Reports say no sanctions against Armenia expected in PACE

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There are reports claiming, that the suggestion to suspend the voting rights of the Armenian delegation at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has been removed from the draft resolution to be presented at the Assembly today.

Levon Zurabyan, a spokesperson for the Armenian National Congress (HAK) told RFE/RL today, that a copy of the draft resolution has been obtained by the representatives of HAK, which allows them to draw the conclusion.

Armenia has been living under constant pressure since December 17, 2008 – after the adoption of a suggestion by the PACE Monitoring Committee to suspend the voting rights of the Armenian delegation over concerns that political prisoners exist in Armenia and that the provisions of PACE resolutions 1609 (08) and 1620 (08) have not been fully implemented.

Following the visit of PACE Monitoring Committee co-repertoires Jon Prescott and Gorges Colombier to Armenia mid-January to evaluate the situation and possibly make amendments to the draft resolution adopted by the Monitoring Committee, a number of Armenian pro-government politicians had expressed hope and even conviction, that the voting rights of the country won’t be suspended after all.

This would be generally good news – suspension of voting rights would be a hard blow to Armenia’s international authority, amidst ongoing Karabakh talks. Moreover, considering the fact that PACE has been much more patient with countries like Azerbaijan which has literally turned into a monarchy with non-existent civil liberties, it would seem unfair for the Assembly to adopt sanctions against Armenia.

On the other hand – since Armenia’s entry to the CoE the PACE resolutions on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia had been one of the main drivers of democratic reforms. Today, when it was time for PACE to show, that it is a body genuinely concerned about democracy, not adopting any sanctions will be an indicator for the Armenian politicians (government and opposition alike), that they can do pretty much anything and get away with it. …and that will really hurt the fragile democracy in this country.

I really hope, that there are no sanctions against Armenia, but that there is a very strict resolution with some type of control mechanism, to make sure the country doesn’t fall off the track of civil liberties. Otherwise, what do we need the CoE membership for?

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29 thoughts on “Reports say no sanctions against Armenia expected in PACE

  1. Key here to the PACE decision is reportedly amendments to the Criminal Code which will mean those still in detention can be released. More importantly, assuming the changes are made, the legislation can not be used again in such situations.

    http://www.armradio.am/news/?part=pol&id=14262

    This is how the CE measures and assesses reform — not by what has been before, but if legislation is brought more in line with European standards and can resolve outstanding issues.

    Article 301 in Turkey is the best example of controversial legislation that can hold back a country’s development although it’s still yet to be dealt with.

    Of course, in the case of Armenia oversight and pressure is needed to have those changes made and in the timescale agree upon. Anyway, that’s how it all works.

    Probably seems insignificant to many, but an example would be the removal of administrative arrest. During and after 2003 election it was constantly used to harass, intimidate and detain those attending rallies.

    Now it is not and the criminal code was used instead, but in connection to 1 March events rather than the pre-election period:

    http://www.armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&AID=1905&CID=1973&IID=1111&lng=arm

    No doubt after these changes, another law will be found to restrict civil liberties, but nobody said democratization was going to be east, and in this part of the world where authoritarianism is still the desired approach, that’s especially the case,

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Armenia: Voting Rights

  3. What is unfortunate, of course, is that such legislative changes are not driven internally by parliamentary deputies and governments or political parties, but rather through external pressure from bodies such as PACE. However, I’m afraid that this is the situation we’re in. Certainly, the changes — like those following the 2003 presidential election — are as a result of threats to withdraw voting rights. However, there’s still much more that needs to be changed or reformed and it’s going to take a long, long time.

  4. The danger of suspending Armenia’s voting right at PACE has lessened

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will start discussing the issue on Armenia at 1 p.m. Yerevan time. At 3 p.m. the decision will be announced. It should be noted, however, that, in general, it became clear after yesterday’s sitting of the Monitoring Committee that the danger of suspending the voting right of the Armenian delegation has lessened. Secondly, the Assembly will, most probably return to the issue during its April session.

    […]

    http://www.armradio.am/news/?part=pol&id=14264

  5. I don’t care what the reforms are driven by – as long as they take place eventually. So far the CoE resolutios and recommendations have been the main factor, but if the Armenian authorities understad, that the CoE can be manipulated, they’ll stop paying attention, that’s what I’m worried aobut.

  6. I dont’ like such kind interrogation in Armenia’s internal affairs.
    It’s shameful for country claimed itself as an independent.

  7. bullshit! Armenia has voluntarily asked to join the CoE. Nobody was forcing it into CoE. And once you join the game, you are supposed to play by the rules or answer! What does it have to do with independence?

  8. Onnik,calm down,pls.
    All what we can see,that CoE is playing with double moral concerning Armenia.
    What about azeris sultanat or Georgia? Is everything OK there?
    For example his case in Javakhk?
    Europe just manipulating with such things like democracy and etc.

    On January 22, 2009 the special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia detained Grigor Minasyan, the director of the Akhaltskha Armenian Youth Center of Samtskhe-Javakheti Region of Georgia and Sargis Hakobjanyan, the chairman of “Charles Aznavour” charitable organization. They were charged with “preparation of crime”, according to Article 18 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, and “formation or leading of a paramilitary unit” (Part 1 of Article 223) and “espionage” (Part 1 of Article 314).

    The «Yerkir» Union considers these arrests as a deliberate provocation by the Georgian authorities, aimed at deterioration of the situation in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and worsening the Armenian-Georgian relations in order to achieve the following objectives:

    1. To distract the gradually increasing attention of the international community from the trial of the Javakheti Armenian political activist Vahagn Chakhalyan, during which the leader of the «United Javakhk» and its advocates raise the concerns and problems of the Javakheti Armenians, and demand their solution, which impels the Georgian authorities to commit new and apparent violations and iniquities at the court proceedings.

    2. By putting up the playing card of the «Armenian separatism» before the international community, to avoid complying with its international obligations on the protection of the rights of the national minorities, including the Armenian minority.

    3. By putting up the same «Armenian separatism» card, to push the Armenian authorities to new compromises when it comes to solution of the problems of the Armenians of Javakheti and Georgia.

    Therefore, the «Yerkir» Union appeals to the international community, urging them to take immediate measures in order to halt the deepening crisis and to address the socio-economic, linguistic, educational and religious problems of the Armenian minority of Georgia.

    The international community has an obligation to send a clear message to the Georgian authorities, emphasizing that they have no alternative to the solving the problems of the ethnic minorities living in the country. Only a democratic Georgia, respecting its ethnic diversity, can avoid further disruption and guarantee the sustainable development of the country.

    January 23, 2009

  9. Tigran, I agree with Observer. Armenia joined the CE by it own free will. If it is not happy about external interference it should leave. Of course, I’m glad it doesn’t because then we’d really turn into another Belarus.

    As for Georgia, I’m reserving judgment until there is independent reports coming out, but I would imagine the CE office will be keeping an eye on matters as minority and religious rights is a concern of the body. As for Azerbaijan, I totally agree and think that they should issue a statement on the referendum.

    Basically, yes, I agree that the CE should focus on such matters although it’s worth pointing out that the 1 March incidents are more significant to deal with than the other two you mention — for now. That will likely change as the situation in both countries does over the weeks and months.

    Nevertheless I am concerned that the CE has not apparently made a statement on the referendum coming at the same time as RFE/RL, VOA, BBC etc is effectively taken off the air. Anyway, why calm down? I am calm. I think you might be referring to Observer’s response and not mine.

  10. Observer, re. manipulation, I’m afraid all member-states do the least with what they can get away with. As I implied, I would have been happier if parliament had decided to remove administrative attention and change other aspects of the law because it was the right thing to do rather than happen only at the last minute, often in ways that were not ideal and so on. Unfortunately, however, that is how things are here, but we agree the CE managed to something. Now, like a game of ping-pong, the ball comes back to Armenia’s court and we have to wait and see what will be by April. Yes, I know, it’s infuriating, but…

  11. here’s the provisional version of the adopted resolution: http://assembly.coe.int/Mainf.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta09/ERES1643.htm

    Provisional edition

    The implementation by Armenia of Assembly Resolutions 1609 (2008) and 1620 (2008)

    Resolution 1643 (2009)1

    ——————————————————————————–

    1. In its Resolution 1620 (2008) on the implementation by Armenia of Assembly Resolution 1609 (2008), adopted on 25 June 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly considered that progress had been insufficient, despite the political will expressed by the Armenian authorities to address the requirements set up in Resolution 1609 (2008), adopted on 17 April 2008, following the crisis that ensued after the presidential election of February 2008. The Assembly therefore addressed a series of concrete demands to the Armenian authorities and resolved to consider the possibility of suspending the voting rights of the members of the Armenian parliamentary delegation to the Assembly at its January 2009 part-session, if the requirements set up in Resolutions 1609 and 1620 were not met by then.

    2. With regard to the requirement to ensure an independent, impartial and credible investigation into the events of 1 and 2 March 2008, the Assembly welcomes the establishment by the President of Armenia, on 23 October 2008, of a “fact-finding group of experts to inquire into the events of 1-2 March 2008”, following a proposal by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. It equally welcomes the decision of the opposition to fully participate in the work of this group.

    3. The Assembly stresses, however, that it is the manner in which this group will conduct its work, as well as the access it will have to information by the relevant state institutions at all levels, that will ultimately determine its credibility in the eyes of the Armenian public. The Assembly therefore:

    3.1. calls upon all political forces to refrain from politicising, or interfering in, the work of this fact-finding group;

    3.2. calls upon the Armenian authorities to ensure that the fact-finding group will be given the fullest possible co-operation by, and full access to information from, all state bodies and officials, without exception, including those officials that have left office or have been replaced since the events on 1 and 2 March 2008; the fact-finding group should be allowed to obtain any clarification needed with regard to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of persons related to the events on 1 and 2 March 2008.

    4. The Assembly regrets that, until the last moment, only limited progress was made by the Armenian authorities with regard to its earlier demands, as expressed in Resolutions 1609 (2008) and 1620 (2008), concerning the release of persons deprived of their liberty in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008. It notes in particular that, contrary to Assembly demands:

    4.1. a significant number of prosecution cases and convictions was based solely on police testimony, without substantial corroborating evidence;

    4.2. a very limited number of charges under Articles 225 and 300 of the Criminal Code of Armenia has been dropped.

    5. The Assembly notes that doubts have been voiced regarding the nature of the charges brought under Articles 225 and 300 of the Criminal Code, as well as with regard to the legal proceedings against those convicted in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008, including by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. The Assembly therefore considers that, under such conditions, the charges against a significant number of persons, especially those charged under Articles 225-3 and 300 of the Criminal Code and those based solely on police evidence, could have been politically motivated. The Assembly is seriously concerned about the implications of this situation if left unaddressed.

    6. The Assembly welcomes the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, of 22 January 2009, to establish a Working Group within the National Assembly, within a one-month period, to draft, in co-operation with the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe (notably the Venice Commission and the Commissioner for Human Rights) amendments to Articles 225 and 300 of the Criminal Code of Armenia, in order to address the legal shortcomings in these articles as noted, inter alia, by the Assembly and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, and to bring them in line with Council of Europe standards. The Assembly also notes the assurances given by the Speaker of the National Assembly that these amendments will be adopted and sent to the President for promulgation within approximately one month after the Working Group has finalised its work. The Assembly notes that, under the Constitution of Armenia, any positive changes to the law would be retroactive with respect to the charges brought against the persons deprived of their liberty in relation to the events on 1 and 2 March 2008.

    7. The Assembly considers that this initiative of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, although belated, is a signal indicating the readiness of the Armenian authorities to begin to address the concerns of the Assembly in relation to the situation of the persons deprived of their liberty in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008.

    8. The Assembly welcomes the increasing number of pardons, 28 to date, that have been granted by the President of Armenia and notes that more are under consideration. The Assembly expresses its expectation that this process will continue unabated. It regrets however that the authorities have not so far availed themselves of the possibility to use all other legal means available to them, such as amnesty, pardons or the dropping of charges, to release those who were deprived of their liberty in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008 and did not personally commit acts of violence or intentionally order, abet or assist the committing of such acts. It therefore urges the authorities to consider favourably further opportunities to this end.

    9. In these circumstances, the Assembly will continue assessing the political will of the Armenian authorities to resolve the issue of persons detained in relation to the events on 1 and 2 March 2008, in line with earlier Assembly demands.

    10. The Assembly expresses its satisfaction with respect to the efforts made by the Armenian authorities to initiate reforms in several other areas, as demanded by the Assembly, in particular in the fields of media, electoral legislation and the judiciary, and calls upon the authorities to pursue the co-operation developed with the relevant Council of Europe bodies in these fields. With respect in particular to media pluralism and freedom, the Assembly:

    10.1. welcomes the proposals made with a view to ensuring the independence of the media regulatory bodies in Armenia and calls upon the authorities to fully implement the forthcoming recommendations of the Council of Europe experts in this regard;

    10.2. takes note of the adoption of amendments to the Law on Television and Radio that cancels all tenders for broadcasting frequencies until 2010, when the introduction of digital broadcasting in Armenia will have been completed. Without pre-empting the merits of this decision, the Assembly underlines that the technical requirements for the introduction of digital broadcasting should not be used by the authorities to unduly delay the holding of an open, fair and transparent tender for broadcasting licences, as demanded by the Assembly.

    11. Notwithstanding the recent positive development in this area, the Assembly remains dissatisfied with, and seriously concerned by, the situation of persons deprived of their liberty in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008 and who may have been charged and imprisoned for political motivations. Nevertheless, it considers that the recent initiative of the National Assembly to revise articles 225 and 300 of the Criminal Code in accordance with Council of Europe standards, the number of pardons granted, as well as the positive steps taken towards the establishment of an independent, transparent and credible inquiry, should be seen as an indication of the readiness of the Armenian authorities to address the demands of the Assembly contained in Resolutions 1609 (2008) and 1620 (2008). Therefore, the Assembly decides, at this stage, not to suspend the voting rights of the members of the Armenian parliamentary delegation to the Assembly, under Rule 9, paragraphs 3 and 4.c, of the Rules of Procedure. It decides to remain seized of the matter and invites its Monitoring Committee, at its next meeting, before the April 2009 part-session, to examine the progress achieved by the Armenian authorities with regard to the implementation of this and the previous Resolutions and to propose any further action to be taken by the Assembly as required by the situation.

    ——————————————————————————–

    1 Assembly debate on 27 January 2009 (3rd Sitting) (see Doc. 11786, report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), co-rapporteurs: Mr Colombier and Mr Prescott, and Doc. 11799, opinion of the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities, rapporteur: Mr Greenway). Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 January 2009 (3rd Sitting).

  12. No problem Onnik jan:)
    Only one issue?
    When Armenia become member of the PASE the articles 225 and 300 were the same like now. How they(Europe) agreed on Armenia membership?
    Really I don’t care will be Armenia’s vote suspended or not, because this double-standard Assembly has no moral value to judge on.

  13. Tigran, when Armenia joined, it agreed to carry out reforms of legislation – that was a precondition, to which Armenia again – volunterily, subscribed to!

    More importantly, the CoE standards are for us – Armenians. We are the ones who needs democracy in this country, not the CoE. In fact – CoE doesn’t care – we could be another Zimbabwe if we like, as long as we don’t try to join CoE and try to put up a ‘democracy’ face.

    We in Armenia need the CoE to be strict towards its members, not the CoE. And although I’m happy that Armenian delegation’s voting rights are not suspended, I’m also saddened by this – yet another display of inconsitency of the CoE.

  14. Tigran,

    This stands out from Article 225:

    Acts envisaged in part 1 or 2 of this Article accompanied with murder, is punished with imprisonment for 6-12 years.

    And from Article 300:

    2. The person who voluntarily informed the authorities about the crime envisaged in this Article, is exempted from criminal liability, if, as a result of taken measures and provided information, the committal of these actions was prevented.

    I can see how this could be a problem in terms of false testimony, for example, or not having enough evidence to prove “envisaged” acts and relying on verbal testimony only from police.

    Anyway, I think I’d like to see a legal analysis of these articles and how they were used. As for why now, well, I suppose it’s because the matter has come up. I have to admit, however, that I’m not a lawyer and have not been following the court cases.

    So, I would like to see some independent and comprehensive analysis of how the articles were used and an assessment of whether they were used correctly. I think the CE has pretty much concluded that they weren’t.

    Anyway, I do believe it’s necessary to promote reform in Armenia because the matter is not happening naturally from within and Armenia has commited itself to meeting the decision of the CE. Moreover, we find ourselves in a weird situation.

    Levon’s people are unhappy with the CE not applying sanctions because of these changes and you aren’t happy with them either. Yet, if that’s the case, what is the solution because so far I don’t see any change happening from within.

    Of course, others would argue that regardless, reform is not the only issue. The independence of the judiciary still remains a problem, for example.

    As for double standards, we have yet to see, but I am confused by its apparent silence on the referendum in Azerbaijan. On the other hand, some countries in Europe have no limit on presidential terms.

    Of course, Azerbaijan also isn’t Europe which is why such a change is so dangerous and intended for one purpose and one purpose only.

  15. Onnik
    I don’t want to speak about so-called opposition,they are not the people to defend the interests of Armenia.
    Why we,armenians, are so weak to allow anyone outside to shake their fingers on us?
    Who are those idiots representing Armenia in COE?
    Who is implementing our foreign policy?
    Do we need to behave ourselves as Azerbaijan to establish sultanat here,clode down western radios and have no threats from Europe?
    Why Turkey should vote against suspending of armenians votes and why levonakans pushing Europe to do this?
    Where is brave Raffi?
    There are so many questions to stay unanswered…
    By the way, Art jan,Stepan Safaryan some days ago told that “Heritage” could give back deputies mandats at the end of January. Where is Stepan Safaryan now? Why he left Armenia for three months?

  16. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Armenia: Council of Europe Reprieve

  17. Now that I’ve had a chance to digest both the Assembly’s newest Resolution and to read reactions from all sides, I have quite a few thoughts. First, although my initial reaction was negative, I’m coming around to Onnik and Artur’s view that this was probably the least bad of the alternatives. And to those rejoicing that they have once again “escaped,” I suggest reading the document more carefully. Anyway, some thoughts:

    1) Hovik Abrahamyan’s embarrassing prostration and bootlicking may have won some time, but “Speaker of the National Assembly” is the one person specifically mentioned (see points 6 and 7) as having to do something very concrete within a very short period of time. He promised action, and he’d better deliver (if anyone sees one-way air tickets to Cyprus being bought three weeks from now, better investigate…) Excuses will not be viewed in a good light at the next PACE session.

    2) The Council of Europe frowns on dramatic gestures, and these did not serve the opposition well. Singing patriotic songs in court and writing letters accusing the Co-Rapporteurs of taking bribes didn’t translate well in Strasbourg. Cool is in on the Continent these days—boring but true.

    3) The Council of Europe seems to be comprised of pretty lazy people. To have taken Sargsyan’s last-minute “political prisoner” release on face value without even checking the convenient list of names that the Armenian National Congress has undoubtedly given them is shameful and unworthy of a group of supposedly seasoned diplomats. As to the Co-Rapporteurs’ one-day all-expenses “listening tour” of Yerevan where they listened only to one side, may I suggest that there’s a depression and that video-conferencing is much cheaper?

    4) The opposition also needs to understand that a news cycle is 24/7, and that important things often happen on the weekend, and media has to go to work then sometimes. And waiting for newspapers to publish is so 20th century, the Internet is the most vital and immediate place to get the message out.

    5) On another dramatic note that misfired, Raffi’s non-presence had less than no effect. Had he been there, he could have conveyed the opposition’s information and stance. As Woody Allen said, 90% of life is just showing up.

    6) The Council of Europe has a very poor image of the “diplomats” of Armenia. Now that the vote has been taken, you can read the disdain falling from their mouths. Sargsyan’s delight in “having put one over on them” does not serve Armenia well, and it doesn’t generate support, whether diplomatically or economically.

    To answer Tigran’s question of why the rules need to apply to internal politics, let’s try an analogy: Imagine that Armenia had a football team (I didn’t say this would be an easy analogy ;) ) that wanted to play internationally, let’s say a game against Turkey…But Armenia has different rules for playing football—they are ancient rules, Armenia was the first country that played football, so we insist to play by Armenian rules. All the other countries would say: “Well, that’s fine if you want to play by yourself, but there are international rules, so to play football with other countries, you need to follow the international rules.” To play or to take your ball home, that’s the question.

    Armenia can choose to live in isolation, or perhaps join with “Muslim countries” (I bet you liked that one, huh?), or it can play by the rules of the organizations it joins. Or I guess it can become a province of Russia or a territory of (fill in the blank), but it can’t have its khorovats and eat it, too.

  18. Plainly said Armenian regime acts like an annoying sticky kid who wants to drink lemonade but at night pisses in the bed.
    and so far COE gives the lemonade because it’s not COE who changes the bed or live in the stench (gyozahot). The most COE can do is offering cures which they are doing now or stop giving the lemonade which they will do at some point when the stench reaches them.
    At the end of the day it is up to Armenian people to cure the kid’s pissing problem. The other alternative is to pretend that there is no problem and live in piss till suffocation.

  19. Tigran,

    Firstly, just because Azerbaijan is less democratic than Armenia does not mean that we should therefore accept Armenia for what it is. If that attitude was prevalent throughout the world, we’d all still be in the dark ages. Some would argue that compared to where Armenia is at present and where it could be we pretty much relatively are.

    Regarding the suspension of foreign radio broadcasts, as we can all remember, they tried to do that here as well in 2007. The U.S. Government put pressure on them not to. Not sure what the U.S. Embassy in Baku is doing, but anyway, one question.

    Would you prefer RFE/RL not to broadcast in Armenia and where you for or against the attempt to restrict its broadcast to the SW frequency here? If you were for, or at least supportive of the attempt, here, it’s strange that you seem so against it in Azerbaijan.

    Anyway, regardless, we have still yet to see what will happen in Azerbaijan as a result of all of this, and as is the case of the CE with Armenia, things don’t happen immediately. Let’s face it, we’re still here what? Almost a year after the election and 1 March?

    Meanwhile, there is this:

    In an interview with Day.az, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Lluis Maria de Puig expressed his regret over the broadcast ban of foreign radio stations as well as concern over recent constitutional amendments. These changes seriously undermine the possibility for a democratic state in Azerbaijan especially because Azerbaijan took the responsibility to abide by the principles of democracy, respect for law and human rights when joining the Council of Europe.

    “The [proposed] changes to the tenure of the presidency and also the postponement of elections during war, considering the fact that the country has been effectively at war [with Armenia] since 1990, causes concern in terms of the future of democracy in Azerbaijan.”

    http://flyingcarpetsandbrokenpipelines.blogspot.com/2009/01/future-of-azerbaijan-eternal-presidency.html

    So, I wonder. Should the CE now “meddle” in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs or not? If they do, can they also do so in Armenia? And if they don’t, is it ok for Armenia not to develop into a democratic state (because that process is only going to happen with CE oversight) as long as Azerbaijan doesn’t?

    Do we want to be measured by undemocratic countries or become a country where its citizens feel protected by the law and government by its own freely elected representatives?

  20. And poor old CE. Accused of meddling in Armenia by government supporters and criticized for not doing enough by the opposition.

    President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) on Wednesday praised the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) for its decision not to impose sanctions against Armenia over the continuing imprisonment of dozens of opposition members.

    […]

    The PACE resolution says that supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian “may have been charged and imprisoned for political motivations.” Its initial version referred to the existence of political prisoners in Armenia as a proven fact.

    […]

    The HAK further criticized Prescott and Colombier for avoiding any meetings with opposition representatives during their last trip to Yerevan. “Had they done so, they would have been able to check their information more carefully, and more generally, take into account the input of the other side in the internal conflict of Armenia when preparing their amendments,” it said. “They have not done so, and we believe the quality of their report, and consequently the credibility of the PACE, has suffered as a result.”

    http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2009/01/6C79A9FF-B322-49B3-B29B-546AAF8A07A7.ASP

    Then again, it does seem as though should get their story straight from day one.

    Still, I suppose Armenian politics is among the most confusing and illogical I’ve encountered.

    I doubt many citizens even understand what’s going on, to be honest.

  21. Onnik,

    Is the Council of Europe an all-volunteer body? Because if they’re getting paid, then they have an obligation to properly do the work–to study the problems, to ask the questions to all sides, and to properly convey information and make informed judgements. Otherwise, they’re merely dilettantes getting high-priced handouts.

    As for the citizens, surely they’re not going to understand if they’re getting their information from Armenian television.

  22. Ani, don’t know. Maybe there’s some per diem or something (which is probably not bad) or at least an expense account. Will look into it.

    As for the citizens, I disagree. Look at the papers. Pro-opposition, pro-government, none of them I can trust and usually all are not objective and spread as much gossip and misinformation as fact.

    The issue is instead to have a professional, independent media fulls top and which reports facts and quotes a variety of reasoned and informed opinion in the same news item.

    However, that is hard to find so judging from what I read on the Internet or speaking to different people the whole situation is chaotic and ill-informed or reasoned.

    Nobody cares about facts. They simply view whatever information they consume through their own insular prisms and determine what they believe from existing prejudices and opinions.

  23. Oh, seems like I spoke too soon. Now the Republican party is having a go at the CE:

    Europe has no moral right to teach Armenia lessons on democracy and human rights because values espoused by it were responsible for the World War II and Nazi crimes against humanity, a deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) said on Thursday.

    […]

    “Because Armenia was not stripped of its [PACE] vote, I don’t want to criticize the assembly in strong terms now,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL in an interview. “But we must not forget that when they teach us lessons on human rights and freedoms and cite European values, we can recall what happened during the World War II in Europe. People were even burned and buried alive there. Was that also part of the European values or it is not part of the history?”

    “So when there were events here [in March 2008] that resulted in casualties, in terms of human rights, that is not as great a tragedy as a world war waged under European values,” he charged. “This is just one example. I can bring up more of them.”

    […]

    Another HHK leader, Galust Sahakian, caused a stir last month by stating that Armenia could join organizations uniting Islamic nations if it is punished by the PACE.

    http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2009/01/D42F3F6D-72E1-4D6A-9E64-1B2C8C24007A.ASP

    Glad to see we have such political intellects in Armenia who can only compare an ELECTION in 2008 with a WAR that ended 50 YEARS EARLIER.

    As people know, I do not support Levon and am actually quite tired of the opposition (my opinion, I’m entitled to it), but I will say this.

    Perhaps Zohrabian would be better to find an ELECTION in Europe which saw a central square occupied by protesters for over a week before clashes saw at least 10 DEAD.

    Yeah, sorry, if I was to consider “European values” in England (and we’re probably the most Europhobic of EU member states) and Zohrabian’s, I’d say pretty much it’s no wonder we’re where we are now.

    Democracy and the importance of the rule of law might be strange concepts for him to come to terms with, but anyway, if he’s so against the Nazis he might want to change his party’s emblem…

  24. Sorry, let’s correct that OVER 50 YEARS EARLIER…

    Now, the question is whether he would like Armenia to get to the level of democratization and economic development in 50 years time, and probably Europe was more democratic in comparison a lot earlier too.

    According to one scenario, Armenia will reach the level of development in the Baltic republics TODAY around 2020. However, that’s in a best-case scenario which doesn’t exist now.

  25. Incidentally, Tigran, it appears as though PACE started to examine the referendum and ban on foreign broadcasting in Azerbaijan today.

    Parliamentarians want experts’ opinion on constitutional changes in Azerbaijan

    Strasbourg, 29.01.2009 – The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting today in Strasbourg, examined recent developments in Azerbaijan and decided to request the opinion of the Venice Commission – the Council of Europe’s group of experts on constitutional law – on the package of constitutional amendments to be submitted to a nation-wide referendum on 18 March 2009.

    These amendments, adopted by the Azerbaijani Parliament on 25 December 2008, would abolish the limit on the number of consecutive terms of office for the President of the Republic, extend the term of office of the President and the Parliament in a time of war, as well as grant the right to introduce a legislative initiative if it has the support of 40,000 voters.

    The committee will consider the opinion of the Venice Commission during a meeting in March.

    http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/NewsManager/EMB_NewsManagerView.asp?ID=4377&L=2

    Like I said, there is an issue of when things are scheduled. They also reportedly referred to the ban on foreign broadcasts.

    Another issue will not only be whether the amendments meet “European standards,” but later how the referendum is conducted.

    It’s not a question of “double standards” as much as you and others might want to use that argument to defend the situation in Armenia.

    Firstly, the CE is the only option for evolved democratization here. Secondly, it’s a matter of time, schedules and severity of issues when they occur.

    Azerbaijan announced the referendum and the ban on broadcasts at the end of December 2008. The 1 March Armenian issue is now nearly a year old.

  26. And go figure. While there are those who criticize the CE for “meddling” in Armenia’s internal affairs and not doing so in Azerbaijan, the same is the opposite there.

    They accuse the CE of meddling in Azerbaijan’s affairs and ignoring violations in Armenia.

    President Aliyev accused the West of applying double standards in its criticism of the referendum due in March on whether to scrap the two-term limit.

    […]

    “Some of the criticism we sometimes hear from various NGOs actualldoes not bother (us) because this criticism is mainly biased.” Aliyev said the West often judged human rights selectively and ignored major violations in countries where it had geopolitical interests. He
    mentioned Armenia as an example. […]

    http://www.today.az/news/politics/50418.html

    Funny old world, or is it that the critics of the CE apply double standards for propagandist means?

    Answers on a postcard…

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