PACE Commissioners to Present Final Report on Armenian Reforms

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Members of the PACE Monitoring Commission Georges Colombier and John Prescott announced on Thursday that they would be presenting their final conclusions on the Armenian Government’s progress in fulfilling a series of legal and political reforms required by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in mid-April.

The recommendations, forwarded in PACE Resolution 1609, came in the wake of political unrest and street clashes in Yerevan following the disputed February presidential elections.

If the report prepared by the two commissioners concludes that the Armenian Government has failed to fulfill the deman’s set by PACE in mid-April, the Parliamentary Assembly may hold debates on whether or not to suspend Armenia’s voting rights in the Strasbourg-based organization

In the course of their visit in Yerevan, the European diplomats held numerous meetings with representatives of the government and the opposition to try to assess the situation on the ground. They met with President Serzh Sarkisian, Speaker of the National Assembly Tigran Torosyan, representatives of the ruling coalition and non-parliamentary opposition. They also held meetings with members of the presidential working group established to coordinate the implementation of PACE Resolution 1609, the parliamentary working group working on reforming the country’s Electoral Code, advocates of the arrested opposition members and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

According to Colombier, the meetings with both the authorities and the opposition were successful and yielded positive results. The two day visit, he said, provided an opportunity to clarify a number of issues connected with the events of March 1, as well as to find out what concrete steps have been taken to meet the deman’s set forth by Resolution 1609.

He said that the commissioners were not in Armenia to criticize, but to help, adding that he is looking forward to seeing transparent, independent, and fair discussions during the commission hearings on the March 1 events.

"I hope PACE provides Armenia with solid recommendations in order to facilitate the continued democratization of Armenia and to help bring the country out of the situation established after the events of March 1," Colombier said.

Although it is necessary to go further, Much positive work has certainly been carried out toward the fulfillment of the resolution’s requiremen’s, said Colombier, noting, his confidence in the ability of all the country’s political forces to work toward the complete implementation of the PACE resolution.

As the two men were wrapping up their meetings on Tuesday, Armenian lawmakers overwhelmingly adopted a coalition-authored statement on the fulfillment of the Strasbourg-based organization’s deman’s. The statement containing more than two dozen points dealing with what has been done towards the implementation of PACE Resolution 1609 and also mentioned that time was needed for what has not been fulfilled yet.

The resolution passed by the PACE among other things demanded an independent, transparent and credible inquiry into the post-election March 1 deadly clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition supporters and an urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges. The resolution also requires that the Government should repeal the legal amendmen’s that effectively banned opposition rallies-a measure that has already been carried out. It also stressed that the measures were necessary conditions for a dialogue between the Armenian government and the opposition as well as far-reaching political reforms that the country needed to implement.

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