ARF Delegation Participates in SI Meeting on CIS and the Caucasus

The Socialist International (SI) Committee for the CIS and the Caucasus met in Ukraine’s capital–Kiev–December 16-17–to exchange views on advancing and strengthening social democracy in the region–review the SI’s in overcoming conflicts and to define its priorities in the region.

Edward Ghazaryan and Giro Manoyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) participated in the meeting–hosted by the Socialist Party of Ukraine–SPU–which forms part of the country’s government and holds several ministerial positions in the ruling coalition. Also present were representatives of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine–SDPU–leaders and representatives from all SI member parties within the CIS and the Caucasus region–and delegates from other European SI member parties.

In a broad exchange of opinions–implementation of social democratic principles in the entire region was examined–with the committee concluding that while significant positive developmen’s took place in Ukraine and in Armenia where socialist and social democrats were involved–there remain major challenges to overcome–notably in Azerbaijan and in Belarus.

In Azerbaijan–they cited irregularities and unjustified government control and interference in the electoral process–and use of violence against protestors in the recent elections; their concern in Belarus–is the ongoing oppression against democratic forces–including the current imprisonment of Belarusian Social Democratic Party leader Mikalai Statkevich–and other political activists.

In light of the March 2006 presidential elections in the country–the Committee called for urgent action by the international community to ensure free and fair elections in Belarus. Resolutions on the situation in both countries were adopted unanimously by the Committee.

Discussions also centered on SI’s activities in resolving conflicts in the region–including Transniestria–and Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Committee’s activities for 2006 will include the sending of missions to Belarus (political); Georgia (fact-finding); Caucasus (resolution of conflict); Azerbaijan (to work with social democrats there to seek electoral fairness).

The Committee will also meet in Moscow in March/April and in Yerevan–Armenia–at the end of June 2006.

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