An Armenian pro-government lawmaker cast on Thursday the sole vote against a resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe condemning “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
The two other Armenian members of the assembly representing opposition parties declined to participate in the vote that took place during its session held in Helsinki.
The assembly met in the Finnish capital to mark the 40th anniversary of the OSCE’s founding document, the Helsinki Final Act. The conflict in Ukraine is one of the main highlights of its declaration adopted at the session boycotted by Russian parliamentarians.
The declaration deplores Russia’s “illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea,” saying that it led to “one of the worst crises in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian area since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” It calls on Moscow to put the Black Sea peninsula back under Ukrainian control.
Only one of about 130 assembly members attending the session, Artashes Geghamian, voted against the document. He is an Armenian parliament deputy representing President Serzh Sarkisian Republican Party (HHK) and is known for his staunchly pro-Russian views.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) from Helsinki, Geghamian claimed that he voted against the declaration because it places territorial integrity of states above people’s right to self-determination. He argued that Armenia champions the latter principle in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Geghamian, who was a top Armenian opposition leader until 2008, also insisted that his stance was not dictated by the ruling HHK.
The two other Armenian members of the OSCE assembly, Stepan Demirchian and Stepan Markarian, are in opposition to the Sarkisian administration. Neither man took part in Thursday’s vote. According to Markarian, they did so because they both see “acceptable” and “unacceptable” provisions in the declaration.
Earlier this year, the Armenian members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) pointedly declined to vote against a similar resolution accusing Russia of military aggression against Ukraine. Three of them, including two HHK members, abstained in the vote, while the fourth delegation member did not vote at all.
The PACE resolution was adopted in January almost one year after President Sarkisian welcomed a disputed referendum in Crimea that led to the region’s annexation by Russia. Armenia went on to vote against a pro-Ukrainian resolution on Crimea at the UN General Assembly. The Ukrainian government condemned the move, recalling its ambassador in Yerevan.