Faculty of Law -Belgrade
Study trip to Strasbourg
PROGRAM OF THE VISIT TO THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS IN STRASBOURG 2-6 MARCH 2010
Wednesday 3 March 2010
09.30 : Talk
on the role of the Council of Europe in the European political
landscape by Mrs. Bridget O'LOUGHLIN, Head of the
10.30 : Talk
on the Council of Europe's Campaign "Speak out against
Discrimination" by Mr. Plamen NIKOLOV,
13.45 : Departure from the Main Entrance of the Palais de l’Europe. Walk to the European Parliament
14.30-16.30 : Visit of the building and a lecture on the work of the European Parliament followed by the question and answer session
16.30-18.30 : Visit of the Strasbourg city center
The European Court of Human Rights
9.00 : Hearing in the case OAO Neftyanaya kompaniya YUKOS v. Russia; there will be English and French interpretation.
14.30 : Presentation on the role and work of the Court by Aysegul Uzun Marinkovic, senior lawyer in the Court
15.30 : Meeting with Judge Dragolub Popovic, judge elected in respect of Serbia
16.30 End of program
Visit to Strasbourg
Less than half an hour away from our flight to home, scheduled for 10:45 with too many miles to concur, leaving the France just behind us, somewhere on the slopes of Schwarcvald, we started to wonder… Dunning verse of Amy Wine house, “… I ain’t got the time…” raised some doubts. Immense line of vehicles in front of us, accompanied by the snowstorm in a flurry, with no intention of dying down, did not promise a desirable outcome.
Determined to defy futile odds and horizons of uncertainties emerging in front of our eyes, we decided to take an action. Calm and cheerful nature of our driver, inherent to his Vietnamese origin and his timid “sa va” retreated before our enthusiasm… He had to estrange from European discipline and start driving French car in a Serbian way.
Mission impossible was successfully accomplished.
That was a proper happy end of our exciting visit to Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace region, that has started four days before pervade with valuable experiences and knowledge…
Two hours after lending at the Stuttgart airport, Strasbourg appeared before us. Like entering a time gate, “the town of the crossroads” inspired us with its eclectic charm, revitalizing our exhausted bodies, luring us to start to explore its disclosed as well as clandestine beauties. Situated at the meeting point of the ancient communication routes connecting South and North, East and West, established by the Romans in 12th century BC, Strasbourg reminisces stories hidden in time - it was here, that Gutenberg had developed the first printing process using movable type in 1450. In 1518. Luther’s thesis had been put on the display in Strasbourg Cathedral, a jam stone of gothic architecture treasure, marking the arrival of the reform movement…
Unique architecture, influenced by Italian, French and German craftsmanship of the gothic art, meticulously decorated bridges concealing a few romantic stories, roads paved with cobblestones intertwine with features of modern ambiance apparent in the form of electronic trams smoothly gliding on rails and arriving precisely on time, irresistible smells of fresh French bakery and finest chocolate and some scent of oriental delights that goes astray, multicultural spirit of tolerance and acceptance offering various ways to define and express yourself… seduce one’s senses easily, tempting you to go further but never to get lost; prices are there to remind you when to stop.
The Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Parliament are situated at the banks of the Ill River, 10 – 15 minutes of walk distant one from another.
Standing at the spacious plateau in front of the Palais de l’ Europe, the Council of Europe’s headquarters, we were able to recognize proudly, fluttering on a cool wind gazed with sun alongside with flags of other 46 member states, Serbian flag, verifying Serbia’s determination in giving its contribution to primary objectives of this institution – protecting human rights, pluralistic democracy and the rule of law and creating greater unity between members. The building itself was constructed during 1970s and is a plausible representative of that period. Distinguishing feature of the interior appears in the form of massive dark wood arches and corresponding tones of floral patterns of the tapestry and drapery.
In the Debating Chamber of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary assembly our kind host introduced us with principal guidelines on the role and organization of the Council of Europe, further elaborated by the lectures that followed. Ambiguous feelings were provoked by the presentation of the campaign “Speak out against discrimination” which primarily targets media industry professionals and has tree main objectives:
1. to train media professionals on how to
treat news relating to discrimination and intercultural dialogue;
The Campaign focuses on the role of media in the multicultural Europe and is part of anti-discrimination campaign framed by the Council of Europe’s White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue “Living together as equals in dignity”. During discussion, question of discrimination of Serbian population in Kosovo and media coverage of this issue was raised.
Answer received, had reviled that discrimination as a subject is appealing to media to that extent to which it can provoke public attention leading to the increase of financial gain for media undertakings. The legitimate economic interest of media undertakings, maximization of profit, has to be protected and respected; the freedom to choose what would be the subject on which they will report is left to them.
Whether those are the limits of protection and respect of human rights in media arena or elsewhere, what are the limits of equality principle define by the wealth maximization imperative, as well as many more questions were left unanswered. Our time has expired and time is money… Time brings the answer.
The European Court of Human Rights is based in the Human Rights Building designed by British architect Richard Rogers in 1994. Constructed in modern mannerism, the building leaves an impression of plates of scale in balance, suggesting that equality of the law and equal protection before the law, two components of legal standard of equality and non-discrimination could be achieved at this place. We attended the hearing in the proceedings between OAO Neftyanaya Kompaniya Yukos and Russia (application no.14902/04). The case concerns the applicant company’s complaint that it was targeted by the Russian authorities with tax and enforcement proceedings, which eventually led to its liquidation. The company complains of the violations of its rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. Both parties were represented by English counsels.
In an inspired manner Aysegul Uzun Marinkovic introduced us with the role and organization of the Court. We had an honor to meet Judge Dragoljub Popovic, the judge of the Court elected in respect of Serbia. He reminded us of the precedent nature of the Court’s decisions: “while the Court is not formally bound by its previous jurisprudence, it is in the interest of legal certainty, foreseenability and equality before the law that it should not depart from precedents laid down in previous cases.”
Monumental building of the European Parliament, covered with translucent surfaces reflecting the picture of the Ill river passing right next to it, exotic ambient accentuated by lianas from floor to ceiling, presenting transparency in a new dimension as one of the core principles of Parliament’s work, with its “unfinished” features underlining the idea that the European Union is an unfinished project itself, creates a picture of a suitable home for the guardian of freedoms and democracy. The building carries out the name of Louis Weiss, French author, journalist, feminist and politician, who worked as a war nurse from 1914 to 1918. She was a prominent promoter of democracy and peace, contributing to the realisation of post-war European dream for unification by founding the “Ecole de la Paix”, private institute for international relations. Stroving for women’s emancipation, Loius Weiss was devoted to suffragettes’ movement, championing the right to vote for women in France. In 1979, in the first European elections she became the first oldest Member of The European Parliament at the age of 86, sitting with the European People’s Party.
Unfortunately, due to the reconstruction work on the ceiling of the Main Chamber encapsulated in wooden sphere, we could not enter, yet we noticed interesting features in front of it – the Black Tulips- soundproof cabins enabling 2-4 MEPs to have private consultation protected from any unwanted attention.
As the first signs of night appeared on the sky over the Petite France, we realized that our visit soon will be over. The Strasbourg saluted us with the morning snowflakes.
of Law University of Belgrade