Armenian Delegation Gains Successes in Strasbourg

STRASBOURG (Armenpress)–During yesterday’s plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE)–the reports of the PACE monitoring group discussed Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s fulfillment of commitmen’s before the Council of Europe.

According to Hovhannes Hovhannissian–the leader of the Armenian delegation in PACE–all suggestions of the Armenian side were included in the report and approved during the PACE session. Armenia pledged to adopt–by June 2003–the 6th statement attached to the European Convention on protection of human rights and liberties.

Some amendmen’s were made in the report concerning the Karabagh conflict: the Armenian delegation obtained the elimination of the expression ‘occupied lands,’ and ‘regional conflict’ was replaced with ‘Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.’ The report also mentioned that after becoming a member of the Council of Europe–Armenia has made advancemen’s in developing democratic processes.

Regarding the report on Azerbaijan–Hovhannissian informed that none of Azerbaijan’s fifteen suggestions were put to a vote–despite active negotiation attempts by the Azeri delegation with representatives of various European countries–before the session.

The session did warn Armenia–however–that unless it abolished the death penalty by the time the body met in June 2003–its status in the assembly could be downgraded.

The Council adopted the following resolution: "The assembly deman’s the complete abolition–without exception or restrictions–of the death penalty. Should this not be the case by June 2003–the assembly could decide to annul the ratified powers of the Armenian parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe during its next session in June 2003."

The council also noted that no executions had been carried out in Armenia’since 1991–and welcomed assurances by the government under President Kocharian that once the country’s new penal code is adopted–all death sentences would be commuted to life terms.-

A body of more than 40 countries–the Council of Europe promotes democracy and seeks to protect human rights. It makes recommendations and forms opinions–but does not have legislative power.

Established in 1949 as a forum for all European nations–it is a separate institution from the European Union–and all 15 EU countries and candidate states are members.

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