06, 2008

Exclusive comments of President Serzh Sarkissian to the RFE/RL

Exclusive comments of President Serzh Sarkissian to the RFE/RL

“In recent few months Armenia has appeared on the headlines of the European press for two certain reasons – for both good and bad reasons. The first was the events in took place in the capital city after the presidential elections in February; and the second one was the meeting of president scheduled on June 7, when my counterpart – the president of Azerbaijan and me met. Both of them have emphasized that Armenia is a country passing a transitional stage within European neighborhood. Though there are numerous obstacles in this way Armenia keeps improving the reforms and strengthening its democratic institutions as a part leading towards sustainable governing.

Post-election disagreements gave me an opportunity to take the initiative and join four Parliamentarian factions from existing five and form a political coalition. The principle ideology of the coalition is to implement large-scale democracy-oriented, social, and economic reforms, which, by the way are being implemented now. We do work together to match the spirit of Resolution 1609 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).”

Tangible reform which are in line with the international standards include to liberalize the RA law on “holding meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations”, to expand the rights of parliamentarian opposition through certain legislative changes, which guarantee an inclusive role in the political system and decision-making processes, drafting full package of reforms of the Electoral Code which would match OSCE recommendations including provisions for the participation of the parliamentarian and non-parliamentarian parties, and profound legislative changes in the RA Law on TV and Radio. All the above mentioned points are conducted based on the positive assessment of Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

These are decisive steps towards long-term reforms addressed to the discontent caused after the recent elections and they are to guarantee more freedom for Armenians. We do welcome any recommendation made by the European Union and the upcoming French presidency for supporting these reforms and ensuring effective implementation. Above and beyond PACE recommendations, we have taken the initiative to conduct major legislative enforcement reforms, and a parliamentary special committee is formed by the participation of the NA factions which is aimed to study the tragic circumstances of post-electoral events. This committee will be authorized to conduct profound study and to come up with its own independent findings and conclusions. The extra-parliamentarian groups, civil society institutions, and independent international experts are encouraged to participate in these efforts.

Although there is still much work to be done, we and PACE Monitoring Committee has observed important progress. I am happy to say that the political coalition is wiling to implement our ambitious plans. We do recognize that we long to be attractive for Europe and broader international community.

History has been cruel to Armenia. Our people have overcome various difficulties, both in previous years and recently. But we are certain that our country should not stick in a stage of permanent transition. Learning much from the U.S. civil rights movement, I am sure that despite of the future challenges we shall overcome. Being one of the enthusiastic member of the European neighborhood, Armenia will prove that its democratic governance is irreversible.”

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