By Anna Saghabalian
The visiting Secretary General of the Council of Europe on Monday hailed Armenia’s efforts to make good on its commitments before this prestigious pan-European organization, but hinted that progress made in lawmaking needs to be followed by practical implementation.
“The difficulty we have is that in some cases we are not completely sure that the implementation has been up to standard. Of course, it is not only having something on paper. You need to be sure that this translates into reality,” Terry Davis said towards the end of his two-day visit to Armenia during which he met with the country’s leadership, including Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
He added, however, that these issues have not been discussed in detail with Armenia’s leadership yet.
Davis also welcomed what he called the desire of “everybody in Armenia to have fair and free elections.”
“My job is to help you do that,” he said during a joint press conference with Minister Oskanian on Monday.
The Council of Europe official expressed a hope that the recent initiative of Russia backed by Armenia, Belarus and a number of Central Asian countries to curtail the long-term election observation mission of the OSCE/ODIHR will not affect the number of short-term observers.
“I hope very much it will not affect the observation or evaluation of the election in Armenia next February. I do not see any problem about the number of short-term observers,” Davis said.
Oskanian also downplayed the impact of the initiative, saying that this is a joint initiative that concerns only long-term observation missions, which, unlike short-term ones, are funded by individual country rather than from the OSCE budget. He said that in any case the number of long-term observers in Armenia has never exceeded 30.
“That means that it will not affect Armenia even if the OSCE limits its observation mission to 50 observers,” Oskanian concluded.