AS (2013) CR 11
2013 ORDINARY SESSION
Monday 22 April 2013 at 3 p.m.
1. Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee
2. Observation of the presidential election in Armenia
The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.
1. Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee
Mr DJUROVIĆ (Serbia) – The Serbian delegation voted in January for Resolution 1912 (2013), proposed by Mr Björn von Sydow. I want to emphasise that we fully agree with the wish expressed by the Council of Europe to promote reconciliation and to help the state of rule of law but, most important to us, is the provision of security for all in Kosovo at the same time as preserving a status of neutrality.
After the March meeting of the Bureau in Paris, I can reaffirm our position and strong belief that the decision made will not put in doubt the Council of Europe’s status of neutrality. Serbia is, as you may know, in a very delicate phase of dialogue with Pristina and now, after a first agreement was reached, it is very important not to stand in the way of further positive developments. Any subsequent decision by the Council of Europe which would even indicate change in the Council of Europe’s stand on its status of neutrality could put in danger the whole process. As I said, after the meeting of the Bureau we have seen that implementation of Resolution 1912 took into consideration our recommendations regarding issues that were the subject of our concern and that the decision on the modality of participation for Pristina’s representatives fully responds to the principles of the Council of Europe.
Furthermore, the conclusion that two representatives could observe plenary sessions from the balcony, with no right to speak and with obligatory equal representation of the Serb minority, upon a decision made by the Bureau, I saw it as a confirmation of the basic principles of the Council of Europe. I can only sincerely hope that political groups when deciding to invite to their meetings representatives of the political corresponding counterparts from Pristina, will bear in mind things I have already said about the status of neutrality on Kosovo in the Council of Europe.
I have to reaffirm that our delegation voted for Resolution 1912 because we truly want to implement Council of Europe standards in Kosovo and Metohija. We have made a concession to accept that Pristina representatives could participate in committees, and I would use this opportunity to express hope that they would not misuse this, meaning that they should prove their will to implement Council of Europe standards in Kosovo and Metohia. Once again, I express the hope that their participation in committees will not be used to promote interests that do not have any connection with the work domain of the Council of Europe.
In Resolution 1912, paragraph 4, it is said: “irrespective of Kosovo status, the people living there should enjoy good governance, democracy, rule of law and the same legal and human rights standards as other people in Europe.” We have not seen any of it so far. I sincerely hope that we have made a step in the right direction and that Resolution 1912 will prove to be for the good of all people living in Kosovo and Metohija. I also hope that representatives of the parliament in Pristina shall use their presence in Council of Europe committees, especially the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to contribute to a better state of human rights for the Serbian minority in Kosovo and Metohia.
Mr HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – The time covered between the first and second ordinary part-sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly does not signify merely several months of the calendar. It is a more significant period in the life of the continent and the world, so the progress report of the Bureau reflects the outlines of the indicated panorama as well. As a continuation of the progress report of the Bureau, the report on the presidential election held in one of the member States is not casual either, because the important political developments taking place in various countries have long ago overstepped the frame of being the internal affairs of those countries. We live not in closed regimes but in a common democratic European space.
As usual, every year in the current period Armenian organisations active in diverse places of the world mark the developments concerning the remote history which is presented by them as genocide. The world’s historians and scholars constantly dispute the indicated processes claimed to have taken place in 1915 and there is no unanimous outcome at their disposal, so all of these are assessed as exaggerating the developments concerning the First World War a long time after it occurred and politicising them in new historical terms. Most probably, these claims and disputes will be continued as they were not confirmed scientifically.
Nonetheless, other truths exist which were confirmed long ago with all the obvious facts that should not be neglected by the persons and States sympathising with the Armenian nation. The genocide against the Armenian nation was not perpetrated 100 years ago and it has not been witnessed by any of us.
The indicated genocide is being carried out in our time and is being witnessed by all of us – namely the policy pursued by the Armenian State against its own nation. The very recently held presidential elections were accompanied by numerous breaches of law, fabrications and violence which generated on-going mass protests in this country, and that is just a little element of the indicated genocide.
The policy of genocide implemented by the Armenian State against the Armenian nation is actually deeper and has larger scope. The ongoing aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan as well as its various groundless territorial claims towards other neighbouring States have put this country into a state of isolation. The country is in poverty, the difficult economic situation is worsening, and the Armenian authorities have been deprived of all profitable economic projects in the region due to their abnormal aggressive policy and they are continuing to bring their nation to the brink of the precipice. The current State policy of Armenia makes unbearable the present and the future of the Armenian nation. The indicated behaviour carried out towards the entire nation should be called nothing but genocide – a genocide implemented against its own nation! When making comparisons, I notice that Armenian authorities with their current State policy are in a much more hostile position towards the ordinary Armenian citizens than Azerbaijan which is at war with them.
Those wishing to help the Armenian nation in its current state should not ignore the bitter truth and not paint the black day of the Armenian nation with pink colour. On the contrary, they should assess developments objectively. Today the report presented on the recent presidential elections in Armenia generated such an impression that it is as though it is quite a different country and as though no one is aware of the developments taking place in this country. Gentlemen, take note that everybody is aware of everything; above all the Armenian nation is best aware of everything, including the protests at the fabricated election. Since its establishment, the major purpose of the Council of Europe has been to teach people to speak in the language of truth. I call on all of us to learn this most superior language!
2. Observation of the presidential election in Armenia
Mr V. SZABÓ (Hungary) — The election observation missions have given a generally positive review of Armenia’s presidential election. The election was generally well administered and was characterised by a respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of assembly and expression.
That is true also of the work conducted by the governmental bodies during the pre-election campaign. The petitions filed by Armenian citizens in regard to possible violations of electoral law were dealt with promptly, and effective measures were taken in accordance with the country’s existing electoral regulations. However, we need to take note of the provision in the Armenian electoral law, which does not allow Armenian citizens abroad to vote in the presidential elections.
The violations registered during the monitoring cannot significantly influence the outcome of the elections. Despite the active political competition between the presidential candidates and the unfortunate events related to the assault on one of the participants of the electoral process, the campaign was carried out in a relatively calm atmosphere. The debate between the candidates mainly focused on the political problems of the country, on ways to improve the lives of Armenian citizens, and on civil reforms.
At the same time some candidates focused primarily on self-promotion. The experts also noted the lack of electoral advertisement in the country, but the coverage of the electoral campaign by the Armenian mass media was broad and diversified, and the ordinary voter was able to get the full range of opinions and assessments.
I would like to highlight the high level of professionalism demonstrated by the central elections committee, the efficient work of electoral committees on election day and the post-election vote counting process and welcome the commitment of the Armenian Government to invite the maximum number of international observers to carry out the presidential elections.
Ms POSTANJYAN (Armenia) — Raffi Hovannisian, leader of the New Armenian Movement, and the citizens of Armenia reject Sargsyan’s “false” oath and do not recognise him as the President of Armenia. According to the figures of the Central Election Commission, in the presidential election in Armenia on
18 February 2013, Raffi Hovannisian won almost in all the cities, where most of the population of Armenia live, but the Central Election Commission did not recognise him and the citizens of Armenia as a winner. The results were rigged.
After the presidential elections the opposition leader Raffi Hоvannisian and thousands of his supporters held protests in all regions and cities of Armenia. Raffi Hovannisian went on hunger strike in Liberty Square for 21 days in order to dispute the results of the 18 February elections. Within two months, almost all the squares in the cities of Armenia saw mass protests against Serzh Sargsyan and the Republican Party of Armenia. In fact, from 18 February to 9 April, led by Raffi Hovannisian, Armenian citizens staged a revolution, which evolved into a new movement called the New Armenia whose participants are not only the citizens of Armenia, but the many millions of Armenians scattered around the world.
Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian has refused to recognise the legitimacy of President Serzh Sargsyan, who took an oath for another five-year term at his inauguration on 9 April. Sargsyan’s top challenger, Raffi Hovannisian, and hundreds of thousands of citizens of Armenia held an “alternative” inauguration called a ‘new Armenia’ in Yerevan’s Liberty Square at the same time that day. On 19 April the citizens of Armenia adopted the Declaration of the New Armenia Movement. The declaration states that the citizens of Armenia renounce the current regime, which conspired on 18 February 2013, to falsify the national will and usurp the presidency of our republic. They do not recognise the authority of the new administration and they convened to set down the principles for an integral process that will result in its self-resignation and then in the accomplishment of a national revival. To develop and realise the programme of returning power to the people, the citizens of Armenia are fully empowered by Article II of the constitution of the Republic of Armenia and the sacred sources of our inalienable liberty.
The voter lists are the key instrument for falsifying the voting results. The voter lists with voter signatures are confidential under the Electoral Code of Armenia. Publishing the voter lists with voter signatures for the 18 February elections is the first and most significant step that the Armenian authorities should take to restore the Armenian citizens’ trust in electoral processes. Publicising the voter lists is possible if amendments are made to the electoral code of Armenia. We are expecting the Assembly to help Armenia to change the electoral code.
Mr ZOURABIAN (Armenia) – It is my unfortunate duty to report that the 18 February presidential elections in Armenia were another shameful blow to the right of the Armenian people to elect their own government. Once again the ruling party and the state institutions bribed and intimidated hundreds of thousands of voters. Once again thousands of multiple voters illegally cast votes, using fake identification documents illegally issued by the police and voting on behalf of people who have not lived in Armenia for years, but are still on the voting lists. Yet again tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against these falsified elections.
While nobody in Armenia believes it has a legitimately elected president, once again the international democratic institutions such as the Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR have effectively turned a blind eye to the violations of human rights and systematic denial of the right of the Armenian people to elect their own government.
Armenia remains one of a few countries in the Council of Europe, where power has not changed hands through elections since independence. The ruling regime has created an infallible machine for falsifying elections. Electoral lists are inflated: the number of eligible voters residing in Armenia is only 1.8 million whereas the electoral list includes more than 2.6 million voters and official participation in the elections reaches an incredible 1.6 million voters. Falsified votes amount to half a million – just enough to ensure that the ruling party wins in any elections.
We are now in the middle of another campaign: a politically important electoral battle for the capital, Yerevan, which accounts for almost half the Armenian electorate. Once again the police are busy obstructing rallies of the Armenian National Congress and forging identification documents to enable the supporters of the regime from outside the capital to vote as citizens of Yerevan. Once again activists from the opposition are being intimidated by thugs and once again State agencies pressurise voters into voting for the ruling regime. However, the international democratic institutions are silent.
The Armenian democratic movement has been struggling for many years to restore democracy in Armenia. What it needs to succeed is the solidarity of the democratic world, not reports that put a stamp of legitimacy on stolen elections. And it is exactly what it was denied for years.
Ms HOVHANNISYAN (Armenia) – I would like to express my gratitude for the objective findings of all international observers on the presidential elections of 2013. As international observers established, the elections were organised with respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of assembly and expression. We can proudly say that they constituted a new level and a new quality of elections compared to with previous elections.
I would also like to briefly address the claims of the opposition regarding the presidential elections of 2013 held in Armenia. In my speech I will touch only on the facts and numbers.
First of all, it is worth mentioning that the parliamentary opposition parties had been represented in the electoral commissions, having 50% of the seats of the chairs and secretaries of the electoral commissions. The fact that all these members, including chairs and secretaries of the commissions signed the protocol means that they agreed with the results of the elections.
Secondly, the fact that the second candidate got 37% of the votes is further proof that the elections were organised and held in compliance with the democratic principles, where 37% of voters freely expressed their will by voting for him. It is a well-known fact that in democratic societies the presidential elections may produce results with a small difference between the votes of the main candidates. We are all well aware of the cases where the difference between the winner and the second candidate is 1%, but the result is the same everywhere, only one candidate can win.
It is hard to have ideal elections, since shortcomings may exist in such a kind of process, but the most important point is that these shortcomings shall have no impact on the results of the elections.
The 2013 presidential elections were another step forward in the direction of the democratic development of Armenia.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) — Obviously, elections constitute an important stage of every nation in defining the future destiny of the State and in the development of democratic values. At the same time, the level of holding elections by a country with obligations before the Council of Europe reveals conformation of the country’s loyalty to these obligations. Therefore, I think the elections held in Armenia should be considered and rated in this context. It has already been mentioned here that the elections in Armenia have been held quietly. But I cannot agree with this statement, first, because there was an attempt on one of the presidential candidate’s life who in the pre-election ratings was said to have serious chances and due to the fact that another candidate was reported to be the one who ordered this attempt; and the occurrence of efforts striving to remove a presidential candidate with big chances from the process in this way or another cannot be presented as quietly held elections.
On the other hand, these elections are considered as the ones involving the least interest of people and the lowest activity of the electorate. At the same time despite the strong resentment of opposition parties in connection with the preliminary checklist compiled by the Central Election Commission the court never considered the complaint and the elections were held on the basis of that particular poll. Even on the day of elections there were gross violations in the voting process. For instance, complaints with regard to voting by one and the same voter several times and about the total falsification have never been investigated by the appropriate State bodies. Even nowadays mass discontent and unrest continue in Armenia and, alongside this, the international community uttered discontent in connection with this voting process and strongly criticised it.
While rating the elections in Armenia in the context of democratic values, the above facts must be taken into account. In this sense, I do not think that the process was a heart-warming one.