“Mr. Bekaryan, was the report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the elections to the National Assembly of the RA published on May 25 supposed to differ from the preliminary statement of Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published on May 7?”
“It would only be natural and logical if they didn’t differ in any way. There are several arguments for the published documents to be similar. First, the PACE didn’t hold individual observation mission. Second, whatever we call the preliminary report of the ODIHR has been published not only by the ODIHR but also as the report of observation by four structures involving the ODIHR, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and the PACE. Consequently, this “conditionally” said ODIHR statement is also the PACE statement. Third, only 25 out of the 349 short-term observers were from the PACE. Thus, even in the quantitative sense there should be no reason for a new or individual opinion.
It should be proper to repeat: it would, definitely, be both logical and natural that the PACE report recorded no or at least no essential differences. However, as it can be seen, the difference is evident. And the most disappointing thing is that a simple difference would somehow sound normal, but a purposefully directed difference creates a distorted, biased, unbalanced picture.”
“Nevertheless, how can such a difference be explained?”
“This subjective difference may have two components. First, the person drafting the report with his/her impartiality, life experience, etc. An attempt should be made to understand what could have made the baroness heading the PACE delegation make such a distorted document, which, by the way, according to various sources other members of the mission or commission didn’t review properly. This is a question to get an answer and the actual cause will be revealed shortly.
On the other hand, there is an institutional problem here. This is not the first case when we refer to an individual, his/her life, and impartiality after a definite fact. I believe this gives rise to thoughts and it would be much more correct and expedient for our delegation to collect information about the official designed to prepare any document on our country in advance and, in case of necessity, to react with heavy arguments before the appointment.
I don’t think this will create any difficulties in the sense of the opportunities provided by information technologies.
The second factor, as we noted, is the structure itself with its approaches and procedures. An impression has been created lately that the PACE has pushed matters of its image, style of activities background. And this is where we have work to do. I want to highlight that we and the PACE are not on opposite sides of barricades, Armenia is a full CoE member and if there are any problems within the body, these are our problems as well.
This is where I see the deep-rooted causes: since 2001, when Armenia and Azerbaijan became full Council of Europe member-countries, the CoE has adopted some artificial smoothing hand. I do not exclude that initially, perhaps, this intended good. However, time showed that such an approach led to nothing positive. There has been much talk about that. But the fact is that this hand or its certain inertia has been preserved until nowadays.
Look, what the situation is today. National elections have been held in Armenia that essentially and positively differ from previous ones. At the very same time (and until today and this very moment) flagrant facts about violations of human rights in Azerbaijan are being recorded. We can constantly witness such facts but within the context of the “Eurovision” contest held in Azerbaijan these facts become visible to the whole world and Europe. Consequently, one way or other, they demand a proper reaction, including some from the PACE. So there is an impression that through this, mildly put, distorted report of its interim commission the PACE is making an attempt to create certain grounds for more smoothing.
Undoubtedly, this is unacceptable and will bring no good results. The report of the European Stability Initiative (ESI) on Azerbaijan, published on the day before the aforementioned PACE report on Armenia, should be added to all this. Merely the headline (“Caviar Diplomacy – How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe”) speaks for itself and gives certain idea of the manners in the CoE. No matter how painful it is, but I must reiterate: Armenia is a full CoE member and we have no moral right to refer to the same problems just like observers. Thus, it becomes incumbent for the representatives of our country at various levels to discuss, possibly to review some issues.”
“What steps or actions can be undertaken in such situations?”
“You might be aware that Head of the RA NA delegation to the PACE Davit Harutyunyan has come up with a speech in answer to the PACE report. The speech, I believe, comprises a comprehensive review of the report, of its subjective and incomprehensible distortions, and, why not, its deliberate manipulations. Some important factor should be pointed out: Davit Harutyunyan’s report is not just a reply to the report or its flaws, it also comprises definite and quite constructive proposals and if they are implemented, the PACE may further avoid such ridiculous situations.
Nevertheless, I stick to the opinion that it is time to turn our mechanisms of reaction from situational into preventive, and in this sense, I guess, we have much to do.”