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?