The co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Armenia by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Yuliya Lovochkina (Ukraine, SOC), has today called on all political forces and players in Armenia to fully respect democratic principles and the rule of law, both in word and deed.
“The elections to the Yerevan Council of Elders clearly showed the democratic aspirations of the Armenian people. At the same time, the turnout made it clear that public trust in the political process is still low. Therefore it is essential that the next parliamentary elections are perceived and accepted as democratic and fair by all political competitors and stakeholders. While we understand the call for early elections, we urge the authorities, and indeed all political stakeholders, to ensure that any early elections fully respect European standards and norms for democratic elections, and that all political forces have proper and sufficient time to prepare themselves for any such elections. This is especially important if the Electoral Code will indeed be changed, as some political stakeholders have called for. Any changes should fully respect Venice Commission guidelines, including as regards the stability of the electoral legislation, and be based on as broad as possible a consensus between all political forces,” said Ms Lovochkina. She emphasised that the need for sufficient time for proper consultation and consensus-building were even more important in the context of any possible constitutional changes, which should not be considered hastily.
Referring to recent developments in Armenia that have increased tension in the country’s political environment and led to allegations of political retribution and suggestions that political motivations are guiding criminal investigations, Ms Lovochkina said: “We have repeatedly welcomed the peaceful and democratic change of power in Armenia, including assurances by the authorities that democratic principles would be fully respected and that the judiciary would carry out its work free of political interference, thereby laying to rest any fears of political retribution. I stress that there cannot be any impunity for criminal activities, irrespective of who committed them. We therefore welcome any credible investigation into the ten fatalities that occurred during the tragic events of March 2008. However any investigations, including with regard to corruption allegations, should take place strictly in line with the principles of the rule of law, judicial independence and a fair trial as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights.”
At the request of the Monitoring Committee, the rapporteurs will visit Armenia in the near future to discuss recent developments with all stakeholders.