Opposition deputies blamed the Armenian authorities on Tuesday for last week’s fruitless session of an inter-parliamentary body tasked with fostering closer ties between Armenia and the European Union.
The EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee failed to adopt any concluding statements at the meeting held in Strasbourg. Its members representing the European Parliament and the Armenian National Assembly reportedly disagreed on references to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that were due to be included in the text.
The Armenian pro-government co-chairman of the committee, Samvel Farmanian, and his opposition colleagues publicly wrangled over the fiasco at a joint news conference in Yerevan. Farmanian claimed that EU parliamentarians pushed for pro-Azerbaijani language in retaliation against Armenia’s imminent accession to a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet republics.
Other committee members representing the Armenian opposition insisted that the two sides failed to iron out their differences because Farmanian did not adopt a constructive stance. One of them, Nikol Pashinian, accused him of acting on government orders from Yerevan.
“The Armenian [government] side did not want to adopt a statement in order to avoid giving explanations to Russia, while the European side did not want a statement to somewhat nullify the Armenian delegation’s long-running declarations that ‘Azerbaijan cannot adopt joint statements [with the European Parliament] whereas we can,’” Pashinian told journalists.
“When we returned to Yerevan from Strasbourg it turned out that it’s [parliament speaker] Hovik Abrahamian and [Foreign Minister] Edward Nalbandian, rather than us, who negotiated over that document,” he claimed.
“We could have contented ourselves with a statement not hurting our interests on some issues and reflecting our interests on others,” said Stepan Markarian, another committee member representing the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).
“Nikol, speak up correctly,” Farmanian shot back when Pashinian alleged that the Armenian government is falsely accusing members of the European Parliament of pro-Azerbaijani bias.
Meanwhile, the EU co-chair of the inter-parliamentary body, Milan Cabrnoch, expressed “regret” at the committee’s failure to adopt a joint statement for the first time during its more than decade-long existence. In a written statement circulated on Tuesday, Cabrnoch shed little light on the sticking points, saying only that they were not significant. The Czech lawmaker also said EU parliamentarians are ready to continue their cooperation with Armenia.