YEREVAN (Arka)—Representatives of Armenian non-governmental organizations attempted to disrupt the forum entitled “Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Europe” that started in Yerevan on October 21.
Several dozens of activists were holding protests near the Armenia-Marriott Hotel when they broke through security lines and, carrying their banners, entered the conference hall where the forum was taking place, Novosti-Armenia reported.
The main speakers of the event, Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland made their speeches in the presence of the protesters.
The forum was attended also by a member of PACE’s Committee on Equality and Non-discrimination Johan Gunnarsson, ambassadors and high-ranking officials, representatives of international organizations and civil society.
Chairman of the Helsinki Association for Human Rights, Michael Danielyan, said the European authorities have no right to arrange such forums in a country like Armenia.
It is more than cynical to hold such events in a country where the authorities demonstrate no sign of tolerance, the activist said.
The event was held under Armenia’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and was to discuss racism and xenophobia, as well as the role of human rights protecting institutions in combating racism and ethnic discrimination.
Armenia assumed chairmanship of the CE Committee of Ministers on May 16, 2013.
The conference on racism, xenophobia, and intolerance lunched its meetings on October 21. Meanwhile, a number of activists began rallies protesting against various issues. A group of activists intruded the hall at the moment that Edward Nalbandian was delivering remarks. The incident did not seriously obstruct the conference, however.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland underscored that racism and intolerance undermine society. “Racism, xenophobia, and intolerance have nothing to do in Europe,” Thorbjørn Jagland noted. Among other things Thorbjørn Jagland emphasized that he highly appreciates the conference dedicated to the struggle against racism held in Yerevan.