PACE Postpones Monitoring Mission to Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has postponed a scheduled monitoring mission to Armenia after one of the two co-rapporteurs, responsible for conducting the fact-finding mission, failed to get reelected to the Swedish Parliament last month.

The PACE has adopted three resolutions on Armenia since the February 2008 presidential election and the ensuing deadly violence in Yerevan. The documents demanded the release of all opposition members arrested on “artificial or politically motivated charges” and urged the Armenian government to properly investigate the 2008 unrest.

The Strasbourg-based assembly’s Monitoring Committee discussed the government’s compliance with the last resolution adopted in June 2009 at a meeting last week that was attended by Armenian opposition representatives. It issued no statements afterwards.

The committee’s two co-rapporteurs on Armenia, Britain’s John Prescott and Sweden’s Goran Lindblad, were due to visit Yerevan later this year. However, the fact-finding trip was effectively canceled by Lindblad’s failure to get reelected to the Swedish parliament in elections held last month.

The Swedish politician will have to resign from the PACE by November. In a letter to the head of the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the PACE, he accused the authorities in Yerevan of thwarting a fact-finding mission to Yerevan, which he had planned to undertake with Prescott in October.

Both men will participate in an international conference to be held by the Council of Europe in the Armenian capital later this month. But they are not expected to meet government officials and politicians in their official capacity.

According to Zaruhi Postanjian, an opposition member of the Armenian delegation at the PACE, Lindblad’s replacement will be named next January. She said this means that the Monitoring Committee co-rapporteurs are unlikely to visit Yerevan before spring.

The co-rapporteurs have not been in Armenia for almost a year. The PACE has likewise avoided any debates on the country at its quarterly sessions held since June 2009.

The Lev Ter-Petrosian-led Armenian National Congress has repeatedly accused the Council of Europe of doing little to ensure the Armenian government’s compliance with its resolutions.

Postanjian, who is affiliated with the opposition Heritage Party, predicted that pressure on Yerevan will increase when Turkey assumes the rotating presidency at the Council of Europe’s main decision-making body, the Committee of Ministers, in January. She claimed that the Turkish government will try to exploit Armenia’s domestic political problems.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Postanjian said the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian can forestall such pressure only by carrying out “democratic reforms” and freeing more than a dozen Armenian National Congress loyalists remaining in prison. “Our authorities should be prudent enough to free these individuals by declaring a general amnesty,” she said.


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