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Home arrow newsitems arrow Governing French Party Head Bertrand to EuroFora: EU Future needs Debate on Ideas +Political impulse

Governing French Party Head Bertrand to EuroFora: EU Future needs Debate on Ideas +Political impulse

Written by ACM
Sunday, 04 July 2010
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- "EU needs a Political Impulse" on key, Strategic issues, and, therefore, Public Debates on Ideas about main Issues affecting EU Citizens' lives, including, naturally, on "Europe's Future", which notoriously spreads from Economy and EU Democracy up to Turkey's controversial EU bid, etc.  : - "We (elected Political Leaders) won't let some Technocrats take over People's power !", stressed the Head of France's Governing Party UMP, Xavier Bertrand, in reply to "EuroFora"s Questions, at the eve of EU Parliament's plenary weekly session in Strasbourg, where its President, Jerzy Buzek and EU Commission's Chair Jose Manuel Barroso are due to meet with the Prime Minister of France, François Fillon on Tuesday, while out-going EU chairman in office, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero visits to debate the Conclusions of a Semester of Spanish EU rotating chair, followed by Belgium's Prime Minster Yves Leterme, next day, to start debating the chairmanship the 2nd Semester's chairmanship (July - December) 2010.

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This was said shortly after Bertrand, (who spearheaded, one Year earlier, the June 2009 EU Elections' win of the EPP/ChristianDemocrat MEPs and their allies in France, in oordination with their collegues from neighbouring Germany a.o. EU Member Countries),  anounced to the Press, before a Public Gathering at Brumath, near Strasbourg, the Governing French Party UMP's wider wish to "raise anew the Political Debate at a Higher Level".

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 - "This means to focus on Issues which stimulate Citizens' interest, which affect Citizens'" lives, which "raise key Questions for the People., concerning "the real problems they face, and how we are going to firmly address" them.. - "We have also to promote "a Vision for the Future", he stressed.

That's why, the Governing French Party UMP is starting since this 2010 Summer "a Campaign of Ideas", and, the fact that this  "Ideas' Campaign" starts Today from Strasbourg's region Alsace, "is not a Coincidence, but a Symbol", he characteristically stressed, speaking at the eve of EU Parliament's plenary weekly session here.

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 - "EuroFora" reminded that both "2007 (Presidential and Legislative) Elections" as well as 2009 EU Elections "were won in France mainly thanks to key Debates on a "Vision for the Future" also of Europe, symbolized also by Strasbourg today, and Europe was also present even in the 2010 Regional Elections for Alsace, through big Infrastructures' issues, Values, etc, (as we said side by side with new Alsace Region's President Philippe Richert). To these Facts were recently added also various other Electoral results throughout several EU Member Countries, where, in one way or another, in diverse but convergent manners, sometimes unexpectedly, but always visible to a careful eye,  appear to emerge certain Key Ideas notoriously supported by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and others EU Leaders, (as German Chancellor Angie Merkel, her former close Bavarian ally Edmont Stoiber, etc).  And we asked Bertrand if he thought that "the (EU) Debate on Europe's Future, that French President Sarkozy had earlier asked for", and promised to EU Citizens, "could be part of the Debates on Ideas that you wish to launch in the foreseeable future" ?

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- "Certainly", the Head of France's Governing UMP Party started to Positively Reply.


- Because "this Debate always remains entirely Topical : Europe either will become Political, or won't exist at all" in the Future, Xavier Bertrand replied to "EuroFora"'s question.


- Indeed, "it's clear that a Political Impetus, a Political Voluntarism is needed : Everything derives from that", he stressed.


- F.ex., "we can't have an Industrial Policy in the EU, unless there is a Political Will.  We are able to have also in the EU a Financial Regulation policy, if Poliical leaders want : That's what is doing (EU Commissioner Michel) Barnier. "We shall have in the EU a Common Immigration Policy, a point that I find important, only if the Political Leaders want that, (etc). For all such issues, it's important to Strengthen a Political Europe anew".


- "What was true on 2007 (Presidential and Legislative Elections in France), what was true also in the 2009 EU Parliament's Elections, (brillantly won in France by the Governing coalition spearheaded by President Sarkozy's faithful UMP Party Head Xavier Bertrand himself : See, f.ex., Bertrand's statements to "EuroFora" during the 2009 EU Electoral campaign), remains always Topical", he ensured.


- "We don't travel a Sunday of July to meet and speak with EU Citizens, just to let the Power be taken over (usurpated) by some Technocrats !", the Head of France's Governing Party UMP stressed in his reply to "EuroFora".


- "It's not the Idea that we have of Political Life". "If MEPs (from EU Parliament) and MPs are present here, during a Sunday, it's because they believe that Politics have a Meaning".       

 
-  "It's out of question to let these Responsibilities to other Political bodies", he stressed at the eve of EU Parliament's July Plenary session in Strasbourg, giving a clear impression that he'd welcome vivid EU Parliament's debates.


- "This requires certain Efforts, and Constant Involvement, but we are always standing (steady) along this particular Line", Betrand concluded.


Turkey's controversial and notoriously impopular EU bid is, as it's well known, a main part of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 and 2009 appeals for EU-wide Debates key Issues from which depends Europe's Future.

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These points were also made, later-on, during Bartrand's subsequent Speech at a Public Gathering :


- "People tell us that France must remain an Important Country", and, indeed, "France wants to continue to be a a respected Country, and ensure  respect also for its (Republican) Values", That's one of the reasons for which we must make f.ex. the necessary Reforms to Reduce Public Debts in times of Global Crisis, .ex. control Public Spending,  Outlaw Islamic Burqua in public areas, etc.


- "Among those Reforms needed in order for France to be respected, there is also an important European and International Dimension", Bertrand added, shortly after welcoming also the President of EU Parliament's largest Group, EPP/ChristianDemocrats, Joseph Daul.

- "Because I believe that the Franco-German couple will always be Europe's motor, and we must always take Care for for the Solidity of this Couple,  for Solidarity among our Peoples and Leaders", he confirmed.- "And because we believe also in a Political Europe : Europe will be Political, or won't exist : Around me, there are various Political representatives", who have been elected by the People and "are not ready to leave it to some Technocrats to decide fcr us. The People who voted on (June 2009) EU Elections, who helped for the Victory of the UMP and its Allies, did so because they also believe in a Political Europe" , Bertrand reiterated also in Public, speaking here 1 Year after the June 2009 Electoral Win of the EPP/ChristianDemocrats' Group and other center-right movements in EU Parliament.
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- "Some want to Hinder us to speak" about real issues which affect People's lives, denounced, however, the Head of France's Governing Party UMP, (pointing f.ex. at some members of the French Socialist party). "Every Day, they either ask the Resignation of someone, or launch (Personal) Accusations  and False Claims, Lies, etc". But "this never made a Truth". "Nobody is  dupe". In fact, "a Socialist Party which has, today, failed on Ideas and Propositions, .. suddenly orchestrated a campaign of Harassment, relentlessly,  against others", i.e. persons with differend political ideas, he complained.


- "But", all these Personal Attacks, are "Useless. We intend to Speak" about real issues, starting from "this (2010) Summer", Bertrand firmly stressed, starting from grassroots meetings with Youth and other engaged Citizens, as well as the Media, MPs and MEPs.

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 - "Avoid Debating" on serious, substantial issues, and "Hide them behind some Trivial matters" : This resumes all the attitude of some "Socialist" parties, also added Strasbourg Region Alsace's recently elected President, Philippe Richert.

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 - Regarding Economic issues, "in times of (Global) Crisis, we must become more Efficient than in the Past, and better use Public Funds : Thus, Strasbourg's Alsace Region decided not to augment its Budget during all the following 4 Years (2010- 2014), Richert anounced.


- And "when they claim that we don't need (even in period of Global Crisis, with Debts remaining from the Past, and a longer Life expectancy) to work more, while all other EU Member Countries are engaged in this direction", "we, here in Alsace, where we see also what Germans and/or Swiss are doing", cannot believe it, added Richert.
Moreover, some political opponents falsely accused the French Government to deprive from retirement at the age of 60 even People who had started working early, since 16, 17 or 18 years of age, while they know perfectly well that this is simply Not True at all, since we have already made it clear in our Legislative Bills that all People who started working earlier than usual will keep their right to retire at 60 years of age, Xavier Bertrand denounced.     

Sometimes, certain quarels about augmentation of Salaries, expensive Retirement Benefits, etc., give a  sad, apparently egoist spectacle, particularly vis a vis Young jobless People, threatened to be condemned to never have viable retirement benefits early enough, and/or to People working hard even at their 70ies or more. This concerns not only Intellectual workers, who may like to keep a Socially useful and interesting job,  but even hard-working People, as, f.ex. that good and honnest, old New York Taxi Driver, who helped once "EuroFora" catch up with an urgent Airplane for an important trip to Chicago, at the very last minute, (a unique chance to meet also close Family members, Old people from whom we were separated for Decades),  efficiently taking risks in order to succeed to arrive on time at a far away Airport, without asking anything special in return. Such Hard-working, simple, honest People, should obviously be honoured, and, whenever possible, retire Earlier than some cushy-job holders paid expensive salaries (sometimes even with a  ..."14th Month" !) for easy jobs of dubious productivity, even when Efficiency and Solidarity is obviously needed inside Europe in the middle of a Global Crisis.

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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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