By Armen Zakarian
A Council of Europe division monitoring Armenia’s compliance with its membership obligations will look into the bitter controversy surrounding the closure of the independent A1+ television station, a senior European official announced on Saturday.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis said the Monitoring Commission of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) will study the matter to determine whether Armenian authorities’ decision to send the critical channel off the air was politically motivated. Valionis, who is the current rotating president of the Strasbourg-based organization’s main decision making body, the Committee of Ministers, said the commission will meet with all interested parties and submit its findings afterwards.
Valionis spoke to reporters at the end of an official visit to Armenia. He on Saturday met with representatives of several Armenian media outlets, including A1+, and Justice Minister David Harutiunian to discuss the issue which has heightened political tensions in the country. “We listened to our interlocutors from both sides, but I will not make any comments,” he said.
The managers of A1+ have indicated that they could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if they exhaust all possibilities of securing an Armenian court ruling allowing them to resuming broadcasts.
Valionis also met with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. Kocharian, who has been accused by local and international media watchdogs of muzzling independent media, told the Lithuanian official that the Armenian government is “consistently” fulfilling its Council of Europe commitments.