ArmeniaNow.com - Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 January 16, 2004 


The Council Speaks: Resolution on Armenia mostly favorable except concerning "conquered territories"


Tigran 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 January 26-30.

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," said Torosyan.


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