Speaking at the end of her official visit to Armenia, PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier congratulated the people of Armenia and the authorities for completing a peaceful and democratic political transition which followed a major overhaul of the country’s governance system. “It is important to note that this transition took place peacefully and within the existing constitutional and legal framework. During my meetings with government representatives, politicians and civil society, I felt broad support for the ongoing democratic process and a genuine desire for more progress. This is a great opportunity for Armenia’s democracy,” said the President.
In this context, the President highlighted the need to continue strengthening democratic institutions. “I fully agree with the President of the Republic that institutions must be the guarantors of democracy. This is especially true for Parliament, which now plays a key role in the political process. Therefore, it has to fulfil fully its new role, adopting the necessary laws as well as exercising democratic control over government action. All political forces across the board must fully assume their responsibilities, by engaging in a constructive democratic debate. The majority bears a special responsibility to respect the rights of the opposition,” continued Liliane Maury Pasquier.
Turning to the question of reform, the PACE President pointed out that the Government was facing a major political challenge of delivering reform in a number of key areas, such as the independence of the judiciary, penal reform, the fight against corruption, economic empowerment as well as reform in the social sphere. “I fully appreciate that, at this crucial moment, domestic institutions need a lot of expertise and capacity and I assured my Armenian interlocutors at the highest level that they can count on the Council of Europe’s support, in particular within the framework of the Action Plan 2019-2022.”
Equality between women and men, the empowerment of women, and combating violence against women were also the focus of the President’s discussions. “Armenia has made important steps in this field, including the signing, in January 2018, of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
I was encouraged by the authorities’ clear statements in favour of the ratification of the Convention and I support the concrete steps being taken in this direction, including the preparation of an Equality Strategy and discussions about improvements to be made to the legal framework governing the protection from and combating of violence against women. The projects of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs aiming at the economic empowerment of women are particularly commendable, as are the efforts of the Ombudsperson and of civil society,” the President said. In this context, she presented the joint PACE-IPU study on “Sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliaments in Europe” and the #NotInMyParliament initiative, encouraging Armenian partners to join in this process and expressing the hope that this initiative would be extended to other sectors, such the civil service, the economic sector, universities etc.
Finally, the PACE President thanked the Armenian authorities and the City of Yerevan for inaugurating Europe Square in the Armenian capital, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe. “It was a great honour to participate in the inauguration ceremony. Now Armenian citizens have a little part of Europe in the heart of their beautiful capital city. It reminds all of us of the great achievements Europe has brought to our everyday life, such as for example the protection of our social rights under the European Social Charter, the recognition of higher education diplomas thanks to the Bologna Process, as well as fundamental political and civil rights and freedoms protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Together we must stand up for our rights, our freedoms and our Europe,” concluded the PACE President.