By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Days before the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is due to consider Armenia’s progress in dealing with the post-election crisis, Armenian lawmakers have adopted a coalition-authored statement on the fulfillment of the Strasbourg-based organization’s demands set to the Armenian government in mid-April.
The statement containing more than two dozen points dealing with what has been done towards the implementation of PACE Resolution 1609 was passed on Tuesday with 80 votes to four, with two abstentions. The statement also mentioned that time was needed for what has not been fulfilled yet.
The resolution passed by the PACE among other things demanded an independent, transparent and credible inquiry into the March 1 deadly clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition supporters and an urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges. It also said that the legal amendments that effectively banned opposition rallies should be repealed. The resolution also stressed that the measures were necessary conditions for a dialogue between the Armenian government and the opposition as well as far-reaching political reforms that the country needed to implement.
The PACE warned that failure to comply with the demands could lead to the suspension of Armenia’s voting rights at the organization’s summer session opening June 23.
Representatives of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) faction were against the statement. Faction secretary Stepan Safarian said to RFE/RL: “I don’t want to talk about the contents of the statement because it contains ‘special cases’ and lacks necessary information. We think that at best it can amount to the coalition’s letter addressed to the PACE Secretary General.”
Republican Hranush Hakobyan, who was the main presenter of the statement, had earlier said addressing the parliament’s opposition: “…It cannot happen that everything done by the authorities in this country is bad.”
The statement came as members of the PACE Monitoring Commission Georges Colombier and John Prescott were completing their two-day visit to Yerevan during which they held numerous meetings with representatives of the government and the opposition to try to assess the situation on the ground.
Late on Monday, both held separate meetings with Armenia’s incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian and first president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian.
A Ter-Petrosian spokesman told RFE/RL that during the meeting that lasted for more than an hour the sides discussed the course of the Resolution fulfillment and avenues to end the current internal political crisis in Armenia.
“We clearly presented our approaches. We still believe that the demands of the PACE resolution 1609 have not been fulfilled until now, but have been replaced with an imitation of political steps that have not had any real effect,” Arman Musinian said.
In a separate development, the parliament’s opposition faction Zharangutyun (Heritage) addressed a letter to Speaker Tigran Torosian nominating MPs Myasnik Malkhasyan and Sasun Mikaelyan (formerly affiliated with the Republican Party, at present nonpartisans but still formally members of the Republican faction), who are currently in detention over their alleged roles in the post-election clashes, as the faction’s representatives in the ad hoc commission that was formed in parliament on Monday to conduct an inquiry into the March 1-2 events.
A high-level inquiry into the post-election violence is one of the key demands of the PACE resolution.
The 11-member body is to include two parliament deputies from each faction as well as one independent deputy.
Zharangutyun, which is entitled to two seats in the commission, including the post of its deputy chairman, had opted out of yesterday’s vote on the commission’s formation and had no representative attending the commission’s first meeting later on Monday.
No immediate reaction from Speaker Torosian was available as of Tuesday evening.