03.11.2005 EU membership is the best way to avoid criticism for HR violations
Without any doubt the EP foreign policy has the serious impact on the development of political processes in different parts of the world. The majority of the countries try at least to avoid the direct critics of the EU in such spheres as democracy, the respect of Human Rights, fraud prevention or public security. In many cases the positive influence of the EU is much more effective that the one of the Council of Europe or OSCE. Such a phenomena may be explained by economic significance of the EU and by dependence of many national economics of cooperation with the EU. The logic of EU cooperation with the major part of the rest world is direct and transparent. The EU proposes the deal “values first, the economics will follow”. This means that in the general case the degree of economical cooperation between the EU and the third country is conditioned on the good will of the nation in implementing of the principles of respect to human dignity and the HR standards. Those countries which reject such kind of EU influence sooner or later discovered themselves to be the nation-outcast of the international community. Moreover, the EU takes part in the support of opposition movements in such countries. The cases of Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus may be mentioned here. The European Parliament plays the role of “European think-tank”, or the laboratory elaborating solutions which could be overtaken by the Commission and high-rank EU officials.
In the ideal case the vivid scheme of the EU positive influence to the humanitarian sphere in third countries may be characterized as follows: the NGOs and opposition of the third country rise the problem – the EU based mass-media and NGOs amplifies this concern – EP discusses the issue, elaborates the common position and puts forward the variants of the EU reaction – the Commission as well as the MS governments takes into account this positions in their contacts with the third country concerned – the EP controls the development of the conflict and, if necessary, comes back to the discussion, corrects its opinion as well as elaborates the new solutions.
This ideal scheme is not functioning with respect to three categories of the states. To the first category belong the states which had chosen the confrontation or self isolation as the general line of behavior on the international level. To the second category belong those whose economical or military potential is comparative or bigger than that of the EU. The EP may have its independent and sometimes openly critical position regarding the HR developments in the USA or China, but in reality it cannot propose any real tool for effective interfering in the HR sphere in such powerful countries.
There is also the third category of countries slipping out of beneficial influence of the EP critics in the field of democracy and main values. This way - as any simple idea - is brilliant, and it is – to become EU member state. After the state has been joining the EU the humanitarian sphere of this state is taken out of the monitoring of the Committee of international affairs (AFET) with its Subcommittee on Human rights and placed under the competence of the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affaires (LIBE). But LIBE has the firm tradition not to deepen on the details of the situation in a concrete MS but to speak about the problems of the EU in general.
The second EP tradition which often prevents the serious discursion is related on the unpleasant fact that nobody wants to admit the mistakes made by the Commission and the Parliament on the stage of the EU enlargement. Nobody wants to raise the question about the responsibility of the EU leadership on the work which was not done five years ago. The fact that some new member state did not at that time - and do not now - fit the Copenhagen political criteria is unpleasant secret of the EU.
This conclusion may be illustrated by one example. The country I am elected as MEP is the Republic of Latvia. It has successfully joined the EU bearing on the board the 450.000 people deprived of citizenship. In the situation when the population of the country is only 2.3 billion the proportion of the stateless person is extremely high. The so called Latvian non-citizens (or “aliens”, as it is written in their Latvian passports) enjoy the right to express their opinion. But they are deprived of almost all other forms of social participation – they cannot either vote at any kind of the elections or their opinion nether is taken into consideration while deciding questions crucial for this social group. I could imagine what could be a reaction of the EU institutions if a state like Belarus or Iraq would have half a million persons deprived of citizenship and, consequently, of full scope of the citizens rights.
The second country which has the similar category of “aliens” is the neighbouring Estonia. Together Latvia and Estonia have more than half a million of stateless persons.
Why the problem was ignored at the stage of EU? There were a lot of reasons, mainly of geo-strategical nature. In the middle of 90-ties the strategically decision on the Baltic state's integration was made and than any challenges of humanitarian nature could change the mind of EU leaders. The majority of Latvian stateless population are ethical Russians (they had migrated to Latvia as labor force during the times when the country was the part of the Soviet Union). So the problems of these persons were treated by the EU mostly from the point of view of competing with Russia for the influence in the Baltic region. The feelings and needs of the stateless population of Baltic States didn’t have any value in that game for regional dominance. The official position the EU on the problem of the stateless population was that the process of naturalization of the stateless is able to solve this problem completely. That time the pro-minority opposition of Latvia warned the EU that the process of naturalization will take several decades and is not the proper solution for old and disabled part of the stateless population. That time our opinion was ignored.
The reality now shows that the ignorance of the problem from the side of the EU intuitions encouraged the Latvian authorities to make a new step in preventing the integration of the non-citizens. Recently the government decided to toughen the conditions for the naturalization by grant the government officials and ministers the right to reject a stateless person a right to be naturalized under the reasons of insufficient loyalty to the state. When the Minister of Justice Mrs. Solvita Aboltina was asked by a journalist to give the definition of the loyalty, she told “The loyalty is the observance of the laws as well as the fidelity to the government”.
We just have the first case when an “alien”, who was born and spent all his life in Latvia – Yury Petropavlosky was rejected in citizenship by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers. He was accused by ruling politicians of organizing the peaceful campaigning for protection of the existing system of minority education. The case of Mr. Petropavlovsky was examined on the special sitting of the Petition Committee of the European Parliament. The members of the Committee were shocked by the provoking behavior of the official representative of the Latvian government, who told EU must not deal with the question of Latvian citizenship; it is the home affair of the MS and doesn’t fit under the EU competence. Fortunately the obligations of Latvian state as well as the position of the EU of the period of the enlargement are not completely disappeared from the memory of many MEPs, the PETI decided to continue to monitor this case.
I am sure that the tendency of total ignoring of the democratic values and neglecting the universal character of the Copenhagen criteria must become a matter of high concern for the EU. In the contrary this process my lead to the washing out of the values EU is based on and will deprive the EU of the moral right to show the third countries the way towards real democracy.