Armenia, ANCC Attend OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Toronto

TORONTO –Four delegates from Armenia attend the Organization of Organizations for Security Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s three-day fall meeting on Sep. 18 here. The Armenian delegation consisted of head of delegation Aram Safarian, Prosperous Armenia; Khachig Harutiunian, Orinats Yergir; Larisa Alaverdian, Heritage; and Anahit Gasparyan, head of international organizations department at the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia.

Aris Babikian attended the meeting as an observer on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of Canada.

The morning session on Sept. 18 was devoted to “The OSCE Mediterranean Dimension”, while the afternoon session focused on “OSCE in an Open World: Trade, Security, and Migration”. Keynote speaker Gareth Evans, president and chief executive of the International Group and the former foreign minister of Australia, analyzed the current and future security role of the OSCE and NATO’s role in Europe.

Within the context of the OSCE ODIHR election monitoring missions around Europe, Evans made an ambiguous remark on the presidential election in Armenia. He said, “While the mission in Macedonia played a very helpful role, there was the positive assessment of Armenian presidential elections in February 2008 that in fact were fraught with problems and led to fatal clashes between police and demonstrators.”

During a question-and-answer session, Armenian representative Alaverdian challenged the Evans’ statement and asked more clarification.

Evans also labeled Russia as an aggressor and occupier in the recent South Ossetia-Georgia conflict. His remarks launched a wave of anger from the Russian delegation. During the question-and-answer session, the head of the Russian delegation, Alexander Kozlovskiy, attacked Evans and criticized the OSCE Secretariat for inviting Evans. He called the former Australian foreign minister’s speech and the western media’s approach to the South Ossetia-Georgia crisis as “information terrorism”. Kozlovsky also said that what had happened was an insult to Russia. "We [OSCE] do not need lecturers to come and teach us about our security,” he added. Kozlovskiy then presented a historical prospective of the crisis.

A Greek delegate also raised his objection by saying, “We are not in a classroom. We are a political body and speakers should behave accordingly.”

In the Mediterranean Forum session, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings made the following supportive statement on Turkey and its membership in EU. “ I hope that Turkey is given fair and expeditious consideration for accession to the European Union.”

The second day of the was the highlights of the meeting. While the morning session was devoted to the topic of “Economic/Environmental Dimensions”, the afternoon session was about Georgia-Russia conflict.

Goren Lennmarker, special envoy for the situation in Georgia, presented a report in which he divided his speech into three sections: What Happened; the cost of the conflict; the future.

He called on “the three countries of the Caucasus to come together to help each other, cooperate and shape their future.” He also said that it is time to solve the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He added that in the next meeting, to be held after the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, he would have a detailed report.

Eka Tkeshelashvili, foreign minister of Georgia, presented her country’s case. She said, “The frozen conflicts concept is wrong and dangerous”. She said that the recent conflict in Georgia was premeditated by Russia. “International engagement should be more straightforward. This is military invasion/ethnic cleansing. Russia’should restore its image as a reliable partner. NATO should be expanded bringing Georgia closer to the European Union.” She also called for an “international investigation mission.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, presented Russia’s case. He went through a long list of incidents which demonstrated Georgians had frequently broken international law. The annulment of the Ossetians and Abkhazians self-autonomy which they had enjoyed under the Soviet Union and the declaration of “Georgia for Georgians” was one example, he said, of Georgia’s breaking of international law. He cited an article in the UN Charter which demonstrated Ossetians and Abkhazians are entitled to break away from Georgia. To underline Georgia’s aggressive intentions, he pointed out that Georgia had increased its military budget 50 fold.

Churkin asked NATO member countries whether they were "willing to rescue your country’s security for the sake of Saakashvili?"

Afterward more than 50 delegates took to the floor and made statemen’s. delegate said that use of force by Russia was disproportionate. They said "This is a new Iron Curtain. Russia is redrawing the borders of Europe. Georgia’s territorial integrity should be supported. Russia is unreliable and unpredictable. Russia broke the rule of law. This is state annexation."

Many delegates called for an international observers and investigation team to go to Georgia to investigate the conflict and its aftermath. They also called for dialogue and cooperation.

The Russian and Georgian delegations exchanged frequent insults and were often highly emotional.

Aram Safaryan of Armenia’said that we [Armenia] believe in the OSCE’s peaceful efforts. He said, "The Russian Federation is our strategic ally and the largest trade partner. We look with respect to Russia’s role and interest in the Caucasus. Georgia is our traditional neighbor. Some 70% of our imports come through Georgia. During the five days of the conflict Armenia lost $682 million. Armenia doesn’t look favorably to big power clashes in the Caucasus. Safaryan called for balanced relationship between Russia, the United States and the European Union. He said his government supported Turkey’s “Caucasus Platform” proposal and positively assessed Gul’s visit to Armenia. He called for the right of self-determination for all the nations of the Caucasus.

Larisa Alaverdyan, called for an international conference to discuss the issues of the over 100 nations that make up the Caucasus. She called for the Caucasian nations to make their contribution to the region and to speak their mind.

The chairwoman of the Azeri delegation supported the territorial integrity of Georgia. She said Azerbaijan rejected Georgian separatism, considered Abdullah Gul’s visit to Armenia a positive step, and called for the establishment and safeguards for the energy transportation routes. She said that tension and recriminations do not help the situation and called for dialogue. She then asked the OSCE to turn its attention to solving the problem in Nagorno-Karapagh problem "where [OSCE] did not keep its commitment."

The head of the Turkish delegation called for peace and stability in the region. He said nations had a moral responsibility to turn the region to the benefit the people. The Turkish delegate said the recognition by Russia of Abkhazia and Ossetia is an alarming development and would have negative effect on the resolution of the conflict.

On the third and last day of the gathering, the agenda was titled “Human Dimension” on role of OSCE ODIHR in promoting human rights, democracy, migration and integration of legal and illegal migran’s.

Alaverdyan of Armenia mentioned the non cooperation of neighboring countries in the migran’s issue. She mentioned Turkey’s non-responsive attitude to cooperating on the issue of Armenian migran’s to Turkey and in protecting their rights.

The ANCC representative had many opportunities to meet the various delegates and OSCE PA leaders, discuss with them the Nagaorno Khrabagh conflict and give them copies of Patrick Wilson Gore`s book “ Tis Some Poor Fellow’s Skull” on Nagorno-Karabakh.

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