By Ruzanna Stepanian in Strasbourg and Ruzanna Khachatrian
Senior Armenian lawmakers have criticized the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) for including what they consider anti-Armenian language in the text of its latest resolution on Azerbaijan.
The resolution adopted on Tuesday expressed serious concern at the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Azerbaijan and spelled out a “road-map” of urgent measures which the PACE believes should be taken ahead of the forthcoming Azerbaijani presidential election.
The resolution linked the problem with the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that “sustainable democratic development will be extremely difficult in Azerbaijan as long as the country’s territorial integrity has not been restored.” The PACE also said it “takes note” of a recent UN General Assembly resolution that upheld Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh and demanded an unconditional and immediate liberation of Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territories.
Armenian members of the PACE strongly opposed these provisions and tried unsuccessfully to remove them from the text. “What is the connection between territories and democratic process?” one of them, Armen Rustamian, asked afterwards.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Rustamian said that by citing the UN resolution the Strasbourg-based assembly also put itself at odds with the United States, Russia and France, which have been spearheading international efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict. All three nations voted against the document, saying that it runs counter to their existing peace proposals.
Parliament speaker Tigran Torosian echoed Rustamian’s criticism in Yerevan, accusing the authors of the PACE resolution of lacking knowledge of the Karabakh dispute and the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. He also claimed that they added the controversial references to offset their criticism of the Azerbaijani government’s poor human rights record.
Both Torosian and Rustamian were confident that the resolution will not have an impact on the negotiation process.
“This can not have any consequences because everyone, including the Council of Europe, knows that the Council of Europe does not deal with the conflict’s resolution,” said the Armenian speaker. “The Council of Europe can only indirectly assist in the conflict’s resolution by forcing Azerbaijan to take democratic institutions more seriously.”
(Photolur photo: Tigran Torosian.)