Armenian President: ‘We have honored the commitments made to the Council of Europe’
Speaking at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, President Serzh Sargsyan stated that Armenia joined the Council of Europe exactly 17 years ago on 25 January 2001.
“When we were joining this Europe-wide structure we were fully aware of the path that laid ahead of us … As I stand before this Assembly today, I can proudly state that we have honored the main commitments assumed towards the Council of Europe in terms of Armenia’s democratization. This is not merely our assertion. Our achievements in consolidating the democratic institutions have been recognized in the reports of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies,” the Armenian President stressed.
However, Sargsyan focused not only achievements, but also on the need for protecting human rights and the consolidation of democratic values which cannot be effective without a relentless fight against corruption.
Alongside the approval of the Council of Europe’s activity the Armenian President also criticized this European structure:
“In recent years, we have witnessed an unfortunate and unprecedented crisis of values in this organization: through their irresponsible conduct, to say the least, some MPs have acted contrary to the core mission of the Council of Europe and seriously damaged the organization’s reputation.
“The greater family of the Council of Europe thus faced perhaps the most serious challenge since its foundation, as cases of bribing Assembly members and the resulting dishonest voting were exposed. However, these revelations justify the hopes that such corrupt practices are short-lived. Eventually, they will rise to the surface, stamping out resolutions thus adopted, and discrediting the individuals and powers that back them.”
With regard to the Karabakh conflict President Sargsyan stressed that the fight which started 30 years ago was not accidental:
“Everything may possibly seem calm and peaceful in Artsakh. However, the surface image was deceiving. We had never put up with Stalin’s decision to give Artsakh to Azerbaijan.”
“Throughout all those years, the people of Artsakh were extremely concerned because Baku authorities did their best to drive Armenians out of their historic cradle. According to the 1926 census, Armenians accounted for over 90% of Artsakh’s population; as a consequence of Baku’s policies, this rate declined to just 77% by 1988.”
Samed Seyidov, an Azerbaijani member of PACE, was outraged by this part of the Armenian President’s address. He asked Sargsyan why Armenia had failed to comply with its international commitments, referring to the UN Security Council’s resolution.
Serzh Sargsyan in turn stated that Armenia had never rejected a decision adopted by any of the international organizations:
“The whole world knows that in 1993 the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on the cessation of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh area, and after each resolution Azerbaijan came out and said: ‘We will not stop fighting’. It committed new offences and new attacks, but as usual, it sustained losses.
“Under those four resolutions, the only commitment of Armenia was to use its reputation, authority and influence to get the hostilities to stop. To the credit of the Armenian government of that time we honored this commitment, and Azerbaijan, the main culprit who was responsible for stopping the hostilities, failed to stop the fighting. As you know, in 1994 the ceasefire agreement was signed, but it was concluded under the influence of other factors, rather than the UN Security Council’s resolution.”
The Armenian media also cited the following part of President Sargsyan’s response to Seyidov’s question:
“Azerbaijan wants most of it – it wants an impossible thing. It is basically saying that it wants Karabakh without the Armenians. That’s impossible and is never going to happen. The essence of the struggle of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is very simple: it’s a struggle for liberty, for self-determination, and I am sure that this struggle cannot have anything but a positive outcome.”