By Anush Martirosian
Europe has no moral right to teach Armenia lessons on democracy and human rights because values espoused by it were responsible for the World War II and Nazi crimes against humanity, a deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) said on Thursday.
Razmik Zohrabian made the blistering attack as he commented on pressure exerted on the Armenian authorities by the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) over their deadly post-election crackdown on the opposition. In a resolution adopted this week, the PACE said dozens supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian “may have been charged and imprisoned for political motivations.”
“Because Armenia was not stripped of its [PACE] vote, I don’t want to criticize the assembly in strong terms now,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL in an interview. “But we must not forget that when they teach us lessons on human rights and freedoms and cite European values, we can recall what happened during the World War II in Europe. People were even burned and buried alive there. Was that also part of the European values or it is not part of the history?”
“So when there were events here [in March 2008] that resulted in casualties, in terms of human rights, that is not as great a tragedy as a world war waged under European values,” he charged. “This is just one example. I can bring up more of them.”
Zohrabian’s remarks sharply contrast with the HHK’s official reaction to the latest PACE resolution on Armenia. A spokesman for the party led by President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday praised the Strasbourg-based assembly for backing down on its earlier threats to impose sanctions against Armenia. He also welcomed the fact that the PACE stopped short of describing the arrested oppositionists as political prisoners.
Zohrabian, who had spent ten years in Soviet labor camps for agitating for Armenia’s independence in the 1970s, is one of several prominent HHK figures who have accused the West of having a hand in the dramatic developments that followed the presidential election of February 2008. In a January 15 interview with the pro-government daily “Hayots Ashkhar,” the former political prisoner claimed that the Western pressure on Yerevan is part of a U.S. and European Union conspiracy to foment a "color revolution" in Armenia.
Another HHK leader, Galust Sahakian, caused a stir last month by stating that Armenia could join organizations uniting Islamic nations if it is punished by the PACE.