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Home arrow newsitems arrow French President Sarkozy on EU+ G8/G20 Agricultural policy, eve of EU strategic choices

French President Sarkozy on EU+ G8/G20 Agricultural policy, eve of EU strategic choices

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
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- "Space, Innovation and Agriculture", are both of Vital Importance for Europe's present and Future, while "all European Countries have an interest in Agricultural Policy, even those who don't produce agricultural raw materials, because all have Consumers" of Food, and "are all glad to have a Common Agricultural Policy which guarantees Food Security, as we already saw in the Past, during the "Mad Cow" Crisis". While Agriculture is also "a World" of "Values, Culture, Moral Traditions and Identity, but even a Powerful Economic Asset in External Trade and for EU's role in the World, strongly stressed French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a landmark Speech anouncing his relevant Priorities as 2011 Chairman of G8-G20, at the eve of important EU Negotiations and Decisions on the Future of Common Agricultural Policy, symbolically choosing to meet Thousands of Rural People at Strasbourg's outskirts, on the 1st Day of EU Parliament's 1st 2011 Plenary Session here.


Thus, "we (EU) must strongly oppose Environmental, Social, Fiscal and Monetary DUMPING" in Foreign Trade, and "EU won't make any new Concessions ...to WTO or MERCOSUR Negotiations", but must strive to promote Regulation at a Global level via the G-20, in order to protect our Acriculture from Threats of Scarcity and Speculation, bringing in more Transparency on Stocks and Harvests, Regulation against Speculators, and Coordination of Agricultural Crisis Management, to avoid provoking Panik by sudden, unilateral decisions to close Borders, as it happened f.ex. after the 2010 Record-High Heatwave, provoking Drought and Fires in Russia during Summer 2010, followed by Giant Floods in Australia and Catastrophic Drought in Latin America, etc., he added, observing that Global Stocks f.ex. of Maiz are currently at an Historic Low level.
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Timely, Sarkozy's move came just a few Days after EU Parliament's Draft Report on the Future of Agricultural policy was presented in the SURE Committee competent for EU's Pluri-Annual Financial Perspectives, and at the eve of incoming 2011 EU Chairman, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban's speech, tomorrow in EU Parliament's Plenary in Strasbourg (Comp. also Victor Orban's Replies to "EuroFora"s Questions during EU Heads of State/Government Summit in Brussels, 12/2010)  :


Orban, after brillantly winning  a 2/3 solid Majority in 2010 National Elections, has just stressed in the official Program of the Hungarian EU Presidency, that its main aim is to actively contribute to "a Strong Europe", particularly in the "Crucial" 2011 "Tasks to Review the Future of our (EU's) Common Policies", starting by "Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion",  "Agricultural" and "Energy" policies. The 2nd "needing to focus on ...Values ..and New Challenges", "bearing in mind (EU) Citizens' expectations (on) ..guaranteing Food Safety", and that "Agriculture.. also contributes to ..Rural Life and Landscape, ..Ecological services, ..Employment and helps tackle Demographic problems".

20110118_16.56.52_400 

As, f.ex. France's today's Statistics, revealing a strong Population Growth with more than 2.01 Children born per Woman, easing EU's ageing Population problem and providing more EU-born and EU-educated Young People, easier to integrate in Europe than Foreign Mass Immigration from remote 3rd Countries.
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- "Rural World", "is not just a Professional category, among others", but "a World", with "Values" and "a Culture", of "People strongly attached to a Public Asset that they want to be Free to transmit to Next Generations", and which contributes to "forge the Identity" of a Country as France, but also Italy, Poland, Spain, etc., and even entire Regions of Germany, Holland, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, etc, he observed from the outset, Family values and personal responsability, hard-working independence, etc., being obviously included in this notoriously particular area.


+ "A contact with a Permanent Reality", but "also with an endlessly Evolving Univers", Sarkozy added, speaking at a beautiful Countryside Peasant's area, but close to CoE, ECHR and EU Parliament's HQs in Strasbourg , symbolicaly close to the Family Home and Farmers' SME of EU Parliament's biggest Group of MEPs, Joseph Daul, (so that "EuroFora" met there even one of his cousins, peasant himself, as Daul was when he was a Youngster, working hard, together with his Wife, to enlarge their Agricultural SME, that was taken-over afterwards by their son).
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But also from an Economic point of view, "It's not just what survives from remote times of another age, but an essential element of Development and, thus, of Economic assets" :


F.ex.,"while in 2011 Global demand of Food rises, and Renewable Energies are being Developped", already "in 2010, the Foreign Trade Surplus in Agro-Alimentary products augmented + 50%" in France, he observed, finding, at least in some sectors, these "Global Good Times", as he observed.


- "Together with Space, High-Tech, etc. Agriculture is part of Europe's most important assets", the French President emblematically stressed.
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Naturally, "Rural" areas have also a "Diversity" :  In addition to "Dynamic Peri-Urban areas, where Land faces a growing Pressure from Commercial Urbanism, as here, at Strasbourg's periphery", "there are also those .. "RurBans" (composite word) who came to search at the Countryside a Quality of Life", but "also ..some Municipalities where Demographic Decline continues, while Trades and Services vanish, one after the other", he observed.
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    This deserves an "International Action to protect Agriculture" by "reducing the Instability of Markets" at a Global, G20+ level, as well as with "an Ambitious Budget for (EU's) Common Agricultural Policy for the Post-2013 period",
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    (A) "But, First of all, we must .. defend and revalorize the Revenue of our peasants" : "A job's Dignity is to allow to workers to live from the fruits of their labour".  "For that purpose, we must strengthen the Competitivity of our Agriculture" :


    - "Agricultural productors, French Peasants, didn't fight and made a Revolution for Freedom, against asservisment to their Old Masters of Feodalism, 2 Centuries ago, just  in order for Globalization to impose them now New Masters, by throwing them under a Commercial Dictatorship !", the French President strongly denounced.


    - The "Individual" structure of many Agricultural Households, must "not be a Pretext to drop Organization",  Sarkozy added orally to his written Draft, in what seems to be one Key-point of a Series of Ideas he highlighted in Alsace, an Agricultural region with many SME. (See also infra) :


    - F.ex., without a Legal Rule, it's the law of the jungle. Thus, (Collective) "Contracts will give you Strength", while "the Absence of Contracts would keep you weak", he warned the peasants. - "We really want to go up to the Heart of the Matter, to find Structural Solutions", Sarkozy stressed.


    -That's why he defended unfolding Reforms, due to enter into force from Spring 2011, which Regulate the relations between Agricultural Productors and Industrialists who buy their products, and introduce a "Contractualization", due to help find a "more Just share of added Value between producers and buyers", as well as a guarantee that producers who invest will be able afterwards to sell their products, starting from Fruits and Vegetables, as well as Milk, and advancing afterwards with Meat producers, (who need also to fight against Animal Feed Prices' Volatility).
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    + In parallel, the Reform of EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)'s "doesn't mean to add new Historic levels of EU Aid until 2020, keeping still Complacency, as some had claimed". "Complacency" and staying still, "is inompatible with Agriculture", he stressed.


    - It's about "making CAP more "Just and Fair", by protecting the most "Fragile and Organized" sectors, (f.ex.  1,4 Billion € in 2010 for Farmers and Mountanous Agriculture), and by "ensuring a Renewal of Generations", (f.ex. Aid to Young People's Installation : i.e. some +7.000 per year in France ,  Minimum Retirement Rights Raised, etc) : "More than 50% of Businesses are due to change Managers during the next 10 years", the French President noted at the eve of important EU Negotiations for the post-2013 period.
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    + We must also have "Less Distortions of Competition", Sarkozy went on to say, taking as key-examples the "Borderline Regions", such as "Alsace" compared to Germany, and "Pyrenees" compared to Spain, or the North compared to Belgium, etc.  - "If we might understand Distortions of Competition with countries as China or India, etc., on the contrary, it's totally Unacceptable, and deprived of any justification, to have f.ex. so differend Milk Prices vis-a-vis our neighbours in Germany and Spain, or Working Hours vis a vis Belgium, etc., the French President criticized.


    Therefore, Agricultural Labour's Costs must contine to be Reduced, f.ex. by lowering Social Taxes for Employers of Occasional Rural Workers, by making it easier for Peasants to re-Group their exploitations  without having to seriously augment their Staff, as it's already done in many other EU Countries ", etc., he pointed out.  

sarko_machines_modernes_mittemlhausen_400


This fits well with Sarkozy's choice to visit a a Modernized FarmHouse at nearby Mittenheisen village, where 9 small Family-owned Farms, while preserving their Independent, Individual existence, found a formula to unite together in order to invest in Modern, Expensive Machines, (and even created New Jobs, f.ex. for someone to feed and care for all their Animals, rotating from one farm to another), in order to "mutualize fixed expenses", as 3 Neighbouring Peasants invited to Sarkozy's subsequent collective meeting at Truchtersheim's central area, explained to "EuroFora".

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- In order to "create the conditions of an Agriculture Exporting more", as "a Major Card in our Economic Development and Political Power in the World",  a 300 Millions € Plan will back" action aimed at "strengthening Farmers' Competitivity" between "2011 - 2013", and the "ReStructuring of Agro-Industrial Industries" will "continue to be backed by public "investments in 2011", as the "Strategic Investment Fund" did, f.ex., in 2010 by adding "200 Millions € to Agricultural Cooperatives", etc.


+ Moreover, "by extending Transports of agricultural products via 44-tons Trucks", which "reduce Costs.. and CO2 emissions per ton", and by "developing Renewable Energies", f.ex. with "New Prices for Methane-produced Gas and Electricity" , etc., "we reconcile Economy and Ecology", he added.


- "Ecology and Agriculture must not be opposed", Sarkozy stressed,  : "Peasants make a living out of Nature, and live in the middle of it. It's unacceptable to present them as if they were Ennemies of their own natural living area !" That's why "we are firmly in favor of a sustainable Agriculture, which respects Environment and doesn't endanger Peasants' Health", he pointed out. On the contrary, "we are trying to reconcile these fundamental issues, that some search to persistently oppose" : Those "who oppose Environent and Economy", and/or "Environent and Agriculture", are "Ideologically-motivated against Realities of Market Economy" and "want to transform you into mere Garderers. .. But, Agricultural Workers are Producers, and...  have a Know-how". "Environment concerns are too important to be simply left only to professional Ecologists !", he proclaimed.
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20110118_13.02.06_400

    (B) Another "Axis of our action will be,  .. in the International Negotiations", in particular inside the G 20, ... to promote a Regulation of Agricultural Markets in order to reduce Prices' volatility", the French President reiterated.


    - "The Year 2010 was marked, in Agriculture, by an Impressive Price Volatility (Instability) on Cereals, Sugar and Cacao, with our Repercussions against our Agricuture, as well as for Global Food Security", he denounced.


     - "After last Summer's Drought in Russia, recent catastrophic Floods in Australia and South America's drought, the available quantities of Agricultural Raw Materials were notoriously reduced". "Maiz' Stocks are today very Low : While back on 1987, Global Stocks corresponded to 168 Days of Consumption", on the contrary, "today they represent less than 57 Consumption Days",  (i.e. Three times Less,  - 300%  !!!) "An Historic Low since 1974", he observed.


    - Therefore, "the Global Danger for a Shortage appears at the horizon, together with that of Global Speculation, with many possible Risks for Producers", Sarkozy warned.. Meanwhile, "the Number of Exchanges in short-term Markets has more than Doubled by last August", adding "Worrying signals".


    That's why the French President launched a call, for a G20 meeting of Ministers for Agriculture, during the 1st semester of 2011, to work on Proposals for a reply to these problems", that he resumed in 3 points :


(1) More "Transparency in Agricultural Markets, for Fast and credible Information on available Stocks and Harvests' predictions".  


(2) An "harmonized Regulation  of Agricultural Raw Materials' Markets in order to fight against Speculation on agricultural Products" : "It's not normal to enter a Market, buy considerable Quantities, and re-Sell them asap anew, only to pocket the Difference of Prices, even before having paid them,


(3) A "better Coordination of Agricultural Policies, in order to prevent and manage agricultural Crisis, to avoid Unilateral Decisions closing Borders without even consuling Developing (Poor) Countries", which risk to provoke "Panik in Global Markets".
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- "2011 will give an opportunity for Europe to shape a common Policy of Agricultural Markets' stabilization", while EU negotiations start on Budgets and Tools of common Agricultural Policy.


>>> In fact, "All European Countries are interested in Agricultural Policy", even those who don't produce agricultural raw materials,, "because Everybody consumes Agricultural Products !", Sarkozy stressed from the outset, reminding that "during the Past "Mad Cow" Crisis, all were glad that EU had a Common Aricultural Policy able to guarantee Food Security"...


    - But, "why impose to our Farmers f.ex. Rules of Traceability, while persisting still to Import, from all over the World, meat which doesn't respond to anyone among these Rules ?", he wondered. - "If we (EU) must have Traceability Rules in order to protect EU Consummers, but we (EU) can't impose them to other Countries, then, at least, we (EU) must Inform Consumers on those products which are sold after imports from Foreign Countries where Food Health Security Rules are Less good than in Europe. Otherwise, it's as if our (EU's) Production System was Marturized in order to Benefit Others", Sarkozy pointed out.


    + Thus, also, "we must strongly oppose Environmental, Social, Fiscal and Monetary DUMPING" in Foreign Trade, and "EU won't make any new Concession, sacrificing our Agriculture to WTO or MERCOSUR Negotiations", Sarkozy firmly anounced, underlying that "this issue is now settled and we (EU) won't step back on that".


    - Instead of "destroying our (EU's) Tools of Action on Agricultural Markets, as some wanted", on the contrary, the forthcoming "Next Review of EU's Common Agricultural Policy must promote a New EU Preference, based on Health and Environment Rules adopted by the EU",  Sarkozy anounced.


    Addressing himself to EU Commission, the French President admitted  that, "of course we (EU) need (Scientific) Research Labos, of course we need High-Tech, White Rooms, etc.. Of course we need many of our Children with (Univesity Studies reaching) 18 levels higher than the elementary degree (BAC). "But, let's speak also for these People who are out there : We (EU) shall also need Jobs for People who have a Know-how which is not only in Theories but also in Practical Knowledge. And, in Europe, we are Glad to have a European Agriculture which provides Jobs and Training to People who, without that, wouldn't have no Jobs, nor Training,  neither a Social status", he observed.


    Moreover, "during the recent Financial Crisis, France offered about 100 Billions € to help EU Member States in Hardship, largely contributing to European Solidarity", as "it was our Duty". "But, in exchange, we don't have to excuse ourselves to defend EU Preference and (EU's) Common Agricultural Policy : Nobody can claim, when Financial Markets go astray, that "European Solidarity is needed, including from France, in order to help States in hardship", but, at the same time, when France speaks for "EU Preference and Common Agricultural Policy", that, "No, this wouldn't be Legitimized"... Logic implies both, not only one" of these two sides of EU solidarity's coin, he observed.          


    However, "this CAP Review must end the Absurdity consisting into spending EU Funds for "Pensioners" who abandon their Lands without cultivating them : Great Agricultural Nations as France are Producers", the French President pointed out.


    - But we "shall fight to change EU Competition Law, because it's Absurd to apply here the same Rules excluding Deals on Markets with just 2 or 3 actors : f.ex. Electricity, Mobile Phones and Computers'  big Groups,  in order to hinder Thousands of Milk Producers to agree on Production's costs. It's simply absurd to settle on that with some American Computer Giants, but to refuse for a Small Producer of Milk to decide on a production's cost together with his collegues, who contribute to the same Cooperative", he added.


    Last but not least, "EU should keep its Intervention Tools on Markets", Sarkozy concluded, expressing, f.ex. his "opposition to the suppression of plantation taxes", in order to continue to defend quality products, with a know-how, hard work and organisation, that we wish to develop in our (EU's) Agriculture, instead of inundating Markets with standard merchandises made at the smallest possible cost, of unknown origin, going everywhere, while the number of producers grows worldwide.
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    Nevertheless, in order to make necessary Savings to reduce Public Debts, Sarkozy anounced a policy of ReOrganization of Public Services at the Rural Space, due to concentrate f.ex. Post Offices, Gendarmerie, Social Security agents, etc., on the most populated and busy areas, while also inventing new, smart ways to ensure access of all villages to basic Services, f.ex. by helping Young Students of Medicine to prepare their professional installation in Rural areas, by developing part-time multi-facet jobs (as a Peasant working a few Hours also as a Postman, etc), and mainly by boosting High-Speed Internet Connexions throughout all Rural areas, even the most remote : A landmark  Electoral promisse of the French President,, due to help develop, f.ex., Web-Communications, Tele-Medicine, Tele-consultancies, Tele-Conferences, etc.


    - We can  better succeed to remain Faithful to our traditions and identity, if we Modernize our methods, Sarkozy stressed in conclusion of his 2011 Message to the "Rural World", (as his Truchtersheim meeting was officially named : Comp. supra), And what is much better than work less, is, even if we work more, to be able and free to do a job that people like and are fond of : It's not so much the Time Duration, but the Quality of a given Work which counts more, he concluded, speaking to People who traditionally prefer to work Hard in Agricuture, but be proud, independent, live a Family life close to their Children, and breath Natural Landscape's revitalizing Oxygen...

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    The recent paradox of freezing EU Talks with front-runner Croatia, while continuing controversial EU - Turkey talks, despite Zagreb's acceptance of Refugees' Human Rights to return, that Ankara refuses fex. in Cyprus, while both have "Good Neighborhood" problems vis a vis Slovenia, or Greece, Cyprus and Armenia respectively, can it be justified by the non-fullfilment of EU criteria, as Slovenia says, or, is it "Double Standards" ?    

The question became unavoidable after statements by Presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, Tuerk and Mesic, respectively, to "EuroFora", exclusively or among Strasbourg's journalists this week at the CoE, on the sidelines of its 2009 Summer University for Political Schools, which topically brought them together as successive key-note speakers.


    Comming only a few Months before EU checks Turkey's compliance to its commitments on Cyprus, etc., scheduled for December 2009, this obviously has a special importance for the coherence of EU Enlargement's principles.

     Suspension of EU Negotiations is a normal consequence in case of a Candidate Country's failure to fullfil EU Conditions, such as "Good Neighborhood relations", stressed at first Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk, current CoE's chair.

    But, regarding EU's Criteria,  there shouldn't be any "Double Standards",  reacted Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, commenting the fact that Turkey's controversial EU negotiations continue, while they were recently "freezed" in the case of Croatia, an "unquestionably European Country", which oficially accepts to respect Refugees Human Rights, contrary to Ankara's notorious refusals or reluctance.                                       

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           - "EU itself has set as a Criterium (for EU Enlargement) the "Good Neighborhood relations",  and their absence justifies the "Suspension" EU Negotiations, (f.ex. with Croatia), because of a Border dispute affecting the territorial integrity of an EU Member Country, stressed Slovenian President, Danilo Tuerk, CoE's Chairman in office (May - November 2009), speaking to Journalists in Strasbourg including "EuroFora".    

Questioned earlier what "consequences on EU's Enlargement policy" can have the "Ban on EU Membership Negotiations", imposed to Croatia, Tuerk replied that "this question comes down to the fulfillement of (EU) Criteria for membership. One has to look at each Candidate Country ., from the point of view whether it fullfils the Criteria that EU has set. One of them are Good Neighborhood Relations, I'd like to remind. And also, there are other factors, such as Justice, Home affairs, Rule of Law, and others".


    - "Now, ..Candidate Countries are at Different Levels of fulfillement of Criteria", he observed.

    - " Croatia is obviously the closest to that. I'm rather optimistic : I think that in the coming Months we'll have an opportunity to look at all these issues constructively and hopefully we'll be able to make progress". "My main concern, at this point, is the situation in Bosnia : We haven't seen enough progres domesticaly. We haven't seen enough during ..political parties within their country.We need a New Energy, a new energetic move towards the Candidature for EU membership. "Other (Western Balkan) Countries (Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, Albania) have been making soaring Progress, and I think that they should be ready, in a few Years, for the Candidate status".

    - "As far as the Western Balkans are concerned, .. nobody should be left outside" the EU, Slovenian's President concluded, ommitting to mention Turkey's controversial EU bid.

    - "This process may be seen as Slow, but..  Slovenia has also has also been exposed to various "Booms of Slowness" in our accession period. But now we can say that the process was relatively quick, because changes which occur after becoming EU member, are quite large, and they require proper Preparations before the (EU) membership becomes a new factor, an impacting line for a new (EU) member country".
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EU "Solidarity" ?
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Slovenian statements made some participants from certain 3rd Countries as FYROM, etc. claim that "the Principle of EU Solidarity" would "produce a.. rising European Union Nationalism (sic !), against Non-EU Countries", as they said, asking unhappy foreign countries to form a "bloc" to exert pressure on the EU...    

But Croatian President Stjepan Mesic dismissed that, supporting "EU Integration", "after the Economy also in Political" issues, as "the achievement" of our times. In EU there is "diversity, but it's United", he stressed, "EU has to be United so that it can become a central factor of Peace" also at the surrounding areas, he replied.

croatian_president_mesic_ 

Speaking later exclusively to "EuroFora", the experienced twice President of Croatia, former President of the International "Non-Aligned" movement, denounced "Double Standards" in the way EU treats recently Croatia compared to Turkey :   

 - "I think that there shouldn't be Double Standards", stressed the Croatian President, in reply to a Question comparing the freeze of EU - Croatia talks, with the continuation of EU - Turkey talks, despite the fact that Croatia is an "unquestionably European country", while Turkey's EU bid is notoriously controversial.


    Mesic was reacting to the observation that, even if he confirmed his "respect of Refugees' Human Rights to return, etc. (See infra), nevertheless, EU talks are suspended with Croatia.. While for oher, controversial candidates, who refuse to respect Refugees' Rights to return, etc., as fex. Turkey does in occupied Cyprus and elsewhere, EU negotiations continue".

    - "I believe that Croatia's accession will confirm that all European Countries who fulfill all of the Conditions and achieve European Standards, have to join the EU. There shouldn't be any Double Standards", went on to add in reply President Mesic.

    In this relation, Croatia's President found "of paramount importance", CoE's "mechanisms enforcing ECHR's judgements"
    
    - "On Refugees and Displaced persons, the process will be completed only after the last person demanding to return will be allowed to do so !", President Mesic Croatia stressed earlier, setting a general standard of obvious importance also for otherr candidates, as f.ex. Turkey, often accused to exclude or heavily restrict Greek Cypriot Displaced persons' return to their Family Homes and ancestral land, provoke difficulties to Turkish-Kurd IDPs return to their home regions at the South-East, etc.

    Some "2.000 People are still reported Missing" in former Yugoslavia, for some Years, (as in Cyprus, modern Europe's oldest case, for 3 Decades. Nagorno-Karabach, Tcecnya in Russia, etc, more recently), and Investigations "will only be completed after establishing the fate of the last one of them", he added.
    
    Speaking earlier on "War Crimes", President Mesic stressed that "Leaders are responsible for (the) Wars (of the Past), not the People", and called against Impunity :  "Individuals have to be held Responsible for Crimes. International Penal Tribunals have to persecute those individuals", perpetrators of War Crimes, he underlined.

    Such statements naturally made Mesic rather popular at ECHR, whose President, French EuroJudge, Professor Jean-Paul Costa, looked particularly smiling when he welcomed him later on Wednesday afternoon, after Slovenian President Daniko Tuerk earlier this week.
           

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