Torosyan is among Assembly members uneasy
with a reference to Karabakh as "conquered"..
A proposed resolution by the Monitoring Committee
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe includes wording about Karabakh that have
some National Assembly members concerned over
the message it sends.
A sub-paragraph in the 28-paragraph report says:
"There was no progress in negotiations on
the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and
other conquered territories."
"We must do everything possible so that
this resolution won't be put to vote in that form,"
stated the National Assembly's Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Armen Rustamyan.
The report was presented at a Parliamentary Assembly
meeting January 7 in Paris and will be put to
a vote during plenary sessions of the Council
Armenia's delegation to the Monitoring Committee
hearings fear that the phrase "conquered
territories" could be inflammatory and hamper
negotiations in peace talks between Armenia and
Azerbaijan that are entering their 10th year.
Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Armenia, the Council delegation plans to take
quick and serious steps in making approaches to
settlement of the Karabakh conflict more stable
before the plenary sessions begin.
"We should try to prevent (the critical
wording). However, it is not the final formulation
because it hasn't been confirmed by the Assembly
yet," said Rustamyan.
Other portions of the resolution met with approval
by the Armenian delegation, led by Rustamyan and
National Assembly vice speaker Tigran Torosyan.
Among other matters, the resolution gives Armenia
an additional 18 months to make constitutional
changes required for membership in the Council
- extending the deadline until June 2005.
The Council is demanding immediate release of
20 Jehovah's Witnesses who refused military service
on the grounds of religious conviction. It also
demands that the religious organization be allowed
to become a registered entity in Armenia by the
end of this month.
(Torosyan says Armenia's new law on alternative
military service should satisfy the conscription
issue, and that the Jehovah's Witnesses will be
registered in Armenia when their bylaws are consistent
with State legislation.)
Concerning violations of last year's presidential
and parliament elections, the resolution stipulates
that all legal action against violators must be
carried out by the end of this year.
About mass media, Torosyan said the Committee
"regret that the State Commission on TV and
Radio has absolute freedom in providing licenses
and particularly the incident with 'A1+' was mentioned."
According to the head of the Armenian delegation,
it is also mentioned in the resolution that changes
which are already adopted in the National Assembly
are taken into account. According to those changes,
if in the future there will be vacant positions
in the State Commission on TV and Radio then the
president will solve the question of appointing
new people to those positions by means of contests.
"They hope that as soon as these laws are
adopted the problem will finally be resolved,"