Armenia Azerbaijan Not Ready for Council of Europe Says Council Chief

TBILISI (BBC–Itar-Tass)–"It is difficult to say right now when Armenia and Azerbaijan will be accepted into the Council of Europe–because the situation in these countries does not yet correspondent to the standards and requiremen’s of this organization," President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Lord Russell-Johnston said Wednesday in Tbilisi.

He said at a briefing in the Georgian capital that progress made in these countries in the sphere of human rights would speed up their entry into the Council of Europe.

He said that as far as Armenia ‘s membership was concerned much would depend on how the parliamentary elections in May 1999 are handled. "We intend to send observers to these elections–we are very interested in the issue of human rights in Armenia," he said.

He said elections are a kind of barometer of the state of human rights in one or another country.

Lord Russell-Johnston said that a concrete date to start considering Armenia for membership could only be discussed after the results of the elections have been assessed. He also said that the decision on membership for Armenia and Azerbaijan would to some extent depend on the progress made in settling the Karabakh conflict.

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