The Armenian National Congress (HAK) accused the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Friday of disregarding its own resolutions on Armenia that demand an end to the 2008 government crackdown on the opposition alliance.
A senior HAK representative deplored the PACE Monitoring Committee’s failure to again discuss the political situation in Armenia at its latest meeting held in Paris Wednesday.
The issue had been included on the meeting’s agenda earlier this year. However, the discussion did not take place because of the absence of the committee’s two co-rapporteurs on Armenia, John Prescott and Georges Colombier. The latter cited health reasons, while Prescott blamed post-election uncertainty in his home country, Britain.
The co-rapporteurs have repeatedly postponed fresh fact-finding visits to Yerevan since last fall.
“They can always find excuses for not doing something,” scoffed Arman Grigorian, the HAK’s representative to the Council of Europe. “But this is not first time that their visit to Armenia and the discussion of the situation in Armenia by the Monitoring Committee is delayed.”
“Which lead us to conclude that the situation in Armenia is quite low on their list of priorities. And we can’t find this unacceptable,” Grigorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The PACE has adopted several resolutions on Armenia since the March 2008 post-election clashes in Yerevan and the resulting government crackdown on opposition groups led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, the HAK’s top leader. It has threatened to impose sanctions against the Armenian authorities unless they properly investigate the unrest and free opposition members arrested on “seemingly artificial or politically motivated charges.”
The most recent PACE resolution adopted in June last year welcomed a general amnesty that led to the release of more than 30 oppositionists. But it said only the release of all Ter-Petrosian loyalists remaining in jail would “provide the necessary basis for the start of the dialogue and reconsolidation that is needed to overcome the political crisis.”
At least 13 individuals, who are considered “political prisoners” by the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition, remain behind bars at present. The authorities insist that none of them was jailed for political reasons.
Grigorian claimed that President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration has failed to comply with the resolution and blamed the PACE for that. “The Council of Europe is not sufficiently trying to ensure the implementation of those resolutions,” he said. “Otherwise, we would not have had the situation in which we are now.”
“The Council of Europe is not taking seriously its obligations regarding Armenia,” added the U.S.-based opposition figure.
The PACE has refrained from discussing Yerevan’s compliance with the June 2009 resolution at its quarterly plenary sessions in Strasbourg for almost a year, leaving it to the Monitoring Committee to deal with the matter. The committee last discussed developments in Armenia in March.
David Harutiunian, the head of the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the Strasbourg-based assembly, presented it with a tentative timetable of political reforms which the authorities have pledged to implement. The promised reforms would largely amount to fresh changes in Armenia’s electoral, judicial and law-enforcement legislation. The HAK has dismissed them as a gimmick.
The issue was high on the agenda of PACE President Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to Yerevan last week. While reporting “very encouraging” assurances from Harutiunian, Cavusoglu criticized the authorities for their refusal to free all oppositionists remaining in prison.