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Home arrow newsitems arrow EUCommission 1stV.President Timmermans to Eurofora: EU Security/Defense policy can be used in Cyprus

EUCommission 1stV.President Timmermans to Eurofora: EU Security/Defense policy can be used in Cyprus

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 04 July 2017
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*Strasbourg/EU Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- Experienced 1st vice-President of EU Commission, Frans Timmermans, former Foreign Minister from the Netherlands, speaking to "Eurofora" Today in EU Parliament, said that EU can play a Role also in order to Help UnBlock the Security Issues which (in addition to Human Rights, Governance, etc), are a crucial Challenge in front of an eventual International Agreement for the Solution Cyprus' issue and the peaceful ReUnification of the island, currently Negotiated, under UN auspices, at Crans Montana (Switzerland).


Timmermans was Representing the EU, Together with High Representative for External Action Federica Mogerini, a former Foreign Minister of Italy, in the UN-sponsored Multilateral Top Political Conference on Cyprus, which resumed recently there, with the Participation of Top Political representatives from Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the UK, etc., under the supervision of UN Security Council's members.

 - "Yes, I was in Switzerland for Cyprus, and I should go back there, but I don't know yet exactly when, Replied Timmermans in relevant "Eurofora"s Questions, Today Afternoon, i.e. shortly Before it was anounced, later this Evening, that the New UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, would also Return at Crans-Montana apparently on Thursday, July 6.
 
+ Questioned by "Eurofora" about his Feeling on how these UN Cyprus' Talks are evolving until now, Timmermans appeared quite Sober, pointing at UnCertainties to lift :

- "I don't know : One Day I am Optimistic", but "anOther Day I am Less !..", Replied EU Commission's 1st vice-President, apparently noting the notorious Turkish Govenment's insistance to Ask, in addition to Keeping several of its Troops which Occupy the Northern part of Cyprus since the 1974 Invasion, even a Claim for Unilateral Military Interventions also in the Future :


I.e. something which was already a main cause for a "Sine Die" Postponement of UNO's Cyprus Talks since back on January 2017, and reportedly Risks, even Today, to Block them again, since Cyprus, Greece, and Many EU and Other States consider Unacceptable and Dangerous to submit a UN + CoE + EU Member State under a Constant Threat to be Invaded anew, at any moment, by the Military of a Foreign Country like Turkey...

=> Therefore, at another "Eurofora" Question about EU's possible Contribution into Solving eventual Security/Defense Issues in EU Member Cyprus, after a possible ReUnification, Timmermans started by a Positive initial observation :


- "Well, there are Elements in Economy...", (something which includes, at least partly, also Greek Cypriot Refugees/Displaced persons' Family Homes and other Private Properties, that they are practicaly Hindered by Ankara's Military to Access, resulting in many Condemnations of Turkey by the ECHR for Violations of Human Rights), "...and in State-Building, that Contribute to Security", he Rightfuly Noted, referring, at first, to certain among EU's traditional competences.


 + - "However, as such, Security Issues are not so much matters for the EU. They are also matters for others" (i.e. UNO's Security Council, etc), Timmermans went on to add. This probably includes Cyprus' President Anastassiades' proposal for UN SC (acting according to its Competences under Chapter 7 of UNO's Charter) to ensure the Security/Defense of a ReUnified Island in the Future. But, if limited only to that, it might also Underestimate EU's own capacities to act, nowadays and in the foreseable Future...


   - "But, you are (also) comming from Brussels, where EU has just spoken even about Defense policy !  Don't you think that something about it could be used here ?", "Eurofora" reacted by asking Timmermans.  


- "Yes. I think that Some of it (i.e. EU's Security/Defense policy), will be there (i.e. on Cyprus)", EU Commission's vice-President concluded Positively in Reply to "Eurofora"s Question.


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The Latest EU Summit in Brussels notoriously Decided to Boost EU' Security and Defense policy, (Comp. f.ex. "Eurofora"s NewsReport from BRX: ...), while More is Expected in ths field also by the December 2017 EU Summit, i.e. After the conclusion of the Electoral period of this year in France and Germany.


+ In Addition, concerning EU's Franco-German+ core, by a Timely Coincidence, this Summer 2017, EUROCORPS' Army Headquarters, based in Strasbourg, and Created since 1992/1993 (i.e. during the Historic German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's era, together with Mitterand, then, and developed further afterwards also with Chirac, etc), is due to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, while Spain will hand over its Annual Chairmanship to Germany for the period of September 2017 - August 2018.


EUROCORPS' full Member Countries (France, Germany, Spain, Polland, Belgium and Luxembourg, to which are also Attached, via Liaison Officers f.ex. Italy and Greece, etc., Turkey having a partly similar link via NATO, etc), have already considered, in the Past, as theoreticaly Possible for this Unique European Army Corps to eventualy serve, under UN auspices, inter alia, also for Tasks such as f.ex. Peace-Keeping for the Implementation of an Agreement on Cyprus, (Comp., f.ex., relevant INTW to "Eurofora"s co-Founder, by EUROCORPS' Press Spokesman, published previously at "TCWeekly", etc).


Moreover, "Eurofora" witnessed personaly, last Saturday, on the occasion of a PanEuropean/International Top Political Gathering at EU Parliament for the Memorial Ceremony in honor of Historic German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (Comp. f.ex. : ...) that New US President Don Trump's Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Dan Coats, was present in Strasbourg, at the Same Time and Building with Germany's super-Minister of Interior, De Maizières, a Merkel-faithful and close ally (initialy Head of her Chancellorship's Administration), even if the venue of the latter here had Not been Scheduled.


Such exceptional Key Contacts could have been used, naturaly, also in view of the forthcoming G20 Summit in Hambourg (Northern Germany) Later this Week, but Cyprus' UN related issue's developments are the only ones which have had several UnExpected U-Turns...


German Chancellor Angie Merkel has just concluded a Keynote Speech, in EU Parliament in Strasbourg, by stressing that "Now, it's up to us, to uphold (the) Legacy" of Helmut Kohl, World-Famous Father of Germany's and Europe's ReUnification, as well as of EUROCORPS (Comp. Supra).
And Both Merkel (Germany) as well as New French President Macron, met and discussed also here, in Strasbourg, with Prime Minister Medvedev from Russia, a key UN Security Council Permanent Member, traditionaly experienced and keen on Cyprus' issue.


UNO's Security Council is currently Chaired by China, during this July 2017.


By another Timely "coincidence", China's President Xi Jiping, just after visiting Russia, is currently paying an official visit to Berlin, to meet German Chancellor Merkel at the Eve of the forthcoming "G20" Summit in Hambourg.


China will be succeeded by Egypt, in UN SC's rotating Presidency, Next Month, on August 2017, followed by neighbouring Ethopia on September, and 2 EU Member Countries : France and Italy, on October and November, respectively, concluding by Japan, on December 2017 : Most of these Countries being also Participants at the forthcoming "G20" Summit, Later this Week in Germany, where their Heads of State/Government will meet precisely at the Aftermath of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' reported Trip Back to Crans - Montana (Switzerland), on Thursday, 6 July, for the UN-sponsored Top Political Conference on Cyprus' issue, (i.e. just before flying, during the Next 2 Days for the "G20" Summit in Hambourg (Germany), on Friday-Saturday, July 7 + 8, 2017.


I.e., this time, UN - sponsored Multilateral Negotiations on Cyprus' issue, have been inserted in an exceptionaly Dense Top Diplomatic Agenda, from Last Week's EU Summit in Brussels (where it was Discussed on the Sidelines, including with several Bilateral Meetings), Followed by last Saturday's European Ceremony in Memory of Helmut Kohl in Strasbourg, (with the Participation of more than 190 Heads of State/Government, Key Ministers, MEPs, etc : Comp. ...), and Concluding by that forthcoming "G20" Summit, (Comp. Supra).


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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)..
-------------------------
    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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