06, 2008

Today President Serzh Sarkissian conducted a working meeting on the process of implementation of the recommendations contained in the PACE resolution n. 1609 “Activities of the democratic institutions in Armenia”

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Today President Serzh Sarkissian conducted a working meeting on the process of implementation of the recommendations contained in the PACE resolution n. 1609 “Activities of the democratic institutions in Armenia”.

The President of Armenia said that similar meeting was conducted a month ago during which the main steps related to the recommendations contained in the PACE resolutions were decided. Noting that a considerable amount of work has been done ever since, Serzh Sarkissian said that the main objective of the today’s meeting was to summarize the works as well as to decide on future steps. “My approach remains the same – regardless of the developments which took place in Armenia after the elections – we had to and have to now to carry on with our pre-election programs. We believe in these programs and we will fully realize them,” the President of Armenia said and added “we don’t need short-term solutions, we don’t need formal approaches. The foundations we lay today are very important and it is also important that the adopted decisions are aimed into future.”

The President proposed to take up paragraphs of the resolution one by one and afterwards talk about the future steps.

Speaker of National Assembly, Tigran Torossian spoke about the activities conducted at the NA towards the expansion of the rights of the opposition. He said that a draft of the corresponding law was prepared and sent to the experts of the Venice Commission for opinion. The draft will be discussed at the fall session of the National Assembly. According to Tigran Torossian, twenty seven points of the resolution pertaining to the opposition have been mostly addressed, except the two which contradict the provisions of the Constitution.

Noting that changes in the law on the “National Assembly procedures” were based on the European well-known and accepted principles, the President of Armenia said at the same time that the parliamentary opposition has been offered also one leading post even though the number of opposition members at the NA is rather small. This should be viewed as a gesture of good will on behalf of the political coalition.

Chairman of the NA commission on state and legal issues, David Haroutunian presented activities of the commission aimed at the improvement of the Electoral Code. In his opinion, works of the group are successfully moving forward.

Chairperson of NA commission on science, education, culture, youth and sport issues, Hranush Hakopian spoke about works directed at the improvement of TV area. She said that the commission initiated listenings at the National Assembly which resulted in four law drafts. According to her, this is one of those exceptional cases when the package was signed by all parliamentary fractions, including the representative of the “Zarangutyun” opposition party and was sent to the Venice commission for expert opinion.

It was also noted that recently the TV companies have made some structural changes in their programming: different opinions are being aired, and different approaches are displayed, sometimes even rather extreme ones.

In the President’s opinion, the public TV should be able to satisfy the needs of all social groups, different parts of society. Thus it will become a truly open media outlet, which is the only way to oppose “yellow press”. “We should be able to form credible mass media, we must ensure that a TV company which exists thanks to tax payers’ money satisfies the needs of those tax payers,” Serzh Sarkissian stressed.

With regard to other recommendations contained in the resolution it was noted that the law on meetings, demonstrations, gatherings, marches and rallies has already been amended, and by the Presidential decree the Public Council has been created. The Procurator General informed that out of 115 individuals in custody, 46 have been released. They were given conditional sentences, and criminal charges against some of them were dropped. Encouraging this kind of approach, the President of Armenia said, “if guilt or committed crime is a petty one, the individuals, undoubtedly, should be treated not harshly. However, all those who committed vicious crimes must be punished and realize the severity of their crimes.”

It was also noted that in compliance with the demand to investigate the events of March 1-2, the ad hoc parliamentary commission has been created. It will conduct an independent inquiry into the events and their causes. In Serzh Sarkissian’s conviction, the commission should involve in its works international and national experts, representatives of the public and do its best to come out with credible conclusions and acceptable recommendations. “I am sure that the parliamentary commission has all the opportunities to be just such a body,” the President of Armenia stressed.

The participants to the meeting noted that during the two months after the adoption of the resolution a great amount of work has been done, concrete measures have been taken, serious legal and institutional changes have been made to meet the requirements of the resolution and works in that direction will be continued with determination.

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