Armenia Losing Public Relations War to Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)Armenia is losing its public relations war to Azerbaijan–announced Armenia’s National Assembly members during a press conference Tuesday–addressing their experiences during a four-day parliamentary conference organized by the European Parliament.

The delegation participating in the conference held between January 26 and 30 in Strasbourg– explained that the Azeri upper hand in the PR war was due to the active involvement of several Azeri ambassadors in the delegation who flooded the Europarliament with information which was most often false.

The head of Armenia’s parliamentary delegation Hovaness Igitian–chairman of the National Assembly permanent commission on international relations–cited a discussion on the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant as an example.

He said that Turkey and Azerbaijan demanded the closure of the power plant–saying that the plant posed a hazard to the population of the two countries and the region.

In "selling" this concept–Igitian said–the Turkish and Azeri delegations presented the Europarliament documentation alleging massive nuclear waste dumping in the Arax River and the Caspian Sea severely polluting the water and endangering wildlife and surrounding natural resources.

According to Igitian–Azerbaijan’s "active participation" in the matter–did not allow the conference to properly address the Medzamor power plant issue.

The meeting concluded that two experts should visit Armenia and inspect the nuclear plant.

Igitian noted that Armenia’s membership in the European body would be resolved at the same time with Georgia and Azerbaijan–adding that the European Parliament had positioned itself for that outcome.

He added that unfortunately–the issue of Armenia membership has been politicized–adding– however–that Armenia "does not mind and believes that the more its neighbors adhere to democratic and European Parliament norms the better it would be for Armenia."

Igitian stated that the Karabakh issue was discussed during a conference of non-member states–explaining that since the conflict was not on the agenda–the conference did not make a decision on the matter–despite Azeri pressures.

He added that the Azeri delegation generally attempted to address the Karabakh issue during any random discussion.

In discussing the repeal of the death penalty in Armenia–Igitian stated that Armenia was not yet confronted with the issue since it was not a member of the European Council. Igitian added–however– that the death penalty had not been carried out in Armenia for the past four years–saying that the issue could be addressed in the future when legislating Armenia’s criminal code.

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