PACE rapporteurs urge Armenian authorities to revise media legislation

Strasbourg, 24.06.2010 – The two co-rapporteurs on Armenia of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC) and Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD), have welcomed a series of initiatives outlined in the reply of the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament to their letter recommending the establishment of a clear roadmap for reforms in Armenia. While not able to give a detailed assessment of the initiatives outlined in the letter at this stage, they cautioned that more needs to be done to ensure that the reforms address the important issues raised by the Assembly. Continue reading

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Recommendations of Armenian parliamentary committee provide ‘a comprehensive although not complete’ response to March 2008 crisis

Strasbourg, 22.12.2009 – The  recommendations of the ad hoc Committee of the National Assembly of Armenia into the events of 1 and 2 March 2008 provide “a comprehensive, although not complete” response to the political crisis, according to an information note by the co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Armenia of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) made public this week.

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PACE calls for continuation of “ongoing monitoring procedure” with respect to Armenia

PACEThe Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted in favor of resolution 1677 on Wednesday, pointing to the need to continue ongoing regular monitoring procedure with respect to Armenia.

This 4th resolution adopted by the PACE in relation to the bitter political crisis that ensued in Armenia after the disputed Presidential election in February 2008 can be seen as generally softer and more welcoming towards the steps taken by the Armenian authorities, when compared to Assembly’s earlier Resolutions 1609 (2008), 1620 (2008) and 1643 (2009). Continue reading

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?

Armenia: PACE co-rapporteurs make monitoring visit

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Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD) and John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Armenia, will be in Yerevan on 15 January 2009, for a follow-up visit in connection with the implementation of PACE Resolutions 1609 (2008) and 1620 (2008) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia.

The co-rapporteurs expect to meet the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the leader of the Armenian delegation to PACE, the Chair of the parliamentary committee set up in the wake of the events on 1 and 2 March 2008 and the committee of experts responsible for establishing the facts regarding these events, as well as the General Prosecutor. Their report is due to be debated during the Assembly plenary session, on 29 January.

Following the report made by the co-rapporteurs to the meeting of  Monitoring Committee of the PACE on December 17 in Paris, the Committee had expressed concern with limited progress on the provisions of resolutions 1609 and 1620 and voted for a proposal to deprive the Armenian delegation to the PACE from its voting rights to be considered in the Assembly plenary session in January.

Since no visible progress can be seen thus far, following the weeks after December 17, I wonder how will the Armenian officials persuade the co-rapporteurs to amend their report in favor of Armenia.

As a sign of desparate attempts by Armenian officials to avert the PACE decision to curb Armenian voting rights, the head of Armenian Parliament Hovik Abrahamyan has recently sent a letter to the PACE member countries’ heads of parliament, asking their support in voting against the possible resolution against Armenia.