The release of people detained following the events of 1 and 2 March is important to start the badly needed process of reconciliation in Armenian society. “It should be clear that the detention of people in relation to those events, other than those who committed grave violent crimes, is unacceptable to the Assembly. I therefore urge the authorities to use every means available to them to release these people as soon as possible. Only in this way can the process of reconciliation and dialogue be assured.” said Mr de Puig. The President of PACE also expressed his concern about the continued pre-trial detention of a number of opposition leaders, contrary to the request of the Assembly. “This is an issue that should be urgently resolved in the coming weeks” he declared.
In relation to the independent inquiry, it is clear that without the participation of the opposition that supports Mr Ter Petrossian in the Commission set up by the National Assembly, its work and findings will not meet the standards of impartiality and credibility demanded by the Assembly. The President of the Assembly therefore fully supported the proposals of Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammerberg to constitute a separate commission, based on parity and consensus and with the involvement of international experts, to establish the facts with regard to the events of 1 and 2 March. The President of PACE noted with satisfaction that these proposals are in principle acceptable to both authorities and opposition.
The PACE President stressed that the Armenian authorities should not wait until January to achieve tangible results on these two issues. It is important that the authorities send a clear signal to the Assembly of marked and irreversible progress before the next meeting of the Monitoring Committee in September; otherwise there is a serious risk of repercussions during the autumn session of the Assembly.
Mr de Puig made an official visit to Armenia from 23 to 24 July to deepen co-operation between Armenia and the Assembly and to encourage the implementation of Assembly Resolutions 1609 and 1620. During his visit he met with the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as, amongst others, members of the different political factions in the Parliament. In addition, Mr de Puig met with the Human Rights Defender, the Catholicos of All Armenians and former President Levon Ter Petrossian. Besides the implementation of Assembly Resolutions 1609 and 1620, the President of the Assembly also discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and relations between Armenia and Turkey.
The President stressed that the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh can only be resolved through peaceful means and that any attempts to resolve the conflict by military means would be unacceptable to the Assembly. The President therefore expressed his full support for the efforts of the Minsk Group to resolve the conflict based on the principles of territorial integrity and self-determination in accordance with international norms and principles. “The Assembly stands ready to assist the parliaments of Azerbaijan and Armenia to help find a lasting solution to this conflict, if they so wish.” declared Mr de Puig.
The President heard with great interest about the initiatives taken by the President of Armenia to normalise relations with Turkey, and offered the full support and assistance of the Assembly to improve the relations between these two member states of the Council of Europe.