Progress in Armenia insufficient, says PACE; full compliance expected by January 2009

Strasbourg, 26.06.2008 – Despite the political will  expressed by the Armenian authorities to meet the requirements outlined in Resolution 1609 (2008) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) takes the view, in a resolution adopted yesterday at the end of an urgent debate, that "progress is at present insufficient”. It regrets "the delay in implementing concrete measures" to overcome the political crisis that broke out after the presidential election on 19 February, while acknowledging that "the time given to the Armenian authorities was short".

According to the Assembly, "the detention and conviction of opposition supporters in relation to the events of 1 March 2008 will be a point of contention that will continue to strain the relations between opposition and authorities and could hinder the conduct of a constructive dialogue on the reforms needed for Armenia". PACE therefore "urges the Armenian authorities to consider all legal means available to them, including amnesty, pardons and dismissal of charges with respect to all persons detained or sentenced by a court in relation to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008".

PACE points out that "freedom of assembly should be guaranteed in practice".  Moreover, it welcomes the constitution, within the National Assembly, of an ad hoc committee "to conduct an inquiry into the events of 1 and 2 March 2008 as well as the causes that led to them". This Committee has “the possibility to invite national and international experts to participate in its work, which should increase the credibility of its investigations,” the parliamentarians said.

As proposed by the Monitoring Committee co-rapporteurs, Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD) and John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC), who visited the country on 16 and 17 June to assess the situation, the Assembly decided to review the extent of Armenia’s compliance with the requirements in Resolution 1609 at its January 2009 part-session, and to consider the possibility of suspending the voting rights of the Armenian delegation at the opening of the session if the conditions set out in the resolution were not met.