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Home arrow newsitems arrow Russia - PACE row may be resolved on EF's ideas, reveals CoE Assembly CEO Sawicki's reply +Document

Russia - PACE row may be resolved on EF's ideas, reveals CoE Assembly CEO Sawicki's reply +Document

Written by ACM
Friday, 22 June 2018
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- While Time Deadlines arrive at a Critical Threshold, it's near to 2 "Eurofora"'s key observations/suggestions that a Solution might, perhaps, be found Nowadays to the 4,5 Years Old row between Russia and CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), since all the Russian MEPs were pushed to Quit that Strasbour's body, by Harsher than expected Sanctions, imposed when the Ukranian Conflict was reaching a Pic in growing Deadly Clashes, including Civilian People, particularly at the Eastern pro-Autonomy Regions, and without any really important change since then, despite the 2015 Minsk Agreements, only Partly applied until now.


Meanwhile, after Many Years of exceptional Absence of Russian MEPs from PACE, (even if Russia continued to be part of CoE's Inter-Governemental bodies and activities), Moscow anounced, and recently started to apply in real practice, first a Partial, and afterwards a Total Suspension of its Financial Contribution to CoE's overall Budget, until it would be Guaranteed that its MEPs might Return without Risk to be again Deprived from their Voting and Participation Rights.


A situation which has Now Reached a Critical Point, as the End of June is traditionaly considered to be the Last moment for a CoE's Member Country to pay its Annual Contribution, or not, and UnPrecedented Financial Restrictions (recently Aggravated also by Turkey's UnExpected, Unilateral Decision to Cut almost the Half of its own Contribution, for undeclared motives) have Started to provoke Growing Tensions inside the CoE, including even Angry Protests by some Radio-TV Journalists upset from an anouncement that they will have, from now on, to Pay Cash any use of Camera and/or Studio Facilities at the CoE, which were traditionaly offered to them Free of Charge, (as "Eurofora" witnessed during a Press Meeting earlier this Morning)...

 

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At the Same Time, in parallel, from a Political point of view, that Problem has inevitably Curtailed CoE's own Role as a PanEuropean Organisation, since the ReUnification of Europe at the 1990ies, by putting in Trouble, inter alia, particularly its Cooperation and Joint Activities in the Fight against Deadly Islamist Terrorism Targetting innocent Civilian People throughout the EU and Russia (as well as USA, and elsewhere in the World), Reducing CoE's role in the Quest for Peace in Ukraine (where, on the Contrary, the Vienna-based OSCE took a quasi-Exclusivity), not to speak about Syria, etc, made UnBalanced the Choice of New ECHR's EuroJudges (since Russian MEPs haven't Voted in the Election by PACE of about 33% of New EuroJudges, as Moscow officially Protested these Days, in the run up to the forthcoming Election by PACE even of CoE's New Chief : its New Secretary General from 2019...), while Geo-Political Balance in all Parliamentary Contacts and/or Negotiations, and All Public MEPs' Debates in Any Topical Issue related to COE's Oganisation for Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law, (including even BioEthics, as back on 2013+), has been Lacking.


Such excessive and persisting ImBalances (and the Negative Climate that they inevitably provoked, at least partly, as if Half of CoE had been suddenly Forced to Return Back to a ... "Cold War" Era of the Past) were Criticized and Denounced recently by an Important Report, with Resolution and Recommendation to its Committee of Ministers, adopted by CoE's Assembly during the Autumn of 2017, particularly in view of the overall Mission of Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organisation, and, also, in the perspective of an evental New CoE's Summit probably on 2019, which raised in New Terms the Issue of Russia's Full Participation into the CoE : Not Only Inter-Governemental, but also Parliamentary.


This, and other parallel Developments, led also to the Creation,  led also to the Creation, from December 2017, of an Original, High-Level, "Ad Hoc" Committee "on the Mission and the Role" of CoE's PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly, crafted Also in order to Include an exceptional instance of Dialogue with Top Russian MEPs, (and with the Participation even of Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives of CoE's Member States' National Governments, usually centered around its Committee of Ministers), which organized substantial Meetings on the Sidelines of PACE's Plenary Sessions in Strasbourg, (i.e., already on January and April 2018, See, f.ex. : "Eurofora"s NewsReports at http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coedialogueonrussiacontinuesmarch.html, + http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/russiacoesyria.html, etc), as well as of its Standing Committee's Sessions in other Cities and/or Countries, (f.ex., in Paris, on March 2018, and in Zagreb, on May 2018, since Croatia took over from Denmark CoE's rotating semestrial Presidency, 5-11/2018).


=> As a Result also of this New Round, made out of Periodic, but Regular, High-Level Dialogue, Both on PanEuropean CoE's overall Role, and on Russia's part, it seems, Nowadays, Possible to eventually Seek and soon Find a Solution, at last, to that protracted Problem of Europe's recent, counter-productive, and dangerous Division.


The point became more Clear, after CoE has just decided, this June 2018, to "De-Classify" an Interesting "Memorantum" (Drafted by PACE's out-going President Nicoletti from Italy), which Resumes All relevant Proposals made by various CoE Member Countries and/or MEPs' Political Groups during that "Ad Hoc" High-Level Committee's Meetings.


>>> Astonishingly, but logically, such a possible Perspective Follows, in Fact, the PathWay of "Eurofora"'s 2 Key Observations and Suggestions, which we had, inter alia, Resumed and Reminded, at the Latest, during a mid-May 2018 Meeting in the CoE with the current President-in-office of its Committee of Ministers,
Croatian Ambassador/Permanent Representative Miroslav Papa (for May - November 2018 : See Infra).

 

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- Earlier Today, PACE's Secretary General, Wojciech Sawicki, Replying to an "Eurofora"'s Question, during the traditional Press Briefing with Strasbourg's European Journalists at the Eve of CoE Assembly's Plenary Session, Next Week in Strasbourg, (25-29 June 2018), made it clear that, if, in its Forthcoming Meeting, on Tuesday Afternoon (26/6/2018), that "Ad Hoc" Committee probably Adopts its Official "Report", then, this would Conclude and put an "End" at its Existence, since the Issues it used to Deal with, will Return, then, Back to CoE's Ordinary Top Bodies, i.e. PACE's Bureau and CoE's Inter-Governemental Committee of Ministers, for relevant Decisions, (normally Before January 2019, which is, as things stand Today, the Latest Occasion for an eventual Return of Russian MEPs back to the PACE, for Next Year).


- But, that "Report" is expected to look very much Alike, in its overall Structure, to this "Memorantum", which has just been "De-Classified", Sawicki warned us.


+ Concerning those Issues, Speaking Earlier, since mid-May 2018, with the New President-in-office of CoE's Highest Political Body, that of its Committee of Ministers, Croatian Ambassador Miroslav Papa, in Reply to his own Observation that the Issue of Relations with Russia, as well as CoE's Budget, would be among the most Topical Big "Challenges" Faced by the Croatian Presidency, (in Addition to the relevant Question of the preparation of an eventual New CoE's Heads of State/Government Summit for 2019 or later), "Eurofora" had made, during those Exchanges, mainly 2 Key Observations :


    * (A). From a purely "PRACTICAL" point of view, regarding the TIME still Available in order to Try to eventually Find a workable Compromise for an adequate Solution of the above-mentioned "Russian" Issue, Before it might become Too Late (Comp. Supra), "Eurofora" had reiterated, then, our Previous Suggestion, (that We had Already Made, Earlier, already since January 2018, to PACE's Secretary General, Wojciech Sawicki, who Replied Positively : see http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coereformtoeaserussiasolution.html , etc), to eventually make the necessary Changes in order to Enable PACE to Ratify all MEPs' Credentials, Not Only on its January Session, at the Beginning of Each Year, but, during All, Anyone among its Four (4) Plenary Sessions (i.e. on January, or April, June, September/October), so that Parliamentary Diplomacy would have, instead of Only 1, much Better : Four (4) Occasions, during each Year, to find a successful Compromise.


=> Now, such a Proposal has been Also Supported Explicitly, at least by "Romania", inside CoE's High-Level "Ad Hoc" Committee, which has just suggested to "allow each delegation (of MEPs) to fill its seats at any time during a year, and not exclusively before the January part-session", as the above-mentioned "Memorandum" reveals.


+ Moreover, PACE's Secretary General, Sawicki, went Today as far as to also Add, in this Same regard, even anOther such Possibility to Gain precious Time : - PACE could Decide, if it wishes, to Add also One More : i.e. a 5th Plenary Session, "Exceptionally", f.ex. "on December 2018", during which it could have one More Opportunity to Deal with the Issue of Russian MEPs' Credentials, and/or Change its own Rules, in this regard, (Comp. Supra and Infra), he told us during his Press Briefing, earlier this Morning.


- Such a Move is Legally Possible, since PACE's Rules of Procedure provide for "up to 30 Days" for PACE's Full Meetings during Each Year, while, until now, "we don't use but only 20 such Days, Yearly", (i.e. 4 regular Plenaries X 5 Days each = 20, leaving +10 More Days, theoretically Free to be used whenever PACE might like to do so).


 - "It all Depends on whether a Political Will exists, or not, since Technically, Everything is Possible !", the Experienced Sawicki underlined in this regard, smiling.


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


    *(B). Concerning the "SUBSTANCE" of the Issue, even if the "Guarantee" that Russia notoriously seeks, for Any MEPs (Russian and/or Other), Not to be Deprived from their Voting and/or Participation Rights (Comp. Supra), might, Eventually, Not be Explicitly Supported also by a Sufficient Number of Other CoE Member Countries, (as the above-mentioned "Memorantum" rather indicates), Nevertheless, there is Also anOther Workable, Alternative Possibility :


    - Indeed, as "Eurofora" had Denounced (and Proved with Crystal-clear Hard Facts), already as Early as since the very Day that Some, inside PACE, suddenly Broke an earlier Compromise (to put just a Few "Sanctions", for only 1 Year), and Pushed, with a Last-Minute Amendment, in order to Impose much More, and Heavier "Sanctions", so that they Pushed, the Exasperated Russian MEPs to Leave PACE. But the Interesting point, (which, Curiously, seems to pass still Unnoticed or, at least, "Silenced", by most Commentators in Establishment's Traditional Medias), is the Fact that, (by Exploiting the Abstention of Russians then, added also to Various Other Countries' MEPs Exceptional Absence), it was Only a ... MINORITY of MEPs who had Voted, Back on 2014, for such Excessive "Sanctions", which Broke a Compromise (Comp. Supra) and Pushed Russia Out of the PACE ! (See the Original "Eurofora"s NewsReport, as Published the very Day of that Event, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminorityamendmentpushesrussianmepsout.html , etc).     

    
    >>> And, NOW, the above-mentioned PACE's "MEMORANDUM", just Published this June 2018 (Comp. Supra), clearly Reveals that, in fact, there are MANY National Delegations, among CoE's Member Countries, and/or MEPs, who Ask to Maken ibn the Future, much More Difficult, than in the Past, to Refuse MEPs' Credentials, and/or to Impose very Heavy Sanctions, Depriving MEPs from their Rights to Vote and/or Participate in CoE's Parliamentary  Assembly's activities. (F.ex., by Requiring to Verify the Quorum, and/or Setting a Higher Quorum ; by Asking for an Absolute Majority or even a Special, Qualified Majority : f.ex. of the Two Thirds, 2/3, etc).   


    In other words, even if Russia might, eventually, not have fully Convinced, inside the CoE, a Wide-Enough circle of People, that Heavy Sanctions Depriving MEPs even from almost all their Vote and Participation Rights, would be abnatural, a Violation of Democratically Elected Parliamentarians' elementary Rights, i.e. something InCompatible with a really Democratic Parliament's Values and Principles,  as Moscow claims, as well as Against PACE's Mission as a PanEuropean Forum for Public Dialogue, Nevertheless, they seem to have pretty Convinced a Lot of CoE's Member States' representatives that this is something Wrong, or, at least, Too "Heavy" or Extreme, as measure, so that it shouldn't be allowed for anyone to eventually risk to abuse of such methods too easily...                 

                    
    => In Consequence, if such kind of Proposals are Adopted by PACE's, High Level, "Ad Hoc" Committee (Comp. Supra), Next Week in Strasbourg, (Comp. Supra), then, Russia would have, in real Practice, (given also the Fact that its Adversaries Never had any Majority inside the PACE, not even back on 2014, as we found : Comp. Supra), an Important Guarantee for its MEPs, almost as it wished, (Comp. Supra).

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+ In Fact, what happened back on 2014 is Not just as Question of DisProportional or Excessive "Sanctions" on Russian MEPs, but much More a "Double Standards" matter, Compared, at least, to way that Turkey was treated by PACE : Indeed, initially, on 1994, PACE had adopted a Resolution warning the Turkish MEPs that their Credentials would be Rejected if Ankara did Not Stop, in 6 Months, to grossly Violate CoE's Principles and Disrespect its own Commitments, concerning, f.ex., widespread Torture+Inhuman/Degrading Treatments, Killings of Dissidents, Scorched Earth Practices, Refusal to Recognize the Armenian Genocide, Military Invasion and Occupaton of Cyprus' Northern Territories, (an over-Millenary European Civilisation Country, from Ancient Greece and Byzantine Empire, up to 4 Centuries French Kingdom, +2 Italy's Venise, almost 1 Century British, and 58 Years Intependent State), Refusal to Apply ECHRs' Judgements, War Threats against Greece at the Aegean Sea, bloody Kurdish Conflict, (etc).


But, Suddenly, on 1995-1996, Despite Turkey's Refusal to obtemperate, PACE Backed Down, made a Spectacular U-Turn, and Changed all that into a mere ..."Monitoring" Process !  Meanwhile, inter alia, French Prime Minister Eduard Balladur (whose Family was of Armenian Origin) had been ousted, and Helmut Kohl's ChristianDamocrats/EPP had been radicaly Weakened, on the brink or loosing their Parliamentary Majority in Germany, while, in Italy, Prime Minister Ciampi, who had studied Ancient Greek, and whose Government Coalition included 2 Parties of the Right, with a ChristianDemocrat Foreign Minister close to Kohl then, had left, (etc)...


    However, Russia wasn't yet a CoE's Member State then, so that, perhaps, most of its Diplomats simply Ignore that Historic PACE's 1994 U-Turn on Turkey, and/or UnderEstimate the Exclusion of Greece during the Colonels' regime (1967-1974), while, once again, even when Turkish Colonels Hung alive an elected Prime Minister and Imposed a "Coup d'Etat" in the 1960ies, despite a CoE's Human Rights' Director reportedly Angry and crying at the European Organision's corridors that Turkey should have Never been CoE Member (since the Cold War), nevertheless, Nothing happened...    


    So that the Russian MEPs' Ousting from PACE, added to several previous Threats against former Ukranian Governments' MEPs accused to be Too Friendly towards Russia in the Past, but also to the Exclusion, out of the CoE, for the Greek "Colonels" regime (etc), while Nothing Similar ever happened for Turkey, with that 1994 CoE's "U-Turn" (Comp. Supra), not even during the 1960 Coup d'Etat which Hang a Prime Minister (and 2 of his Ministers), Neither later at the 1980 Coup d'Etat, despite a Massive Oppression of various Ankara regime's Dissidents, (etc), all that, obviously, looks to be Too Much of "Double Standards".


    => Added to the above-mentioned, "too Heavy", if not even Incompatible with Elected Paliamentarians' Rights, character of so Harsh Measures (as Suspension of Vote + Participation Rights, etc), that they would, at least, Need a Quorum, Special Majority and/or Other Safeguards against Risks of Abuse, as Many proposed Recently in PACE's High Level "Ad Hoc" Committee (Comp. Supra), all that, naturally Pleads towards Finding, at least Now, a well Balanced and Workable Solution on this Russia - PACE row asap.


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


    According to that recently DeClassified "Memorandum", and as PACE's Secretary General Sawicki confirmed Today in his Press Briefing, if the High-Level "Ad Hoc" Committee adopts a similar Report, it will, most probably, Result in a Double Transmission to Both PACE's Committees on Political affairs and on Rules and Procedures, for relevant Changes in CoE Assembly's official Rules, as well as to the Inter-Governemental CoE's Committee of Ministers, for Coordinated Moves, and eventual even Changes in CoE's overall Statute, if necessary.


    + Already, an Indication that, indeed, something like this might be currently prepared, and almost already on the pipeline, is also the relevant Fact that CoE has just Decided to "Revive" its "Joint Committee", (Composed by Representatives of Both its Parliamentary Assembly, and its InterGovernemental Committee of Ministers), from Next Week, as Sawicki Anounced Today.


    The Russian Parliamentary side is due to be Represented, from Tuesday, already in the probably Last Meeting of CoE's "Ad Hoc" High Level Committee (Comp. Supra), by its Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee's President, Leonid Slutsky, one of the 2 most Experienced Top Russian MEPs who know well PACE, since a Long Time ago, as well as his collegue from the Federal Council, Konstantin Kosachev, (the President of that Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, who reportedly was not only in Strasbourg Back on January, but also in Zagreb on May 2018).


    ++ Meanwhile, in anOther Exceptional Move Recently, CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jaglant, suddenly Visited Moscow just two Days ago, on 19 to 20 June 2018, where he met, inter alia, also with the Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov, (Comp., inter alia, also Lavrov's Statements to "Eurofora", already as Early as since the May 2011 "G 8" Summit of Heads of State/Government in Deauville, France, at: ..., etc), but even with President Vladimir Putin himself, at the Kremlin : Something which had not occured for Years, (since 2016).

 

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Jagland, a former Prime Minister and President of Parliament at Neighbouring Norway, and Top Member of the Oslo Committe for NOBEL Peace Prize, had clearly expressed his Interest for the PanEuropean Dimension of the CoE, in repeated Statements replying to relevant "Eurofora"s Questions, already as early as since his 1st Press Conference, immediately after his initial Election in Strasbourg, back on 2009, but also more Recently, during a Press Point on his Re-Election on 2014, even after some had provoked the Ukranian conflict, (See, f.ex. : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/jaglandagg1.html + http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coesgonpaneuropeanspacefuture.html , etc).


>>> But the Most Substantial Issue on which Jagland is Consistently building upon for CoE's relations with Russia, as a matter of General Principle, related also to Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law main Mission, proved to be, once again, his concern to Safeguard a fully-fledged functioning of ECHR's Jurisdiction, for the Protection of Citizens' Rights and a Democratic Functioning of the State, throughout all CoE's 47 Member Countries, naturally including the Biggest of all, Russia with about 150 Millions of Population, as he reiterated on this occasion also just 2 Days ago in Moscow, on 20 June 2018.


- Shortly Afterwards, a Statement attributed to Foreign Minister Lavrov, after his meeting with COE's Secretary General Jagland, expressed Russia's "Concern" for "the Fact that, because of the PACE Crisis, more than 1/3 of the Judges at the ECHR have been Elected withOut the Participation of a delegation of Russian" MEPs, (who, normally, should Vote, Together with All other MEPs from CoE's 47 Member Countries, every time that there is an Election of a New EuroJudge to the ECHR by PACE, among 3 Candidates, during PACE's Plenary Sessions in Strasbourg, (as, f.ex., for the Choice of a New EuroJudge from San Marinio, Next Week, while Turkey's, as well as Other EuroJudges' Election was reportedly Postponed for October 2018 or even Later).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
- But, in a subsequent meeting and Press Conference with UNO's Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, Yesterday (21 June 2018) in Moscow, Lavrov expressed also Russia's belief in what he called : - the "Vital Sphere of Human Rights", as he said, speaking of USA's WIthdrawal from UNO's World Council of Human Rights (WCHR), at nearby Geneva. (On UNO's Historic 2005 Summit's decision to create WCHR, on 9/2005 in New York, Comp. also "Eurofora" co-Founder's NewsReport from NYC, Published then at "TCWeekly).


- Even Acknowledging that "No one ... is Perfect", as he said, the Russian MFA observed, on this occasion that "the Number of complaints against Russia sent to the ECHR has Dropped more than Three times (-300%) over the past 5 Years", compared to the Past.


Even if not any Official Statemenrt was Published on the well known Political Issues AFTER those Top Meetings, neither in Moscow, nor in Strasbourg, (Comp. also Infra), nevertheless, at least the Photos Published by Kremlin's website, look quite positive...

 

coe_sg_jagland__russia_president_putin_meeting_kremlin__eurofora_400 


Meanwhile, Moscow curiously is, these Same Days, at the Epicenter of an Exceptionally Dense and Busy Diplomatic "Whirlpool", the above-mentioned Exceptional Visit of CoE's Secretary General Thornbjorn Jagland, 2 Days ago, (not just for the ...Football Mundial, as he pointed out, in his meetng with President Putin, who had taken the initiative to point there), was Followed by a Phone Call from Urkanian President Pedro Poroshenko, that Putin extended also into a Briefing to UN Security Council Members the same day, before another Official Visit by UNO's Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Yesterday, (Comp. Supra), preceded by Exceptional Phone-Conversations, Earlier, between Lavrov and Mike Pompeo, the New USA's Secretary of State, since June 18, also about a forthcoming possible USA - Russia Summit with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Don Trump, perhaps in Vienna, "for the Near Future",  as it was said, in the current preparations for the July 11, 2018, Summit of NATO, (whose Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who was recenty reported as Favorable to USA - Russia Top Meetings, (and even NATO - Russia)..., which should better take place "as Quickly as possible", as Kosachev reportedly advised.

 

In the Middle of all that, "Eurofora" was Surprized to realize (unfortunately too Late) that we had an unexpected Chance to Cross COE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland himself, who had Silently Walked along our Left Side, all the way from CoE's Main Hall (Exceptionally full of Music, then, because of a Special "Music Day" here in France), up to the PanEuropean Organisation Headquarters' Main Entrance's exterior "Parvis", slowly Strolling even Turning Around us until he entered in his Car, by a Coincidence, Parked Right in Front of our Eyes, where he stayed for several Long Moments, with an Open Window, looking at a Piece of Paper, while his Driver was already sitting inside, Ready to Go, but, apparently, withOout receiving a "Green Light" Message before a Longer than expected Period of Time elapsed, Later-on...

Any Other Journalist (and, a fortiori, Particularly "Eurofora", who had Notoriously being Practicing with EU/COE+ Political Personalities, Heads of State/Govrnment, Foreign and Other Ministers, Top EU/CoE Officials or Experts, etc., Many Short but Topical, Original Interviews "on the Fly", many times and at Various Occasions, here and elsewhere), would, Naturally, had Tried to immediately Valorize such a Timely Chance, by Simply Raising at least 1 Short and Clear Question to Jagland, while he was still Remaining so Near to us, Shortly after his above-mentioned, Exceptional Visit to Moscow, and at the Eve of Crucial relevant Decisions in the Next Few Days...


But, UnExpectedly, (and withOut having fully Realized the Reasons for such a Unusual for us Behavior, Nevetheless, "Eurofora", Exceptionaly, ...Abstained from Raising Any Question at all !


Was it, merely, due to the Fact that, inter-alia, Because of an Exceptional Lack of Time, during some very Busy Days (and Nights), added to a series of various Harassments, even Aggressions (f.ex. against "Eurofora" WebNews Media Site, even Brutal Bloody Road "Accidents" hitting and seriously Wounding our Wife, with her Brake put Out of Order, and her Handlebars Sabotaged, etc), so that we were again Obliged to Work OverNight, and Sacrifice even Health in order to Catch up with Time, on too Many Occasions in a Row, so that we were Physically Exhausted ?


However, it wasn't the First Time, (and such Obstacles had Never Stopped us before, when something Really Important as News was at Stake, f.ex. concerning such Key Issues of Human Rights, BioEthics, Peace, etc)...


Or, was it, perhaps, Because of a Strange, UnPrecedented piece of "Draft" Paper, written by an Anonymous Author, (but reportedly "endorsed" by PACE's "Bureau" behind Closed Doors a Few Days Earlier, withOut any Warning, and due to be ...Silently "Endorsed" also by PACE's Plenary on Monday Morning, practically Hidden among a Lot of Various Other Papers and Reports, etc), which had Just been Distributed Silently to Strasbourg's European Journalists, during the Regular "Press Briefing" of the COE at the Eve of the forthcoming COE Assembly's Plenary Session, Next Week, and contained a Stern Prohibition (Never Seen Before in More than 24 Years of permanently Covering and Publishing European/PanEuropean/International News: +9/1993-2018 !) adressed to all COE's Accredited Journalists, among others, also to: ..."Interfere with ...the Proper (sic !) Conduct of (UnDetermined) Activities (by Anyone ?), or the Free Movement (sic !) of individuals", etc... To that was Added also the ... Crime of any Journalist to "Interfere with the.. Privacy" (sic !) of anyone, to take any (even Short) "Interview" i

 

=> In Other Words, IF a Journalist had Simply Tried (as it Used to be Regularly done, Many Times in the Past, here and elsewhere, with a Great Efficiency, particularly vis a vis "Busy" Top Politicians, who had No Time for Long Interviews, Intermediary Bureaucracy, etc., But were usually Willing and Able to give Short but Topical Replies, particularly to "Hot" News and/or General Policy Issues for the Press/Medias to Publish), also Now, to Simply Ask now Jagland how he Felt after his Recent Top Contacts on the Russia - PACE Issue, (Comp. Supra), even if he had Kindly Replied, with his usual Concise and Smiling way to Speak even on the most Thorny Issues, when he really Wanted to do so, with People that he Knew Well for Many Years, Nevertheless, whoever among Strasbourg's Press Workers would have Received such an Interview, Risked, from now on, to be Accused to ... "Interfere" (or "Attempt to Interfere") "with the Free Movement of Individuals", and/or to "Interfere with ... the Proper Conduct of Activities", (whatever this might mean...), or, at least, to "conduct an Interview" in a Place Other than those which were Exclusively Listed by that Strange Draft Paper (Comp. Supra) !...


In consequence, one among the relatively New but Mainstream Strasbourg's European Journalists, Samantha Agro, from the Italian Press Agency "ANSA", had just Strongly Criticized that Strange "Draft" Paper, full of UnPrecedented, obviously Excessive, and often Too Vague Prohibitions, often unnecessarily and excessively Restricting an elementary and traditionaly established, during Decades, Press Freedom inside the CoE , when she Spoke out Loudly, Against several among the  Obstacles it attempted to Oppose to normal Journalistic activities and established Press practices, during this Morning's PACE Press Briefing (Comp. Supra).


But, despite PACE CEO Sawicki's and Press Officers' kind Promises that such and other Criticism from Samantha and several more European Medias, would be "Transmitted" to those responsible for taking Final Decisions, since Nothing hasN't yet been Rectified or Changed for the Better, on this matter, spontaneously preferring to be Careful, "Eurofora" ...Auto-Censored itself, and totally Abstained from Raising Any Question to CoE's SG Jagland, on this Good and Timely Occasion...


=> So that, we shall Never Know what CoE's Head, the Experienced Thornbjorn Jagland,  might, eventually, have had to Say, and What Message he might wish to send to all involved, just Before this Crucial Week-End, at the Eve of an Exceptionaly Important CoE Assembly's Plenary Session, Next Week in Strasbourg, (Comp. Supra), in order to be Published in WideSpread English Language PanEuropean Media Timely,


i.e. exactly when all those involved are notoriously Preparing their Last-Minute Compromises, Ideas, and/or Concrete Proposals, in order to Find a Solution able to Help the PanEuropean CoE's Organisation to Overcome that Crisis and Advance Ahead in the foreseable Future, (Comp. Supra).

 

 

(../..)


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***


(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already send to "Eurofora"s Subscribers/Donors, Earlier. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be Published asap).

 

***

 

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
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    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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