By Anna Saghabalian
Members of the monitoring commission of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Georges Colombier and John Prescott are in the Armenian capital to assess progress made by Armenia towards the implementation of the Strasbourg-based organization’s relevant resolution on the country passed in mid-April.
The PACE had earlier warned that Armenia’s failure to comply with Resolution 1609, which among other things demanded an “independent, transparent and credible inquiry” into the March 1 deadly clashes between security forces and opposition supporters, “the urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges” and called for the repeal of serious restrictions on freedom of assembly imposed following the unrest, could lead to the suspension of the voting rights of Armenian members during the organization’s next session that starts on June 23.
Colombier and Prescott had planned numerous meetings as part of their two-day visit both with representative of the government and the opposition.
The delegation led by the co-rapporteurs, in particular, met with members of the only opposition faction in the Armenian parliament, Zharangutyun. Meetings with Armenian Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosian and head of Armenia’s delegation to the PACE David Harutiunian had also been planned. On Tuesday, the co-rapporteurs are expected to meet with representatives of the four parliamentary forces making up Armenia’s political coalition.
The delegation also held a meeting with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and planned to meet with Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian.
On Tuesday, Colombier is expected to meet with opposition forces not represented in the country’s legislature, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations and families of arrested politicians.
On Monday afternoon the delegation held an hour-long meeting with lawyers of some of those arrested in the aftermath of the post-election violence.
“We’re still talking. We have to listen to a lot of people. I want to do that slowly but surely,” Prescott said briefly after the meeting.
Lawyer Tigran Ter-Yesayan who attended that meeting told RFE/RL later that the discussions had mainly focused on the course of the preliminary investigation and trials.
“They are very well informed,” Ter-Yesayan said.
Late on Monday the Council of Europe’s officials were to hold separate meetings with Armenia’s incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian and first president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian.