Monitoring Report on Armenia
document nr 11117
Parliamentary Assembly - 23 January 2007
As I said this afternoon in the Monitoring Committee, I am very positive guy. This report about Armenia shows the success of our monitoring. The support of Council of Europe bodies such as the Venice Commission, the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Group of States against Corruption helps Armenia to fulfil its commitment to make Armenia a country in which human rights are fully respected and where the rule of law is of a high quality. It is obvious that Armenia has taken some steps forward on electoral reform, the judiciary, the media and local democracy, but much remains to be improved. The report goes into detail on such matters, and I shall mention three issues.
First – this is an old song – adopting a law is different from a law that works well. Implementation will therefore be an important issue for the monitoring procedure in the future. Monitoring is not a punishment; it is a sustainable process of advice. We should not lift the monitoring procedure too quickly, as has happened with other countries.
Secondly, the way in which prisoners are treated says much about the civilisation of a country. I was shocked by the information in the report on the situation in prisons, which is sometimes inhuman – there is poor food and no access to adequate medical care. The report contains some strong proposals on that issue.
Thirdly, alternative service has been criticised. The advice is to revise the law to Council of Europe standards. For instance, turns of service should not be longer than the norm, and there should be a truly civilian service. That is important, because Armenia is engaged in a conflict with its neighbour Azerbaijan.
I underline the remarks by the rapporteur, Mr Elo, about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a good thing that that issue is part of the report. As has been said, it is part of the commitment to the principles of the Council of Europe that Armenia and Azerbaijan do their utmost to solve the problem, which has been described as a “frozen conflict”. That black spot is a strong influence on the bad relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is an obstacle, which is why it should be part of our monitoring procedure.
Commitments to democracy, human rights and the rule of law should be observed. Given such commitments, we can ask Armenia to make a positive and active contribution to end that conflict within international law. As long as that is not the case, it is another argument not to lift the monitoring procedure.