains, a landmark PanEuropean Conference for the 20th Anniversary of CoE's Convention on Landscapes (Natural and Cultural : 2000-2020), under a probably "spicy" Presidency by Hungary's Victor Orban, accused by some to be "populist", while certainly being Popular and dynamic, it's rather on the Key role of Citizens to safeguard and/or develop their surrounding Evironment that CoE may focus, from now on.

It includes several aspects of "Eurofora"s 1997-2019 Project to develop, more generally, Citizens' appropriate Dialogue with Public Authorities Before important Decisions are taken which Affect their Lives and/or Society at large.

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This could explain why it was, this time, CoE's Director of Democratic Participation, the experienced Matjaz Gruden, who exceptionally chaired the Concluding Session of the 2 Days-long Annual 2019 Conference on the Implementation of CoE's Convention on European Landscapes :

 

 

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- Indeed, it's right from the outset, that Gruden pointed at that Convention's original text, observing that, "already from its 1st Article, it speaks about interaction with the People", as he said for the Definition of "Landscape" as "an Area, as perceived by People, which ...is the result of ...Natural and/or Human Factors". While "Landscape Quality Objective" means ...the formulation ... of the Aspirations of the Public, with regard to the Landscape Features of their Surroundings".

+ The 1Oth Anniversary of that Convention of 2000, celebrated in a PanEuropean Conference of 2010, was rather Focused on "Implementation" Issues, as the CoE's Committee of Ministers had just published an important "Recommendation on the Guidelines for the Implementation" in real practice, adopted on 2008.

=> So that the Forthcoming, 20th Anniversary, on 2020 (Comp. Supra), is due to Focus much more on the "Principles for the Participation of the Public, in the Definition and Implementation pf Landscape Policies", as adopted by CoE's Working Group on "Landscape and Democracy", already as early as since 2016, as well as on a CoE's collective Research about its "Landscape Convention" as "a contribution to Human Rights and Democracy", (supported, particularly, by the current and forthcoming Presidencies by Finland and France : 11/2018 - 11/2019), which has just been Published on 2018.

 

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- Indeed, when "Eurofora" asked the experienced CEO of CoE's Landscape Convention, Maguelonne Déjeant-Pons, whether some elements of our above-mentioned, wider Project (Comp. Supra), were on the pipeline of recent and/or on-going relevant Developments in this particular area, she immediately pointed at this CoE's recent Pamphlet of 100 pages.             

>>> It's all Based on that CoE's Convention's key Articles 5 and 6, which define "Landscapes ...as an Essential component of People's Surroundings, ...their ...Cultural and Natural Heritage, and a Foundation of their Identity", and, therefore, ask from Member States to "establish Procedures for the Participation of the General Public ...and other Parties with a Interest in the Definition and Implementation of the Landscape Policies", as well as "to Identify" such "Landscapes", "with the Active Participation of the Interested parties", to "Assess" them, "Taking into Account the particular Values assigned to them by ...the Population concerned", and to determine "Landscape Quality Objectives ... After Public Consultation".

- I have been striving since a long time in order to make it crystal-clear that protected Landscapes are also a matter of Human Rights and Democracy", stressed Déjeant-Pons,

who also Agreed with "Eurofora"s observation that, sometimes, it might become even a Vital matter of Life or Death, as, f.ex., it had been shown, in the Past, by the Tragic Fact that our own Grand Mother, a generally Healthy, Active and Good Temper elder Woman, had Suddenly fell Sick and Died, shortly After her Living Room, initially a Sunny Place with Clean Oxygen at an Open Area, was Transformed into a ...Black Hole, Deprived of SunLight and with any Natural Wind Cut Off by Thick Walls imposed by an Adjacent High-Rise Collective Building, that some Unscrupulus Real Estate developer private Compagnies, which seeked to make Money from any M2, apparently withOut giving a damn for Human Health and Life... The main Difference between the Pre-Existing and the Subsequnt Situations was that, in the MeanTime, a splendid View towards a Natural Landscape at the Adjacent Area, had been brutaly and totally Blocked 100%...  

- Indeed, Human "Health and Well-Being" is part and parcel of the Human Rights' aspects in protected European Landscapes, observes in substance, inter alia, also the Above Mentioned, relevant 2018 CoE's Pamplet (Comp. Supra).

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- Protected European Landscapes can be Both various Large, Natural Areas at the Countryside, f.ex. among superb Mountains and Forests, or other Areas, even Inside Villages or Cities, which belong to the immediate Surroundings of People, reminded, in this regard too, CoE's competent CEO, Maguelonne Dejeans-Pons, pointing, for that purpose, also to an interesting Photo Exhibition at the CoE, organized by the current rotating Presidency by Finland, which characteristically pictures Both kinds of such, Rural or Urban Landscapes, (See relevant Photos).

But, normally, "Green" Areas should be Accessible to the People, and Not too Far Away from where they live their everyday lives, she advised.

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    - Such Issues being, often, "Hot" Topics for Public Debates in Urbanism, Spatial Planning, etc., they were, obviously, included also in CoE's Director on Democratic Participation, Matjaz Gruden's new responsibilities, (Comp. Supra).     

 

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    - Gruden stressed to "Eurofora" that a main Aim of his current activities is to Help People by providing also useful Knowledge, Awareness, Training, etc., on taking an Active Part in various existing Democratic Processes, (including, f.ex. the above-mentioned European Landscapes' Convention's pertinent articles : Comp. Supra).

    => But, in Fact, all that Covers a very much Wider Area, concerning also Many More Issues, f.ex., in Education, Culture, Sport, Youth, Landscapes, Diversité, etc, CoE's competent Director of Democratic Participation added, with a Smile...

    - And it concerns mainly already Existing, Legal Possibilities of Participatory Democracy, where People Need to develop some useful Experiences, and Not just the eventual creation of new ones, he observed, obviously Highlighting the Larger than expected Scope of such an endeavour, in real practice, even as things stand Nowadays.

 

 

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Speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", the New EU Parliament's President, former Polish Prime Minister, ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Jerzy Busek, welcomed proposals by EuroFora about innovative ways for EU Citizens to attend EU debates before important final decisions which affect people's lives.

- "We (EU Parliament) must be transparent", Buzek stressed from the outset.  "We must have clear answers also for delicate questions. If we don't touch a problem, you must know why, and when shall we decide in the nearest future".. "Because "we (EU) must think about Europeans, first of all : They don't understand well what is going on in the EU. So, it's our duty to inform them, to make discussions here more interesting".

"EuroFora" congratulated President Buzek for the anouncement he made, from the 1st day of his election in Strasbourg (on Tuesday, 14 July 2009), on his intention to make  transparent debates, exchanges of views, etc. before the final adoption of decisions in EU Parliament's Plenary, when issues are evolving inside Committees, (See earlier publication).

And we reminded, in this regard, that "EuroFora" has been advocating a project for EU Citizens' active involvement in pluralist EU debates before important EU decisions, since more than a Decade : 1997-2007+

- "Thank you. We (EU Parliament), indeed, have exciting debates", Buzek replied. But, in practice, "without a possibility for our Citizens to see them, not even by the Press, the Radio or TV, etc., because it is in Committees", he regreted.

- "But, they (i.e. Media, Citizens, etc) might interact with you, with MEPs, etc, May be we can imagine something", "EuroFora" proposed.

- "Yes, (but) it needs, a quite new idea", Buzed observed.

- "Why not through some innovations ?", "EuroFora" suggested.

- "Innovation ? That's it. Fantastic  New Information Technologies !", Buzek realized.

- "Precisely, "EuroFora" has such a project, since more than a Decade (1997-2009), to use new technologies for public debates before major EU decisions are taken", we reminded.

- "If you have such proposals, please come to us, come to us. We must" do something, agreed the new EU Parliamen's President.

buzek_chairing_400 

    This fits with Buzek's main stance, expressed at EU Parliament's plenary earlier this week in Strasbourg, that the European Union must succeed to overcome a "Crisis of Trust" vis a vis EU Citizens. (See previous EuroFora publication).

    For that purpose, obviously information and debates are valuable, but purely instrumental, procedural means which can help focus on, and highlight a substantial content, attractive to EU Citizens, which needs to be determined by other, political, and not mediatic factors.  

    Buzek spoke about the urgent need to overcome the Global Economic Crisis,  the struggle for Human and Civic Rights, Democracy, etc., the Eastern Partnership, links with Russia, strategic partnership with USA and emerging countries, etc.

    But he also used (while speaking both to "EuroFora" and other Media) the expression : "The Europeans", for EU Citizens. This points right towards what several important EU leaders (including French President Sarkozy, German Chancellor Merkel, etc) have started to highlight particularly during the recent years : That there is a vital need, and an historic opportunity, for the development of a European Conscience, to stimulate e renaissance of a European Identity able to attract Popular support, for the EU to become a strong player in a Multopolar World : In other words, the revitalisation of a project for a "Political Europe".

    By a coincidence, this was indirectly but surely reminded, earlier in Strasbourg, by another ... Busek (this time with a "s") : 

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    Speaking to more than 650 participants from CoE's member countries, at the conclusion of the 2009 Summer University of its Political Schools, Erhard Busek, (with an "s"), former vice-Chancellor of Austria and EU Coordinator for South-Eastern Europe, pointed at the current need to revitalize Europe's "Identity", forged by Greek philosophy and Roman Law, Christian values and Enlightment's ideas, etc. through the ages.     

- "We have almost the same name with Jerzy Buzek (EU Parliament's new President, who is a former Polish Prime Minister), because both our Families come ...from  the same village, located at the Heart of Europe, which was often shared between Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. But my family emmigrated a long time ago to Austria, while Jerzy Buzek's family remained in Poland", explained f. vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek to "EuroFora".   

 An astonishingly concrete and simple example of European Integration from the grassroots : Starting by EU Citizens, i.e. those "Europeans", that EU Parliament's new President, Jerzy Buzek (this time with a "z"), wants to bring alongside MEP's decision-making proces, (according to "EuroFora"'s main idea : Comp. supra)...

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