By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian has been included in an official delegation that will represent Armenia at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) starting from this autumn, officials said on Friday.
According to parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, Demirchian’s name was suggested by his opposition Artarutyun (Justice) alliance which received the second largest number of votes cast for political parties in the May 25 parliamentary elections. Baghdasarian told reporters that Demirchian will be part of a permanent Armenian delegation in Strasbourg to be headed by vice-speaker Tigran Torosian.
The news was not immediately confirmed by Artarutyun. The bloc has until now avoided any cooperation with the authorities over the formation of the parliament’s leadership, standing committees and other bodies. It considers Demirchian to be the legitimately elected president of Armenia robbed of victory in this year’s elections.
Armenia holds four seats in the PACE. Apart from Demirchian and Torosian, it will be represented by two other senior parliamentarians: Armen Rustamian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Karen Karapetian of the People’s Deputy group. Four other Armenian lawmakers can attend sessions of the 43-nation assembly without a right to vote. Baghdasarian said they will be chosen from other parliament factions.
Officials told RFE/RL earlier this week that Yerevan will send only a two-member delegation to the summer session of the PACE which begins on Monday. It will comprise Rustamian and another opposition leader, Artashes Geghamian. Motives for the decision remain unclear.