Rustamian Says Armenia Must Present Clarification to PACE

YEREVAN (Yerkir/PACE)–Ahead of a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) fact-finding mission to Armenia August 20-24–the Chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Relations Committee Armen Rustamian said that Armenia’s leadership is obliged to address its failure to fulfill obligations before the Council of Europe–and to be prepared to provide explanations to the delegation.

"The monitoring mission will be supervising Armenia’s process of fulfilling its obligations; in this vein–Armenia has serious issues to address in that it has not abolished the death penalty–and has failed to ratify Protocol 6**. There are also issues tied to Election Code and Constitutional reforms," noted Rustamian.

Rustamian said that the PACE mission will present its preliminary findings at a September 10 Monitoring Committee meeting in Paris. The committee will review the honoring of obligations and commitmen’s by member states of the Council of Europe.

"The final reports of PACE and AGO [Council of Europe Ministers’ Committee that visited Armenia in early July] will determine our position in the EU," said Rustamian noting that the visiting delegations’ findings are sure to affect the European Commission’s views–thus the extent of Armenia’s authority in the body.

The PACE co-rapporteurs monitoring Armenia–Jerzy Jaskiernia (Poland–SOC) and Ren Andr (France–EPP/CD)–will assess Armenia’s progress in honoring its commitmen’s to the Council of Europe on joining the body in 2001.

They will meet President Kocharian and senior members of the government as well as parliamentarians and representatives of civil society–including human rights non-governmental organizations (NGO)–religious communities–national minorities and the media. In a September 2002 resolution–the Assembly said Armenia had made substantial progress since accession–but decided to continue the monitoring procedure.

** Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights abolishes the death penalty in peacetime.

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