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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
Tuesday, 07 May 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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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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