Armenian Azeri CE Move Will Help Peace Process

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s accession to the Council of Europe will create better conditions for bilateral contacts for the settlement of the long-lasting conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh–Lord Russell Johnston–the head of the organization’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE)–said on Thursday to a group of Armenian reporters.

The two countries will be officially considered Council of Europe members after the endorsement of the vote by the Committee of Ministers–the main executive body of the organization. Each will be bound by a long list of specific obligations that are supposed to guarantee human rights and foster democratization. Officials in Strasbourg have said the final decision by the ministers is expected in November–but Russell Johnston suggested that an earlier date is also possible.

Russia has confirmed its readiness to develop active cooperation with Azerbaijan and Armenia within the framework of the Council of Europe to strengthen democracy and ensure human rights.

Russia has always supported the simultaneous accession of Azerbaijan and Armenia to the Council of Europe and expressed hope that this will create favorable conditions for continuing democratic reforms in Azerbaijan and Armenia and facilitate the settlement of conflicts in these republics.

Armenian officials hailed its acceptance into the Council of Europe Thursday.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Armen Martirosian greeted both Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s acceptance–but said the Council of Europe is not the body to solve the Karabakh conflict. "There is the OSCE Minsk group for it," he said.

The diplomat compared this process with a marathon that had begun back in 1996. He said–"we have passed this test," and the final exam will be in November when the Committee of Ministers–the Council of Europe’s executive body–will finally endorse the two countries’ membership.

Referring to the commitmen’s Armenia has to assume upon itself as a Council of Europe member–Martirosian said "they have been discussed by both the government–parliament and all political forces." He went on to say that all commitmen’s were very important–some of them have to be implemented in a three-year period of time–and some right after the admission.

He stated that commitmen’s will not be hailed by separate parties–however–their implementation is a positive phenomena which is seen to promote the development of a civilian society in Armenia.

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