CE Head Hails Armenia’s Progress in Fulfilling Duty

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer is on a working visit to Armenia in order to get acquainted with Armenia’s progress in fulfilling its obligations to the Council of Europe and other related matters. On July 9–Schwimmer met with Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian.

The sides reportedly discussed the course of fulfillment of obligations to the CE–the reasons for some delays–problems connected with the abolition of capital punishment and constitutional reforms–the Karabakh peace process–relationships with neighboring countries–including the possibility of settling relations with Turkey.

The top CE official hailed Armenia’s progress in fulfilling its obligations to the CE–expressing a hope that the delays–which are taken with understanding by the CE–will be timely eliminated.

Speaking about the Karabakh problem–the sides emphasized that it is necessary to make every effort to settle the conflict peacefully.

"Nakhijevan and Nagorno Karabakh–Armenia and Azerbaijan are Siamese twins–and their division by sword will lead to their death. In everyday life borders must lose their meaning–as it is in the case with the German-French border in the vicinity of Strasbourg," Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer said during a meeting with professors and teachers at Yerevan State University on July 9.

After a little excursus into the history of Europe–abundant with conflicts–including territorial disputes–Schwimmer said that after the end of the Second World War Europe made great effort for overcoming mutual mistrust: "Europe on the whole rejects war and is seeking to forget the past and problems with neighbors." According to him–there were many disputes and conflicts in Europe–including such as the Bosnian conflict–however all of them were solved on the basis of three principles necessary for all members of the CE: democracy–rule of law and human rights.

The top CE official stated that Armenia must become a front-runner in the region–serving as an example of tolerance to its neighbors. He pointed out the need to develop good-neighborly relations among all the countries of the South Caucasus–as well as their relations with Turkey: "You should take the path of dialogue rather than mutual accusations." Schwimmer also stressed the importance of the presence of good relations between Armenia and Iran.

Speaking about the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict–Scwhimmer said that the appointment of the reporter from the CE Political Committee on the Karabakh Conflict demonstrates the desire of the PACE to render assistance to the OSCE in settling this conflict–for it’s time "to go over to concrete actions." Besides–he stressed: "If you continue to tell your neighbors that it is necessary to develop mutually advantageous business–without "noticing" the Karabakh problem–you neighbors are sure to keep silent. One should admit the presence of this problem and then speak about business. Even the city of Shushi may become a symbol of reconciliation like Strasbourg."

Answering the question about Armenia’s fulfilling its obligations to the CE–Schwimmer said that the necessary reforms are following "their normal course," however–not everything has yet been done in the judicial system–besides–it is necessary to take a tougher line on corruption: "The state must be committed to this struggle." He also emphasized that it is necessary to abolish death penalty and expressed confidence that Armenia will abolish death penalty.

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