The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Armenia, Kimmo Kiljunen (Finland, SOC) and Boriana Åberg (Sweden, EPP/CD), have called on Council of Europe member states to support Armenia as it faces the “enormous challenges” of dealing with refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh while furthering democratic reforms.
Ending a visit to Yerevan from 6 to 8 November 2023, the co-rapporteurs pointed out that the 106 000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh who fled Azerbaijan’s military attack, after suffering nine months of isolation which caused severe shortages of food and basic supplies, had all found decent accommodation in Armenia and been provided with emergency relief, thanks to the actions of the Armenian authorities and the solidarity of the population. “However, to ensure the sustainability of this assistance and help to all those who want to settle permanently in Armenia, the country urgently needs the solidarity of all Europeans,” the co-rapporteurs said.
“In spite of these extremely difficult circumstances, we have witnessed Armenia’s continued commitment to democratic reform. Electoral regulation has been reformed in line with Council of Europe standards and several elections, at national or local level, have been organised without their results being challenged. Many recommendations from international expert bodies have been implemented while others are under review,” they pointed out.
“Numerous reforms have been carried out in recent years to improve public confidence in the judiciary, in close co-operation with the Venice Commission, and integrity checks are now in place for judges, prosecutors and investigators. However, the disciplinary procedure is still causing discontent and allegations of politically-motivated decisions are undermining its legitimacy. A draft reform has been submitted to the Venice Commission to address some of these concerns,” they said.
“Fighting corruption is a priority for the government and it has taken several important steps in this regard. Two new bodies with strong mandates and real powers have been created over the last three years, and special anti-corruption courts have been put in place. Corruption nevertheless remains a major cause of discontent in the population and continued efforts are required,” they concluded.
The co-rapporteurs also discussed claims of excessive use of force by the police and illegitimate proceedings directed at political opponents and will follow developments on these issues.
During their stay in Armenia, the co-rapporteurs visited Eraskh, on the border with Nakhichevan, and met the families of recently displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh relocated to Artashat and Yerevan.