Central America: The Life of a Journalist

María del Carmen Aguilera García


Carmen Aguilera García, from Honduras, lives in the Bonn area, Germany. She is – after different baby breaks – studying political and administrative science at UNED (Spanish University for Distance Education). She has also a Spanish and German blog under  https://mariaaguiler.wordpress.com/

The life of a journalist can often be difficult in some countries and this is especially applicable to such Central American countries as Mexico and Honduras. The number of the journalists who lost their lives because of their professional work is internationally rather high. To this end it is worth observing the human rights breaches in the above mentioned countries.

The reality is very clear, i.e. being a journalist means to face both the good and bad sides of the work, which many do for passion. Problems can emerge when their research, investigations and findings bring forward something inappropriate, in the eyes of other persons.

In recent years Honduras has passed the limit of the killed journalists. According to the report by „Periodismo humano“ in August 2013 Honduras had more than 29 killed journalists and as the calculations of September 9, 2014 indicate, more than 37 jo

Journalists were killed since 2003. As of 2015, in total more than 51 journalist were killed, including Herlyn Espinal. As security minister Arturo Corrales says, journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in Honduras.

It can be noted that Mexico has the same problem. As such, according to reports from the Mexican Human Rights Commission (CNDH), in the period from 2010 to 2015 more than 97 journalists were killed.  Unfortunately some of the cases are almost never revealed and this challenges the journalists’ right of expression.

The newest figures on the past year: „The year 2014 has been the second deadliest  year  for journalists during the past decade: 138 media workers were killed in the line of duty in 32 countries. The most dangerous countries in 2014 were  Syria (19 killed), Gaza (16), Pakistan (12), Iraq (10), Ukraine (9), Mexico (8), Afghanistan (7), Honduras (6), Somalia (5), Brazil (5), and Central African Republic (4).

Middle East was on the top of the list, with 52 journalists killed, followed by Asia with 32, Latin America with 29, Sub-Saharan Africa with 15 and Europe 10.

The situation is deteriorating rather than improving. As of today, 33 journalists have already been killed in 2015, which represents a significant increase compared to the same period of last year, with 12 more killed in only 2 months and a half.“[1]

Unfortunately, in many of these countries basic human rights are not respected. While some of them have signed treaties on human rights, in reality they hardly ensure their implementation, among them being the right to life and freedom of expression. „In reference to the first article„, there must be equal rights and respect to dignity for all human beings. States must ensure respect, protection and force of human rights:

„Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. Among them is Article 3, 5 and 19″:

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Valuing and fulfilling the signed agreements is a warrant that people will give their vote of confidence for a politician and government in favor of this, and that human rights are respected.

[1] See also: http://www.pressemblem.ch/10399.html. Extracts from: 17.03.2015. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – 28th session – PEC statement delivered on situations that require the Council’s attention – PEC requires the Human Rights Council to send a very strong message to all criminals that there would be no impunity for perpetrators of crimes against the freedom of expression; General  Assembly, Human Rights Council, 28th session – Item 4 – Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, General  Debate


EU and Azerbaijan: Setting the Record Straight


August 7, 2013 – 3:50pm, by Eldar Mamedov

At a cabinet meeting in mid-July, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev lashed out at the European Parliament for supposedly conducting a “dirty campaign” against Baku. The shrill tone of Aliyev’s comments indicate that European pressure on Azerbaijan to respect basic rights is stinging the Aliyev administration.

The latest EU parliamentary resolution critical of Azerbaijan came in June, when European officials called for the release of Ilgar Mammadov, a jailed leader of the opposition Republican Alternative movement. Euro-criticism in 2012 included the loud and public condemnation by European MPs of an officially orchestrated smear campaign against independent investigative journalist Khadija Ismailova. [Editor’s Note: Ismailova has worked as a contributor to EurasiaNet.org].

Aliyev, who is expected to travel to Brussels to confer with top EU officials in the fall, showed himself to be sensitive to criticism. At the July cabinet meeting, he dismissed the recent European assessments of Azerbaijani policy as the work of a jealous few. “There are still prejudiced people, [European] parliamentarians who do not accept Azerbaijan’s success, and they are systematically trying to make attacks on Azerbaijan,“ he groused, according to comments broadcast on state television.

While official statements critical of Baku’s behavior have succeeded in vexing government officials, if European criticism is actually going to be effective in getting Aliyev & Co. to change its authoritarian ways, it’s important for European officials to dispel some persistent myths among Azerbaijani policymakers surrounding EU actions. Here are a few widely held assumptions in Baku that European officials should keep in mind as they consider taking the next steps: 1) European criticism of Azerbaijan´s human rights record is the work of the pro-Armenian lobby and other actors who wish to undermine Azerbaijan´s „independent foreign policy“. Not true. There is no evidence that the members of the European Parliament who are critical of Azerbaijan´s rights practices have any connections to the Armenian lobby or to Russia, which is believed to want to re-integrate Azerbaijan into its own sphere of political and economic influence. In fact, some critical Euro MPs, such as the Austrian Green Ulrike Lunacek, are on record as demanding the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. The reason for European criticisms is simple: the situation of the human rights is deteriorating, in spite of the commitments undertaken voluntarily by Azerbaijan. When the EU offers criticism, it is simply assessing the country on its own merits.

2) Demands for democratization and respect for human rights are nothing but a smokescreen to promote the regime change. Not by a long shot. The last thing the EU wants is a new source of instability in an already combustible part of the world. In fact, the EU is quite comfortable with the Aliyev administration, as long as it delivers on energy cooperation and regional security — particularly counter-terrorism, Afghanistan and Iran. But for the sake of its own credibility, the EU cannot completely ignore human rights issues. It is also in the EU´s self-interest: it needs a government in Baku with enhanced domestic legitimacy as its partner. Its message to Aliyev seems to be: better to start reforms today, while you can manage a controlled transition from a position of strength, rather than to risk a popular explosion tomorrow. But if the government persists in tightening the screws, and in the meantime, a viable opposition emerges, the calculus might shift in favor of the latter.

3) Azerbaijan is unfairly singled out and is a victim of double standards. Yes, there are double standards, but they actually work in favor of Azerbaijan. For instance, the European consensus holds that Belarus has nine political prisoners. In Azerbaijan, there are at least several dozens of them. Yet several Belarussian officials are subjected to EU travel bans and an asset freeze, while the EU has never even considered similar measures against Azerbaijani officials. Furthermore, ODIHR, the OSCE’s democracy watchdog, has never recognized presidential and parliamentary elections in both Belarus and Azerbaijan as free and fair. But it is only the Belarussian parliament that is not recognized as such by the European Parliament, and which is banned from participation in EURONEST, the parliamentary dimension of the Eastern Partnership. Azerbaijan´s Milli Mejlis delegation, on the other hand, enjoys full participation rights in inter-parliamentary bodies.

4) The EU ignores the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands and the human rights of Azerbaijani IDPs. Not true. The European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2010 on the need for an EU strategy in the South Caucasus (known as the Kirilov Report) in which it clearly calls for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and upholds the right to return for Azerbaijani IDPs. In 2012, in addition to these demands, the European Parliament for the first time linked the conclusion of association agreements with Armenia to progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks, including the withdrawal from occupied territories of Azerbaijan and return of IDPs. Of course, Azerbaijan could have won more converts to its cause had it stopped sending wrong messages, such as the pardon and promotion of Ramil Safarov, an army officer guilty of the murder of an Armenian counterpart, and the state-orchestrated campaign against Akram Aylisli, a writer who dared to depict a more nuanced picture of the Azeri-Armenian conflict than is usually accepted in Azerbaijan.

5) There is no point in satisfying EU demands, since Azerbaijan will never be admitted to the EU anyway. Too simplistic. It is true that the EU has lost its appetite for enlargement, and the example of Turkey’s stalled candidacy lends credence to this assertion. But current fiscal troubles will not last forever, and Europeans might still change their mind on enlargement. Meanwhile, there are other forms of association with the EU that can be beneficial for Azerbaijan, such as association agreement, free-trade agreement and visa liberalization. Most importantly, reforms that conform to EU norms are needed not to satisfy Brussels, but to improve the quality of life of Azerbaijanis. If implemented consistently, they might even help Azerbaijan to win over hearts and minds of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, and solve the long-festering conflict on terms that are more favorable to Baku.


Editor’s note: Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.

From Eurasianet Commentary. Originally published by EurasiaNet.org; please see http://www.eurasianet.org.

Turkey: Hayat TV Closed down Because of Protest Coverage – An Example for Erdogan’s Restrictive Media Policy

Even if one does not always agree to the views expressed in Turkish Hayat TV , it is part of media freedom and freedom of expression that this TV Station exists for many viewers. This is an open letter of Hayat TV which is to be closed down by the government:

An open letter from the Turkish Hayat TV, to be closed down because it broadcasted Taksim

Hayat TV, a progressive Turkish TV channel of the working people, the youth, women and the intellectuals is facing closure.

We believe this is a blow to people’s freedom of information.

The decision for the closure is made by the broadcasting regulator RTÜK, Radio & Television High Commission with the pretext that Hayat TV has no licence.

This is not true.

Hayat TV has been broadcasting since 21 March 2007 by ofcom license via TURKSAT satellite. But a recent change in broadcasting rules via TURKSAT requires broadcasters to obtain a RTÜK license to be able to broadcast via satellite.

Our application for a RTÜK license has been submitted and pending for a decision. We have taken all the necessary steps and RTÜK agreed that we could carry on broadcasting as it is until a RTÜK license is granted.

However, RTÜK is now making an arbitrary decision to close down our channel because of, we believe, our broadcast of recent protests in Istanbul and across Turkey.

RTÜK says they investigated “the complaints received for our coverage of the Gezi Park protests” and made a decision for the closure.

We believe this closure is part of the overall repression on the media in Turkey during the more than two-week-long Gezi Park protests. Four other TV channels have been given a fine by RTUK because of their coverage of the recent events.

RTUK sent a letter to TURKSAT to put an end to Hayat TV broadcast at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, 14th June 2013.

We believe this arbitrary and unlawful decision should be reversed.

We call on all democratically minded people to show solidarity with Hayat TV.


Mustafa Kara
Hayat TV Broadcast Coordinator

„Europe of Human Rights“ on: The European Parliament on the Human Rights Situation in Azerbaijan

This Blog, by the NGO „Europe of Human Rights“ in Poland, has been posted on 14.6.2013. See also: http://humanrights.blogactiv.eu/. We take it up without any modification:

„The issues of energy and trade cannot take precedence over human rights,” said MEP Maretje Schaake during the customary human rights debates at the end of the plenary session of the European Parliament (“EP”). The quote aptly captures one of the most salient oppositions of today’s international relations, namely that between the economy and human rights, which the EU tries – with various results – to reconcile.

This time, one of human rights debates was devoted to the situation in Azerbaijan, in particular the detention of Ilgar Mammadov. EP adopted a resolution which strongly condemns the arrest of Mammadov, amply criticises the Azerbaijani authorities for countless deficiencies in human rights protection and calls for immediate action, both to release Mammadov and strengthen human rights guarantees in Azerbaijan.

EP’s resolution is yet another EU call to the authorities in Baku. In their recent joint statement, Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule expressed concern at curbs on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and renewed EU’s readiness to assist the county in meeting “its voluntarily agreed international commitments.” The resolution also follows the 2012 ENP country progress report on Azerbaijan in which we read, among others, that “Azerbaijan needs to step up its efforts if it is to meet all Action Plan commitments on democracy, including the electoral process, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the independence of the judicial system […].”

The resolution was sparked by the case of Ilgar Mammadov, the leader of the opposition movement REAL and director of the School of Political Studies of the Council of Europe in Baku, and Tofiq Yakublu, the deputy-chairman of the opposition party Musavat who were arrested by the Azerbaijani authorities on 14 February 2013. They have been illegally detained since then. Before Mammadov’s arrest, he was confirmed to run as a candidate for the Azerbaijani presidential elections in October 2013. The temporary detention of Ilgar Mammadov has already been prolonged twice in order to keep him in confinement pending the upcoming elections.

Human rights defenders and the representatives of the civil society are in agreement that Mammadov’s detention was illegal and politically motivated, and that it was an attempt to intimidate the opposition. The European Parliament called for Mammadov’s release and urged the authorities to investigate the charges against him in a speedy, fair, transparent and independent manner.

In its resolution, EP made notice of the deterioraring human rights situation in Azerbaijan, inluding the attacks on the political opposition, youth activists, NGOs, free expression and independent media. The attacks often take form of changes in law, for example the amendments to the law on NGOs, the Criminal Code or the Freedom of Assembly Law. The resolution condemned all forms of intimidation, arrest, detention or prosecution of opposition party leaders or members, activists, journalists or bloggers solely because they have expressed their views.

EP also urged the Azerbaijani authorities to unconditionally grant authorization to reopen the Human Rights House in Baku. It has been more than 2 years since the authorities ordered its closure. EP also called on the government in Baku to, without further delay or administrative burdens, register the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre and the Human Rights Club.

Taking into account that Azerbaijan will take over the rotating chairmanship of the Council of Europe, EP also urged the Azerbaijani authorities to comply with all rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. During the debate in the Parliament, eurodeputies emphasised that full compliance with human right, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law is a basis for cooperation within the Eastern Partnership and forms integral part of the obligations accepted by Azerbaijan as a member of the Council of Europe and OSCE.

The European Parliament supported the ongoing negotiations on the Association Agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan, but reaffirmed its stance that the Agreement has to include clauses and benchmarks which refer to the protection and promotion of human rights.

„In the light of spreading repressions, we expect that Azerbaijani authorities will comply with their obligations enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, especially before taking over the rotating chairmanship in the Council of Europe in 2014, because the respect for the freedom of the media and the right to peaceful assembly constitute a condition of a country’s membership in the Council of Europe, OSCE and of the currently negotiated Association Agreement with the EU,” Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, a Polish MEP and one of the authors of the resolution, said during the debate.

In one of their last points, EP called on Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso “to speak out on the EU’s human rights concerns vis-à-vis Azerbaijan, as outlined in the last ENP progress report, during President Ilham Aliyev’s planned visit to Brussels.” Let us hope that the Commission President hears this call and that human rights, indeed, eventually take precedece over energy and trade.

Istanbul, Gezi Park: „This is only the beginning. We will continue“ – and the Consequences for a Possible Turkish EU Accession

Until some ago days I was a clear supporter of a Turkish EU accession – even if it would come later as foreseen, but in principle I used to say that it was a good objective. Since 1986, when Turkey applied to join the EU, and the then Turkish Ambassador at the EU explained me that this is a long-term view – for the EU and for Turkey. But now, after Prime Minister’s Erdogan handling of the Gezi Park crisis, I look in a disillusioned way on this issue. What has shocked the European Union:
– Mr. Erdogan did and does not take care at all what is thought in Europe about his belligerant rhethorics, and about his double play between conciliatory steps towards the protesters and his disproportionate and violent proceeding. Even what the US said, was not regarded at all.

– It was also a „positive shock“ that its common foreign policy functioned: The EU for once follows a very clear policy – expressed by the Commissioners Füle (for Enlargement) and Ashton (for Foreign Policy), and by the European Parliament. This was agreed some days ago in a resolution which was drafted by all the major groups in the European Parliament – it was not an accidental, but a very intended majority. In a few weeks, the European Council will meet …

– Erdogan committed mistakes after mistakes. He should, as an elected prime Minister, exercise his capacity of integration and inclusion. Instead of this, he mobilized and mobilized every means of verbal injuries towards the protesters („terrorists“ – like Al Qaida or likewise, but Erdogan meant the students, elder gentlemen, medical doctors, lawyers, housewives) which are just indecent. He later said the was in favour of talks, then not, then again, then he agreed to an ultimatum until Sunday, 16.6., then he let „clear“ the square already on Saturday, 15.6. This kind of hectic actionism does not convey the picture of a wise statesman, but of someone in subjective psychic danger. After all, he as Prime Minister is the commander-in-chief of the Turkish police which clearly exaggerated ist means against the eople – among which elder people picknicking peacefully in Gezi Park!

Mr. Erdogan showed all of a sudden that in a situation which could be an everyday’s issue in a functioning democracy he reacts unwise, very primitely, like his Syrian colleague even in giving those orders directed against the own people, unreflected, drumming his breast like a Gorilla, not listening outside voices who are not part of the game but remind him of some elementary standards.

For the European Union (which may be is in a „crisis“ of the public finances of some member states, but which is otherwise still going strong, Mr. Erdogan!), things with Turkey are now totally changed. Out of a petite reason there came a legitimacy crisis of the AKP System, starting cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir et al. To put it clear: With a Turkey represented by Mr. Erogan’s values, an accession can never be reached. For the EU is also a community of values, as stipulated in art. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 EU Treaty. Now it becomes clear that Turkey does not want to reform its „minor“ Problems with journalists, poets, Armenians, unflexibility to excuse for mistakes in the past (again Armenians), and of course Cyprus, the Ankara protocol, and the non-acceptance to let Cypriot civilian aircraft fly over Turkey or to deal with its cargo ships.

The EU which may even open one more negotiation chapter in the next days and weeks (now they should Refrain from this!), will not and cannot go further in the direction of a closer relation to Turkey – with this government which shows what they think of humans. One can agree or not with Ms. Claudia Roth M.P., the Federal Chairwoman of the German Greens who is also Deputy Chair of the German-Turkish inter-parliamentarian Group, who happened to see the Events from tonight live in Istanbul, but in one thing she is undoubtedly right: „That is war! They chase people through the streets nd fire targeted tear gas grenades on persons.“ Which leads also to the reflection if all the training measures of the EU for the Turkish Police were in vain.

Turkey may suffer now an economic nose-dive as it turns out that one cannot sedate (and seduce) a people with economic liberalism alone, be it reached for the price of an authoritarian government.

Maybe with a certain delay, this is the beginning of the end of Mr. Erdogan’s regime. While the EU has of course to deal with this rude government, it is very open now for all alternatives which do not intend to turn back the time in the direction of a neo-osmanic empire,but of a modern, human-rights based democracy. And whoever wants his country into the system of the European Union, has to swallow that the EU is very, very interested into the details of the Turkish kind of rule of law. It will have to be made clear to the Turkish citizens that the EU, as a big ship on the ocean with little speed. but a valuable cargo, has stopped right before the Turkish port, which it does not enter because of some policies Mr. Erdogan represents. And I am very sure that from tonight there is now a new, durable conflict within Turkey – caused by the inflexible, constipated policy of Erdogan. He will end as an episode of Turkish politics.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)

Again Azerbaijan. This time: The Embassy in Switzerland and 2nd Class Citizens

These days, a letter came on the EUFAJ desk. It is worth while to take note of this, as it documents the arbitrary treatment of Azerbaijan citizens by this country’s embassy – this time in Bern/Switzerland. It reads as following (English text, in which we did not edit anything, below):

Hörmetli Dostlar,
Nezerinize catdiraq ki, sefirliyin 28 Dekabirda kesirdiyi tedbirden önce hemin tedbire gelmek isteyen insanlar qeydiyyatdan kecmek ücün gereken yerlere müraciyet etmisdiler. Lakin tedbir basladigi zaman salona daxil olmaq isteyen bezi aileler tedbirin kecirildiyi salona buraxilmamisdir( Valideyinler ve Usaqlar). Sonradan ortaya cixdi ki, Azerbaycan sefirliyi Azerbaycanda oldugu kimi azerbaycandan kenardada Insan Haqqlarina hörmətsizliyi acik asikar buradada büruze verdi. Bu tedbirde istirak edilmesine icaze verilmeyen ailelerde Valideyinler sefirliyin etdiyi bu exlaqsiz davranisi usaqlarina nece izah edecekler? O usaqlar ki, cox hevesle, cox sevincle hemin tedbirde istirak etmek ücün getmisdiler. Sefirliyin etdiyi bu Davranislar eslinde Azerbaycan Devletinin Adindan edildiyində nezere alsaq, qürbet yerde hem avropalilar hemcinin Azerbaycanlilar bunu heç də xoş qarşılamayacaqlar. Bunu eden serilik iscileri helede derk etmemisler ki bizim medeniyyetde, hec bir Müselman gələn qonaqı qapıdan geri qaytarmaz. Bu hadise bir daha gösterdi ki, Azerbaycan sefirliyi heç də xaricdeki azerbaycanlilari temsil etmir.
Son olaraq Haqq ve Adalet Teskilati olaraq, hemin tedbirde sefirliyin oradaki insanlarimiza qarsi etdiyi exlaqsiz davranislarina gore teessüf hisslerimizi bildiririk.


Dear Friends
As you know that, Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Swiss Confederation in Bern, organized an event to congratulate the the World Azerbaijanis Solidarity Day and new year on December 28, 2012. It should be mentioned that registration was made before event for people who liked to attend. Unfortunately some of guest families (Parents and Children) attempting to get into Event Hall in the beginning of program, have been turned away. This clearly show that Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan do not respect human rights outside of the Azerbaijan Republic as they do the same inside Azerbaijan Republic. How the parents who have been banned to enter event hall, will explain unethical behavior of embassy to their own children? The children who eagerly anticipated the event and more joy. Basically, this behavior which is made on behalf of the government of Azerbaijan through the Embassy, will not be welcomed from the Europeans point of view, as well as Azerbaijanis abroad. The embassy staff, who showed this behavior still do not understand that in our culture, any Muslim does not turn away the guest. This showed that again the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan does not represent Azerbaijanis abroad.
Finally as Right & Justice organization, express our feelings of regret regards unethical behavior by Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan against Azerbaijani people in that event.
No comment…

OSCE 2013: Welcome Mongolia, and Ukraine: Attention, You Will be Watched

The OSCE is not the easiest organisation, but it has proven to follow a solid policy in the sense of the majority of its member states, i. e. pro Human Rights, democracy, freedom of press etc.

In this context it may be useful if it is pointed out that some weeks ago, the OSCE has a 57th member state – Mongolia. This signalizes a political choice of a country surrounded by states like China, Russia, Kazakhstan. So welcome, Mongolia, and it can be considered a choice of confidence. In my opinion, Mongolia will be a non-problematic member of the OSCE.

Another member state has taken over today the presidency of the 57: Ukraine. This country is more problematic. This has to do with its demands to herself, like joining sooner or later the European Union. Nothing against this at all; enlargement is always the most successful aspect of any EU foreign policy, and welcome to the Ukrainians! But a country close to the EU wanting to join the club is always under closer scrutiny than a country further away.

According to an OSCE press release from today’s 1st January 2013, the country „will seek to make progress on resolving
protracted conflicts, strengthening conventional arms control, combating human trafficking, reducing the environmental impact of energy-related activities, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as OSCE Chair in 2013 the new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, said…“. It is correct when the Minister underlined „his country’s role and experience as a co-mediator and guarantor in the Transdniestrian settlement process and
welcomed the momentum achieved in these talks over the past year. He stressed the need to continue to make progress in this and other protracted conflicts in the region.“ This is correct, and maybe the Ukrainian chairmanship can change something to the positive in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. He should be wished all the best when he says; „We must re-energize negotiations within the existing formats and prevent any escalation in tensions. The resolution of protracted conflicts must remain the highest priority for the OSCE and all participating States”.

This sounds after all very well and is also realistic, together with some other accents on arms control and confidence-building measures, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office stated, as a way of strengthening security and military stability.

But there is another wish to Ukraine, too: Strengthening democracy at home, a correct handling of human rights, of elections (about which some weeks ago the OSCE election observers issued a devastating assessment), of the non-interference in the judiciary – and all this in an evident, uncomplicated, uncontested way. I have often heard the argument that some CIS countries, like Ukraine, cannot achieve within 20 years what other states – e.g. in Western Europe – have achieved since World War II (Germany), since 1789 (France) or since the 13th century (Great Britain with the habeas corpus act). Come on please, information today is global, education too, discussion too, and of course nobody would blame Ukraine for details in this field, but in general today we all live in an era with common goals, to which the preservation of power does not belong. So nobody in Ukraine lives still on the back of the moon.

The European Union Member States have just been witness of an OSCE chairmanship by Kazakhstan, not either the yolk of an egg. But it was good to go there and discuss openly, and perhaps it could contribute to an open-minded and free mass media there in the future (not during and right after te OSCE year of the country). As soon as Ukraine will have a system which is not anymore determined by corruption, by political trials, by full fundamental freedoms, then nobody in the EU will have anything against „the“ agreement EU-Ukraine. This must be taken into account by the Kiev government. The OSCE press release from today says „Emphasizing that protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and implementation of existing OSCE commitments in this area remain an important integral part of the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security, Leonid
Kozhara said that Ukraine’s Chairmanship would promote fight against human trafficking, support media freedom and encourage meaningful steps in a number of human dimension issues.“ Great what he wants to achieve. But has he the freedom to do so by his own government, apart from human trafficking? There are a lot of doubts, and they are permitted. And if he wants to get rid of FEMEN, the fancy female movement which has brought a new, drastic, colourful demonstration culture to Ukraine (like „Pussy Riots“ to Russia) – then, Minister, it is very easy: Just change a couple of things within Ukraine, and then FEMEN will be obsolete. But at present they are necessary in your country.

Let’s wait until 17. January 2013. Then the Minister will present Ukraine’s priorities to the OSCE Permanent
Council in Vienna. Let’s wait if it will be an apparatchik’s speech, or something which can bring Ukraine closer to the European Union, as its citizens desire it (and please do not forget: The EU cannot be blackmailed with a possible approach to Russia!). What you say, Minister, may upgrade your country as valuable interface to Russia, why not!

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal