State Dept. Softens Stance On Armenia’s CE Admission

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The resolution of the US Department of State on the terms of the admission of Armenia and Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe was submitted not only to PACE but also to Armenian authorities. Hovhannes Hovhanissian–Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee–Head of Armenia’s Parliamentary Delegation to PACE–stated that the resolution suggests postponement of the discussion of the issue in PACE. He pointed out that the resolution was received ten days ago. He assessed this resolution as a political step of a large state.

The resolution suggests that the issue of Azerbaijan’s membership in CE be discussed after the parliamentary elections in the country. Considering that certain progress has been observed in democratic processes in Armenia–the US Department of State proposed that the issue of Armenia’s membership in the CE be settled simultaneously with Azerbaijan’s admission. Hovhannissian said the US Department of State believes that after the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan–the country’s membership in the CE will be found inadvisable–and only next autumn or spring will the issue of Armenia’s membership be considered.

According to Hovhannissian–due to the serious work carried out by the Armenian authorities–the US Department of State softened its position and agreed to the previously proposed schedule of PACE according to which the discussion of the issue of Armenia’s membership in the CE is to start at the meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. June 28. The member of the PACE Political Commission–Reporter on Armenia Demetrio Volchich is to present a document whose first part deals with the human rights situation in Armenia–democracy and elections–and the second part is the list of commitmen’s assumed by Armenia in connection with its admission to the CE. The document is to be discussed article by article. Before the resolution is put to vote–the chairmen of the PACE Political Commission–Commission for Legal Affairs and Human Rights will express their attitudes.

Hovhannissian is hopeful that the issue will be positively settled after which the Armenian delegation intends to organize a reception for almost 400 delegates and foreign ambassadors at 7:30 p.m. At 9:00 p.m. PACE Chairman–Lord Russel Johnston will organize a reception in honor of the Armenian delegation.

Hovhannissian said that the issue of Azerbaijan’s membership in the CE cannot be considered removed from the agenda. The issue will be clarified on June 26–at a joint meeting of the two aforementioned permanent commissions of PACE.

Armenia’s parliamentary delegation headed by Hovhannes Hovhannissian will leave for Strasbourg on June 24. On June 27–a delegation headed by Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Armen Khachatrian will also arrive in Strasbourg. The delegation will include representatives of Armenia’s executive power. The PACE plenary meetings will be held from June 26-30.

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