The president of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Liliane Maury Pasquier, praised Armenia’s “democratic institutions” and inaugurated a square in Yerevan named after Europe during a three-day visit to the country which ended on Thursday.
Pasquier met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan and other senior Armenian lawmakers. She also delivered a speech in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday.
“Armenian institutions have recently undergone a major transformation thanks to a profound constitutional reform,” she said referring to the transition to a parliamentary system of government initiated by the country’s former leadership. “This reform, welcomed by the Council of Europe, was prepared and carried out in close collaboration with the Venice Commission.”
“I want to commend the people of Armenia and the Armenian political class for using the new constitutional and political mechanisms in the context of a major political change that has taken place peacefully and within the constitutional, legal and democratic framework. This testifies to the solidity of the democratic institutions and the high quality of the political class, all parties combined,” Pasquier added in her speech.
She referred to the generally smooth political transition that followed last spring’s “velvet revolution” in the South Caucasus state. It ended with the holding on December 9 of snap parliamentary elections won by Pashinian’s My Step alliance. The PACE and other pan-European organizations recognized the vote as democratic.
Pasquier joined deputy parliament speaker Alen Simonian and Yerevan’s Mayor Hayk Marutian in inaugurating on Thursday Europe Square located on the city’s main pedestrian avenue.
The ceremony was timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Council of Europe. Armenia joined the Strasbourg-based organization promoting human rights and democracy in 2001.
“Europe Square in Yerevan is a reminder of the fact that Europe is not a geographic area but a set of our freedoms and rights, and we must all be steadfast in defending our freedoms and rights,” Pasquier said at the ceremony.