YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A parliamentary delegation of Armenia headed by NA Foreign Relations Commission Hovhannes Hovhannissian will leave for Strasbourg on June 24 to participate in the plenary meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The day before the departure–June 23–Hovhannissian and delegation member Armen Rustamian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation met with journalists.
Describing the voting on Armenia’s membership in the CE as the biggest achievement of independent Armenia’s foreign policy–the head of the delegation invited the media’s attention to the fact that the matter is not given attention for both subjective and objective reasons. According to Hovhannissian–"social problems and trouble-making" somehow overshadow this event. The head of the delegation said he was sure that the issue of Armenia’s membership will be given a positive decision–however–the delegation will have to work hard in this direction–as it is going to hold about 50 meetings with members of other countries’ delegations. According to him–there are no negative opinions on Armenia’s membership–however–the delegations of some countries–Great Britain and the Netherlands in particular–as well as the delegations of Germany deem that Armenia’still has problems with human rights and it is still early to admit Armenia to the CE. Hovhannissian admits that the community of Armenia is not fully prepared for membership–however he thinks that by joining the CE the country will deal with its problems in a better and faster way. He managed to convince his European opponents of this point. At the same time–Hohvannissian emphasized that most of the CE member countries feel positive on this matter.
If the matter is decided in Armenia’s favor–the decision will have to be approved by the CE Ministers Committee. On September 9–the Commission will fix the day of hoisting the Armenian national flag in front of the CE building. The ceremony will probably take place from September 24-26. Hovhannissian said that a large group of Armenian journalists will go to Strasbourg to cover this milestone event in Armenian History
After being admitted to the CE–Armenia may start thinking about EU membership–however–it will require long and studious efforts. Unlike the CE–the European Union is a relatively close structure with high economic criteria. He also pointed out that at present the Armenian authorities are very passive in their work with the EU and it is because of this passiveness that Armenia often stays at the sidelines when it comes to major regional programs. He thinks that even if the problem of Nagorno Karabakh is resolved–Armenia will not be an economically developed country as a new conflict is certain to break out in the region sooner or later.