Viola von Cramon

Alina Svyderska – the newest lawmaker of Ukraine

To unlock Ukraine’s full potential in producing renewable energy, improving the country’s regulatory environment is vital. This requires experienced, efficient and honest lawmakers. Today, Verkhovna Rada just gained one.


Congratulations to Alina Svyderska with becoming the newest lawmaker from the „Holos“ list. Congratulations to the Verkhovna Rada too for gaining such an experienced, motivated and honest member with outstanding expertise in the renewable energy market. This aspect was unfortunately underrepresented at the Ukrainian parliament and hopefully, things will start changing now.


Looking forward seeing Alina and other progressive lawmakers bringing about the needed change for Ukraine.

More about Alina here:
https://www.kyivpost.com/special/alina-sviderska-western-educated-professional-takes-aim-overregulation-boost-investment.html

Besuch beim Betriebsrat der Peiner Träger GmbH

Am Donnerstag, den 4. Juni war ich in Peine und habe die Peiner Träger GmbH besucht. Im Gespräch mit dem Betriebsratsvorsitzenden Udo Meyer und seiner Stellvertreterin Gabriele Handke wurde deutlich, wie massiv die Stahlbranche von der Covid-19-Pandemie betroffen ist. Hier muss auf europäischer Ebene mit Zöllen entgegengesteuert werden, damit der Stahlmarkt nicht Dumpingpreisen und unfairem Wettbewerb unterliegt.

Gleichzeitig trifft die Krise den Stahlmarkt in einer Zeit, in der der Umbau zu klimaneutraler Stahlproduktion forciert wird. Um diese Transformation weiter voranzutreiben und zu unterstützen, bedarf es entsprecheneder politischer Rahmenbedingungen.

Die Pressemitteilung zu meinem Besuch findet ihr hier:

To the Caucasian House: reply to the reply of the reply

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and a leading member of DEG (Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group), replied to the second open letter received from the Caucasian House in English (annexed at the end). The first reply can be found here.

(არაოფიციალური ქართული თარგმანი იხილეთ ქვემოთ, რომელიც წაკითხულ უნდა იქნას ორიგინალთან ერთად)

Dear Caucasian House,

I received your letter.

Regrettably, the bar in the correspondence keeps lowering. I cannot allow myself to go that deep. Hence, my final reply.

In your first letter, you repeatedly and falsely accused me of declaring some politicians as “political prisoners”. To back up your libel, you quoted my tweet from February where I state that “persecution of political opponents is unacceptable and damages Georgia”. If you believe “political opponents” equate to “political prisoners”, I have to once again kindly remind you of the virtue of good reading.

In another attempted argument, you also bring up my support for the March 8 agreement. The agreement is a great achievement of Georgian democracy as it paves the way to fairer, more competitive parliamentary elections. Therefore, it is not my support for the agreement that is surprising, but your reluctance to hold your Government accountable for unkept words. Mr. Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream has once already broken this promise and now, attempting to do it again makes it look more and more like Saakashvili’s despicable regime.

You also seem to insinuate that I should be kept accountable for the words that some members of the European Parliament might or might not have said. None of the people you mentioned are members of my party, moreover, they are my political opponents. Therefore, it is, to put it mildly, ineffective to be demanding the explanation for the words of my political opponents from me while falsely attributing the exact same words to me. If you wanted to hear the explanation on my political opponents’ words, you should have titled your letter with their names – not mine.

The main question here to ask is, why are you so persistently attacking your international ally with obvious and easy to refute lies? Why are you risking every bit of credibility of your non-governmental organization? Could it be that it is not the noble pursuit of justice you are after but instead you are pushing a badly disguised political agenda?

Your narrative in both letters demonstrates uncanny resemblance with the narrative of Georgian Dream and repeats some points made by the Government officials. A (seemingly) organized media campaign against me by you and the pro-Georgian Dream TV channel “Imedi” (also featuring people subtitled as “Political Experts”) further suggests that you are not acting alone in this endeavor.

I would advise the Caucasian House to either live up to its status as an independent civil organization or come clean about its political agenda. Because we, your allies, deserve to know who we are dealing with.

Only after that can I consider my visit to the Caucasian House to discuss “Saakashvili’s brutal regime” (that ended almost 8 years ago) but more importantly – ongoing problems like the violent crackdown on demonstrators, intransparent appointment of judges (some with very questionable education), persecution of political opponents, backsliding on democracy, Russian occupation and many other obstacles hindering Georgia to be a country its people deserve.

I hope in future you will find more constructive ways to communicate with your allies and start re-building the bridges that were, unfortunately, badly damaged by baseless and uninformed personal accusations.

Sincerely,

Viola von Cramon

_______________________________________________________________________________

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონმა, ევრიპარლამენტის წევრმა და „DEG“-ის (დემოკრატიის მხარდაჭერისა და არჩევნების კოორდინაციის ჯგუფი) წამყვანმა წევრმა, უპასუხა კავკასიური სახლის მეორე ინგლისურენოვან ღია წერილს (დართულია ქვემოთ. კავკასიური სახლის წერილის ქართულ ვერსია ხელმისაწვდომია მათ ვებგვერდზე). პასუხი პირველ წერილზე შეგიძლიათ იხილოთ აქ.

პატივცემულო ქალბატონებო და ბატონებო,

მივიღე თქვენი მონაწერი.

სამწუხაროა, რომ თამასა მიმოწერაში აგრძელებს დაბლა დაშვებას. თავს ვერ მივცემ ასე ღრმად ჩამოყოლის უფლებას. შესაბამისად, იხილეთ ჩემი უკანსაკნელი პასუხი.

თქვენს პირველ წერილში არაერთგზის და ამავდროულად მცდარად დამდეთ ბრალი ზოგიერთი პოლიტიკოსის „პოლიტპატიმრად“ შერაცხვაში. ამ ცილისწამების განსამტკიცებლად ციტატად მოიყვანეთ თებერვალში გაკეთებული ჩემი კომენტარი ტვიტერიდან სადაც ვაცხადებ, რომ „პოლიტიკური ოპონენტების დევნა დაუშვებელია და აზიანებს საქართველოს“. თუ თქვენ ფიქრობთ, რომ „პოლიტიკური ოპონენტი“ იგივეა რაც „პოლიტიკური პატიმარი“, მაშინ იძულებული ვარ კიდევ ერთხელ შეგახსენოთ კარგად კითხვის აუცილებლობის შესახებ.

არგუმენტირების კიდევ ერთი მცდელობისას, თქვენ მახსენებთ ჩემ მიერ 8 მარტის შეთანხმების მხარდაჭერას. ეს შეთანხმება, კვალავს რა გზას უფრო სამართლიანი, უფრო კონკურენტუნარიანი არჩევნებისკენ, დიდი მიღწევაა ქართული დემოკრატიისთვის. შესაბამისად, გასაკვირია არა ჩემ მიერ შეთანხმების მხარდაჭერა, არამედ თქვენი ჭოჭმანი შეახსენოთ თქვენს ხელისუფლებას მათი ანგარიშვალდებულება და მოსთხოვოთ სიტყვის შესრულება. ბატონი ივანიშვილის ქართულმა ოცნებამ ერთხელ უკვე გატეხა თავისი პირობა და ახლა იმავეს გაკეთების კიდევ ერთი მცდელობა უფრო და უფრო ამსგავსებს მას სააკაშვილის საზარელ რეჟიმს.

თქვენ თითქოს ასევე მიანიშნებთ, რომ მე უნდა ვიყო ანგარიშვალდებული იმაზე თუ რა თქვა ან არ თქვა ევროპარლამენტის ზოგიერთმა წევრმა. თქვენ მიერ ჩამოთვლილ პირთაგან არცერთი არ არის ჩემი პარტიის წევრი. უფრო მეტიც, ისინი არიან ჩემი პოლიტიკური ოპონენტები. შესაბამისად, მსუბუქად რომ ვთქვათ, ცოტა არ იყოს არაეფექტურია ჩემგან მოითხოვდეთ განმარტებას ჩემი ოპონენტების იმ სიტყვებზე, რომლებსაც თქვენ მცდარად ისევ მე მომაწერთ. თქვენ თუ ჩემი ოპონენტების სიტყვებზე განმარტების მოსმენა გსურდათ მაშინ თქვენი წერილი უნდა დაგესათაურებინათ მათი სახელებით და არა ჩემით.

მთავარი კითხვა, რომელსაც აქ პასუხი უნდა გაეცეს, არის ის, თუ რატომ უტევთ ასე გამალებით, აშკარა და მარტივად უარსაყოფი ტყუილებით თქვენს საერთაშორისო მოკავშირეს? რატომ აყენებთ თქვენი არასამთავრობო ორგანიზაციის სანდოობას კითხვის ნიშნის ქვეშ? იქნებ, სამართლიანობის პოვნის კეთილშობილური მიზანი კი არა ცუდად შენიღბული პოლიტიკური მოტივი გამოძრავებთ?

თქვენი ნარატივი ორივე წერილში აშკარა მსგავსებას ავლენს ქართული ოცნების ნარატივთან და იმეორებს რამდენიმე იმ პუნქტს, რომელსაც მთავრობის წევრები აჟღერებდნენ. თქვენსა და ქართული ოცნების მხარდამჭერი ტელეკომპანია „იმედის“ მიერ ჩემს წინააღმდეგ  წარმოებული (სავარაუდოდ) ორგანიზებული მედია კამპანია („პოლიტოლოგებად“ წოდებული პირების მონაწილეობით) ასევე მიუთითებს იმაზე, რომ თქვენს წამოწყებაში მარტო არ მოქმედებთ.

მე ვურჩევდი კავკასიურ სახლს, რომ ან იყოს დამოუკიდებელი სამოქალაქო ორგანიზაციის სტატუსის ერთგული ან ღიად განაცხადოს თავისი პოლიტიკური მოტივების შესახებ. ჩვენ, თქვენს მოკავშირეებს, გვაქვს უფლება ვიცოდეთ, ვისთან გვაქვს საქმე.

მხოლოდ ამის შემდეგ შემიძლია განვიხილო თქვენთან სტუმრობის შესაძლებლობა, რათა ვისაუბროთ „სააკაშვილის სასტიკ რეჟიმზე“ (რომელიც თითქმის 8 წლის წინ დასრულდა), მაგრამ უწინარესად მიმდინარე პრობლემებზე. ისეთ პრობლემებზე როგორებიცაა დემონსტრანტების ძალადობრივი დაშლა, მოსამართლეთა გაუმჭვირვალე დანიშნვა (ზოგიერთი მათგანი საკამათო განათლებით), პოლიტიკური ოპონენტების დევნა, დემოკრატიაზე გულის აცრუება, რუსული ოკუპაცია და სხვა მრავალი წინაღობა რომელიც აბრკოლებს საქართველოს იყოს ის ქვეყანა, რომელსაც მისი ხალხი იმსახურებს.

იმედი მაქვს, მომავალში მოახერხებთ თქვენს მოკავშირეებთან კომუნიკაციის უფრო კონსტრუქციული გზების შერჩევას და დაიწყებთ იმ ხიდების აღდგენას, რომლებიც უსაფუძვლო და არაინფორმირებულმა პირადმა ბრალდებებმა სამწუხაროდ ძლიერ დააზიანა.

პატივისცემით,

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონი

___________________________________________________________________

ANNEX: the open letter received in English from the Caucasian House and also available in Georgian here:

Dear Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel,

Thank you for your prompt response.

However, we have to say that we too are disappointed by the style of your letter, which we can easily call “less diplomatic”.

We could endlessly delve into the style of the text and the specifics of its perception, but any further discussions about its formal features cannot be serious when its content deals with such grave problems.

We have no doubt that you are pursuing a noble goal of promoting the establishment of a justice system free of political motivations in Georgia; for this, as already mentioned in our previous letter, we would like to express our sincere gratitude not only to you, but to EU and its respective institutions.

But we and a significant part of our society are left with a question: what has been the outcome of your efforts?

On February 11th in one of your Twitter messages, you mentioned “persecution of political opponents” by the Georgian government. Also, in a short note published on your website on May 13th (which we were called upon to read and which we had read already), you call on the Government of Georgia to implement the agreement of March 8.

As a result of executing this agreement two offenders with serious criminal record – described by the United National Movement and the pseudo-neutral groups affiliated with it, as well as by your colleagues: David McAllister, Anna Fotyga, Andrzej Halicki and others, as “important political prisoners”, were released; this is insulting and traumatizing the persons tortured and killed by the Saakashvili’s authoritarian regime and their families. For the parents of Buta Robakidze, a completely innocent young man shot and killed in the street back in 2004, during Irakli Okruashvili’s tenure as Georgia’s interior minister, the solemn release of this person equates the repeated murder of their son; just to bring up this one example.

And if we have addressed you and not the right-wing politicians, that’s because you have opposed Saakashvili’s bloody regime and his United National Movement, and because we share common values ​​with you representing the Green Party. However, if we have not properly acknowledged your merits, we apologize.

To sum it up – you talk about your noble intentions, which we didn’t doubt while we are talking about their actual gloomy results.

We are also grateful for reminding us of the well-known truth that the perpetrators too deserve a fair trial. It is also obvious that the justice system under the Georgian Dream deserves much criticism.  Also, the fact remains that for some internal or external reasons, participants and supporters of Saakashvili’s criminal regime are currently holding seats in Georgian parliament. Actually, fair trial also exists for them but not for the ordinary citizens.

Besides, we were surprised that you have answered the second, no less important part of our letter, rather in general terms. We are very pleased that the European Union is launching the European Green Deal, and we have already discussed this issue with the students and pupils involved in the educational program of the Caucasian House. We hope that Europe will be able to achieve the main goals of this roadmap by 2050.

But the construction of those giant hydropower plants and reservoirs, i.e. the destruction of Georgia’s unique ecosystems, has already begun, and the population of our highlands left defenseless against these developments needs help now. However, we, unfortunately, can do little against the forces backed by our former and current governments, or perhaps even by much more powerful players (e.g. by Russia, or by large corporations registered in offshore zones); Maybe you could find time and post respective comments on your website, or advise us what we should and could do.

You mentioned that you have connections with many Georgian scientists, experts and ordinary citizens. We would be pleased to welcome you at the Caucasian House so that we would be able to talk directly about the plight of the country that, for many reasons, is unable to bring justice to Saakashvili’s brutal regime; the country that is literally left alone vis-à-vis Russia and can do nothing against its creeping occupation; the country, where mass unemployment and poverty prevail, and whose living space is literally being swallowed up by water almost completely.

P.S. We are very glad to see you quoting the German-Georgian writer Giwi Margwelaschwili. During almost the quarter of a century Caucasian House has been studying, translating and publishing the works of this truly genius writer, philosopher and linguist. We hope that quoting his phrases by politicians, even if taken out of context, will at the very least encourage more thorough reading of the oeuvres of this outstanding author.

With best wishes,

Caucasian House

Naira Gelashvili, Giorgi Lobzhanidze, Levan Lortkipanidze, Thea Galdava, Ivane Abramashvili.

Statement about the election of the new government of Kosovo

On 3 June the Parliament of Kosovo has voted for a new Prime Minister of Kosovo, after the decision of the Constitutional Court. 61 members from 120 voted in favour of Mr Avdullah Hoti of the LDK party.

Mrs. Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Member of the European Parliament, Standing Rapporteur for Kosovo has commented on the vote:

„I would like to wish a successful work for Mr. Avdullah Hoti and his government in Pristina. The government has a lot to do, these are crucial times both for domestic and international issues, I hope the new government will be able to execute reforms and work for a better Kosovo.

However, we cannot turn a blind eye on the circumstances of the election of Mr Hoti. The democratically elected members of the Parliament of Kosovo were under extremely big pressure from LDK leadership and from President Thaçi. Various sources claimed that the president visited personally those members of the Assembly, whose vote for the new government was not ensured. If these claims are true, it is a very bad signal and shows that the role of the Parliament, which is guaranteed by the Constitution is undermined. As a parliamentarian myself, I find it unacceptable to pressure the democratically elected members of the Assembly. It is the very basis of our democracies that MPs can vote according to their free will and best conscience.“

Nontransparent recruitment practices by the Minister of Health of Ukraine – Mr. Stepanov

(Будь ласка, дивіться неофіційний український переклад нижче)

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and the Vice-Chair of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Delegation, commented the nontransparent recruitment practices at the Ministry of Health of Ukraine:

With the number of COVID-19 patients quickly reaching 25 000 in Ukraine, who runs the National Health Service (NHSU /НСЗУ) is literally a question of life and death. In this particularly difficult time, one wishes the minister Stepanov would appoint a professional and honest head of NHSU through a transparent and independent selection process. Mr. Stepanov is yet again out there conducting job interviews but I am afraid it’s not the transparency and honesty he is aiming for.

One of the candidates for the job – Ms. Iryna Lytovchenko – disclosed the interview invitation in her facebook post. It seems like the interviews for such a crucial position will be conducted on Zoom, will start at 14:00 and will take only 30 minutes for each candidate. The candidates are invited in alphabetical order. Knowing that Ms. L-ytovchenko is booked for 18:20, through doing basic math, one would expect the interviewing of all candidates to drag till midnight. Why is the ministry running an interview-marathon at midnight when the future of such a vital institution as NHSU is on stake? 

…and NHSU is indeed extremely vital! Its budget of 86 Mrd UAH comprises more than 3% of the GDP of Ukraine. Thousands of medical institutions with over 100 000 doctors and 135 000 medical assistants conduct their activities through the services of NHSU. Management or Mismanagement of these services decides about health and life of almost 30 Mio. Ukrainians registered with NHSU.

Given the importance of this institution, one would expect the ministry to approach the task of recruiting the head of NHSU with the utmost care and transparency.

Here is the grim reality: on May 19th, the minister met with three final candidates previously selected through an open and professional recruitment procedure. Without any explanation, he unexpectedly rejected all three. Later, the Ministry hastily published a new job opening with only a few days to apply. And as for the recruitment requirement, the job posting listed for a minimum professional qualification either three years of experience in state administration or in state financial guarantees in medical care. The catch is, the new system of state financial guarantees exists for just two years. So, there can be nobody with three years of experience in managing state financial guarantees. A cunning way to exclude candidates experienced in the work of NHSU. Put differently – the Minister is trying to exclude people with professional qualifications for the job.

Mr. Stepanov seems to be in a great hurry and not shying away from taking advantage of the COVID 19 crisis. The Law of Ukraine #553, enacted for extraordinary circumstances, allows the minister to fire and hire high position officials as he pleases, even through a 30-minute zoom interviews and without asking for the highly relevant professional qualifications. 

While the quarantine restrictions are being gradually loosened all over the country, neither the Parliament nor the Government seems to be in a hurry to move back to transparent recruitment procedures.

The minister’s dubious decision to rush the recruitment process in an utterly nontransparent way risks putting long-lasting damage on NHSU and thus risks the health and life of millions of Ukrainians. I happen to vividly remember Mr. Stepanov from his time as the Governor of Odesa. Back then he had a reputation closely associated with corruption and embezzling public funds.

Now, the Minister Stepanov does not seem to be enjoying a reputation any better than the Governor Stepanov did. It took him only several days as a minister to get into another scandal. The protective gear for medical personnel was procured with twice inflated prices – suggesting deeply rooted corruption of the new management.

It seems, the ministry’s appetite for corruption was only warming up. As the leaks from the last week demonstrated, the Minister was planning yet another procurement of medical gear with the prices inflated at least three times. Due to the leaks and the public pressure, the procurement plan was scrapped for the time being.

Considering the long corruption track of Mr. Stepanov’s short time as a minister, should not it be more logical to be conducting the job interviews for replacing him in the first place?

Why is someone with such low regard of medical staff and a high association with corruption in charge of selecting the head of NHSU, administering 86 Mrd UAH, and deciding on life and health of 30 000 000 Ukrainians?

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Неофіційний переклад українською:

В той час як кількість пацієнтів із COVID-19 в Україні стрімко наближається до 25 000, питання про те, хто керує Національною службою здоров’я України (НСЗУ) буквально є питанням життя та смерті. У цей особливо важкий час хочеться, щоб міністр охорони здоров’я Степанов призначив професійного та чесного керівника НСЗУ шляхом проведення прозорого і незалежного відбору. Пан Степанов в черговий раз проводить співбесіди, але я боюся, що прозорість та чесність – це не ті критерії, якими він керується.

Одна із кандидатів на посаду, пані Ірина Литовченко, оприлюднила запрошення на співбесіду у своєму дописі у Facebook. Схоже, інтерв’ю на таку вирішальну посаду будуть проводитись у режимі Zoom-конференції, розпочнуться о 14:00 та триватимуть із кожним кандидатом лише по 30 хвилин. Кандидати будуть запрошені в алфавітному порядку. Враховуючи, що співбесіда з пані Литовченко запланована на 18:20, проста арифметика дозволяє припустити, що інтерв’ю з усіма кандидатами триватиме до опівночі. Чому Міністерство проводить цей марафон співбесід опівночі, коли майбутнє такої життєво важливої установи як НСЗУ стоїть на карті?

… а НСЗУ і справді є життєво важливим органом! Його бюджет дорівнює 86 млрд грн, що становить понад 3% ВВП України. Тисячі медичних установ із понад 100 000 лікарів та 135 000 фельдшерів здійснюють свою діяльність через служби НСЗУ. Управління, або ж невміле управління, цією службою вирішує питання здоров’я та життя майже 30 мільйонів українців, зареєстрованих у НСЗУ з квітня 2018 року.

Зважаючи на важливість цієї установи, можна було б очікувати, що Міністерство поставиться до завдання призначення голови НСЗУ з максимальною ретельністю та прозорістю.

Та ось похмура реальність: 19 травня міністр зустрівся з трьома «фінальними» кандидатами, відібраними раніше шляхом відкритого та професійного конкурсу. Без жодних пояснень він несподівано відхилив усіх трьох кандидатів. Пізніше Міністерство поспішно опублікувало нове оголошення про відкриття вакансії, надаючи лише кілька днів для подачі документів. Що ж стосується вимог до посади, то серед останніх значилася наявність мінімальної професійної кваліфікації у вигляді трирічного досвіду роботи або у сфері державного управління, або ж у сфері державних фінансових гарантій медичного обслуговування населення. Проблема в тому, що нова система державних фінансових гарантій існує лише два роки. Отже, взагалі ніхто не має трирічного досвіду управління державними фінансовими гарантіями. Досить хитрий спосіб усунути кандидатів, що мають досвід роботи у НСЗУ. Іншими словами, міністр намагається виключити з відбору на посаду людей, які мають професійну кваліфікацію якраз для такої роботи.

Пан Степанов, схоже, дуже поспішає і не упускає можливість скористатися кризою, викликаною COVID 19. Закон України № 553, прийнятий у надзвичайних обставинах, дозволяє міністру звільняти та наймати високопосадовців як йому заманеться, навіть шляхом проведення 30-хвилинних співбесід через Zoom та навіть не вимагаючи вкрай важливої професійної кваліфікації.

В той час як карантинні обмеження поступово послаблюються по всій країні, здається, що ні Парламент, ні Уряд не поспішають повертатися до прозорих процедур призначень.

Сумнівне рішення міністра прискорити конкурсний процес вкрай непрозорим способом ризикує нанести довготривалу шкоду функціонуванню НСЗУ і, тим самим, загрожує здоров’ю та життю мільйонів українців. Так склалося, що я добре пам’ятаю пана Степанова з його часів як губернатора Одеської області. Тоді він мав репутацію, тісно пов’язану з корупцією та розкраданням державних коштів.

Тепер, здається, міністр Степанов не користується репутацією кращою, ніж колись губернатор Степанов. Лише за кілька днів перебування на посаді міністра, він потрапив в черговий скандал. Зокрема, засоби захисту для медичного персоналу були закуплені за завищеними вдвічі цінами, що говорить про глибоко закоренілу корупцію нового керівництва.

Але схоже, що апетит міністерства до корупції лише розігрівався. Як свідчить витік даних, що стався минулого тижня, міністр планував ще одну закупівлю медичного обладнання за цінами, завищеними щонайменше втричі. Наразі, через витік даних та тиск громадськості, план закупівель був відмінений.

Беручи до уваги довгий корупційний шлях пана Степанова за його короткий час на посаді міністра, чи не було б логічнішим в першу чергу проводити співбесіду на заміщення його посади? Чому хтось із таким низьким рівнем ставлення до медичного персоналу та високим зв’язком з корупцією відповідає за вибір глави НСЗУ – органу, що управляє 86 мільярдами гривень та приймає рішення про життя та здоров’я 30 мільйонів українців?

Legal opinion: Formation of a New Government without Elections from the Perspective of Kosovar Constitutional Law

 

The legal opinion by Constance Grewe, former judge at the Constitutional court of Bosnia and Herzegovina suggest that Kosovo’s constitutional text is not clear in a number of questions, it has linguistic, stylistic and substantial deficiencies as well. The Constitution does not provide a clear solution for an aftermath of a vote of no confidence. As an addition, to the unclear text of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court’s case-law is not coherent either. A dissolution does not derive as a necessary consequence from a no-confidence vote, and in any case dissolution is at the discretion of the Assembly itself.
Without having clearer procedural rules it is not the role of the president to fix a deadline, even it might not be against it either.
This study gives a very useful insight about the constitutional rules regarding the appointment of a new government and why the Kosovar Constitution is not clear on a number of issues. The Parliament should concretely manifest its supreme authority in the state in deciding if it prefers a dissolution or a new government without elections. The opinion concludes with the remark “So, there is a risk of chronic instability and quick sequences of elections. While this could appear very democratic, it is also expensive – and Kosovo is a poor country – and favours corruption.”

 

You can read the full study here

 

 

Letter to Vice-President Jourova

All over the EU journalists, activists and social organisations are brought into court by powerful people and corporations. But the reason for these court cases are not to actually win a case, but to silence, threaten and push back the people who are raising their voices agianst injustice.

These are the so-called SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), which are hurting our democracy. This could be only solved if there is a legislation in all EU member states stopping these cases, that is why we are demanding a new EU directive from the Commission.

Together with colleagues from our political families, we have established the Media Working Group in the European Parliament and have drafted a letter to Vice-President Jourova, addressing the issue of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which is supported by 32 MEPs. You can download it below.

Viola von Cramon’s reply to the Caucasian House regarding the March 8 Agreement and pardoning of two persons

Viola von Cramon, member of the European Parliament and a leading member of DEG (Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group), replied the open letter received from the Caucasian House in English (annexed at the end):

(არაოფიციალური ქართული თარგმანი იხილეთ ქვემოთ)

Dear Caucasian House,

I received your letter.

I started reading it with great interest and finished reading it with equally great disappointment. Through it, I could vividly resonate with the “characters” from Giwi Margwelaschwili’s “Verfasser Unser” touting – “We demand a better writing” (“Wir fordern eine bessere Verfassung”).

As eminent writers, philologists, and academics yourself, you will certainly agree that good writing can only manifest through first doing a good reading.

Being an unconditional and uncompromising friend of Georgia and its people, I stated my position on the recent developments on multiple occasions – most prominently, in the statement published on my webpage on May 13th and widely circulated through Georgian media.

It is a pity that you decided to skip the important step of reading my statement; as it could have saved me the discomfort of writing this letter and saved you even more discomfort of reading it.

Had you first reached out to me, as an ally “united by common political and ethical values” would do, I would have gladly reiterated my position and you would have avoided filling your letter with redundancies and misinformation.

There is also no need to recount to me the cruelties of Saakashvili’s rule. I am very well aware of it. As a member of the German Parliament, I was one of the most ardent critics of Saakashvili’s government, to a degree that I was branded as a persona non grata and actively (but not always successfully) blocked by him and his team from events in Georgia. Back in 2012, I was also one together with millions of Georgians looking up to Georgian Dream with hope and aspiration. Alas, the hope has faded.

Also, there is no need to patronise me. I am au fait with the dubious ways of the United National Movement and that is precisely why I get my information on Georgia predominantly from experts, scholars, diplomats and, quite often, from regular Georgians.

You allege, I “have been actively lobbying for the release of several imprisoned Georgian politicians”. This is a complete and utter lie. In neither my statement nor my interviews have I lobbied releasing anyone. It is also a lie that you suggest that I declared someone “to be a „political prisoner“” as I have never used those words. I take my job with great responsibility and the fate of your country with dear care. This is why I choose my words with precision. Meanwhile, I expect you to choose to read them before making ungrounded accusations.

My suggestion (not a request, not a demand) to the Georgian Government was and is what Georgian people also dreamed for in 2012. Upholding democratic principles and establishing an impartial, transparent, free of political involvement judiciary. Unfortunately, as many independent experts and researchers confirmed, there is a very regrettable backsliding trend taking place in those areas.

Unquestionably, alleged criminals should be prosecuted. Yet, even they deserve a fair trial that is based on hard evidence and is free from the government’s involvement. Otherwise, it is not the democratic Georgia we are all building but a regime that you and other dissidents spent decades vigorously fighting.

Where you and I can agree is the assessment of Georgia’s unique ecosystems. Having visited the country many times, I am fascinated by how much potential Georgia’s green and sustainable energy has. We, the friends of Georgia, are working hard to extend the benefits of the “Green New Deal” beyond the EU’s borders and make sure that Georgia, along with other Eastern Partnership countries, also benefits from it. This will continue Georgia’s unwavering integration into the European family – a will so often expressed by its people.

Sincerely,

Viola von Cramon

_______________________________________________________________________________

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონმა, ევრიპარლამენტის წევრმა და „DEG“-ის (დემოკრატიის მხარდაჭერისა და არჩევნების კოორდინაციის ჯგუფი) წამყვანმა წევრმა, უპასუხა კავკასიური სახლის ინგლისურენოვან ღია წერილს (დართულია ქვემოთ. კავკასიური სახლის წერილის ქართულ ვერსია ხელმისაწვდომია მათ ვებგვერდზე):

დიდად პატივცემულო ქალბატონებო და ბატონებო,

მივიღე თქვენი წერილი.

წერილის კითხვა დავიწყე დიდი ინტერესით და დავასრულე ასეთივე დიდი იმედგაცრუებით. ამ პროცესში გამახსენდნენ „პერსონაჟები“ გივი მარგველაშვილის ნაწარმოებიდან „Verfasser Unser“, რომლებიც გაიძახიან – „ვითხოვთ უკეთეს ნაწერს“ (“Wir fordern eine bessere Verfassung”).

ბრძანდებით რა სახელგანთქმული მწერლები, ფილოლოგები და აკადემიკოსები, უცილობოდ დამეთანხმებით, რომ კარგად წერა შედეგია კარგად კითხვის.

მე, როგორც საქართველოს და მისი ხალხის უპირობო და უკომპრომისო მეგობარს, არაერთხელ გამომიხატავს ჩემი პოზიცია უახლეს მოვლენებზე. ყველაზე ცხადად იგი წარმოჩინდა ჩემს ვებ გვერდზე 13 მაისს გამოქვეყნებულ განცხადებაში, რომელიც ასევე ფართოდ გააშუქა ქართულმა მედიამ.  

სამწუხაროა, რომ თქვენ გადაწყვიტეთ გამოგეტოვებინათ ესოდენ მნიშვნელოვანი ნაბიჯი, რომელსაც განცხადების წაკითხვა ეწოდება. რომ არა ეს, ამაცილებდით მე ამ წერილის წერის , ხოლო საკუთარ თავს, ამ წერილის კითხვის უხერხულობას.

თქვენ რომ მე წინასწარ შემხმიანებოდით, როგორც ეს „საერთო პოლიტიკური და ეთიკური ღირებულებების“ მქონე მოკავშირეს შეშვენის, კიდევ ერთხელ სიამოვნებით განგიმარტავდით ჩემს პოზიციას და ამ გზით თავიდან აირიდებდი თქვენი წერილის სიმცდარითა და დეზინფორმაციით გაჯერებას.

ასევე ზედმეტია ჩემთვის სააკაშვილის რეჟიმის სისასტიკეების შეხსენება. ეს ყველაფერი ჩემთვის კარგადაა ცნობილი. გერმანიის პარლამენტის წევრობისას, მე გახლდით სააკაშვილის მთავრობის ხმამაღალი კრიტიკოსი. ამის გამო მან და მისმა გუნდმა შემრაცხა პერსონა ნონ გრატად და აქტიურად (მაგრამ არა ყოველთვის წარმატებით) ცდილობდნენ საქართველოში ჩატარებულ ღონისძიებებში ჩემს  დაბლოკვას. 2012-ში, მეც, მილიონობით ქართველის გვერდით, იმედით და კეთლი მოლოდინით შევყურებდი ქართულ ოცნებას. ვაი რომ იმედი გახუნდა.

გარდა ამისა, არა ვსაჭიროებ თქვენს მეურვეობას. შესანიშნავად მომეხსენება ერთიანი ნაციონალური მოძრაობის საეჭვო მეთოდები და სწორედ ამიტომ საქართველოს შესახებ ინფორმაციას უდიდესწილად ვიღებ ექპერტებისგან, მკვლევარებისგან, დიპლომატებისგან და ხშირად რიგითი ქართველებისგან.

თქვენ ამტკიცებთ, რომ მე „აქტიურად ვლობირებდი რამდენიმე დატუსაღებული ქართველი პოლიტიკოსის გათავისუფლებას“. ეს არის სრული და მტკნარი სიცრუე. არც ჩემს ოფიციალურ განცხადებაში და არც ინტერვიუებში არ მომითხოვია ვინმეს გათავისუფლება. ასევე სიცრუე როცა ამტკიცებთ, რომ მე თითქოს ვიღაც „პოლიტიკურ პატიმრად“ გამოვაცხადე. არასოდეს გამომიყენებია ეს სიტყვები. მე ჩემს საქმიანობას ვეკიდები უდიდესი პასუხისმგებლობით, ხოლო თქვენი ქვეყნის მომავალს უდიდესი ზრუნვით. სწორედ ამიტომ ვარჩევ სიტყვებს მაქსიმალური სიზუსტით. ამავდროულად მოველი, რომ თქვენ აირჩევთ ამ სიტყვების სწორად წაკითხვას სანამ დაუსაბუთებელი ბრალდებების წაყენებას მიყოფდეთ ხელს.

ჩემი რჩევა (და არა თხოვნა ან მოთხოვნა) საქართველოს მთავრობის მიმართ არის იგივე რაზეც ხალხი 2012 წელს ოცნებობდა. დემოკრატიული პრინციპების პატივისცემა და ობიექტური, გამჭვირვალე და პოლიტიკური ჩარევისგან თავისუფალი სასამართლო სისტემა. სამწუხაროდ, როგორც დამოუკიდებელი ექსპერტები და მკვლევარები ადასტურებენ, ამ სფეროებში ძალიან სამწუხარო უკან დახევის ტრენდი გამოიკვეთა.

უცილობოა, რომ ყველა დამნაშავე უნდა გასამართლეს. თუმცა, დამნაშავეებიც კი იმსახურებენ სამართლიან სასამართლოს რომელის გადაწყვეტილებებიც დაეყრდნობა მყარ მტკიცებულებებს და თავისუფალი იქნება ხელისუფლების ჩარევისგან. სხვა შემთხვევაში გამოვა რომ ყველანი ერთად ვაშენებთ არა დემოკრატიულ საქართველოს, არამედ რეჟიმს რომელსაც თქვენ და სხვა დისიდენტები ათწლეულების განმავლობაში ებრძოდით.

ჩვენ ვთანხმდებით საქართველოს უნიკალური ეკოსისტემის შეფასებისას. არაერთხელ ვყოფილვარ რა საქართველოში, მოხიბლული ვარ  თქვენი ქვეყნის უზარმაზარი პოტენციალით მწვანე და მდგრადი ენერგიის წარმოების სფეროში. ჩვენ, საქართველოს მეგობრები, ვმუშაობთ თავდაუზოგავად, რათა „ახალი მწვანე შეთანხმების“ დადებითი შედეგები გასცდეს ევროკავშირის საზღვრებს და საქართველოსთან ერთად სარგებელი მოუტანოს აღმოსავლეთ პარტნიორობის სხვა ქვეყნებსაც. ეს ნაბიჯები გაამყარებს საქართველოს ევროპულ ოჯახში ურყევი ინტეგრაციის გზას, რომელსაც ქართველმა ხალხმა არაერთხელ გამოუცხადა მხარდაჭერა.

პატივისცემით,

ვიოლა ფონ კრამონი

___________________________________________________________________

ANNEX: the open letter received in English from the Caucasian House and also available in Georgian here:

Dear Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel,

The Caucasian House is one of the oldest public institutions in Georgia, which started its activities in the 70s of the last century. At that time, this multicultural and multiethnic educational organization was known as the Translators’ Collegium, and was a professional center for literary translation, engaged both in translating of the Georgian literary works into world languages, and in translating into Georgian and popularizing the landmark oeuvres of European thought and literature. On this path, the organization had to overcome numerous obstacles created by the official, effectively anti-Western, ideology. Already at that time our center was paying special attention to environmental problems.

In the early 1990s, the Caucasian House became a collective member of the Greens Movement of Georgia. The leading members of our center were actively involved in the launching of the Greens Movement and were the inspirers and leaders of the pan-Caucasian movement: ‘The Caucasus Is Our Common Home’; They also have been fighting for many years against the Soviet technocratic mafia, which was destroying the unique natural environment of Georgia and the Caucasus by its giant infrastructure projects; and, were applying every possible effort to promote the goal of common cultural, ecological and peaceful space in the Caucasus region.

Cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation (the partner organization of The Greens) was of special importance for the Caucasian House and its environmental activities. For many years, with the support of the Boell Foundation, not only numerous multilateral Caucasian environmental and peacebuildng events were held, but also important texts by renowned European green politicians and intellectuals (Petra Kelly, Jürgen Trittin, Rudolf Bahro, Ralph Fuchs, Gerhard Schick) were translated into Georgian. Several of them, along with other conspicuous green figures, have honored our office with visits.

By recalling the history of the Caucasian House, we only wanted to say that we consider you, a member of the European Green Party, as our ally. We believe that we are united by common political and ethical values. Therefore, we would like to share with you the concern of a significant part of the Georgia’s population.

During the last few weeks, among other colleagues you have been actively lobbying for the release of several imprisoned Georgian politicians. Your exceptional diligence, activism and unprecedented efforts have paid off, with the President of Georgia pardoning two offenders and releasing them from prison. We assume that you did not possess complete information about these two gentlemen – Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili – and you might have been influenced by those political forces who are trying to rehabilitate the authoritarian regime of the convicted former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Mr. Gigi Ugulava became the mayor of Tbilisi during the Saakashvili’s authoritarian rule. His name is associated with the destruction of many cultural heritage sites in the capital. For example, we can recall the case of famous cultural heritage sight – Mirza Shafi Street, where, with the illegal permission of Gigi Ugulava’s administration, big investors trampled on civil society protests, razed to the ground a network of streets formed in the early nineteenth century, and destroyed a number of unique architectural structures while leaving their previous inhabitants homeless.

During Ugulava’s rule, Tbilisi became one of the most polluted cities in Europe. Many squares, gardens and public spaces have been privatized, resulting in a critical reduction in the number of recreational areas in the city. Many of us have also seen Gigi Ugulava at the brutal crackdowns on peaceful protests organized by opposition parties during 2007-2011, as he was giving directions to the police to show no mercy toward innocent participants of the protests. Gigi Ugulava is officially convicted by the court for embezzling budget funds: The person that you have declared to be a „political prisoner“ is accused of using 50 million GEL from the capital’s treasury for political party purposes. (e.g. Gigi Ugulava recruited musicians participating in the pre-election concert of the United National Movement filed as employees of the cleaning service of the Tbilisi, and paid them for months huge salaries as compared to those received by ordinary street sweepers).

Dear Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel, it is absolutely incomprehensible to us why you have spent so much time and effort to save the budget embezzler, the person made known for multiple acts of brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations, and of destruction of the city’s landmarks, to rescue this criminal offender and decorate him with the mantle of ‘political prisoner’.

The Caucasian House in its official statement strongly condemned the events of June 20, 2019, when several of our fellow citizens lost their eyesight as a result of the use of disproportionate force by the government, while dozens of activists got injured. However, we are not blaming only the government to be responsible for the tragic outcome of the demonstration. We believe that some opposition forces also took part in the provocative actions when they tried to seize the parliamentary building by force. One of the most active figures among the organizers of the assault was Mr. Irakli Okruashvili, who had been previously convicted by a Georgian court as well. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Okruashvili has in Georgia’s recent history showed himself as the most aggressive and dangerous militarist politician: in the summer of 2004 as a result of the reckless military operation in the Tskhinvali region that he has himself planned, dozens of civilians, soldiers and policemen got killed by Russian and Ossetian military formations. Obviously, many people from the opposing side died as well. In 2006, Defense Minister Okruashvili threatened during the live broadcast on the national TV channels that he would celebrate the New Year’s Eve with his comrades in Tskhinvali. Today, thanks to your efforts, the organizer of the violent attack against the governmental premises, and an adventurer politician, is already trying to gain dividends from being named a ‘political prisoner’.

We understand well, much better than you and your colleagues, that Georgian democracy or the judiciary are marked by a host of serious problems, and we are not going to tolerate this. We sincerely appreciate the assistance of the West aiming to help building new institutions and to implement needed systemic changes. However, it is alarming that often some European politicians, instead of supporting democratic processes, willingly or unwillingly promote the establishment of the most covert and sophisticated forms of neocolonialism in Georgia; instead of assisting the people of Georgia, they throw a lifebuoy to politicians who are corrupt, militarist, criminal offenders, who, among other things, are characterized by a completely parasitic-consumerist attitude towards nature, and threaten to destroy our entire living space.

We would not want you to become engaged in this vicious practice – you being a person who even has experience of communicating with the Tkibuli miners in Georgia, and representing a party that is a successor to the pacifist and environmental movement.

In today’s Georgia, many groups of citizens live under conditions of constant social oppression. Among them, the residents of the highland regions of Georgia are in particularly dire situation: for many years, the inhabitants of Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Adjara and Mtskheta-Mtianeti have been facing poverty and destruction of their living space. At the same time, we deal here with the completely unique natural environment of these highlands: the governments both of Saakashvili and Ivanishvili have developed a project to build about 150 medium and giant hydroelectric power plants there. The government plans to build these hydropower plants with the help of transnational corporations of dubious credibility.

All environmentalists know that giant dams and reservoirs threaten the lives of tens of thousands of people and animals: primeval forests, endemic species, arable lands, vineyards, and ancient cultural monuments. These antiscientific projects are economically unprofitable for Georgia, socially aggressive, and ecologically catastrophic, thus completely contrary to the standards developed by the European Union. It is true that the European Environmental Protection Agency has demanded that the Georgian government should respect the Bern Convention of the Council of Europe to which it is signatory, i.e. to protect its rivers, but the government of this kind would not easily abandon the projects from which they expect to make profit.

This is where we need your help, and not only yours, Ms. von Cramon-Taubadel.

Therefore, instead of helping to free certain criminal offenders from prison, we urge you to stand by us in order to through joint effort save the regions of Georgia, its highlands of unique beauty, – from the wild, neoliberal capitalism and its supporting political forces!

Sincerely,

Naira Gelashvili – Chairman of the Board of the Caucasian House, writer, Germanist, environmentalist

Giorgi Lobzhanidze – Member of the Board of the Caucasian House, orientalist, poet, Professor of the Tbilisi State University

Levan Lortkipanidze – Member of the Board of the Caucasian House, political Scientist

Tea Galdava – Member of the Board of the Caucasian House, historianIvane Abramashvili – Executive Director of the Caucasian House, conflict resolution expert

Das erste Jahr…

Liebe Freund*innen,

das erste Jahr für mich im Europäischen Parlament verging wie im Flug. Vor genau einem Jahr blickten wir Grünen in ganz Deutschland auf das beste Ergebnis, das wir je bei einer bundesweiten Wahl erzielt haben. Und auch in vielen anderen Ländern Europas konnten grüne Parteien Erfolge einfahren, sodass wir als starke Fraktion im Parlament auftretn können.

Ich habe die Gelegenheit genutzt und auf das erste Jahr zurückgeblickt. Noch wichtiger als der Blick zurück ist mir aber der Blick nach vorne, da wir in den kommenden vier Jahren noch viel vorhaben.

Schaut gerne in meinen kurzen „Bericht aus Brüssel“ und fragt gerne, wenn ihr Fragen habt, kritisiert, wenn ihr etwas zu kritisieren habt oder schreibt mir, wenn ihr Anregungen habt.

Viele Grüße!
Eure Viola

Greener Eastern Partnership: decarbonizing Ukraine

On May 7, 2020, Viola von Cramon, at the expert online discussion “Electricity Market Reform: What’s at Risk?” Organized by the German Heinrich Böll Foundation, commented on the situation in the Ukrainian energy sector.

In the last 25 years, the Ukrainian energy sector and particularly the green energy have made only very moderate progress which is far from being enough. This is regrettable considering huge investments made by the international community as well as by internal investors.

In addition, Ukraine has enormous industrial sector, long engineering traditions, very good universities, and a well-trained workforce, nevertheless, the country struggles with putting these resources to use when it comes to reforming the energy sector.

Despite the huge potential, the Parliament of Ukraine is reluctant to create a renewable-friendly legal environment and facilitate reforms in the sector. Strong carbon lobby and influence of oligarchs are to be blamed:

Oligarchy is really pushing back in the face of Mr. Kolomoisky and the head of the [Energy] Committee – Mr. Andriy Gerus who is completely in line with the anti-renewable alliance and very closely linked with the pro-fossil fuel [interests]

Institutional weakness and outdated infrastructure represent additional key obstacles. While the country comes up with some concepts and ideas, a real sustainable strategy and clear vision are missing.

Lots of time was wasted and many opportunities missed. Now, it’s up to Zelensky’s government to learn from the mistakes of his predecessors and make clever and efficient investments in the renewable sector and eliminate the consequences of previous inactions.

Lastly, Ukraine should be reminded of the obligations she took through multiple international agreements. That should be enough to require the new government to honor those commitments and pursue decarbonization. On the other hand, the EU should use all available tools to negotiate a new strategy on renewables with Ukraine and incorporate the country into the European Green New Deal.

Viola von Cramon’s comment starting from 42:00