By Astghik Bedevian
In a rare development in Strasbourg the delegations of Armenia and Azerbaijan to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) agreed to the prolongation of the mandate of an interim commission monitoring the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Head of the Armenian delegation, Deputy Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosian told RFE/RL on Wednesday.
He shared his impression that the PACE Bureau looks ready to extend the term of the work of the Interim Commission on Nagorno-Karabakh led by Lord Russell-Johnston under its auspices for another year.
“According to preliminary discussions, visits by commission representatives are expected to Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert, but only time will show how realistic these expectations are,” he said.
According to Torosian, in his speech on Tuesday Lord Russell-Johnston expressed an opinion that it would be correct if the interim commission preserved its status. “The commission’s principal objective is to prepare the two peoples for future solutions. That is, the commission will do everything to stop the calls for war and incitement of hatred,” he said.
Meanwhile, the CE Monitoring Commission ended its session in Paris recently. Armenian Parliament Standing Foreign Relations Committee chairman Armen Rustamian, who attended the meeting, said: “We did not respond to the bellicose rhetoric and the atmosphere that reigns in Azerbaijan today. They are misleading the people of Azerbaijan in a planned manner trying to convince their public that Armenia is so weak today that it is enough to start operations to recover territories immediately,” Rustamian said.
According to Rustamian, this time Armenia was not pressed by the Commission regarding the fulfillment of its obligations, while it chided Azerbaijan for the handing of its parliamentary elections, in particular for its failure to ensure the promised change in the order of forming electoral commissions.
The CE had insisted on the increased participation of opposition representatives in those commissions as a bargain not to apply sanctions against Azerbaijan. But in Rustamian’s opinion no sanctions are likely to be applied this time either.
Rustamian also represents Armenia at the legal commission, which voiced complaints regarding Armenia this time.
“Complaints came from Armenia’s Jehovah’s witnesses who are dissatisfied with the way alternative military service works in Armenia. But it is rather a statement of the fact that there are certain complaints than a ‘final verdict’,” Rustamian said.