March 14, 2008

European Parliament Condemns Violence Used By Armenian Authorities

Strasbourg, March 13, 2008

In four human rights resolutions adopted at the end of this week's Strasbourg session of the European Parliament, MEPs deplored the violence used by the authorities against opposition demonstrators following presidential elections in both Armenia and Russia. Here is the complete official text:

Violence following the elections in Armenia

In the wake of the presidential elections in Armenia on 19 February, a police crackdown against opposition supporters who were peacefully contesting the results left eight dead and dozens injured. A state of emergency was declared on 1 March and media freedom has been restricted. Parliament's resolution, adopted by 60 votes to 1 with 2 abstentions, deplores the loss of life, urges all parties to act responsibly and calls on the authorities to investigate the violence and take other measures.

The International Election Observation Mission stated that the elections were "administered mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards" but also identified a number of concerns, in particular concerning the media’s commitment to providing impartial information.

In the resolution, Parliament "expresses its concern at recent developments in Armenia" and "calls on all parties to show openness and restraint, to tone down statements and to engage in a constructive and fruitful dialogue aimed at supporting and consolidating the country’s democratic institutions".

Call for inquiry, with punishment for perpetrators of violence

It also calls "for a prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation of the events of 1 March" and "for all those responsible to be brought to justice and punished for misconduct and criminal acts of violence". The Council and Commission should offer EU assistance to help with the investigation.

The Armenian authorities are asked to lift the state of emergency, restore media freedom and take all measures necessary to ensure a return to normalcy. In addition, they are urged "to release citizens detained for exercising their right of peaceful assembly".

EU support for Armenia to improve democracy and rule of law

Parliament points out that the EU's Action Plan with Armenia under the European Neighbourhood Policy covers the strengthening of democratic structures and the rule of law. In this context, it urges the Commission "to focus its assistance to Armenia on the independence of the judiciary and the training of police and security forces" and calls on the Armenian authorities "to implement swiftly all the remaining recommendations made by the International Election Observation Mission".

MEPs urge the Armenian authorities "to cooperate fully with the international community on finding an agreed solution" and they express support for the EU Special Representative to the South Caucasus and the OSCE’s Special Envoy.

Turning to Armenia's conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the resolution "deplores the recent loss of life on the ‘line of control’ during fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces" and "calls on all sides to refrain from further violence and to return to the negotiating table".

Lastly, MEPs reiterate "the clear EU commitment to building closer ties with Armenia and the South Caucasus countries" but emphasise that "closer cooperation with the European Union must be based on real and tangible progress and reforms and a full commitment to democracy and the rule of law".


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