Appreciation for the constructive approach demonstrated by the authorities in Chisinau and Tiraspol and for the progress made in the official talks on the Transdniestrian settlement: it was expressed today by Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), at the conclusion of his first official visit to Chisinau and Tiraspol, where he met, among others, with Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, Prime Minister Vlad Filat, and Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Negotiator Eugen Carpov. Mr Zannier expressed the hope that now that the principles and procedures as well as the agenda have been confirmed by all participants, the talks will be able to move forward on the substance of the negotiations. Underlying the importance of OSCE Mission on both banks of the Dniestr/Nistru River to promote peace in the region, Mr Zannier said: Our core mandate is of course focused on advancing the settlement process and building confidence, but it is important to recognize that real results on the ground cannot be achieved without continued progress in key areas such as democratization, good governance and human rights. The OSCE Misssion remains committed to helping Moldovas efforts in this regard.
(SIR Europe - Brussels) - Romania must guarantee respect of the rule of law and independence of the judicial system if it wants to regain the trust of its EU partners. José Manuel Barroso grasps the opportunity of the six-month report of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) to make comments on the situation in the country. The Commission focuses on the recent institutional fight between government and presidency of the Republic, which led to the suspension of the powers of President Traian Basescu (popular referendum on the subject on 29 July). In fact, the report by the CVM - established on the very day Romania joined the EU, on 1 January 2007 - points out several aspects which the Member State must face to make progress towards the EU standards in relation to democracy, legality, and fight against corruption. Barroso adds that balance of powers must be ensured within a democratic system. And: As for judicial system reforms and fight against corruption, progress was made in the last five years, but now that progress is questioned again because of the events occurred in the latest month. The President says: Premier Ponta has promised to dispel these doubts soon, and the EU Commission will follow developments to guarantee respect of the commitments taken before the European Union.
One week for youth of different origins and with different background to meet, share their life experiences, and live together to build a common project. ATD Fourth World presents the European Youth Gathering: about 20 young people from 18 to 30 speaking French and/or English, meeting in Frimhurst (England) from 14 to 22 August. There will be time for manual work, artistic or creative workshops, sport activities, games or walks. Based on the participants wishes, their knowledge and their know-how - said the promoters - we will organize a day to welcome youth and families, to do some workshops, shows and to talk with each other. We will also have an intercultural day to share the culture, the traditions, the games and the food from our different countries. The meeting will be hosted at the ATD Fourth Worlds family welcoming house, in Frimhurst. Information and applications: jeunesse.europe@Atd-quartmonde.org.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - Velehrad in Czech Republic will host the VIII formative and educational meeting of Catholic pastoral workers in health and social care facilities, due to be held at national level on 1-4 October 2012. Participants will reflect on topics associated with communication and pastoral conversation of a hospital chaplain with patients and health care workers. The program will include lectures, seminars, workshops, sharing of experiences from abroad, as well as a spiritual retreat conducted by Mons. Jan Baxant, bishop of Litomerice and president of the Council for Health Care of the Czech Bishops Conference. The event will be co-organized by the archdiocese of Olomouc and the St. Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology of Palacky University in Olomouc.
Mgr. Balestrero went on to recall the double role of the FIA as intelligence authority and supervising authority: In its role of supervising authority - he said -, the FIA needs to be strengthened, because the Holy See is a specific organisation, not a financial centre. As outlined in the Report, the risk is very low, but no one is exempt from it. This is why the inspection Regulation will be extremely important. Concerning relations with Italy, Mgr. Balestrero replied: It is not up to the Holy See to assess the decisions made by the Italian delegation during the Assembly in Strasbourg. The Holy See does not want, and will never want, to interfere politically with what is just a technical process. The case of former IOR president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi has had no influence on the current process: We have a very transparent system for the revision of laws, which resulted in the laws of 2010 and 2012. The purpose of the latter was to provide each institution with the necessary competences: if there is more co-responsibility, the system can work better. The publication of the Report marked the beginning of the ‘third phase in the Moneyval evaluation. Now the Holy See has one year to present its progress report.
At the end of 2010 - Mgr. Balestrero said, recalling the last nineteen months of work and learning by the Holy See - we passed Law No 126 on the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, which entered into force on 1st April 2011; in June of the same year, the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) became operational; in February 2011, Moneyval was requested to evaluate the measures adopted by the Holy See, and in November 2011, we received the first visit by Moneyval evaluators. On 25 January 2012, the Holy See changed its Law No 126, in the light of the need to better allocate respective competences in order to establish a stronger and more sustainable system. We are aware - Mgr. Balestrero said - that, like other jurisdictions, some areas of the Vaticans systems to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism still need to improve. (continued)
Of the seven significantly important points on which progress should be made according to the Moneyval Report, Mgr. Balestrero - answering journalists questions - mentioned risk assessment, that is, the evaluation of risk factors: we are grateful to evaluators - he said - for emphasising this aspect, of which we were already aware. Now we have to make a detailed assessment of all risk factors, considering that we do not start from zero, Mgr. Balestrero added, citing the case of The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) which is already using a new work approach that needs to be re-examined to ensure compliance with international standards. Our jurisdiction, like other jurisdictions - Mgr. Balestrero explained - pays close attention to cash: the Vatican City State receives many donations, many of which are ‘cash based. Hence the need to pay closer attention to this factor in order to reduce the risk related to the use of cash. In compliance with European standards, cash donations cannot exceed €10,000. Suspicious transactions must be reported to the FIA. (continued)
(SIR Europe - Brussels) - The spiritual dimension as well as the practical dimension of Europe are the core of the Walk of hope, a pilgrimage through the French central region of Bourbonnais, gathering over 200 people coming from the whole Continent from 21 July to 2 August, to walk and pray together to support the future of Europe, and explicitly recalling its Christian roots. The walk goes from Souvigny (monks of Cluny - X century) to Notre Dame du Port (Romanic church in the small town of Clermont-Ferrand). It was set up by the Friends of Saint Jacques en Bourbonnais, with support by the bishops of Moulins, Msgr. Pascal Roland, and of Clermont-Ferrand, Hippolyte Simon. The organisers say that the young, adults and families have been invited to the pilgrimage to witness hope in the heart of Europe. Every day, from 21 to 27 July, a group of pilgrims will leave from Souvigny to go back to the same place one week later. Apart from the daily route, the programme includes time for reflection on the European history, culture and current events, community prayer, meeting with religious communities. President of the EU Council Herman Van Rompuy sent promoters a letter of support, recalling the value of hope, asking us to prepare the future. Information at www.chemin-esperance.eu.
According to Moneyval, no assessment of the AML/CFT risk has been made, yet by the Holy See, and a few vulnerabilities might potentially increase money laundering or financing of terrorism risks for the whole system. For this reason, the vigilance legislative foundations should be further increased. Moreover, the assessors believed the role, responsibility, authority, powers and independency of the Financial information authority in its capacity as AML/CFT supervisor were not clear. Highly recommended: In the near future, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) should be subject to the prudential vigilance of an independent supervisor, who should make the senior management of financial institutions meet reliability and correctness requirements. On the whole, measures suitable to encourage cooperation on both national and international level were adopted. The assessors appreciated the decision of the Holy See to join the Conventions of Vienna and Palermo, as well as the UN Convention on financing of terrorism of January 2012. Moneyval will go on monitoring the carrying out of its recommendations through follow-up procedures, for which the Holy See will present a progress report by the end of the year.
Not an end, but a milestone in our continuing efforts to marry moral commitments to technical excellence: this is how Mgr. Ettore Balestrero, Under-Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, called the Moneyval Report on the evaluation of the measures adopted by the Holy See to prevent and counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Report, published today by Moneyval, was presented to journalists at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office. We have taken a definitive step to lay the foundations to a structure - a house if you will - that is to a robust and sustainable system to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, Mgr. Balestrero said. Now it is our wish to fully construct a building that effectively shows the Holy Sees and Vatican City States desire to be a reliable ‘partner in the international community. The Holy See - the under-secretary said - recognizes that moral commitments must be accompanied by the technical compliance and effective implementation of the international standards necessary to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Compliance and effective implementation are indeed what render moral commitments concrete. (continued)
A sign of hope: for bishop of St. Pölten Msgr. Klaus Küng, that is the meaning of the meeting of young families. Austrian Catholic press agency Kathpress made known that the meeting was opened in Pöllau, Styria, yesterday. It is the 10th edition of the event, ending on 22 July, gathering about 150 families under the slogan So, choose life!. The meeting was set up by several Christian organisations for the family. In Pöllau, said Msgr. Küng, something special occurs, something prophetic. It is a real sign of hope for the Church and tomorrows society that so many families are meeting to spend holidays together, associating also prayer and praise of God to that time. The agenda of those six days includes round tables, spiritual occasions, and a series of events for children. Card. Christoph Schönborn, president of the Austrian Bishops Conference, is also taking part in the event. He is speaking tomorrow, and will also celebrate the Mass. An important event is the traditional pilgrimage of families scheduled on Saturday: bishop of Styria, Msgr. Egon Kapellari is also taking part in it. The meeting ends on Sunday, with the Mass celebrated by the bishop of St. Pölten.
In compliance with the Moneyval report published today, about the Holy See and the State of Vatican City on anti-money-laundering (AML) and combating financing of terrorism (CFT), the Holy See was compliant, or largely compliant with 22 (49%) of the 45 recommendations examined (the recommendations are actually 49, but according to a Moneyval note, 4 were regarded as non-applicable owing to the unique characteristics of the Holy See/State of Vatican City). As for the 23 (51%) left, it was judged either partially compliant or non compliant. In general, the Committee of experts of the Council of Europe for assessing measures relative to the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, acknowledges that the Hole See has made a lot in a short time, and lots of the elements making up its AML/CFT system are now officially in force. However, a few important questions have still to be faced to fully demonstrate the operating effectiveness of the system. (Continued)
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The role of the European Investment Bank in supporting local economies in reacting to the crisis; strengthening cooperation in the field of asylum and immigration. These are two of the main issues on the agenda of the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the EU advisory body, due to take place today and tomorrow in Brussels. During the work, the CoR will also appoint a new president: Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, Peoples Party member from Spain, is most likely to be elected as the successor of the current President Mercedes Bresso, Italian PES Group member. Cyprus Deputy Minister for European Affairs Andreas Mavroyannis, for his part, will present the priorities of the six-month EU Council Presidency. Then Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), will present a report on how EIB and CoR can work together to increase the quality of development projects and their implementation; the EIB, in particular, is called to intervene to grant the continuity of co-financing of the operational programmes for structural funds 2014-2020. Discussions will also focus on the implementation of project bonds to support specific project aimed at re-launching the European economy.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - Hundreds of faithful welcomed the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Belarus, where it arrived on 12 July from Russia as a part of its world-wide pilgrimage From Ocean to Ocean in defense of life, promoted by various pro-life organizations from each country. The icon was formally handed over by the coordinator of the Russian part of the pilgrimage, Igor Beloborodov, to the representative of the Belarusian Orthodox pro-life movement, Fr. Paul Serdiuk. In Belarus, the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa will be hosted by several Christian Churches, and from 13 to 23 July, the pilgrim route will cover more than 20 towns. After returning from Ukraine on 27 July, Our Lady will visit the Belarusian National Catholic Youth event in Ivianiec, from where the icon will go to Latvia and afterwards to other European countries. The pilgrimage started more than a month ago in Vladivostok, Russia. According to Fr. Mikhail Gorovoj from the Russian Orthodox Church, the campaign also does the great spiritual work of bringing closer the Christians of East and West. For more information: www.fromoceantoocean.org.