Speaker Meets Council of Europe Reps. Over Membership

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Parliament speaker Khosrov Harutiunian on Thursday met ambassadors of several Council of Europe member-states to discuss Armenia’s full membership in the influential human rights organization. "I wanted to convey to European countries our commitment to democratic processes which are irreversible in Armenia and stem from our interests," Harutiunian told reporters after the talks.

He said he reiterated Yerevan’s position that all three Transcaucasian states must simultaneously become members of the Council of Europe. Georgia was the first among them to effectively gain membership last month. Armenia and Azerbaijan still have a "special guest" status in the organization–with heir unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh being one of the main obstacles to membership. "I think that there can be no double standards on this issue," Harutiunian said. But he went on to acknowledge that those standards are not being used against Armenia.

"It is obvious that our membership will be contingent on the upcoming parliamentary elections. And I think that our major political forces also realize how much is at stake," he said. A proper conduct of the elections was singled out by senior Council of Europe officials visiting Armenia last month. Harutiunian said the leadership of the Armenian parliament will later this week extend a formal invitation to the Council’s members to send a monitoring team for the polls due on May 30.

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