The European Union has described as “positive political developments” the Armenian government’s recent concessions to the opposition and called for the release of all opposition members remaining in prison.
In a statement issued late on Thursday, the EU praised the authorities in Yerevan for formally allowing the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to hold a rally in a key square in the Armenian capital for the first time since the 2008 post-election unrest. The rally took place on April 28.
“We hope that future requests to hold rallies will be handled in the same way,” reads the statement circulated by the 27-nation bloc at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It says respect for freedom of assembly will take on “particular importance” ahead of Armenia’s next parliamentary elections due in May 2012.
The EU also welcomed President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to order a renewed investigation of the 2008 violence and the recent release of three HAK activists who were controversially imprisoned in connection with those events.
“We call on the Armenian authorities to release all the activists that remain in detention soon,” it said. “The EU believes that a thorough investigation of the violent events of March 2008 and the release of all those in custody in relation to those events will help Armenia to truly move on.”
Sarkisian hinted late last month that all jailed oppositionists regarded by the HAK as political prisoners will be set free soon. There are currently five such individuals.
Their release would mean that the Armenian leader has met the three key demands voiced by HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian earlier this year. That would in turn pave the way for a potentially far-reaching dialogue between the country’s government and largest opposition force.