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Home arrow newsitems arrow Strasbourg World Forum organizers to EuroFora: Leaders to help Democracy face the Global Crisis ?

Strasbourg World Forum organizers to EuroFora: Leaders to help Democracy face the Global Crisis ?

Written by ACM
Monday, 25 June 2012
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 *Strasbourg/Council of Europe/Angelo Marcopolo/- It's "Now or Never", when Democracy is at stake in the middle of Globalization, that World Leaders, Experts and Activists should start gathering at Strasbourg's 1st World Forum for Democracy (October 2012) to help Institutions and Citizens face the Challenges of Economic and/or Socio-Political Crisis, but also debate, reflect, stimulate and advise recent and on-going Movements spreading Democratic aspirations, after all Europe and its Central-Eastern States, also in 3rd Mediterranean Countries and elsewhere in the World, while also seizing new Opportunities offered by the Modern Information/Communication tools, said, in substance, the Organizers of this exceptional, pioneer Global Event, French Permanent Representative to the CoE, Ambasador Dominati and Strasbourg's Mayor, Senator Ries, in reply to "EuroFora"'s questions in a Press Conference at the CoE with the participation of its Secretary Gerernal Thornbjorn Jagland.

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World Leaders, from UNO's Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, to French President Hollande and the King of Jordan Abdulah II, or Tunisia's President Marzouki, and Prime Minister of Albania Barisha (CoE chairman 5-11/2012), German Finance Minister Schauble, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria Mladenov, and Canada's former Prime Minister Campbell (World Democracy Movement's President), etc., added to EU Commission's President Barroso, CoE's Secretary General Jagland and Organization of American States' Secretary General Insulze (Brasil), EU Parliament's and CoE Assembly's Presidents Schultz and Mignon, European Court of Human Rights' President sir Bratza together with the Inter-American Court of HR. President Garcia Sayan, South African Constitutional Court Chief  Mogoeng, International Human Rights' Institute's President Costa,  and CoE's new Human Rights' Commissioner Muiznieks and PanEuropean Anti-Corruption watchdog GRECO's President Mrcela (Croatia),  OSCE's Democracy/Human Rights' office Director Lenarcic, as well as Russian Ombudsman Lukin and USA's International Center for Non-Violent Confict's Founding Chair Ackerman (Wash.DC), Nobel (Peace) and Sakharov (Free Speech) Prizes' winners 2011 Karman and Mahfouz, UNO's High Representative for Civilisations' Alliance Sampaio (former President of Portugal), CoE's "Democracy through Law"-"Venice Commission"'s President Buquicchio, North-South Center President Bergamini, and Amnesty International's Secretary General Shetty from India,  Afghanistan's Indepedent Human Rights Commission's Chair Samar, Transparency International's Founding Chair Sung Kim from South Korea, International Commission of Jurists (Geneva) Africa program Director Tsunga (Zimbabwe), as well as UNO's Envoy for Syria, former UNSG Koffi Annan, etc., are among the First Participants already anounced in Strasbourg, among many other Politicians, Experts (from USA, Japan, EU, Africa, etc), Media or Business' representatives, Associations, Activists, etc., throughout Europe and nearly from all over the World, who will, at least partly, interact also with interested Citizens in several Open Debates both at the CoE and throughout Strasbourg.

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(Greek People collect Signatures for Referendum while Police with Clubs, Masks and Gas disperses the biggest Popular Demonstration of the year, in front of the Parliament : Athens, Constitution square, 29 June 2011)
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Once the urgent vital Need felt, when Democracy was recently challenged by Crisis even at its Historic Birthplace/cradle : Greece since 2011, (See PHOTO+), after unprecedented Majority Abstentions emerged in EU Parliament's Elections 1999-2004, following a previous such trend also in the USA, incompatible with the present (2012) need to deepen EU Economic Integration and therefore also an EU Political Union able to attract EU Citizens' support, while, almost at the same time, on the contrary, various Democratic Ideas and aspirations are recently spreading, after having swept Central-Eastern Europe, even throughout most 3rd Mediterranean Countries, from Morocco up to Syria's borders with Turkey, the organization of this 1st World Forum for Democracy is, indeed, Timely.
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 - "EuroFora" observed the Fact that, by coincidence, the Date chosen for the WDF is very close to crucial USA Presidential Elections (where a growing Majority of Citizens notoriously risks to Abstain from Voting, as also in the 1999-2004 EU Parliament Elections), and that CoE's Assembly, in its latest Plenary Session before the WDF, is debating and voting this week in Strasbourg an important Report on the Crisis of Democracy Today, its contemporary Challenges, but also New Opportunities, as f.ex. with the growing potential input of New, E - Technologies, inventive and revendicative Youth Movements, etc.

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 - Therefore, we asked the Organizers, if the question how to face the present Challenges of a Democracy in Crisis, as well as how to seize the New Opportunities offered by the current Spread of Democratic Aspirations, as well as a Popular Quest to deepen and ReVitalize an Authentic, Real Democracy Today, possibly also with more helpful Modern Information/Communications Technologies, etc, would be a Priority at this First, 2012 World Forum for Democracy ?
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- Strasbourg's Mayor, Senator Roland Ries, replying to "EuroFora"s 2nd Question, agreed, in substance, that, indeed, this 1st WFD of 2012, "comes at the Right Moment" :

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- "If the main Meaning of your Question is if this World Forum on Democracy, in Strasbourg, comes at the Right Moment, as far as I'm concerned, I'd be enclined to reply to you with a "Yes !"", positively reacted to "EuroFora"s Question Senator Ries, of the new Governing Majority of Socialists in France.


- "Perhaps, there are no "Good Moments", in this regardn, but the overall Context Today, in this regard, f.ex. with the "Arab Spring", as well as what is happening in a number of Countries all over the World, clearly indicates that, today, it's more than ever that it's necessary to exchange views about what is Democracy, or what are Democracies".


- "Because, I have some Doubts to speak about "the" Democracy,  since we mustn't practice "EuroCentrism" : There might be Different Forms, at least in the Organisation of (on the way to organize) Democracy, given that the Final Aim should be the Same for All. That is to say, allow to the People to Participate in Decisions which will affect its Future", as he clarified.

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=> "I don't know if I replied to Your Question, but I really believe that the Time (to move /to act on Democracy) is Now, or Never !", Strasbourg's Mayor, Senator Ries, strongly concluded on "EuroFora's query.
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But France's Permanent Representative to the CoE, Ambassador Laurent Dominati, went even further, making some interesting remarks on the History and what is really at stake Today, in his own reply to "EuroFora":


 - " Since you asked about the (chosen) Moment :  CoE itself was founded after a Victory against Totalitarian Regimes" (as NAZISM and Fascism, etc), just "after the end of 2nd World War" (1949), he reminded from the outset.

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 - "A second, fabulous Wave is after Berlin Wall's Fall" (1989), at the End of the "Cold War" era, "and, therefore, after the Victory against another type of Totalitarian regimes" (Stalinism, etc), as he said.


+ "Now, we arrive in a Globalized World, where we see that Democracy, which faces Challenges even inside Europe itself for several reasons, nevertheless, is Exported abroad and arrives to Latin America, arrives to the "Arab Spring", accross the Mediterraenean, "which are certainly the most Important events at the Beginning of this 21st Century", Ambassador Dominati stressed.


- "And afterwards, such Democratic movements continue also towards Africa, in Asia, etc., and you can see that, in a Globalized World, the Issue of Democracy, of its Definition, its Forms its Practice, of its Achievements or of its Challenges, is, indeed, a Question which concerns us all", observed the Permanent Represenative of France to the CoE.

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+ Moreover, "as You know well, it's CoE's own role, which is also at stake, in exporting Democracy and its Universal Human Rights' Values, so that, in front of such Challenges and Tests", he pointed out, (apparently evoking also CoE's crucial task to ensure at least an elementary Respect of ECHR's judgements by all 47 CoE Member States)...


=> That's why, "we should all contribute, ...to this 1st Forum on Democracy", "together with France, and (Strasbourg's) Local/Regional Authorities which embody Democracy also at other levels", he invited.


- But "it (WFD) wouldn't succeed at all, without (the help also from) another great pillar of Democracy : i.e., the Press, and, therefore, we count upon You to act adequately so that these Debates, these Questions and their promotion, are prepared in Intelligent and the Widest possible way, vis a vis the Largest possible Audience, and we thank you all for that", concluded the Representative of France to "EuroFora"s query (Comp. supra).
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+ Meanwhile, CoE will debate this week both Crisis of Democarcy and Economy, implying that Growth is needed to alleviate excessive Austerity threatening Democratic Institutions, at the eve of a crucial EU Summit in Brussels from Thursday Night and Friday.


But, it didn't yet think to tackle this Double Crisis the other way round : - Could an adequate and efficient Restoration/ReInvention of Democracy, by succeeding to overcome its current Crisis, also Help ReSolving even the current Financial/Economic Crisis ?


- Once again, the concrete Example of Democracy's cradle : Greece, (nut even contemprarY France in 2012 Elections, etc), provides a crystal clear Answer :  - "YES !"
Why ? And How ?


=> Simply because the Huge Debt provoked in Greece since the 1980ies, and scandalously Hidden on 1999-2001 (when some former "Socialist" Governments in the EU allowed a former PASOK Government in Athens to enter in €uroZone earlier than normal, even before doing the necessary Reforms, in exchange of closing its eyers on Turkey's controversial an unpopular EU bid, despite gross Violations of Human Rights, Democracy and International Law), which "exploded" from 2009, threatening all Europe and affecting even the Global Economy (as many USA observers and politicians complain), could be resorbed, in a both Econmically Efficient and Socially Just way, only if all counter-productive Cushy job holders and/or abusive, often corrupted Political Lackeys hired/appointed by Clientelism and/or Nepotism in the Past 30 Years (1980-2012) at a State-controlled Public Sector which became DisProportionate compared to the Country's GDP, obliging to have a Structural Deficit, were stopped to waste precious Funds, (to the detriment of both the Productive Economy, pushed to Recession, and to Poor People, heavily affected by Austerity cuts), thanks f.ex. to a full and deep Anti-Corruption campaign, as the Majority of Greek People clearly wish, (as they revealed during the 2011 massive Popular protests and according to all Polls). But, for this to be done, Greek People must be given a Real Chance to freely debate and Democraticaly express their Popular Will on this crucial issue...
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+ This 1st WDF of Strasbourg is due to continue, and become a Global Annual Rendez-Vous every year, at the same Date and Place, (as the nearby "Davos" World Economy Forum),  the Organizers added earlier, and that's a reason more for the CoE to fund the event with about 800.000 €, to which are added some 750.000 € more by the French Authorities (250 K by the State, and 300 K by the Region, Department and City of Strasbourg, as former Minister, and current President of the Alsace Region, Philippe Richert explained).  


=> Therefore, if everything goes as scheduled, Strasbourg's WDF will also face a Crucial, Historic Challenge soon, with the forthcoming, 2014, European Elections, where it has, now, become of Vital Importance for the EU to at least reverse the Record-High Abstention by a Majority of EU Citizens since the 1999-2004 EU Parliament Elections, (a drop which only decelerated a bit on 2009), particularly when Urgent, practical Needs for much more Economic Integration, also necessitate much more EU "Political Union" today, which, obviously, cannot go without succeeding, somehow, to boost EU Citizens' enhousiasm for a less Bureaucratic, but more Democratic and efficient Europe.

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A Challenge for which EU Parliament's staff has already started to work in order to prepare the 2014 EU Elections in the Time Deadline of the remaining  1 Year and some Months (July 2012 - June 2014), i;e. until, by a Timely Ironie of History, the rotating EU Presidency is due to be taken over by the Cradle of Democracy : Greece, bringing, even Symbolically, the counter Back to Square No 1 (Comp. Supra) !...

(../..)

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("DraftNews", as already sent earlier to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate and full, Final Version may 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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